Save CBC Radio's "Search Engine" -- join the Facebook group

Last year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation created a new radio show, Search Engine, to chronicle the shifts being wrought upon global culture and politics as a consequence of technology. It was smart, funny, broke important stories, changed Canadian politics, won awards, and was a global success.

So the CBC cancelled it.

Now a group of Search Engine fans have created a Facebook group to save the show -- and they want you to sign up, too.

One of the best and most successful shows on CBC radio, Search Engine, an award winning newsmagazine about the Internet and cyberculture, is inexplicably being shut down by management.

Join us in registering our displeasure, sadness and frustration with the CBC's management, and petitioning that the show be allowed to live on.

Link (Thanks, Alfred!)

(Disclosure: I am a paid columnist for Search Engine)


  1. I’m normally not a conspiracy theorist. But wasn’t Search Engine the program that made life difficult for Jim Prentice? And isn’t CBC (partly) funded by the government?
    Are we to think that there is no connection there?

  2. Conspiracy? I doubt it. The government of Canada is usually very supportive of all CBC content – critical or not.
    Seems to me they have a funding problem.

  3. If its a funding problem I’m more than willing to donate. Just show me the PayPal link and I’m there.

  4. The CBC seems to be in a bit of money difficulty right now. Shutting down the CBC Orchestra (funding). Not renewing the famous Hockey Night in Canada Theme (funding, disguised as wanting “a new direction”) and now this.

    But my question is what did they bring in that’s sucking all the money away? Or is it a conspircay theory? Mine would be: CBC makes original content, which means content that competes, theoretically with the products that those behind the copyright bill make/ market/ support. So maybe choke out some of the competition while they got Prentice doing other oral services?

  5. Just curious — what important stories did it break? How did it change Canadian politics? In what sense is it one of CBC radio’s “most successful” shows?

    I can’t say I would think of it ranking among the many wonderful things on CBC (e.g. Ideas, Quirks and Quarks. Even Q.) But I’d love to be educated on the topic.

  6. I think the big problem with CBC radio, much like CBC televisions, is that they’re confusing their cultural mandate with the expectation to produce profit.

    The whole point of the CBC is to represent and dissminate the cultural distinctiveness of Canada, but because of being partially funded by private industry via paid advertisements they now have to worry far more about viewership/listenership. So much so that they cancel acclaimed programming just because the numbers aren’t there. Taken from Straight.Com:

    “While CBC’s Rick Mercer Report attracts 987,000 viewers on average, jPod floundered at a third of that—318,000—according to Heath-Eves. The also-cancelled MVP ’s average was 279,000, compared to Little Mosque on the Prairie’s 822,000. And The Border attracts 624,000, compared to Intelligence’s audience of 267,000.”

    The fact that 10 times as many people live south of the border, compared to north of it, really skews expectations with respect to viewership for obvious reasons. But then again, how do you distiguish populism as a basis of profit from populism as a basis of culture?

    Of course they haven’t had a “Town Hall” televised events since one person called Chretien out on his not getting rid of the GST. Maybe the Conservative gov’t did cancel the show to send a message to the broadcaster as a whole. Any former CBC employees around here that would like to comment?

  7. and yes, the Canadian government WILL punish CBC if it is “too” critical – meaning “at all”.

  8. I think the big problem with CBC radio, much like CBC televisions, is that they’re confusing their cultural mandate with the expectation to produce profit.

    How does CBC Radio profit at all? They don’t have commercials.

  9. Nooooo!!!

    This was such an interesting, timely and progressive show, I can’t believe it got the axe.


    If you are geniunely interested in finding out more about the show, I highly recommend that you go to and listen to the episodes. Hopefully the CBC will continue to archive the entire run even after the show’s no longer on the air.

    I have no difficulties ranking “Search Engine” in the same category as “Ideas” and “Quirks & Quarks”, which are also two of my favourite CBC shows (ditto goes for the sadly defunct “And Sometimes Y”).

    Important Stories:

    I don’t know that it *broke* any “important stories” per se, but it did something new and significant which was shine a bright light on the ways in which internet-related technologies are impacting culture, society and politics the world over. In particular it brought visibility to topics that many people would care deeply about if only they were aware of them, such as: gold farming, net neutrality, copyright reform and blogging as a tool for political dissent.

    It may also have caused a news story of its own, by likely being the reason that the domain was inaccessible from China for several months.

    Impact on Canadian Politics:

    It’s probably fair to say that the increased visibility that “Search Engine” gave to Jim Prentice’s attempts to push through a “Canadian DMCA” last year (without consulting any major stakeholders other than big industry) enabled grass-roots organizations to stage a flash mob at Prentice’s Christmas party, and was probably a major cause of the nearly six-month delay in the bill being presented to Parliament.

    I had high hopes that “Search Engine” would also push the issue of Net Neutrality to the forefront of public awareness, especially in light of all the “legitimate” uses that BitTorrents would capably support if only they didn’t get throttled by the ISPs.

    Its being one of the Most Successful Shows:

    Firstly, I think it’s a very successful show because *I* really really like it, and keep telling all my friends that they should listen to it. If you want something a little more impartial, I believe that it held the #1 position for most downloaded CBC podcast for a while. Yes, you can argue that the population of podcast consumers is likely to have tastes that are biased towards tech-themed shows like “Search Engine”, but if it was a crappy show (poorly executed, vapid content, etc.) then people wouldn’t keep downloading it, techies or not. For more accolades, see

    Why it’ll always be special to me:

    It made me give Cory Doctorow a second glance, and he’s since become my favourite Science Fiction author (also my favourite activist, but I didn’t have one of those beforehand). Downside: I’ve now become hooked on BoingBoing.

  10. Arrgh…this TOTALLY sucks. Search Engine is one of my favorite podcasts; a well-produced, intelligent, topical and insightful technology show.

  11. CBC Radio 1 does have another technology show called Spark. Perhaps the execs thought there might be too much overlap between both shows.

    Just a thought.

  12. Umm … at the end of the last show didn’t the host (naturally can’t remember his name right now) say he was moving on to actual television stories or was this just a thinly-veiled “pursuing other career opportunities” sort of thing?

  13. Either it wasn’t getting good ratings (it’s time slot was horrible) or some clever person is trying to get a few more bucks out of the podcast commercials by gatering demographic data for the
    podcast audience.

    Since Post number 11 above claims Search Engine was (for a time) the most downloaded podcast at CBC.. I’m leaning towards the later hypothesis.

  14. Hey #11, I appreciate the response. I have heard several episodes of Search Engine already, and while I didn’t have the same reaction you did, I didn’t hate it. (Although I do think the post on the front page of boing boing is a little unnecessarily breathless for what is an interesting, promising, original show that is also a little gimmicky, uneven, and suffers in comparison to some of the really terrific interviewers on CBC radio.) I should fully disclose the depth of my retrogradeness: I’m off now to listen to some “Age of Persuasion”.

  15. #10:

    D’oh! My bad. I don’t know why I made that obvious mistake. :( However, CBC Radio podcasts are sponsored by corporate interests, but that’s neither here nor there.

    So, if profit isn’t an issue, then listener-ship is less critical to gauge success. This would make the cancellation an even bigger issue in my mind, with political interference being a likely culprit.


    “Age of Persuasion” is one of my absolute favorite radio shows on CBC 1, and it’s such a shame that they’re not actively moving towards having a podcast:

  16. Research shows the CBC has caved to the Chinese Government before. It seems that most possible reason that “Search Engine ” was canceled was due to pressure from the Chinese Government or Canadians associated with the CBC doing business with the Chinese government for the program’s investigation of censorship there.

    It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Foreign Interests have previously caused the CBC to cancel new stories. The common people of the world are becoming repressed by one vast co-operative international elite. International boundaries are obsolete as are political system,s. It’s becoming the oppressors versus the oppressed.

    Note the following newstory.

    CBC Cancels Documentary at Behest of Chinese Embassy in Disturbing Move
    (11/12/2007 1:27)

    Note that the CBC did not account to the public for it’s decision. The CBC does not report on itself. It doesn’t report who owns it or what organizations it works in collusion with or who tells it what to do but it certainly has an agenda and takes orders and direction from certain sections of the power elite and certainly not from the public. The public is something it manipulates. Who the puppeteers are is unknown and never reported on in the MSM.

    In celebration of Canada Day and on account of this depressing news story I decided not to listen to any radio TV or MSM today, instead I will play Beethoven and use this day to to take a rest and totally ignore Canada and the media propagndists.

Comments are closed.