Monday, April 29, 2013

Hail And Farewell: CBC's Kirstine Stewart

Kirstine Stewart, for seven years CBC-TV's top programmer, is jumping ship to join Twitter Canada.
Her CBC tenure has been a rocky one and she collected the usual hits and misses along the way.
What she might have done given adequate resources is another story.
Because our federal governments, whether Liberal or Tory, just haven't been giving CBC adequate funds to defend itself against a mounting wave of American imports.
CBC's immediate predecessor Slawko Klymkiw tried to stem the invasion with a philosophy that would have turned CBC into a PBS of the North.
And that made for weaker than ever ratings which was a downer because CBC still requires half its revenues from advertising.
Under Stewart and her immediate boss Richard Stursberg CBC jettisoned any pretense at becoming a public broadcaster. Stursberg pursued ratings at a tragic cost for the CBC brand.
Almost all arts programming on TV was junked meaning the chattering classes had to turn to PBS for nourishment --they also began sending record amounts of dollars during those PBS pledge drives.
Stewart inherited a great sitcom with Little Mosque On The Prairie but couldn't develop the genre any more than that for years through such stinkers as Men With Brooms and InSecurity.
TV movies virtually disappeared save for biographies of Don Cherry and Gordie Howe.
A proposed series of TV movies on Canada's march to Confederation was jettisoned after one two-hour effort which CBC brass hated so much there was almost no publicity.
Stewart cagily took over The Murdoch Mysteries when Citytv canned the series after five seasons. Ratings have been strong in season six with a season seven ordered up.
And Republic Of Doyle is another lasting success of her tenure.
Stewart can also point to the longevity of Heartland and Arctic Air in Season Two as two more dramatic successes.
But the verdict is still out on this season's new entry Cracked which I personally like for the edgy acting skills of star David Sutcliffe.
Old reliables like Marketplace and Nature Of Things chugged right along despite the indifference of the front office.
And the lack of NHL hockey for much of the TV year proved how dependent CBC's cash flow is on this popular stand by --no wonder the private networks continue to hope they can cart it off one day.
A lot of the lethargy in the schedule is due to money woes.
I personally found Stewart bright and attentive and I wish her well in her new duties. I  sincerely doubt she could have done more considering the thin resources she was given.



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