While this programming decision is particularly repugnant, it does highlight the pressure that CBC television is under to compete in a tight media market. The CBC does seem to be floundering between its mandate to be the nation's public broadcaster and to be financially viable. CBC Radio, which is truly commercial-free, has found its voice and is flourishing in its role as the voice of Canadians. The television arm is being torn in two directions and needs to re-establish its focus on fulfilling its mandate.
In order to do this, of course, it needs drastically increased funding. Severe budget cuts by the federal government over the past decade are responsible for this situation and have forced the CBC to make these kinds of worrisome programming decisions, in order to seek advertising revenue.
The senate report recommends long-term and stable funding increases to the CBC, to allow it to return to its mandate. However, we are more likely to see Canada win the World Cup than we are to see the Harper government agree to this recommendation. Stephen Harper's calls to eliminate public support for the English television network are a matter of public record. Although he has changed his stance on a lot of issues since becoming government leader, I doubt he has changed his mind in regard to this agenda.
And now, of course, the Hour is making the move to the main network, in addition to being aired on CBC Newsworld. Newsworld is, and always has been, commercially supported, and I would hazard a guess that The Hour is one of its top revenue draws. What does this mean, in light of the new senate report? Will the addition of The Hour to the main network help increase revenue for the financially-strapped CBC? What will it mean for programs like The Hour, if the senate recommendations are adopted (which they almost certainly will not be, but just for the sake of argument)? How do you feel about the call to drop financially successful sports programs like Hockey Night in Canada and the Olympics? Where is the CBC going to go from here?