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Reluctant Tyee readers pick CBC radio over TV

In her most recent column, Shannon Rupp argued that "Canada is a radio nation," and that if cuts to the CBC must be made, they should be to eliminate CBC TV in favour of improving CBC Radio.

This week, The Tyee asked readers whether they agree with that idea. Roughly 68 per cent of the nearly 800 people who had responded by Thursday afternoon said yes, they would cut CBC TV in favour of CBC Radio.

Personal preference for one medium over the other seemed to be the main factor in respondents' decisions:

"We neither have a TV nor do we watch it. But we do listen to the CBC each day."

"Radio is so much better and varied than TV."

"Radio unique and fabulous. TV average at best."

This was true for the 33 per cent who voted no as well:

"I prefer CBC TV."

"I do watch CBC television, but do not listen to CBC radio."

But after sharing their preferred medium, many respondents took issue with the question. If they had to choose, they'd pick the one they like better, but they shouldn't have to choose, they argued:

"CBC Radio is a superior source of news and ideas that is more easily accessible than television. That doesn't mean that the excellent news programming at CBC TV should be cut -- they should be preserved and supported. But CBC overall should focus on its news gathering and documentary-making skills/resources, which are considerable and generally superior to other media outlets. CBC's entertainment shows should be the first on the chopping block. I am also not sad to see hockey go on TV, as it will be picked up by other news agencies."

"I agree that radio is a national treasure and that TV plays second fiddle. Nevertheless if I had a choice I would cut the Harper Government and fund the CBC."

"We need an essential Canada wide radio station. BUT, we shouldn't have to decide between them ever. I would favour putting more tax dollars into both."

Other respondents made the "keep both" argument on the grounds of the CBC's mandate as a public service broadcaster:

"No need to cut both. There should be no budget cuts or privatization, nor any paid ads on CBC radio. Both are a valuable component of Canadian culture and heritage as well as being informative, educational and entertaining."

"Without it, who would be producing television in Yellowknife, St. Johns... and showing us the diversity of our great country."

Many others offered their own suggestions for what to keep and what to cut:

"... scrap English TV now in favour of radio, podcast, online. Create a canadaflix instead of netflix, and make creation of impactful and engaging canadian content the core mandate of the cbc. Time to reinvent the cbc as media changes. Imagine if billions were invested in creation of online media, canada could be a leader. Also, let's avoid PBS-like tv -- boring, oldish, yuck. Better to go with the trends and focus on new content that is broadly engaging and relevant, that defines and reflects our country."

"If that's the only choice I had, yes. However, I'm in favour of showing ONLY Canadian content on CBC television, even if that restricts the broadcasting day to less hours. Between Canadian independent films, old (but good) series (Slings and Arrows for example) and a ton of NBC films, that should do us for a while. American stuff can be seen on other channels so why bother with it."

And one person framed the question in terms of the human cost of cuts, to the delight of Canadian journalists everywhere, surely:

"I definitely agree with Shannon Rupp that Canada is a radio nation, and I adore CBC Radio. It's a daily part of my life in a way that CBC TV isn't -- but I'm not in favour of cutting CBC TV, which I think also provides vital current affairs programming and in-depth reporting to Canadians. I also think this is a bit of strange question to pose, because as much as it's an interesting intellectual exercise to talk about the future of our public broadcaster, what we're actually talking about here is cutting hundreds of jobs from an organization that's already been so hard hit. I worry that people are treating this as an abstract questions without thinking about the many, many talented journalists whose jobs would be made redundant by cutting CBC TV. I get that people have a vested interest in the future of the CBC and as it's the public broadcaster feel they have a greater right to decide what happens to it, but I find this armchair-directing about who should get fired really unfortunate. Rather than debating who we should fire -- why not redirect our energies to pressure the government to reinvest in the CBC?"

The Tyee Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather is intended to simply get the pulse of Tyee readers and the wider community. This week's poll will remain open through the end of the day on Sunday.

Ian Holliday is completing a practicum at The Tyee and is the website's resident poll analyst. Follow him on Twitter @Ian_Holliday.

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