Rosemary Barton dropped from CBC’s The National, format scrapped
CBC is scrapping its flagship show The National’s new format that had a four-host format and slowed down the program to include long features.
The show was created in the fall of 2017 after Peter Mansbridge retired. The CBC cited negative audience feedback for the decision to scrap the new format, according to the Globe and Mail. The National had been losing tens of thousands of viewers over the past two years, as fewer Canadians have been tuning in.
Rosemary Barton has been moved from an anchor position to the position of chief political correspondent for CBC News. Barton was embroiled in a controversy during the 2019 election after she was named as a plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada after the party used some CBC footage in a campaign attack ad, something all political parties do, which copyright experts said is likely acceptable under fair dealing.
Conservatives have long complained that Barton is partisan for Trudeau’s Liberals, citing her softball interviews of Trudeau, her taking a selfie with him in Washington, and dismissing the Liberal’s large deficit spending as not a problem.
“Television news viewership is driven by consistency, both in format and in presentation. Our audience told us they want to know what they can expect night to night: who will bring them the news and how it will be delivered. We listened. This season we have slowly introduced measures that lead to a more consistent program – including tweaks to our format and sharpened hosting roles,” executive producer of The National Chad Paulin wrote in an internal memo to CBC staff.
Paulin’s memo also addressed Barton’s move.
“Rosemary will bring her unmatched political insight to all of CBC News–including digital, podcasts, radio, and television political specials. She will continue to bring analysis to The National, including contextual reporting, long-form stories and key political interviews. Rosemary will also continue to host At Issue.”
At Issue is a segment included on The National in which political pundits give their opinions on Canadian politics.
Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang, two of the four co-hosts of the scrapped format, will be the two hosts of the program from Monday to Thursday. The other co-host, Ian Hanomansing will be The National’s anchor on Fridays and Sundays.
By the summer of 2019 The National had lost nearly 25 percent (about 124,000 viewers abandoning the program) of its viewership from when the new format was launched, despite the CBC spending a lot in a promotional campaign to sell Canadians on the new anchors and format.
Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole has pledged to eliminate 50 percent of the CBC’s English-langauge television, with a plan to privatize it over the course of a four-year government.
If elected prime minister, O’Toole will also cut the budget of the CBC’s digital programming, whilst preserving components of the public broadcaster, which continues to remain in the national interest.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, O’Toole said, “We’re announcing today a plan to radically reform and energize the CBC. That will mean cutting CBC digital. That will mean eliminating half the budget of CBC English television—with a view of privatizing it over the course of a four-year government.”
O’Toole went on to say that he would preserve the components of the CBC that still serve in the public interest.
“CBC Radio, which doesn’t compete with the private sector because there’s no commercials, will be preserved.
O’Toole would also preserve “CBC Radio-Canada in Quebec and other parts of the country that fulfills the duo-lingustic requirements. So, French-language services, minority language services in some parts of the country.”
“We’d like to see that increasingly on a non-commercial basis,” O’Toole added.
Over recent weeks, the CBC has faced increasing pressure after a report revealed that a meagre 329,000 viewers now watch the public broadcaster’s supper-hour broadcast. As a result of this declining viewership, the CBC recently asked the CRTC to let them broadcast less Canadian programs.
“The CBC has to get with the times,” said O’Toole. “The government shouldn’t be subsidizing things just because that was the way it was done 50, 60, 70 years ago.”
“Nothing shows the lunacy of Justin Trudeau’s policies more than $600 million in new money he gave to the CBC to enhance their digital program. A few years later, he needed to put a $600 million media bailout, because the Toronto Star and other companies were losing digital advertising—because of his own CBC increase!”
If elected prime minister, O’Toole would seek to reform what he described as “over a billion dollars of dumb, old public policy … We have to recognize the new realities, and the CBC has to realize it, too. An O’Toole government will reform and modernize the CBC.”
The CBC no longer has the rights to their highest rated program—Hockey Night in Canada. This is a big loss for CBC and will cost them over $2 billion throughout twelve years, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
The information was provided through an internal federal memo. Though the company’s ad revenues have been falling, in a confidential report, CBC noted that it continues to be “the cornerstone of culture and democracy.”
Last year, in a briefing note for Pablo Rodriguez, the previous Heritage Minister, CBC staff wrote, “CBC Television lost its long-standing flagship sports broadcast Hockey Night In Canada which had been part of the broadcaster’s programming lineup for fifty-five years.”
The contract was bought by Rogers Inc. in 2013 and cost the communications company $5.2 billion. The contract is good until 2026.
“The department estimated the corporation’s annual advertising revenues decreased by approximately $175 million” the briefing not continued, “as a result of losing the Hockey Night In Canada contract.”
The approximate decrease of $175 million in annual revenue adds to a loss of $2.1 billion over 12 years.
Hockey Night in Canada brought in over one million weekly viewers to CBC. In 2015, CBC’s president Hubert Lacroix noted, “We have not lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the hockey contract,” and added, “We lost a few dollars.”
“When you look at the broadcasting rights and the cost to produce hockey, and the revenues on the other side, and when you look at it over six years, we didn’t make money on this contract,” Lacroix testified to the Senate communications committee in 2015.
Senator Michael MacDonald responded, “If you can’t make money on hockey in Canada, I don’t know what you could make money on. This was very poor management.”
CBC’s previous executive vice president, Richard Stursberg noted, “The loss of hockey is going to have serious financial consequences. You not only lose the profits from hockey, you also lose your capacity to sell the rest of your advertising at reasonable prices.”
“The way you would do it is you’d say, ‘If you would like to have hockey, then you have to buy this dog over here that nobody wants.’ I would say, ‘But I don’t want the dog,’ and you would say: ‘I’m sorry, you have to take the dog if you want the hockey,’” Stursberg continued.
“So, hockey is not only important in its own right, it’s important because it props up the rest of the advertising sales.”
A parliamentary grant of $1.2 billion is CBC’s principal source of revenue. Last year, the network saw a decline of 37 percent in ad revenues.
The CBC has pulled its participation from an event featuring the convicted terrorist Omar Khadr at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Monday.
Nahlah Ayed, who hosts the CBC program Ideas, decided to opt out of the event, choosing to explore the subject “at another time in a different way.”
The event will also feature remarks from Dr. Shelly Whitman and author and Canadian hero Hon. Romeo Dallaire, who is well known for his work in Rwanda during the nation’s genocide.
Omar Khadr is a former child soldier who was involved in a firefight with US soldiers in 2002, leaving one US soldier dead. Khadr was wounded in the firefight and captured—being taken to Guantanamo Bay where he was held without charge.
In 2017, Justin Trudeau’s federal government awarded Khadr a $10.5 million settlement. Khadr went on to purchase a strip mall in Edmonton with some of the money.
Omar Khadr was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event at Dalhousie University that protests the use of child soldiers. The event is being hosted by Dalhousie University and the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
Khadr’s invitation to speak at Dalhousie was met with considerable online backlash.
As of right now, the event is scheduled to go on despite the backlash from the Canadian public.
Playwright Yolanda Bonnell is a two-spirit, Ojibwe/South Asian performer who has written a new play entitled Bug, which is now playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. The aim of her play is to take a stand against colonialism. Bonnell has requested that the media only allow Indigenous, black or other people of colour to review her play.
“I do a lot of work in terms of decolonizing theatre… and for me this was one of those steps — taking away the colonial lens,” said Bonnell in an interview with Tom Power for CBC’s Q radio.
“There is an aspect to cultural work—or in our case, artistic ceremony— which does not align with current colonial reviewing practices,” Bonnell said in her official statement. “In order to encourage a deeper discussion of the work, we are inviting critiques or thoughts from IBPOC folks only. There is a specific lens that white settlers view cultural work through and at this time, we’re just not interested in bolstering that view, but rather the thoughts and views of fellow marginalized voices, and in particular Indigenous women.”
“You could hear perhaps a white critic, more likely someone on the internet, but a white critic say something like, ‘You know, I may be white but I don’t see things through that lens, what would you say?’” the CBC host asked Bonnell during the interview.
Bonnell laughed at the question and responded, “You can’t help but see things through that lens. We all have lenses that we see the world through and it directly correlates to our life experience. Unless you’re an Indigenous woman you don’t know what it’s like to be an Indigenous woman. Unless your a two-spirit individual or a trans, or non-binary you don’t know what that experience is like. So if somebody is writing a story about that, the lens that you’re viewing it through, its directly going to affect how you view that story, or how you write about it. There are going to be aspects that you don’t understand.”
However, Bonnell doesn’t feel the same is true from the other way around.
“We, as people of colour, understand whiteness to its core because we’ve grown up with it, especially people who’ve grown up here in Canada. My friend, a wonderful Indigenous playwright from the west coast Kim Senklip Harvey says she has her ‘ Ph.D. in whiteness’ and I feel very much similar.”
Bonnell’s play Bug will be performed at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto from now through Feb. 22.