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Everyone hates the CBC’s new strategic plan by Steve Kupferman

Jul 10, 2014

Source: Toronto Life

The future had never looked bleaker for the CBC than it did last month, after CEO Hubert Lacroix announced that he would be cutting as many 1,500 jobs over the next six years as part of a strategic effort to absorb the broadcaster’s many budget cuts. Lacroix tried to put the best possible face on the move, couching it in terms of an inevitable shift to cheaper, web-based production. “We’re going to lead now with mobility,” he said. “We’re going to lead with whatever widget you use.” But in the weeks since the news broke, the plan has been eviscerated from all sides. Here, three ways to complain about the decline of the Ceeb.


1. “It’s bad for newspapers.”

This is a counter-intuitive one, but bear with us. In an editorial for Newspapers Canada, Canadian Newspaper Association chair Bob Cox argues that it’s pointless—and maybe even a little corrupt—for the CBC to be reorienting itself toward online services, precisely because doing so is a business-savvy move—so business-savvy, in fact, that privately owned newspapers are already doing it of their own accord. “There’s no need to pour tax dollars into something the the private sector is already doing without a subsidy, unless the goal is propaganda,” he writes. There’s a certain logic to this. Much of what the government does is aimed at serving the public good in ways private enterprise can’t. Why should the CBC be any different?


2. “It’s bad for employees.”

Journalist Jesse Brown managed to get his hands on some of the internal documents the CBC to sell the change to its employees. Brown calls the contents of those documents “a smokescreen of digital futurism bafflegab” full of “mendacious, obfuscatory doublespeak,” all of which, he says, has caused CBC’s work atmosphere to “hit a new low.” Phrases like “the strategy is a plan, not a blueprint” do admittedly have an Orwellian ring to them, but what else is management supposed to do? Keep quiet, then pull the fire alarm one day and lock the doors once the building empties out?

3. “It’s bad for Canada.”

From the Canadian Media Guild, a union that represents many CBC workers, comes the emotional appeal. “This is the end of an era when CBC was a leader in television production,” CMG President Carmel Smyth is quoted as saying in a press release. “It’s a sad, sad day.”

© Toronto Life