Radio 2 and Espace Musique this week are introducing the first on-air advertisements on the CBC since the 1970s after the network was given permission to do so by the CRTC.
Source: Toronto Star
A new commercial reality was gently ushered in at CBC Radio 2 this week as the network began airing commercials for the first time since the ‘70s.
Few listeners weighed in on social media, but those who did were consistent.
“Just heard a Chevy Ad on CBC Radio 2. Weird and slightly disturbing.” —— tweeted @Ajsimard on Tuesday.
Two hours later @Gustavius tweeted: “Did I just hear a f---ing AD for OnStar on CBC Radio 2?”
He certainly did.
The CRTC approved four minutes of commercials per hour when it renewed the broadcast licenses of Radio 2 and Espace Musique last.
Although advertisers are clamouring, the network doesn’t expect to hit full ad capacity until later this month, said Chris Boyce, Executive Director, CBC Radio and Audio.
“We’re doing it slowly to make sure all our systems working properly,” he explained. “Our traffic system, which runs the schedule, was never designed with advertising.”
The incremental pace may help listeners with the transition. Boyce and Director of Music Programming, Mark Steinmetz, gave them a heads up by posting an explanatory note on the website the day before the first ad, a 60-second GM OnStar commercial, debuted.
The pair cited “a significant revenue gap that resulted from cuts to our funding, as well as other financial pressures that the Corporation faces. The revenue from advertising has allowed us to avoid more significant cuts to programming and the services we offer.”
Ian Morrison, spokesperson for watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting fears CBC is “moving away from the distinction between a public service broadcaster and a commercial broadcaster” by hosting ads projected to raise about $6 to 10 million annually.
“The amount of revenue that is being raised by this is rather modest, a few million dollars,” he explained. “About $200 million of the taxpayers’ money funds Radio One and something like $15 million of the taxpayers’ money funds Radio 2….Why would CBC pick on this very specialized musical programming that CBC is famous for and put ads on that and not on other services?
“You could sell just a matter of 10 or 20 more ads on Hockey Night In Canada and raise the same amount of money. We don’t think it makes good business sense.”
Recent listener research found Radio 2 fans sympathetic to their economic plight, said Boyce. They may be typical of Toronto administrator Allegra Young:
“…if additional funding from ad space means that I can still listen to the CBC, then I support that decision,” she told the Star.
In the face of complaints from commercial radio licensees, the CRTC is only allowed the CBC to carry national advertising, which accounts for about 30 per cent of total radio revenues nationally, verses local advertising, which represents the largest source of revenues for national radio broadcasters.
The CBC will have to reapply for permission to air ads in three years and show that this period has not adversely affected ad markets or listeners.
Boyce promised “no changes to the format, the music, the range of music, or the programming planned. We think the appeal of Radio 2 to advertisers is how unique and distinctive the service is.”
In the meantime, his team has to figure out how to run advertising without alienating fans.
“We’ve developed a set of guidelines around the types of advertising, the tone, the style, that we think is suitable for the service,” said Boyce.
“The type of advertising that we want to avoid is jarring, intrusive, heavy guitar tracks, over amped…. and our commitment is that were not going to interrupt music more than twice an hour for commercials.”
© Toronto Star