Making the case to keep ads off noncom radio


In the opinion of a contributor to theVancouverSun,Canada’s public radio system should be worried about serving the needs of listeners, not the needs of advertisers.

To that end, CBC Radio should resist the idea of imbedding ads into its programming, argues Ian Morrison. Unfortunately, budget cuts have it doing just that – according to Morrision, CBC’s Radio Two is going to be running nine minutes worth of advertising every hour. It is taking that route to make up for $115M in cuts that came from the Canadian government despite promises from the head of the CRTC (Canada’s FCC) that CBC funding would be at par or would be increased.

Morrison believes that once ads appear on Radio Two, it will only be a matter of time before they show up on Radio One as well.

Morrision says that there is nothing wrong with the commercial radio model. Private broadcasters are in business to make money, and to do that they provide programming to attract the biggest audience possible and therefore please advertisers who want to reach as many people as possible.

Morrison says CBC has a different mission. “As a public broadcaster, CBC should play a different role. CBC’s statutory mandate is to offer programs that inform, enlighten and entertain — not make a profit. It shouldn’t be all about the money for the CBC.”

Public broadcasters are in competition for listeners, although not in the same way as are competing private broadcasters. Morrison does not believe that competition should be extended into the advertising business, as it will inevitably lead the noncoms to adopt more aggressive programming strategies at the expense of eroding the availability of programming choices generally available nowhere else.

RBR-TVBR observation: We agree. We do not want to see a sudden influx of new sales forces entering the market from the platoon of stations to the south of 92 MHz. There is a legitimate role for public radio, and they should be allowed to fulfill it without inflicting collateral damage on the equally legitimate role of commercial broadcasters.