How Many CBC Reporters Does It Take To Tell The News?

What The CBC Needs Is Not More Money

By Stephen Pate – CBC Hamilton has 7 reporters getting out the news. CBC Charlottetown has 37.  The same inefficiency is repeated over and over across the country.

Featured image caption: 25 of the 90 people working at CBC Charlottetown (photos courtesy of CBC)

The CBC gets a $1.1 billion annual subsidy from the taxpayers of Canada as our national broadcaster. CBC management, the union and a group called Friends of Canadian Broadcasting are lobbying the government for substantial increases in the subsidy.

NDP and Liberal politicians in opposition are promising to increase the CBC subsidy if elected. The real story is CBC could do better with even less if they were more efficient.

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The CBC is over loaded with political appointees with little value in the media, union and management feather-bedding, and just plain inefficient operations.

There is an old joke among accountants – how many accountants does it take to change the light bulb? The answer is 12 and the punch line is at the end of this story.

For the CBC, the same question can be asked: how many CBC journalists does it take to tell the news? In Charlottetown, PEI with a census agglomeration of 64,000, CBC says it takes 37 journalists to report on the Legislature alone. That does not count other journalists, technical and administrative staff and management.  90 people work at CBC Charlottetown.

At CBC Hamilton, Ontario, the large industrial city west of Toronto , 7 people do the same job of getting the news out. How big is Hamilton to have such a small newsroom? 720,000 people live in the metropolitan area and that does not include adjacent areas like Oakville and Kitchener-Waterloo.

Why does Charlottetown need 5 times as many people to do the same job as Hamilton?  Well, CBC Charlottetown has been around for more than 5 decades giving it plenty of time to double and triple fill positions with friends, political hacks and union favourites. CBC Hamilton is only 3 years old and given time they too will become another inefficient CBC branch station.

And how many of those 37 registered PEI journalists actually work at political news reporting? As you might expect, only 2.

“Really, it was just mostly me and a cameraman who went to the ledge (Legislature) everyday,” said 34 year CBC veteran John Jeffery who retired this month.

That makes sense – it only takes 2 journalists to report on the PEI (population 140,000) politics. Ontario has a population of 12 million and 20 journalists cover the Legislature. Of course, in Ontario there are plenty of private sector broadcasters who don’t get $1.1 billion subsidies and have to be efficient.

The CBC needs to learn the old maxim: live within your means.

Jian Ghomeshi. former host of Q and Justin Trudeau (CBC photo)

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau supports more money for the CBC. “Where do we continue to fund it and how do we continue to fund it? All I know is the funding has to be substantial and significant … How much and exactly how depends on how we create a vision that is relevant for the 21st century.” CBC- Q

NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair will give $115 million more to the CBC. “Mulcair said the public broadcaster has been cut by both Liberal and Conservative governments and that an NDP government would commit to restoring the recent cuts made by the Conservatives in the 2012 budget. That means increasing current funding to CBC/Radio-Canada by $115 million over three fiscal,” CBC

No offense to Mr. Trudeau or Mulcair but they are politicians seeking to score points with special interest groups. They might be better served promising to “put a chicken in every pot” like former Prime Minister Jean Chretien during his successful election campaign.

On PEI CBC has created a mini-industry with plenty of upper-middle class jobs. Many of the CBC employees are great people who need the work. It helps the PEI economy when the Federal government provides make-work projects like the CBC.  However, idle hands are the devil’s playground.

People have begun to  realize that cutting the CBC budget is the best medicine the CBC could get.

How many accountants to change a light bulb?

One to issue the purchase order
One to receive it
One to pay the invoice
One to take it out of inventory
One to get the ladder
One to hold it
One to read the manual
One to change the bulb
To audit the project: one audit manager, one audit supervisor, one auditor and one partner

Follow me because you can.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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