Monday, August 22, 2005

BLOGGING THE CBC LOCKOUT AGAIN

Well, here I am again blogging on the CBC lockout, now officially into Week 2. I dunno why I blog about this, maybe because now that the NHL lockout is settled I need to find some other interesting labour dispute to cover.

Anyway, the latest news is that CBC-TV is now mounting a newscast! A real, actual, short newscast, CBC News Now, anchored presumably by management with the barest of bare-bones technical support at 10PM. It's right before the BBC news. Frankly, I don't know why they bother. The stories are all right, but the whole production looks like something J-schoolers would attempt in school. It's BAD. They should just give up and leave the hour to the BBC, because it's pathetic to watch. Almost as pathetic as that CFL broadcast the other night with no announcers.

Speaking of the BBC, the reporters there are reportedly upset that they are being used as strikebreakers by CBC management and are threatening a protest of their own. Stay tuned.

The union has already inflicted massive damage to the entire CBC operation. The newscasts on TV are a joke, and the whole radio operation has pretty much been decimated. CTV News took big ads out in the paper urging people to tune into their newscasts at 10PM on Newsnet and at 11PM on the main network, so they are just killing the CBC right now.

The latest big news is that the picketing members of the union are supposed to be starting up rebel radio broadcasts to be carried on campus radio stations across the country. The locked-out Calgary CBC reporters are planning to do a 30-minute broadcast on the University of Calgary campus radio, featuring Kathleen Petty and a number of other local CBC personalities. This should give the "official" CBC broadcasts a run for their money, since those seem to consist of spinning records at the moment. Others are threatening the same thing elsewhere.

It's obvious to me these locked-out workers have picked up a lot of ideas from the NHL lockout. This rebel-radio idea reeks of the Original Stars Hockey League and the other fly-by-night operations from that work stoppage. When you think about it, it shows how sad a state journalism has fallen in this country when you have these CBC journalists reduced to doing shows on campus radio. Heck, I remember when I was doing campus radio, and while it was fun to do back in its day, campus radio is definitely low-rent. You do NOT want to be doing campus radio when you're a big, serious journalist!

This lockout has soured me on broadcast journalism in Canada. I know the union is fighting on principle against the proliferation of all these lousy contract positions that management wants and so on, which I think is a lousy deal for the workers. But I don't see how they'll be able to get much improvement in conditions at the CBC after this is over. And keep in mind that the CBC is supposed to be one of the better places to work in broadcasting in this country. The pay for broadcasters is supposed to be the best in Canada! If it's a mess over at the CBC then life must be truly terrible everywhere else in Canada, with low wages and newscasts being kicked off the air (Toronto 1).

Anyway we'll see what happens with these rebel broadcasts. I hear they may attempt podcasts and other fancy stuff.

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