We think the CBC is a wonderful asset to Canadians and a reminder to "Americans" of a better system (especially when properly funded) than PBS.
We have previously dealt with advice of showing more Canadian content (Part I) and making money through cable channels (Part II). In the conclusion of this series, Part III addresses how to fill programming holes smartly and fiscally responsible.
Increase Friday night news programming
The CBC has a tremendous asset in the CBC News Network (better when it was CBC Newsworld). Friday night is set up on the CBC with "Marketplace" and "The Fifth Estate" but the network runs a "Rick Mercer Report" rerun in between the two news shows.
CBC could run a 30-minute wrapup of the week's events in that 8:30 pm slot. Evan Solomon and Carole MacNeil would be logical anchors. The network could throw in a panel discussion made popular on "The National."
If that doesn't appeal to the faithful, Solomon could do a version of "Power & Politics" for the CBC.
Yes, news programming is more expensive than a Rick Mercer rerun, but this is one area where the CBC can raise prestige for relatively little cost.
Prime time sports programming
Even with the cuts to CBC Sports, the network has plenty of people to showcase great Canadian sports. Elliotte Friedman is jumping to Rogers. Scott Oake will be on the NHL telecasts, though reportedly work for CBC Sports for other events. Even if Oake wouldn't be available, there are plenty of other personnel who could host a CBC Sports show on CBC.
This could range from the Don Cherry show I pitched to figure skating to sports that may have been lost in the shuffle on the weekend to a CFL or NHL roundtable show.
Like CBC News, CBC Sports is a great asset that could supply more programming for the mother channel.
More creative with afternoon reruns
CBC runs "Steven and Chris" at 2 pm, but otherwise the afternoon is filled with reruns of "Republic of Doyle"; "Heartland"; and "Dragons' Den." The 3p-5p slot would be perfect for an afternoon Canadian film. Again, "more expensive" than a rerun, but more creative.
If CBC is truly determined to go the rerun route, run the previous night's programming the next afternoon (Friday's schedule would run Monday afternoon). If someone missed a show, they could find the program easily the next day. (full disclosure: I saw this idea somewhere but don't remember where. Full credit to whomever had the idea.)
Spinoffs of successful CBC programs
Spinoffs are a part of TV history more than in the current reality. The CBC was able to strengthen its satiric comedy lineup with Rick Mercer after he was on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes." Mercer also worked on "Made in Canada" and "Talking to Americans" that had great success. Mercer hasn't created a new show since the "Rick Mercer Report" 10 years ago; why not give him an opportunity? Even the idea of a different show produced by Mercer could be a jumpstart for those who like him or his show.
Some of that energy from talented people can birth new and interesting shows and specials on the CBC.
Get more famous Canadians to give back
"Schitt's Creek" with SCTV alums Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara should be the start of recruiting famous Canadians to give back to the CBC.
The network has used Martin Short well lately in hosting the Canadian Screen Awards, but there should be room for non-SCTV artists who are famous in Hollywood who would be willing to give back to their home country.
We saw Canadian acting legend Donald Sutherland in "Crossing Lines" on the CBC last fall, but that was an international production.
Would Jason Jones and Samantha Bee of "The Daily Show" take a shot at specials or a short-run series (like 6 episodes) to create some buzz back in Canada?
U.S. TV shows use star power to build new shows. So much unknown Canadian talent needs love but so do Canadians who have made it but aren't as appreciated as Hollywood as they once were.
The CBC can provide creativity and patience to actors, writers, and directors. An idea that might not be CTV-worthy ratings-wise might find a home at CBC. And the CBC can risk an idea that might not be an instant hit.
Smarter reality TV shows
"Canada's Smartest Person" is a better entry than shows such as "Four Rooms," "Dragon's Den," and "Recipe to Riches" feel like compromises that have little Canadian content and are designed to appeal to a mainstream audience.
If the CBC really wants to go the reality route, then the network could run programs like "How Well Do You Know Canadian History/Geography." Or follow a family that could tell a story about a region such as an Acadian family from New Brunswick or a First Nations family in the style of "An American Family" on PBS. Not that CBC runs anything close to "Real Housewives of Red Deer," but the network should strive to be above the fray.
Recruit from CBC Radio
CBC Radio is running a contest "Searchlight 2014: The Hunt for Canada's Best New Artist." That could be worth a reality show run or a one-time special.
Jian Ghomeshi may be the next George Stroumboulopoulos. While Ghomeshi has had some exposure on the TV side, CBC could find more ways to get the host of "Q" on its TV airwaves.
And then the CBC needs to find a few more people like Stroumboulopoulos and Ghomeshi.
Raid college campuses for talent
The Junior Achievement people in South Bend, Indiana produced a 30-minute weekly TV show called "Beyond Our Control." These were high school students who were given a chance to make a TV show. For its time and the level of experience, the show was very cool.
Taking university students and having them produce a weekly show would be very cheap and very creative, two elements the CBC could use in its schedule.
Take a Web series to television
If you read the Canadian Comedy Awards nominees released yesterday, you'll notice nominees for a Web series. The next comedy hit may not come from films and theatre but the Internet.
photo credit: CBC