Thursday, 26 March 2009

Is There a Groundswell of Protest over CBC/RadioCan Cuts, Or Is That Just the Sound of Minds Turning Off?

Let us hope that Jeffrey Simpson was wrong when he wrote in The Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago that the CBC had alienated its audience so much that few would come to its defence: "Beleaguered CBC should ask itself: Who cares?" The budget cuts announced yesterday by the public broadcaster's head honcho Hubert Lacroix are going to gut it even more than it has been by the recent effort to dumb it down. Restoring some of that funding is going to take a major ground swell of public opinion, which is unlikely to develop.

The only good thing is that it looks like radio (which for so long was a shining star) is not going to be hit as hard at television.

As Lenin asked: What is to be done?

For a near-verbatim account of what happened when Lacroix told CBC/Radio Can staffers what was going happen, check out The Teamaker's Blog. (I thought they'd been chased out of the park, but bravo! if they're still in there fighting.)


800 jobs cut overall

$171-million needed in 2009/10

393 jobs cut at CBC English

($85-million reduction for English services budget)

336 jobs cut at Radio-Canada

70 jobs cut at corporate services

Asset sale to raise $125-million,

but needs federal approval

Salary freezes

Slowing recruitment or cancelling positions

Attrition in some areas

Voluntary retirement buyouts will be offered April 6 and will be open for four weeks

Radio makes up 17 per cent of English budget, TV 83 per cent; cuts will be weighted toward TV

Twenty per cent of cuts will take place in regions and 80 per cent at network level


Martin Langeland said...

So, if cost reductions are required, why not just put a series of endless loops on a bunch of repeaters? A great hockey game on TV, A hit album on Radio One, and a trendy world pop on Radio 2.
And this generation may ask: "Gee Gran, What was it like when Canada had its own media?"
Sad ...
Just sad.

Muzition said...

Well, I can't say I'm going to miss The Point and In the Key of Charles, which have apparently been cut from the radio.

Beijing York said...

CBC has been inadequately funded since the 1990s, every Heritage Committee report kept telling us that. They have managed to balance their budget despite lack of increased funding by dumbing down what was once excellent journalism and public affairs, increasing repetition of radio programming, farming out programming to outside contractors, devoting increasing amounts of airtime (TV and Radio) to contests, killing the orchestra, selling off their program inventory, etc.

The Liberals treated the CBC like a dead weight that could be their ruin and appointed upper management that was keen to transform the public corporation into a "nimble" media machine that could compete with the private broadcasters. Cuts and programming changes were done under the guise of trying to attract a younger audience and make themselves more relevant in today's media environment. And what a bloody mess that proved to be.

I am beyond furious with Harper, Moore, all the opposition parties (past and present), and CBC management. It's always been the public who has rallied to the defence of the CBC, whether it was for budget cuts, international services, the lockout, the orchestra, the HNIC iconic song, etc. Each public outcry has met with increasingly less support within the rank and file of the CBC. So Simpson is sadly correct. There's only so much abuse you can take going up to bat on principle.

The CPC (especially the Reformatories among them) are kicking their heels in glee, I suspect. The LPC (especially the we don't want to appear "soft" on fiscal management) are too chickenshit and sheepish (they started this mess) to raise any objection. The NDP equate the CBC with Liberal elitism and are pissed off that they are comparatively shut out from air time. The Bloc equate the Mother Corp with federalism and an enemy to their sovereignty movement.

So begins the end of our public broadcaster. These drastic short-term measures will severely reduce their ability to recover. Once assets are sold, their cost centres will increase over the long run. Their production values have already decreased tremendously with previous cuts to behind the scenes staffing. The next round will lead to much worse. There will be increased reliance on news services and their news programming will become as irrelevant as the dismal offerings at CTV and Global. And forget about original dramatic programming, the recent changes to the merged Television/New Media fund will reduce their access to funding of what is already one of the most expensive cost centres.

TV will be the first to go, followed by Radio 2. If we're lucky, the next generation will have a diluted Radio 1 and a web page.

"Gee Gran, What was it like when Canada had its own media?"

So very sad but true Martin.

lagatta à montréal said...

The Gazette is reporting, "CBC cuts will hit Montréal hard". 260 cuts from Radio-Canada staff, and (as the article doesn't say, Radio-Noon, one of my favourite CBC 1 local programmes, will be cut in half from two hours to one.

It also affects subcontractors and freelancers like me - Radio-Canada/CBC is the largest market, if one can say (I hate that term) for our "services" (i.e. our work). It is very, very scary.

Hi Beijing! Hmm, Bloc and NDP have defended cultural workers, despite their different criticisms of CBC-SRC, and repreentatives from those parties, as well as from Québec solidaire, were present at the major demonstration of cultural workers here before the last Federal elections.

I think the Harperites absolutely hate cultural workers and want us to starve or "get a real job" - in the army?

I'm listening to Espace-Musique; they are reading readers' e-mails in support of public broadcasting. We need more, not less of it.