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TORONTO – A Canadian TV watchdog group has launched spoof commercials that portray an American TV wrestling promoter buying the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and stuffing its newscasts with brawny wrestlers as anchors and ring girls as weather presenters.
That’s the grim privatization scenario TV viewers here are being asked to ponder after the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, representing around domestic 50,000 TV viewers, unveiled two satirical videos directed by Mitchell Gabourie.
“Canadians are going to love this. I mean, let’s be honest. They’re very unique in that they’re like Americans, except for the Quebeckians, who are more like the Puerto Ricans,” Fury, played by comic David Huband, says of his intended newsroom overhaul.
The online YouTube campaign, dubbed Stop the CBC Smackdown, parodies Canadian fears about the country’s culturally-sensitive TV networks being owned and operated by American media giants.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has used humor before to hammer home messaging about Canadian culture, including four earlier commercial spots that featured a Hollywood director, played again Huband and directed by Gabourie, making hokey films about classic Canuck icons like Rocket Richard, John A. Macdonald and Bobby Orr.
The latest Smackdown videos also follow persistent speculation that a cost-conscious federal government may privatize all or some of the CBC to help balance the books in Ottawa.
The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting wants the federal government to maintain its current $1.1 billion annual Parliamentary appropriation to the CBC’s English and French language radio and TV networks.
That’s unlikely, as CBC brass now face a likely 10 percent cut to the federal subsidy and the end to another $60 million supplemental grant.
That scenario portends deep job and programming cuts at the public broadcaster.
“A ten percent cut to the CBC’s budget, as the Conservatives are contemplating, would have devastating consequences that would be visible and of great concern to the vast majority of Canadians,” Ian Morrison, a spokesman for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said.
The CBC watchdog group also unveiled Angus Reid polling results that indicate only 17 percent of Canadians favor a reduction in funding for the public broadcaster by Ottawa.
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