Friday, March 27, 2009

CBC Got It All Wrong

CBC got it all wrong in massive job cuts announced the other day. To balance the shortfall of over $170 million, CBC is cutting about 800 jobs mostly in the programming sector (although 70 corporate types will get the boot).
The Corps's bloated middle management which includes 553 jobs will see bonuses cut.
If you ever venture into the CBC's massive (and half empty) studios on Front St. W. in Toronto you'll spot acres of these paper pushers. A few years back CBC decided to turn everyone into well paid middle managers in order to shove it to the various unions. That way when the next strike was called middle managers could continue working. In fact it was CBC that locked out its unions in the last strike several years back.
The result is a typically bloated federal bureaucracy. CBC's sole reason for existence is programming but so much quality fare has been cut in recent years there was little public response to the latest announcement of jobs cut.
Come clean! How much CBC programming do you watch these days? In its early years CBC's signal was the only one around. These days it must compete in a TV world of hundreds of boutique channels.
But CBC chose to kill off high end specials from ballet to opera to Stratford productions. Viewers of these quality shows have drifted off to PBS or such cable channels as Bravo! They no longer care if CBC lives or dies.
Now CBC is going to slash episodes of its few remaining "hits" including Little Mosque On The Prairie, the Border, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Royal Canadian Air Farce is already cancelled because it appealed to a older audience. The awful afternoon talk show with Steven And Chris has been put out of its misery. The simply dreadful sitcom Sophie has mercifully been put to death.
Staff on the fifth estate and Marketplace will be reduced. There'll be less sports coverage (ice skating has pooped in numbers in recent years.
CBC's own criteria for "hit" status was always the same: 1 million for a series, 1.5 million for a TV movie or miniseries. By that standard Rick Mercer is about the only bona fide hit still on CBC-TV.
Here's how I would have made the cuts. I believe the wrong people are being dumped.
There are two gigantic newsrooms at Front St., one for TV, one for radio. Merge them, I say, and cut those numbers by half. How much news do you get from CBC Radio these days? I rest my case.
Also, I'd cut by half the middle managers and cut deep into the Communications Department where there are hundreds of paper pushers.
Remember that old noon time standard Luncheon Date (with Elwood Glover)? I'd bring it back, staff it with young, hungry talent, and have a successful daily talk show back on CBC for the first time in decades. And all for the daily cost of $1.99 or so (OK ---with inflation $2.99).
I'd dump all those tiresome reality things, take that production money to make a few definitive TV movies and miniseries every season, the kind that used to have secretaries chattering around the water cooler the next morning.
In short I'd make CBC relevant once more and with that relevancy would come increased advertising revenues.
I first said all this when CBC cancelled This Land to save money. And I was still saying it when CBC cancelled Intelligence.
For CBC it's been death by a thousand cuts. 
The death rattle of a once proud network continues.



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