Friday, February 28, 2014

CBC executives respond to Prince Rupert Council's concerns over local content

When the topic of CBC programming was last discussed, the Mayor and Council were offering up a fairly strident critique of the amount of local content that the CBC's Daybreak North program was providing on the North Coast.

The main tipping point for the Mayor and Council being what they perceived as a lack of interest from the public broadcaster in the recent All Native Basketball tournament.

We outlined some of that frustration with this item from the February 11th council session, which had council decide to fire off a letter to CBC executives on the topic.

City staff followed through on that wish, providing a letter for the Mayor's signature on February 14th, a valentine of sorts we guess, that put the city's concerns on paper (you can review the correspondence here, item 1 of the information for council package of February 19th)

As things turn out, sometimes bureaucracy at the CBC moves quicker than we think, as the CBC offered up a reply to some of the Mayor's points in a fairly fast turn around.

In a letter dated February 18th, Mr. Johnny Michel, the Senior Managing Director for British Columbia and Alberta English Services, offered up some notes on the CBC's efforts in the region.

On the theme of the CBC's Coverage of the All Native Tournament some of the points were:

The CBC provided updates of the scores on their Daybreak morning show

Had an interview previewing the tournament with Jason Alsop of the Skidegate Saints

Used the tournament as a backdrop to hear what fans and organizers think of the controversy taking place over the names like Redskins, Braves and Indians used by professional teams

Spoke with a number of fans as well as All Native Basketball Tournament Hall of Famers; Willis Parnell and Judy Pearson

Ended their coverage with a short sound montage to the final men's senior championship game

In addition Mr. Michel outlined some of the past work of the CBC in years past regarding the All Native Tournament.

As well, he addressed the larger issue of North Coast news content on the morning program, advising the Mayor that the CBC has heard him and council loud and clear.

Vowing to respond quickly to provide more of the stories and voices of the North Coast.

He also suggested that  the return of the CBC's Carolina de Ryke to the airwaves in June, (when she returns to the studios after her maternity leave), may serve to help with the situation.

In wrapping up the reply, Mr. Michel advised the Mayor that the CBC will be dispatching Lorna Haeber, their Director of Programming to Prince Rupert sometime in the next several weeks. Seeking to arrange a meeting with the Mayor and other community leaders to address local concerns.

You can review the entire return correspondence from the CBC, again by way of the Information to council package (The CBC reply can be found as item 2  )

So far however, if the latest additions to the Daybreak North website with its collection of story themes is any indication, the North Coast is still fairly down the list of story board planning at the public broadcaster.

The Mayor and council's concerns with the CBC's local efforts were not the first to be shared in the community. In early February, a group of local CBC listeners got together to share some of their concerns when it comes to local programming in the community, holding  a public forum at the Library.

Whether there will ever be enough coverage of local items from the CBC to satisfy council, or the concerned listeners, remains to be seen.

However, one thing seems pretty certain, for the short term, the CBC can probably count on at least seven regular listeners glued to their radios, taking notes every weekday morning from 6 AM to 8:40.

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