They’re coming â€” massive cuts to the CBC schedule. The embattled public broadcaster has already announced shows will be lost as it scrambles to deal with a $115 million funding reduction to be phased in over the next three years.
The network will announce its schedule May 10 in Toronto. A few shows â€” “Being Erica” and “Little Mosque on the Prairie” â€” are already cancelled. “Connect with Mark Kelley” has also been unplugged. Executive vice-president Kirstine Stewart says other shows will either be cancelled or have reduced orders heading into the 2012-13 season.
One way the CBC could save a lot of money is to walk away from its Olympic bid right now. There is no cash for the ransom the International Olympic Committee seeks.
Shows like “The Nature of Things” and “Doc Zone” are what make CBC distinct and need to be protected. Setting newscasts aside, here’s one observer’s view on how CBC should handle cuts to the rest of its schedule:
“Cover Me Canada”: For a Sunday night showcase there was no buzz, not enough viewers. TV’s talent show glut is finally starting to turn viewers off. Get out now.
“InSecurity”: Got two seasons to figure itself out. Never did.
“Michael: Tuesday & Thursdays”: Canada’s “Arrested Development,” a clever series critics loved but viewers rejected. Congrats on a witty miniseries that will deserve all those Gemini wins and hope to see you soon on HBO Canada.
“Hockey Night in Canada”: For 60 seasons, the broadcast that still means the most to Canadians and brings in the most commercial revenue. Keep at all costs.
“Dragons’ Den”: This season, kill two birds with one stone by having budding entrepreneurs bring in ideas to maximize revenues and cuts costs at CBC.
“Rick Mercer Report”: Could CBC get more bang for their buck than with Rick’s rants and stunts? Even this untouchable suffers when episodes are cut. Mercer was rerun two weeks in a row a few times last season, a real momentum killer.
“Republic of Doyle”: When the final totals are tallied, this series will have topped one million viewers every single week this year. A scripted hit with a distinct regional flavour, it deserves a three year commitment, not just another full season order.
“Marketplace”: Might be the best buy on any Canadian network schedule. Another million-a-week winner, it costs next to nothing and provides a great watchdog consumer service to Canadians. Ditto “the fifth estate.”
“22 Minutes”: The series enters its 20th season next fall on a ratings surge. Satirical political comedy needs to be current and cutting episodes, as CBC did two years ago with this show, kills momentum.
“The Ron James Show”: A fairly consistent draw â€” despite little promotion â€” on a Friday night. And what does it cost? Let it play.
“Murdoch Mysteries”: The creative team is in place and the show has an intensely loyal fan base. A smart pickup that costs way less than adding a new series from scratch.
“Battle of the Blades”: The challenge with this popular series is finding enough ex-NHLers whose banged-up knees can still handle a landing. So just go with six pairs instead of eight. Problem solved.
“Heartland”: This family series isn’t ready for the glue factory, but its loyal fan base â€” which shrunk a bit last season â€” will gallop back for eight episodes if that’s all they get.
“Arctic Air”: A pretty good first season deserves a second and while cutting two episodes won’t help it build, it’s better than grounding it for good.
“Mr. D”: While ratings slid toward the end of the season it was on a competitive night and still pulling more than twice what “Michael: Tuesdaysâ€¦” was getting. Deserves a chance to build on some good buzz.
“The Debaters”: Resolved â€” a series averaging 250,000 viewers doesn’t deserve to be renewed. Argument â€” it costs nothing, showcases talented young Canadian comedians and can be thrown anywhere on the schedule. Verdict: cut it but keep it.
“George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight”: After seven seasons of so-so ratings, Canada may be ready to break up with its boyfriend. Maybe “George: Tuesdays & Thursdays” should be the next title change.
“Steven and Chris”: An inexpensive show to produce. Keep the sets, keep the hosts, but cut back the order on a daytime show that repeats reasonably well.
Kevin O’Leary: Does this guy really need four TV shows?
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.