Wednesday, September 21, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 37: Communication Breakdown

Just as I was about to post my daily CBC Lockout watch report for day 37 of the neverending story last night, my modem locked me out of the internet.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed. "Dissonance And Disrespect is an essential part of the Canadian conservative identity! How will we be able to tell our stories to each other without it? We'll be forced to get our commentary from the CBC and Globe and Mail! Without the informed analysis and commentary from a Canadian perspective that only D&D can provide, we'll all become Liberals!"

Then I pulled myself together and realized that in my absence, Canadian right-wingers could turn to other blogs. They could even do their own blogging. And if they didn't need a taxpayer-funded network to tell their stories and form their opinions, would they really miss my blog if it was gone?

Fortunately for the CBCphobic-Canadian community, my internet service provider is much more responsive to my needs than the CBC has ever been. Which is why I can now post this update, a day late and a dollar short, instead of boring audiences to death with reruns of past posts and British BBC-bashing bloggers.

The Toronto Star's boundless patience with the CBC has worn thin, and it's calling Robert Rabinovitch and the Canadian Media Guild both to account:

If the current dispute lingers on much longer, the CBC faces the real possibility of alienating loyal viewers and listeners and giving vocal critics more ammunition to slash its annual grant from the federal government. If that happens, the CBC could be drastically changed in the coming years and its role as one of the key champions of Canadian culture threatened.


What Rabinovitch needs to do is outline why the CBC is taking this huge gamble with its future, with the potential permanent loss of viewers and thus advertisers. What's the risk? What's the payoff? Why were workers locked out? What can he tell taxpayers about how winning this dispute will result in a better, more efficient CBC in the years ahead?

Union leaders, too, need to explain why they feel so threatened, when many people at the CBC are already contract workers.

Management has been on the losing side of the PR war, for reasons perhaps not entirely its fault. It does have a network to run with a skeleton staff of managers, while the locked-out journalists have all the time in the world to blog, podcast, and go on bus tours with their complaints about the big bad CBC.

Strategic and crisis communications planners failed to foresee just how the blogosphere and podcasting have changed the playing field. The old media battle of duelling spokesmen just doesn't cut it anymore, not when every union member can be his own spokesman. If management has been caught unaware about how to counter the CBC bloggers' message, so too has the union. If picket line solidarity starts to crumble, union spokesmen won't be able to keep up a good front. Their own members will undercut them in their blogs just as they have undercut management's feeble response.

CBC senior management would like to deny scurrilous rumours about its bargaining team being unable to go the washroom without seeking its permission first. Management can be as big a bunch of piss takers as the union.

They've paid an arm and a leg and sold their souls, so now the CBCers are also giving their blood for the cause.

Dr. Hamid Riaz believes that depriving him of the CBC is depriving him of his rights as a citizen. The courts have turned the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into a cornucopia of rights that have evolved from mere wants. If they can find a right for two men to call themselves married, they can find a right to uninterrupted CBC programming somewhere in it.

Lorne Gunter ,on the other hand, doesn't believe his rights have been violated by the CBC lockout:

Well, now that you've asked, no, frankly, I don't miss you. I don't miss the bias in favour of big government, and Liberal government in particular, that permeates every news and public affairs show. I don't miss the self-delusional belief that our "state" broadcaster is somehow a "public" broadcaster, since I am a member of the public and the CBC doesn't represent me. And I don't miss the arrogant notion that the CBC is where Canadians tell their stories to one another or that the network has some special place in our national debates.

Everything the CBC does could be done as well by other television and radio services. Everything the CBC does is being done now by other television and radio services, except hockey. And if the CBC didn't exist, private television services would quickly pick up the hockey slack, too. In fact, a private broadcaster would likely pick up most of the CBC's on- and off-air hockey staff, and fans wouldn't be any the wiser.

Amen, Lorne. Amen.

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