Tuesday, August 23, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 9

There was a time when CBC Sports announcers fluorescent orange blazers were the hallmark of excellence in Canadian sports broadcasting.

No more.

In the 500-channel universe, specialty broadcasters have long since left CBC in the dust, as Mark Spector notes in his National Post column :

The fact that CBC management did not have the confidence to simply step aside and allow another broadcaster to handle its CFL commitments marks another in a growing string of poor decisions being made at Mothercorp.

There was the curling fiasco last winter, a misstep based on the self-important notion that an allegiance to the CBC would coax curling fans to order digital cable service, drop $200-$300 on the necessary equipment, and then order the obscure specialty channel Country Canada on which CBC hid some of its curling.

There was the firing of the highly respected voice Chris Cuthbert, a move that told Canadians, "We're good enough to be able to toss the best play-by-play man in Canada out the door." But while one man may not be bigger than the team in sports, the opposite is true in sports broadcasting. And Cuthbert was welcomed by CBC Sports' chief competitor, which would be like the Montreal Canadiens waiving Jose Theodore and watching Ottawa snap him up.

There's an ageing cast of characters that CBC has held on to, led by the hockey broadcast team of Bob Cole and Harry Neale who, God bless them, have become house men for the Toronto Maple Leafs, seemingly unable to muster even close to the same enthusiasm for any other NHL team. So much has grown stale: Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, the once-great tandem whose act has gone unchanged forever; a cast of CBC play-by-play men in various sports who covered Nancy Greene and Kenny Ploen; and the camera angles -- once CBC trademarks -- that have become ruts in which a network is stuck.

When Hockey Night in Canada goes over to Bell Globemedia, as one day it surely will, it'll be game over for CBC Sports. And without sports, CBC will sink to the bottom of the BBM ratings and collect barnacles, unless a miracle happens and some future government actually forces a complete overhaul.

In other lockout-related stories:

Dan Misener raises the $64,000 question about alternative programming from locked-out CBC workers: if they can do the job without the CBC's vast resources, what need do we have of the CBC?

The Tea Makers gives us the anonymous voice of a union-friendly CBC manager. The manager's plaintive plea: "You guys may be locked out, but I'm locked in!" (Like the Black Hole of Calcutta, only worse.)

CBC Negotiations cuts through the crap and gets to the point: nobody's losing their jobs, and opening a few more jobs to contract employees means even more security for current full-timers.

By the sounds of it, CBC's contract employees are hardly second-class serfs; they get the full line of CBC pay and benefits, and many of them end up as permanent employees. So what's the downside?


The Fog is Clearing said...

Will the CBC lockout last as long as the NHL dispute ?

Loyalist said...

We can only hope.

An election without the CBC blaring Liberal propaganda 24/7 would be of great help to us.