In the last half-century, waves of budget cuts and consolidations have transformed the CBC into a primarily national broadcaster.
Local news survived through it all, but barely in some markets, as it went through a bewildering series of Toronto-directed changes in format, length and broadcast times. At one point, CBC headquarters dictated that the local news shows in two of Canada’s most dynamic metropolitan areas — Edmonton and Calgary — be merged into one. You’d be surprised (CBC executives were) how little Calgary residents were interested in Edmonton news. The ratings were so low that a CBC cameraman joked to me that it would save money to shut down the transmission tower and hand-deliver VHS tapes to anyone interested.
I believe the CBC should make a big push to fill the yawning gaps in local news and cultural production created by the decline of private sector providers.
But I honestly doubt whether the CBC is capable of decentralizing its budget-making and decision-making after years of doing the opposite.