The changes at OMNI foreshadow a far bigger upheaval within the Canadian broadcasting world. Regulators have embraced change with the full knowledge that many channels will face elimination under the emerging framework.
The Internet being a global phenomenon, there is now an obvious discrepancy between the rules applying to Canadian broadcasters, and what companies like Netflix can "broadcast" in Canada through a website or an app. When certain companies are subject to restrictive regulation while some of their competitors are not, there are calls from the regulated companies for the same rules to apply to their competitors.
For almost a year now, Canada's broadcast regulator has been holding an important conversation with Canadians about the future of television. And while the effort, dubbed "Let's Talk TV," has heard from individual Canadians, the Commission has so far not addressed some of the most important issues.
In assessing the health of both public and private broadcasters based on several criteria including revenues and program quality the health of the private sector was found to be directly correlated with the health of the public broadcaster.
The National Post ran a commentary saying CBC seemed incapable of reinventing itself, which may be true, and concluded that it didn't matter since TV viewing was in decline and the television industry, that is, networks, cable, etc. wouldn't exist in its present form in "maybe two years." This blissfully ignores the fact that TV viewing and cable/satellite subscriptions have shown no decline.
When I defend the CBC, it's because I'm defending the idea of Canadian culture and identity and I see the CBC as, for now, a necessary part of that. But when people criticize the CBC, I suspect it's part of a deeper and far more, well, insidious agenda that stretches well beyond public broadcasting.