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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Disrespecting taxpayers

Feb 13, 2014

Source:  Grand Falls-Windsor Advertiser

February 13,  2014

Mr. Hubert Lacroix
CBC Head Office
P.O Box 3220, Station C
Ottawa, ON
K1Y 1E4

 
Dear Mr. Lacroix,

In December of 2012, Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced in the budget that the government of Canada, through its Deficit Reduction Action Plan, will cut from the CBC over the next three years. This targeted reduction, combined with unavoidable cost and investments required to continue to transform into a modern public broadcaster, means that the CBC actually faced financial pressures upwards of a quarter billion dollars over the next three years.

As a result of this cost savings measure, the CBC was determined to face this challenge head on by implementing a three-year strategy entitled 2015 Everyone Everywhere which essentially focused on reducing costs and doing things differently.

Unfortunately, the CBC has failed miserably in its 2015 Strategy: aimed at reducing costs and doing things different.

For some reason, the focus on operating and production efficiencies derailed a long time ago. This is evident in your recent letter to CBC employees warning them of “dark clouds on the horizon”. In addition to this, on Feb. 4, 2014, there was renewed call for a larger taxpayer subsidy with the Senate of Canada being told that the CBC is in need of almost half a billion dollars over the next four years.

In continuing with ways to lower expenses to manage the financial challenges of the CBC I, along with many others, are astonished at the business model you and the CBC executives have adopted to meet your targeted goals. This is evident in the request to the Senate of Canada in addition to your recent letter to CBC employees.

As part of the 2015 Strategy, the CBC has decided to sell off its assets in central Newfoundland and consolidate services into one smaller office located in Gander, NL. The problem with this so-called ‘strategic’ move, which was adopted by your “2015 Strategy, Everyone Everywhere”, is that it does not take into account any cost-saving measures to reduce the financial challenge that have been problematic to the CBC for years. The decision to consolidate the two central Newfoundland offices appears to be one made by drunken sailors!

According to Senior Managing Editor Andrew Cochran who recently discussed the Grand Falls-Windsor office closure at a public meeting, financial reasons were primary factors in determining which central Newfoundland town would be the new home of the CBC office.

Cochran went on to say that “after an extensive search, it was determined that 1,500 square feet of space would be ideal for their operations.”

Unfortunately, neither of the commercial landlords in Grand Falls-Windsor was approached or consulted by the CBC Realty division or the two independent firms representing the CBC.  However, upon questioning Mr. Cochran about this, communication with one commercial landlord was made one month after the lease had been signed in with the new landlord.

In addition to this, rental rates in the new location are more than double what they would be in Grand Falls-Windsor; renovations in the new location are almost $200,000 with a 15% administration fee payable to the new landlord, and there are no provisions for a backup power supply in the new location, which will force the CBC off the air in the event of a power loss.

If this is the approach that the CBC is taking on a small real estate deal in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, one can only imagine the disrespect of Canadian taxpayer dollars in major Canadian centres.

In closing, I would like for you and your executive team to consider this to be an open invitation to come visit Grand Falls-Windsor, do your own business analysis of the situation ongoing here and let me prove to you and your team that the decision of the CBC here in Central Newfoundland is a contributing factor as to why the CBC is facing major financial challenges.

If you would like to discuss further, please feel free to get in contact with me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Rodney Mercer, Councillor
Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, NL

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