By Stephen Pate – There is lots of hand wringing and pity for CBC staff on the internet today but it’s misplaced.
The emotions should be anger, outrage and condemnation for the incompetent management that put CBC in the situation where they have to cut 647 jobs.
“Over the years, CBC/Radio-Canada has become a bureaucratic institution where creativity has been hampered within a mammoth government-run corporation,” said Florian Sauvageau, President of Centre For Media Studies at Laval, at the Canadian Senate on February 12, 2014.
“Too many bureaucrats and public servants are calling the shots at CBC/Radio-Canada,” said Sauvageau who has followed the CBC for decades.
The solution to CBC’s problems is not found in this round of spending cuts, nor in the ones to come. The CBC needs new management and a better mandate or it will continue to shrink in size and become an irrelevant vestige of our national pride.
The CBC Board of Directors seems frozen in time and unable to get a grip on the fast pace of change in media with Netflix and people watching TV on their smartphones and iPads.
The problem is that CBC is controlled by politicians and the top management and board are appointed for their “friendship” with the ruling party.
“The political decision confirming CBC/Radio-Canada’s importance should lead to the appointment to the corporation’s board of directors of people who are very familiar with the issues we are discussing today,” said Sauvageau. ”The CBC board of directors should not consist of friends who are owed favours. Competent people should be appointed.”
Costs too high at CBC
Blame can also be levelled at CBC staff unions who have priced themselves out of the market for broadcasting in Canada. With considerable hubris the CBC unions negotiate contracts worth 25% more than market for the same jobs in the private sector media. With higher salary costs and mandatory full day shifts for crews producing 30-60 minutes of broadcasting a day from regional centers, no wonder CBC has no money.
Of course, it’s the fault of management not to correct the labor agreements before they got out of hand. However, some of the gold-plated contracts were signed with NABET (now the Canadian Media Guild) more than 50 years ago.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network