his 25 years in radio and television with the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, Mark Starowicz has produced a number of the more influential
current affairs and documentary programs in Canadian broadcast history.
beginning his career in newspaper journalism, Starowicz assumed
the role of producer within the current affairs division of CBC
radio at the age of 24. During the 1970s Starowicz produced a total
of five CBC radio programs, including Radio Free Friday, Five
Nights and Commentary. Starowicz received particular
critical acclaim for his reworking of As it Happens (1973-76)
and creation of the Sunday Morning (1976-80), a three-hour
news programming chief Peter Herrndorf provided Starowicz's entry
into television in 1979 by appointing him chair of a committee examining
the corporation's news programming strategies. This resulted in
the controversial move of The National news broadcast to
10:00 P.M. from its 11:00 P.M. slot, and the creation of The
Journal, a current affairs and documentary program with Starowicz
as executive producer. This move sought to take advantage of the
larger audience numbers available at 10:00 P.M. (a difference between
10 and 4.5 million) and was part of CBC's strategy in the 1980s
to move its decreasing resources into its traditionally strong area
of news and current affairs.
Starowicz's lack of experience in television journalism, The
Journal was a great success--both critically and in terms of
viewership--and served to establish Starowicz as Canadian television
journalism's new star. The Journal achieved an average 1.6
million viewers in its first year and comparable numbers during
its ten-year run. Rather than decreasing the audience shares of
its competitors, The National (22 minutes) and The Journal
(38 minutes) combination actually increased the number of total
viewers during the 10:00 P.M. time slot.
deliver The Journal Starowicz compiled a young staff, many
of whom, like Starowicz had previously only worked in radio. Hosts
during the broadcast's life included Barbara Frum (formerly of As
It Happens), Mary Lou Finlay, Peter Kent, and Bill Cameron.
Under Starowicz's leadership The Journal produced a total
of 2,772 broadcasts between 1982 and 1992, consisting of 5,150 interviews
and an amazing 2,200 documentaries. The Journal was notable
for the depth with which it would develop stories, dedicating an
entire broadcast to a single documentary if the subject required.
For the interview segment of the broadcast Starowicz successfully
re-invented the "double-ender" technique, (originally employed during
the 1960s on CBS's See it Now), wherein the anchor would
interview guests that appear to the viewing audience to be projected
on an in-studio screen. The high quality and volume of material
was made possible by factors such as a staff of over 100, a budget
of approximately $8(CDN) million per year (1980 dollars), and by
providing producer-reporter teams with as much as one month lead
time for story preparation.
With the cancellation of The Journal in 1992, Starowicz accepted
the position of Executive Producer, Documentaries at the CBC. Starowicz
oversees the weekly documentary prime-time series Witness (1990-),
as well as CBC's new documentary unit. This one-hour broadcast consists
of acquired, co-produced and in-house documentaries dealing with
a diverse array of often socially and politically charged issues.
Although Starowicz's role as executive producer utilizes his capacity
to orchestrate talent he has produced and directed his own documentaries
including The Third Angel (1991) and Red Capitalism
(1993), and is expected to contribute a minimum of two per year
for Witness. Starowicz sees this series as an opportunity
for the CBC to aggressively continue the strong documentary tradition
in Canada started in the 1940s by John Grierson and the National
Film Board. Significantly, Starowicz was able to get the CBC management
to agree to the broadcasting of "point-of-view" documentaries, breaking
free of the somewhat mythological pursuit of journalist "objectivity".
numerous magazine and newspaper articles and public lectures, Starowicz
has expressed his concern about the erosion of a uniquely Canadian
sense of identity. He cites the absence of Canadian content in its
own mass media and the dangers posed by U.S. cultural industries,
as key threats. To remedy this, he has proposed the introduction
of a tax on U.S. media imports, continued public support for the
CBC, the development of a second public national network, and the
extended financing of independent film and television production.
Starowicz has argued that public television should not be produced
for a small cultural and political elite, leaving private television
to the "masses." Perhaps in illustration of his own goals, Starowicz
is currently working on a co-production with the BBC on the history
of public broadcasting.
Photo courtesy of Mark Starowicz
STAROWICZ. Born in Worksop, United Kingdom, 8 September 1946.
Educated at Loyola College High School, 1964, University of Grenoble,
1964, McGill University, B.A., 1968. Married: Anne, 1982, children:
Caitlin-Elizabeth and Madeline Anne. Reporter, Montreal Gazette,
1964-68; editor, McGill Daily, 1968-69; reporter, Toronto Star,
1969-70; co-founder and writer, The Last Post magazine, 1969-73;
producer, CBC Radio series 1970-79; chair, Task Force to Reform
CBC TV News and Current Affairs, 1979; executive producer, television
program The Journal, 1982-92; executive documentary producer, CBC,
since 1992. Member: Association of Toronto Producers and Directors.
Recipient: Canadian Broadcasting League's Cybil Award, 1973; Ohio
State Documentary Award, 1973; Anik Award, 1987; Gemini Award, 1987.
1982-92 The Journal
The Third Angel
1993 Red Capitalism
1994 Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo (co-producer)
1994 Escaping from History (co-producer)
1994 The Gods of Our Fathers (co-producer)
1994 The Tribal Mind (co-producer)
1994 The Bomb Under the World (co-producer)
1994 The Body Parts Business (co-producer)
1970-73 Five Nights
1970-73 Radio Free Friday
1973-76 As It Happens
1976-80 Sunday Morning
"CBC Resignation Means There's Room at the Top for Starowicz." Montreal
(Quebec, Canada) Gazette, 25 June 1994.
"Turning Your TV to the Final Nation State-" Globe and Mail (Toronto,
Canada), 10 April 1993.
"CBC Producer Promoted." Winnipeg (Canada) Free Press, 28
"Starowicz Stays with CBC-TV As the New Boss of Documentaries."
Toronto (Canada) Star, 26 November 1992.
Nora. "Twenty Years After." Maclean's (Toronto, Canada),
21 March 1988.
Programming in English; National/The