Apocalypse Now II: Being Andrew Coyne

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Post will join forces to provide top online coverage of the Vancouver Games.

The collaboration, announced Wednesday, is a first for CBC — and one that will allow both organizations to use their resources to the fullest, said Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports and general manager, of CBC media sales and marketing

I told you so. Remember when the CBC and the Post announced a content-sharing agreement that would leverage each organization’s strengths — CBC on sports, Post on Business?  I warned you at the time that this was only the beginning.  Not only that, but I warned you about the problems with broadcasters and newspapers getting together. I see no one is listening to me.

Let’s look at this new agreement.  According to Scott Moore of CBC sales and marketing, this partnership will provide Canadians with “up to the moment coverage of every aspect of the Games, delivered to our audiences whenever and however they require it” and will involve a “co-branded Olympic Winter Games website featuring continuous coverage”.

This is no longer about two organizations leveraging their own strengths in two separate areas of coverage. They have now combined forces on a single issue, for a single event, offering “co-branded” coverage. That is, for the purposes of the Olympics coverage, the CBC and the Post have effectively merged.

This makes no sense.  Isn’t “up to the minute coverage” what all news organizations are supposed to be doing these days? If the CBC isn’t offering us up to the minute coverage in all aspects of news, what does it think it is doing? How can we trust it, once the Olympics are done?

There are two ways of looking at this. One, the National Post, a private newspaper, is now increasingly funded by the taxpayer.

Two, the CBC is being increasingly privatized.

Either way, the implications are profound. As I asked before, should the CBC’s public subsidy be reduced proportionately in line with the amount of privately-funded content it runs? What does the CBC union think of this?

But this co-branding of a single event makes the whole thing even more problematic. It is hard to think of an event that is more of a political minefield than a domestic Olympics. What happens if the CBC runs a column or editorial denouncing Olympics as a pointless spectacle, or what if the Post’s editors find the CBC’s coverage pointlessly boosterish or ridiculously politically correct?  What if there are more allegations about political interference in the Olympics, as there has already been with respect to the Torch Relay and the uniform logo?

What a mess.

I warned you.

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