by David Weatherall
If you tune into the CBC regularly, youve undoubtedly heard news
anchor Peter Mansbridge trumpeting the CBCs loyal following. When
it comes to news, the eyes and ears of Canadians belong to one channeland
thats the CBC, he says, with great confidence.
Its a bold claim, especially with the burgeoning of news and information
sources in Canada in both traditional and on-line media, but its
one that CBC news director Mark Bulgutch feels is an appropriate slogan
for the CBC.
Reliable source of information
Without a doubt, I feel that if there is a major event in Canada,
such as election night, or a referendum, Canadians turn to the CBC to
follow that story. They trust it to be a reliable source of information,
said Bulgutch, after participating in a panel discussion this term organized
by students in Concordias School Community and Public Affairs.
The future of the CBC has been seriously questioned in recent years, due
to massive funding cutbacks and ebbing interest in the channels
Comedy and specialty news
According to Bulgutch, the future of the CBC lies in concentrating on
what it does best.
I think that comedy is internationally recognized as one of the
things that Canadians do best. Shows like Air Farce and This Hour has
22 Minutes have enjoyed huge success, and so I think that we have to build
on that, he said.
Despite the success of these shows, the CBC is not without its critics.
The most vocal of these is Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, who
in the last election threatened to hold a referendum for Canadians to
see whether they still feel the CBC is necessary.
Bulgutchs reaction to the critics: It shows that Canadians
feel passionately about the CBC, and that is a positive sign.
Although he feels that comedy should be a staple of CBC programming, Bulgutch
also highlights the success of the public broadcasters two specialty
news channels, RDI and Newsworld. Those two channels are far and
away the most popular specialty channels on cable.
Their success becomes interesting in light of the Canadian Radio Television
and Telecommunications Council (CRTC) awarding of digital cable licenses.
Of an available 12, the CBC was awarded one; the rest went to corporate
There is a resistance at the CRTC to the CBC expanding in any direction
and competing on a level playing field with our competitors, Bulgutch
As for the future, Bulgutch said, I know that the CBC has the history
of Canada since 1952 on film and I know they are looking for an outlet
for that, although I guess itll have to wait, he said.
Also on the panel were Marc Raboy, professor of communications at the
Université de Montréal, and Mark Goldman, of Friends of