In anticipation of the federal budget cuts to the CBC and the release of former CBC Executive Richard Stursberg’s new book The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, TheStar.com launched a microsite and contest called The Network. Since its inception in March, The Network has provided a platform for Canadians to share their ideas about the future of the CBC and national public broadcasting.
Over 200 pitches have been submitted online so far, through written entries or YouTube videos, to the Pitch a Show contest on The Network. In order to enter, contestants must include a brief explanation of why Canadians would want to watch their new show concept.
Users can vote and comment on all of the submissions. One of the most popular contest video submissions so far is for a “Canada Town Hall.” Check out the video here.
The three most popular entries (in each category) with the highest votes will then be judged in a final round by a panel of experts (including three former CBC decision makers). The contestant with the best pitch will win an iPad and gain exposure to film and TV producers who will view the top entries. The Pitch a Show contest is still accepting submissions until Wednesday, May 16th.
According to Jordan Himelfarb, editor of The Network, a lot of the submissions have been in the entertainment and reality TV (think Dragon’s Den and Battle of the Blades) categories. Himelfarb says that “the pitch submissions are a gauge of what Canadians want to watch on the CBC. Surprisingly, a lot of the ideas so far have been in line with what many critics feel should be the domain of private (not public) broadcasting.”
In Himelfarb’s article, which explains the inspiration for The Network in more detail, he explains that “the fate of our public broadcaster should not be decided in private.” That’s why The Network microsite also offers a crowd sourcing platform called Grade the CBC, which lists all of the CBC TV and radio programs.
Canadians can comment and vote on each show, giving a grade out of ten. Himelfarb says that the grades for some shows might surprise you. Of course, none of these grades will directly have an impact on which shows get cancelled due to budget cuts. Still, the grades and comments provide interesting insight into what Canadians truly do want to watch or listen to on the CBC.
So, if you have a great pitch for the next Dragon’s Den TV show, or want to share your perspective on CBC programming, head on over to the microsite to join the conversation.