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Guild calls on Stursberg to reconsider contracting out

CBC vice president Richard Stursberg was flooded with questions on contracting out during a townhall with employees on Wednesday. He did not guarantee there would be no further moves to farm CBC work out to private firms. But Stursberg did open the door to rethinking the current plan to contract out program marketing and publicity work for English-language services.

“If the business case [for contracting out] was flawed, we would have to reconsider it. We’d be nitwits if we didn’t reconsider it,” he told the audience of several hundred employees from across Canada.

The Canadian Media Guild is demanding that Stursberg reconsider the plan. The time to do it is now. The CBC communications department is meeting with private bidders today and tomorrow to flesh out a deal. Here are the top 4 reasons the CBC business case is flawed:

1. It does not compare the straight costs of keeping publicity work inside the CBC versus contracting out the same work. The CBC wants less publicity work done overall. Fine. But CBC managers acknowledged that they did not calculate the cost of doing that lower volume of work inside. The Guild would like the opportunity to put forward a cost-saving plan that keeps the reduced work in house.

2. It does not factor in the loss, when the 34 CBC employees are let go, of flexibility, knowledge and the long-term relationships built with journalists.

3. The estimated savings of $864,000 per year do not factor in escalating costs in future years, once in-house skills are lost. A recent Deloitte Consulting study reports that the main risk of contracting out is underestimating how much it is going to cost.

4. With all due respect to Stursberg, he was wrong at the townhall when he suggested that outsourcing program marketing is like ordering in sandwiches! It is a service, not a product. Deloitte Consulting pointed out that contracting out services is more complicated than buying commodities like sandwhiches or telephones from the outside. Companies worldwide report more problems from outsourcing when a service is involved.

For more information, please contact the Guild (guild@interlog.com) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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