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Turning the Corner: Getting Ready for Hubert Lacroix’s speech about “reinvestment” on Monday

In anticipation of the speech by Hubert Lacroix, the CEO of CBC/Radio Canada on Monday, CMG is taking the time to remind the Corporate leaders about the impact of the cuts of the 8 years on the Corporation, its staff and its ability to meet its mandate.

Thousands of positions at the CBC/Radio-Canada  have disappeared since 2008.

The impact on people, working conditions and the CBC’s very ability to serve communities across the country has been immense.

At the same time, during last fall’s election, Canadians across the country proudly showed that they notice and they care.  They voted for the party that clearly offered the most support for the public broadcaster.

Now it’s Hubert Lacroix’s turn to show how the CBC is going to respond to those Canadians who voted for change.   Will he re-invest in jobs that are about creating programming on all platforms, will he reinstate some of the positions that senior managers acknowledge were cuts that went too deep?    Or will he continue on the same path of shrinking the CBC in the name of ‘digital first’?

We will all see on Monday.  In the meantime, we think what our members are saying should be injected into the conversation about re-investment.  Here are some of them:

From Northern Canada:

*They are killing local television news, our ability to do any stories in depth. I’m so p*** off I could write a book. We’re still being sold off piece by piece by Lacroix. I don’t agree with selling buildings. We buy the cheapest equipment on the market now instead of the best. It’s a joke. We’re on the path to irrelevance and local TV news is on the cusp of being pointless.

*It is impossible to have a strong digital focus when we have not been given any additional in-house resources to manage the web.
We do have  part time person that assists us, but that person is based, 1000 km away. We cannot continue to put together a daily radio show, news and manage the web with the reporting staff we have.

Now, we are told we will also have to staff weekends. If we do not get additional resources, it could mean we cut down resources assigned to reporting during the week, to cover off the weekend shifts.

Our last hope, is to get back our afternoon newscast. This was dropped in the summer ‘temporarily’ we were told. It’s now been nearly a year, with no resolution in sight.

A good example was yesterday, when there was a standoff in our community. The standoff ended just a few minutes before the 5:30 news. However, we could not connect with the remote staff to inform them of the change in time.
Had the news still been coming from our community, we would have had this very important piece of information (yes, people were in danger, neighbours were ordered out of their homes by police) on the air.

From Western Canada

*I support the call for more feet on the street. We are very short on actual content creators as many people have been moved to digital to post content instead of creating it. In my community, we are always pressed to the limit to fill our show. We lack a dedicated reporter, one person is tasked with reading and writing the news for our whole region, as well as providing current affairs pieces for the morning show.

If news breaks after noon, we have no one available to cover it, with our closest reporter 2.5 hours away. Much time is wasted having him drive back and forth to cover things, instead of having someone here to work on things right when they happen. We lost a VJ position in the remote community a few years ago that was then turned into a digital position which was eventually axed.

The smaller bureaus in our region are in need of at least one more reporter and if possible another web writer. On top of producing content, our Associate Producer is also tasked with posting 3 stories per day to another community’s website per day. Our community has its own website, but we aren’t properly staffed to maintain it and create content.

 *On the  local news front, for example many of the shows are unwatchable due to the last round of cuts. Our community is relying so heavily on Skype interviews with the anchor and long form interviews to fill space that the program is painful and viewers are fleeing. This is how we are now filling space that used to be filled with reporters doing genuine local coverage from the streets. 

From Eastern Canada:

*It’s very clear to us that there has to be money put back into the regions (or centers as they are now called).  To say they’ve been cut to the bone would be kind. 

As well there has to be pressure to reverse what I call the big US network complex the CBC Toronto brass have.  We have to get back to producing our own shows in house and “not” run around with big blank cheques thinking they can commission the next be hit like CBS, NBC or ABC do!  So CBC public broadcaster like shows have to be done and done in house.

From Central Canada:

 *I am most concerned about the total decimation of the tv supper hour news. All resources are going into web, at the expense of TV.

It’s an embarassement. There was no concrete plan of what content would replace the pack. It has become much worse and on camera “rants” have replaced story telling. It hasn’t worked.

 We also need to restore regional Archives capacity in English newsrooms where radio librarians have been laid off. Visual archives become irrelevant if they are not up to date. In production, everyone wants everything yesterday, but some librarians in the regions can’t keep up because of ridiculous workloads. 

 CBC should stop the ongoing flattening of job classifications. Not everyone at payband X can do the work of payband Y or below. Quality is suffering where this is happeining.As smart, talented and dedicated as CBC workers are they are not interchangeable. Skills and interests vary widely. You don’t create a high-performing and engaged workforce by multiskilling staff up the wazoo. 

 The global dumbing down of what CBC and Radio-Canada alike refer to as ‘content’ makes a laughingstock of the national broadcaster.


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