Friday, August 19, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 5

If it weren't for CBC Sports, hardly anyone would be watching CBC. And it looks like hardly anyone will, given CBC Sports' recent woes, as Toronto Star's Chris Zelkovich notes:

Could anything more go wrong for the public broadcaster's toy department this year? Okay, there are still four months left.

But one might have answered no in February after the CBC lost the Olympics, watched helplessly as the NHL playoffs were cancelled and weathered the protests created by disjointed curling coverage and the firing of Chris Cuthbert.

Then along came the Canadian Curling Association's decision to walk away form its contract and this week's lockout that has all but paralyzed the operation.

Not all of this is the CBC's fault, but the CBC has nobody to blame for its decision to lock out workers, thus killing coverage of tennis, the Canada Games and who knows what more.

It's also the one that decided to continue CFL broadcasts despite the fact it kicked out its camera operators, directors, technicians and announcers.

Whether it's arrogance or desperation, this could be a disaster waiting to happen.

The CBC is paying the price for taking its cash cow for granted. Its bizarre decision to hand off key Brier draws to the unwatched Country Canada digital channel, its cavalier treatment of the Canada Games, and various PR disasters surrounding its hockey coverage (firing Chris Cuthbert, putting Don Cherry on seven-second tape delay and nearly losing straight man Ron MacLean)--all indicate that CBC Sports is still acting as if it's 1965 and CBC is the only game in town.

If CBC Sports disbanded tomorrow, CTV would bulldoze its Saturday night lineup to make way for Hockey Night in Canada, Global would beef up for an Olympics bid, and the cable channels would pick up everything else.

A revamped TVO or PBS-style CBC would have no place for sports, but the sporting world would hardly mourn CBC Sports' passing.

Source: CBC Watch

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