Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Letter to CBC Kids

Most mornings during the week my boys watch a couple shows on CBC Kids and for the most part I am quite impressed with the clear intentionality about their thoughtful programming. It is better than most of their shows for adults, actually. They even have Canadian indie musicians come on and sing songs for kids.

However, a couple weeks ago I realized I had a complaint and I decided to write them off an email. It involved a moral issue, but I really didn't want to come across as if I was trying to hold my moral standard over them as if they should automatically hold to the same one as I do. Not that there would never be a place for that, mind you, but in this case I really just felt like I wanted to affirm them and at the same time make them aware that as a parent I felt like they could help me out a bit more.

So here is what I wrote, followed by their response:

Hello,

I appreciate kidscbc and the barenaked ladies both. Both seem fairly concerned with children and good parenting, and having your shows on makes our mornings a lot more manageable. We have two young boys and no cable. So don't take this as a vehement letter or anything.

I just wonder if you have to say "bare naked ladies" so much in your recent concert commercials? Don't get me wrong, that's the band name, the band is doing good stuff, and the name is a joke, and I get it. I like the band. I can even explain the joke to my kids and still teach them the appropriate places for nudity and privacy and respect and so on. But it just seems like it gets taken to the limit. Doesn't Patty say something at the end about "let's get bare naked"? That seems a bit much. I mean, I can explain to my kids it is a play on words and a joke and all, but this just seems really irresponsible.

It makes me not want to have the concert special on, actually. I picture myself having to explain this joke over and over, and at the same time tell my boys that I don't really want them joking like that themselves.

It isn't even that great a joke. I mean, how many times have I heard it on etalk? I've seen both, and kidscbc has way better writers than etalk! I'm sure you can do better.

Anyway, don't get me wrong. I appreciate your programming. I guess two weeks in a row of this little ditty finally got to me and I thought I'd let you know that I hope in the future you'll be a bit more careful.

Thanks, sincerely,

Jon Coutts
Caronport, SK


Here is their reply:

Dear Parent,

Thank you so much for writing to us and letting us know your concerns about the way we have been promoting the upcoming musical event on Kids’ CBC featuring Canadian band Barenaked Ladies. Firstly, I want you to know that we reviewed all of our promotional material and based on your feedback and the feedback of other parents we have removed any references that might give the impression we want kids to “go bare naked”.

As the Executive in Charge of Production for Kids’ Canada I’d like you to know that we take great care to create exciting, developmentally appropriate shows for your kids and mine. In this case, we clearly let our excitement at featuring one of the country’s favourite bands get the better of us. The campaign was created in a spirit of fun, and was not meant to be offensive in any way, but we acknowledge that it may not have been the best choice of promotion. We have made changes to our on-air and online promos regarding the Barenaked Ladies joining us on Kids’ Canada and the related contest.

We encourage and value the input of parents and caregivers and want you to know that your feedback will help us create the trustworthy, unique and unforgettable programming that Canadian children and their families value and deserve. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any more questions or concerns.

Yours truly,

Executive in Charge of Production and Development
Children’s and Youth Programming
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation



All in all I'm pretty happy with how it went, and while perhaps an innocent matter, am glad I wrote. Too often I don't bother writing these letters for fear of being the jerk with the editorial smack-down. But maybe that's the problem, we leave the feedback to the squeaky wheels and don't engage in the cultural dialogue where it matters to us.

Anyway, I'm quite impressed with these folks at CBC kids and figured I'd share that.

3 comments:

Neil E. Dainio said...

Good for you Jon.
And good for the CBC.

When I first saw the AD on TV.
I did raise an eyebrow of concern.
And I am not a parent.

I am just wondering?

The Executive in Charge of Production and Development
Children's and Youth Programming
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Is that the way the writer signed off in the email.
Without leaving a full given name?

jon said...

I left the name out just because I never actually asked the person if I could post it.

Tony Tanti said...

Kudos to CBC for seeing the error and changing it. Like you said, not a huge deal but worth bringing up I'd say.

Interestingly, the letter from the CBC Executive smacks of a form letter which likely means you weren't the only one complaining.