CBC + RSS = Confusion?

It would seem to me that if I was the CBC, I would want my work product spread as far and wide as possible. They’re a public service, after all, with a primary goal being something along the lines of “the greater good of all mankind.”

So if there was ever a technology that lent itself to eager and quick adoption by the CBC, you would think it would be the web syndication facilities offered by technologies like RSS.

RSS provides the CBC with an opportunity to, at no cost, spread its content to new and interesting audiences.

Thinking that perhaps I’d missed something, and that the CBC actually does provide RSS feeds, I sent an exploratory email to the contact address listed for their Free Headlines service (a complex, proprietary server-side solution that forces syndicators to accept the CBC’s “look and feel” and affords none of the benefits of RSS). To which I received the following response:

Following your request, it is impossible to send you any RSS feed due to our strict policy. We understand your point, but we do not send it to particulars. We hope this will answer your questions

The mind boggles. On so many levels.


Jevon's picture
Jevon on October 22, 2003 - 19:16 Permalink

I haven’t had time to look, but barring a usage agreement for their content, scraping the CBC site to make various RSS feeds would be a breeze.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on October 22, 2003 - 19:17 Permalink

Excuse my use of the term “breeze” — it wouldn’t be /that/ easy.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 22, 2003 - 19:21 Permalink

I ran a scraped RSS version of The Guardian for several years — enough so that, mostly be virtue of being part of the “Netscape Network” — it got some wide distribution. The problem was (a) murkiness about copyright, (b) stress on my personal server, not The Guardian’s, (c) problems inherent with scraping and (d) no integration into the paper’s regular web presence. Scraping isn’t the answer to this problem.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on October 22, 2003 - 19:42 Permalink

It would, however, make a clear point if it was well adopted.

Did you scrape on demand, or did you cache the Guardian data?

Charles Krause's picture
Charles Krause on October 27, 2003 - 00:29 Permalink

Depends what you are scraping. Scraping into an RSS feed should alleviate a lot of these issues — which is different than scrapting for CONTENT. Scraping HEADLINES only links back to the originating site — making THEM the _content_ provider. So…

a) You are not echoing content — they still control access — so no copyright problems

b) Well — yes — this is a problem if you are providing service for many people. However, distributing the software that allows people to scrape their own would alleviate that…

c) Scraping is not a ‘peice of cake’ — but the fact that you can use regular expressions, and the fact that MANY webistes use article links that include a ‘tell-tale’ word in their URL ( …/stories/ariticle/… ), makes extracting links a LOT easier.

d) If you’re providing a LINK back to the originating site’s website, then you are DIRECTLY integrated into the paper’s regular web prescence.

Michael Fagan's picture
Michael Fagan on October 27, 2003 - 23:14 Permalink

>Strict Policy

What policy is that? I think this should be followed up. I’m sure they can be convinced of it eventually. Give them the BBC as an example.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 28, 2003 - 01:52 Permalink

I’ve had an offer from a reader who knows someone at the CBC and has offered to bring this issue forward from the inside. We’ll see what happens.

Chris Ryan's picture
Chris Ryan on December 19, 2003 - 21:35 Permalink

In general the CBC site is pretty good, I think. Unfortunately it’s obvious that at higher levels there are people—perhaps some of them sheltered lawyers—who don’t know a thing about the Web. I think the lack of an RSS feed for cbc.ca is probably directly related to their refusal to include simple off-site links. It’s circa 1998 thinking.

I just e-mailed them and let them know that I’m looking at CBC news less and less frequently because of this.

Mike Pelletier's picture
Mike Pelletier on March 30, 2004 - 20:36 Permalink

The CBC exports content in a number of unpleasant proprietary formats. You can occasionally get a Quirks and Quarks episode in mp3 or ogg, but that’s it. It seems to me that, as a public broadcaster, they should be making as much of their content as accessible as possible, but instead they are jelously keeping it locked up at tight as they can. Surprisingly (at least, to me), no one at the CBC seems to think this is even worth discussion. I’d sure like to hear anything anyone else has learned from inquiry along these lines!

tunasinn's picture
tunasinn on July 18, 2004 - 10:53 Permalink

… The Government of Canada Newsroom offers 35 RSS news feeds that include headlines
or titles, summaries of the news article and links to the full text documents …