Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 2

The chattering classes are beginning to complain about the programming quality of their favourite broadcaster:

Two days into its controversial lockout of 5,500 unionized employees, the CBC has been operating on autopilot with plenty of reruns and pared-down programs.

But the most noticeable change has been the absence of any apparent effort to mount a management-produced television newscast, relying in prime time and over the supper hour on imported feeds of the BBC World News service.

Newsworld has been limited to one-minute roundups of Canadian news read by managers before handing things off to the BBC.

“That's certainly the plan right now,” Jason MacDonald, the CBC's official spokesman, said Tuesday of the news programming from the public broadcaster, although another publicist suggested it wasn't the network's original plan.

“The BBC as lockout-breaker. It's a very interesting model,” said Ian Morrison, spokesman for the independent media watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

BBC may be every bit as politically biased as the CBC, but its world news coverage still outclasses the CBC's for depth and insight. It's also not as parochial, obsessing on finding the "British" angle in the same way the CBC tries to find a "Canadian" angle.

(You usually see that in disaster stories, in which a rickety old DC-9 crashes in the Gobi Desert halfway through a Tashkent to Vladivostok red-eye. "No Canadians were aboard." As if Canadian lives mattered more.)

The j-schools are complaining that their grads can't catch a break in the CBC:

And because the current lockout, unlike labour disruptions in the past, involves one union that now comprises both journalists and technicians, (University of Regina j-school head Patricia) Bell said the situation confirms who really brings programming to air.

“We have graduates from here who have been working, especially in radio, for four, five years, doing very solid work and they're still not even on contract. They're casual. And you don't build a strong ongoing presence if you don't nurture people and let them grow.”


After 15 months of negotiations, the CBC locked out the bulk of its unionized employees at 12:01 a.m. Monday. At issue is the broadcaster's wish for more flexibility to hire contract and part-time employees, something the CMG says is a danger to job security for full-time staff.

J-school grads (of which this blogger is one) are usually quite quickly seduced by union rhetoric about the need to protect the interests of workers--except, of course, when one particular union, its seniority rules and mediaeval trade-guild mentality stand in the way of working for Holy Mother Corp.

Source: Globe and Mail

Postscript: CBC Watch brings you the latest developments in the CBC lockout with unfiltered commentary from actual Canadians.

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