Monday, March 19, 2007

CBC, serious music and copyright - the connection

I have sent the following open letter to the Heritage Committee. The connection to copyright is real - though not obvious. The Heritage Committee has subscribed to the partly correct - but only somewhat so - view that stronger copyright law will produce greater cultural achievement. In terms of serious or "elite" culture, that is almost never the case. Subsidies or direct funding - whether from Kings, philanthropists, or taxpayers have almost always carried the day.

The destruction underway at CBC to serious new music programming coupled with SOCAN's lack of interest or ability to adequately deal with "concert music" has created a real problem for serious composers in Canada. SOCAN at least is relatively transparent. The NRCC and all of its money and its treatment of serious performers remain a major mystery.

All the more reason why the current CBC management must be held accountable for the damage they are doing....


March 19, 2007
Hon. Gary Schellenberger, Chair
Hon. Members
Canadian Heritage Committee
Dear Honourable Members:

As a listener to CBC for more than 50 years, I am saddened and angered by the destruction underway of the excellence we once knew as Radio Two.

Current management at CBC radio is no longer interested in reaching an audience older than 50. Please remember, however, that those of us over 50 still pay lots of taxes and have lots of votes.

CBC management clearly believes that any programming that could possibly be considered to be elitist or erudite must be eliminated. Of course, the irony here is that the headlong rush to increase ratings by embracing mediocrity will only result in renewed efforts to disband the CBC - because the CBC could so come to so resemble the private sector that there will arguably then be no need to keep it - or to give it a billion dollars a year in subsidies. At the rate things are going, it will only be a question of time until it is handed over to the private sector - likely with disastrous financial consequences for the taxpayer. Is that the agenda? One hopes not. Canada without a CBC committed to excellence would be a much poorer country in which to live.

CBC management seems to have lost sight of the CBC's obligation under the Broadcasting Act to provide programming that "informs, enlightens and entertains". It seems that the entertainment factor is all that matters now. The CBC was never under any obligation to gain audience share by sacrificing quality. Indeed, quite the contrary.

The cancellation of the Two New Hours program - which had been on the air on Sunday night at 10 o'clock for almost thirty years - is a particularly regrettable example of the damage now being done. In its way, this show was to serious new music what Hockey Night in Canada is to our national sport. This show not only encouraged and sustained much of the activity in serious concert music in Canada. It figured prominently in making Canadian serious composers and performers known throughout the world. Its host and producer are world renowned artists in their own right. It set technical and artistic standards of excellence and built a core community that made Canada proud and raised the bar of musical achievement and heritage.

Now, it is gone. By dissipating the Two New Hours team and its very loyal interactive community of listeners and eliminating that locus and focus every Sunday night at ten, CBC management has done much harm. When bureaucrats with little or no background in either broadcasting or the arts are given control of a 70 year old legacy, it seems they must make their mark by destroying it. I hope they will be held accountable beginning with the Heritage Committee hearings underway this week.

Howard Knopf
1200 - 427 Laurier Ave. W.
Ottawa, Canada


  1. As a supporter of Radio 2 you may want to sign the online petition hosted by "Friends of Canadian Broadcasting".

    I find it frustrating that as we move to digital broadcasts (Cable, Satellite and Digital Terrestrial Television and Radio) that both the number channels and control over hardware by the owners are being reduced rather than improved. It is as if the move from analogue to digital is intended to be a backward step.

  2. Hi, I'm looking for a serious manager to manage my career. Would you be interested my music is truly country.