Former ambassador slams CBC content

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TORONTO -- A former architect of Canadian TV policy said Thursday that the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has been "dumbed down" by relying too heavily on Hollywood movies.

"Over Christmas and New Year's, they put on 10 American movies in primetime," Jeremy Kinsman, a retired Canadian diplomat who helped write the 1988 federal Broadcasting Act, told the Vancouver Sun.

"I don't object that they were American movies -- I go to American movies -- but they were stupid movies like 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and 'The Santa Clause 2.' Is that what they think of their audience?" he questioned.

Kinsman, who is to deliver a keynote address Saturday morning at the Victoria Film Festival, said that, over the last 20 years, the pubcaster has not lived up to its mandate to develop and sustain Canadian culture.

"The CBC is not just a television network, it's a vehicle for artists and writers and, above all, news and information and discussion," he argued.

Kinsman, who was Canada's ambassador to the European Union for four years, likened the CBC's news and current affairs output to "The Hallmark Family News Channel."

The federal Broadcasting Act governs the country's TV regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which oversees domestic radio and TV networks including the CBC.

Canada's public broadcaster in recent years has returned to scheduling American programming and popular fare to boost sagging ratings.

Among its recent hit TV shows are comedy "Little Mosque on the Prairie" and "The Border," a drama about border security in the post-9/11 world.

Kinsman said that Canadian creative talent features widely in international opera houses and music halls and that he would prefer the CBC did more to showcase that talent.
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