I need more grass. Or is that roots?

Yikes – 29 comments on the “Canadians don’t watch Canadian TV” article. Some of them don’t even make me roll my eyes. And for more weirdness, I was a guest on CBC radio in Saskatchewan today, chatting about the same topic. I go into autopilot when I’m nervous, so it’s all a blur, but we chatted about the same kinds of things as in the article, plus the stigma thing, and the few callers they had time for were all very supportive of Canadian TV and agreed with pretty much everything the host and I said. I guess – duh – CBC radio listeners are less likely to be CBC TV bashers.

But … I kind of like being challenged, so it wasn’t quite as interesting as the discussion on TV, Eh? And I got asked things like “did Brian get his just desserts on Da Vinci’s Inquest?” (There was a Brian?) I guess I did get across that I’m a TV fan, not an industry expert, then.

I got to plug Intelligence quite a bit, since it’s my current example of a great CBC show, the pilot/movie is one of my examples of a show I heard about after it originally aired, and it’s an example of what I think is poor scheduling (up against House, a Law and Order, and The Unit). Plus the Da Vinci questioner asked what happened to that show, so I mentioned the creator and one of the actors went on to do Intelligence.

We also mentioned the usual suspects, Corner Gas, Trailer Park Boys, Degrassi – none of which I actually watch, but respect as popular, well-done shows that have managed to capture an audience.

A caller lamented the loss of This is Wonderland, and pointed to the Gemini nominations as proof that it shouldn’t have been cancelled. Awards don’t mean ratings though. And even the kazillionaire American networks can’t figure out the formula to make quality=ratings.

If the problems with the Canadian TV industry are basically quality, promotion, and stigma … well, I can’t help with quality, but the TV, Eh? site is trying to help with promotion and stigma. It’s just overwhelming, the size of the task versus the limits of my ability to help. Because if I’m the grassroots movement to support the industry? God help Canadian TV. I need to start working on a posse.

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8 Responses to I need more grass. Or is that roots?

  1. wcdixon says:

    Again – I take my hat off to you Diane for even getting the ball rolling. If it gets to be too much, I don’t any of us will hold it against you for letting it go. Or maybe we can lobby the Canuck nets to help finance that posse, eh? Hmmmm…

  2. Diane Kristine says:

    Oh, it’s not that I’d let it go … the pressure I’m feeling (self-created, of course) is that the purpose of the site is to link to existing content, but a huge part of the problem is that the media doesn’t cover Canadian TV well. I’m getting requests to write about the shows myself, and can’t cover it all, and feel guilty if I say no. I’m thinking of trying to harness the Canadian Blogcritics or something, but need to give more thought to how I could maybe start a network of reviewers.

  3. DMc says:

    Nope —

    The solution is not to do their job for them.

    But I would give it another month, and then write an article with your context: explain your difficulties, how you came to start the site, and then bust out the info that only you can bust out:

    -which networks are helpful and responsive
    -which are hopeless about promoting their stuff

    With rankings and examples of each.

    See — you can do this because you’re a citizen blogger. We can’t because we’re beholden to those same networks.

    If publicity is part of the problem, then let’s figure out who doesn’t return phone calls, send out tapes or releases, or have art ready and on hand.

    But for heaven’s sake don’t feel you have to do their work for them.

  4. Jutratest says:

    Yeah. I like that. You can’t be punished Diane.

    Start naming names.

    Nail their bland corporatized asses to the wall.

  5. Diane Kristine says:

    That’s part of it, and I think that’s a good idea, DMc, if I can get over my guilt at naming names.

    But I meant the media isn’t responsive to even the networks/shows that are good at publicity. How many articles have you seen in the paper about Intelligence? They’ve been amazingly responsive to me – not even responsive, but proactive. You know they’re not just focusing on me and not the major media.

    I don’t even blame the media – their job is to sell papers, and the perception (based in reality) is that no one cares about Canadian TV.

    I do blame the media for being sleazy about this: I’ve heard (and experienced this long ago when I worked in theatre PR) that many will offer editorial coverage if you buy ad space. But if you can’t afford ad space …

    But how great would it be if blogs were abuzz with the latest Canadian show? Whether it’s positive or negative reviews, at least it would get people talking about these shows, and yeah, maybe then the mainstream media would pick up on what people are talking about.

    But that’s the pie in the sky dream. Right now, I just think it would be great to start small and get some more of us little guys covering the shows, so I could tell the publicists who are doing their jobs that while I don’t have time/am not particularly interested in that genre, the screener/interview could go to someone else and I’d link to it. Right now, I don’t have any someone elses up my sleeve, but I think I could tap into at least a few if I can figure out how to organize it.

  6. Brent McKee says:

    Dianne, I wish you would have mentioned that you were going to be on CBC Radio 1 in Saskatchewan – I normally listen to Radio 2, commercial radio being a wasteland as far as I’m concerned. This being Saskatchewan you would undoubtedly have gotten questions on Corner Gas but I’d have been interested to have heard whether the CBC audience was more or less interested and knowledgeable in discussing Canadian television programming than the audience on a commercial station.

  7. Diane Kristine says:

    It happened quickly, Brent, plus … I would have been even more nervous if I’d had to think about the fact that people might be listening.

    We talked for about 15 minutes, only maybe 3-4 questions, really just comments on what shows they enjoy (Corner Gas, Da Vinci, This is Wonderland … maybe others, can’t remember) and agreeing that publicity is a problem, and that we can’t compete with the American publicity machine. They seemed to be all familiar with and appreciative of CBC’s dramas, which I’m sure isn’t true of the general public. It made for a bit of a dull Q&A, I thought. Give me controversy!

    I suspect on a commercial station there would have been more reaction like on the Canadian Press article – people who haven’t seen a Canadian show since Beachcombers lamenting the fact that Canadian TV sucks.

  8. Trevor J. says:

    In one way (and it’s somewhat depressing to contemplate), there’s nothing new about any of this – almost every English-speaking country in the world has been grappling with this problem since the medium began (i.e. how to convince viewers to give homegrown programming a chance). The UK is the only place I know of where they’ve had any kind of sustained success in this, managing to get the public to switch on British shows in preference to US imports, which by and large get relegated to non-primetime hours and/or the also-ran networks – and even that’s a relatively recent success (the 70s and 80s were quite different, if I recall correctly). Might be interesting/helpful/useful to know what they do differently there.

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