My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) assesses potential reform of the CBC. Canadian stories are being told in record numbers, yet they are not found on the CBC. The blossoming of citizen journalism, blogging, digital photo-sharing, and user-generated content is reshaping the way the public is informed and entertained. Millions of Canadians are no longer merely consumers of the news and entertainment. Instead, they are active participants – one expert recently labeled them as "the people formerly known as the audience" – who create, report, comment, and analyze their own content that vies for the attention of a global audience.
The CBC’s future may therefore lie in further blurring the difference between conventional broadcast and the Internet by establishing an integrated approach that brings more broadcast content to the Internet and more Internet content to broadcast. The CBC has developed an impressive online presence, yet the majority of the content is based on the traditional broadcast model that places a premium on control. The next-generation CBC would do well to partner with the public by loosening restrictions and encouraging the dissemination of Canadian content from a broader range of sources.
Indeed, public broadcasters in other countries have already begun to reinvent themselves in this way.