Friday, March 11, 2005

"Just because a book is not a current best-seller doesn't mean it's not important"

Much hoopla about the impending cancellation of the TVO show Imprint. I know I'm supposed to be a good sport and everything, but I've always found the show exceedingly lame (well, except for the time Lisa was on). Here's an excerpt from an e-mail message someone on the Lex list received from TVO:
We also plan to look at other ways to leverage the years of excellent work and programming that have gone into Imprint. We are sure there are many book clubs and avid readers out there who would like to be able to go onto the TVO website and find information on key books. Just because a book is not a current best-seller doesn't mean it's not important -- and we can play a valuable role by helping people find out more about some of the world's best books and authors. So, that's just one of the ideas we're working with to see how our viewers can continue to benefit from the many years we have invested in this program.
Is it just me, or is this person doing a bad job of reining in his or her inner Casey Kasem now that the show is destined for the dumpster? This message goes a long way toward confirming my suspicion that the show is all about the consumption of books and only incidentally about reading as some form of self- or community-directed inquiry (of course I don't mean to deny pleasure a role).

In the interest of being a not-so-grumpy guy, I'll post info. about something you can do if you like the show:


After 16 seasons, the Gemini-award winning series Imprint is being nixed by its parent, provincial education broadcaster TVO. Imprint is the longest-running series about books, writers and publishers in this country, and one of only three available on public (as opposed to subscriber-based) television.

Although revenue from the province is not decreasing, a large percentage of TVO?s provincial funding this year has been ear-marked for educational initiatives, rather than on-air programming, reducing TVOntario's operating budget by 4.7 million dollars. Imprint is one of the first two casualties in the broadcaster?s plan to prioritize revenue generation in 2005/6.

As writers, people in the publishing industry and patrons and supporters of the arts, we understand the social, cultural and educational importance of publicly accessible programming about books, publishing and ideas. As taxpayers, furthermore, we have the right to express opinions as to how our dollars are (not) spent.

I hope that you might join other interested parties by adding your signature to the letter below. You can add your name by sending an e-mail by next Monday (March 14th) at 5 p.m. to: stating your name and, if you choose, your profession or affiliation. And please forward this message to anyone you think might share this concern.

With thanks,

Camilla Gibb

March 15, 2005

Dear Ms. Bassett,

We the undersigned are writing to express our profound dismay at TVO?s very regrettable decision to cancel its award-winning show IMPRINT.

As writers, people in the publishing industry, and patrons and supporters of the arts, we have depended on IMPRINT as one of very few publicly available programmes that provide a focused forum for intellectual discourse based on books published in this country and abroad. In showcasing the work of both visiting and resident writers of considerable influence, as well as introducing cutting-edge work by new and emerging writers in this country, IMPRINT has occupied a unique and fertile niche, one perfectly in line with TVO?s commitment to producing distinctive, educational programming.

Given the provincial government?s stipulation that more expenditure be geared toward educational initiatives, we are astonished that IMPRINT should be cancelled. Simply put: what could be more educational than books? If you believe in TVO?s responsibility as a public educational broadcaster to promote learning, literacy and curiosity about the world then this is a decision that strikes us as short-sighted at best. If our literature? fiction or non-fiction?is not recognized for its cultural, social and educational importance, then Canada will be in a sorry state.

If the bottom line is one of revenue and viewership, IMPRINT could have better served you, and been better served by you, by being positioned anywhere other than opposite the CTV News and Jon Stewart?s The Daily Show. That?s simply fatal positioning.

We urge you to reconsider. We can assure you there is a demand?a very public demand, as you will see from the list of signatories below?for programming focused exclusively on books and book matters.

Respectfully yours,

Cc/ Canadian Media Guild

The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario Minister of Culture


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