Tuesday, August 30, 2005

WEEK 3 OF THE CBC LOCKOUT

Well it is now officially Week 3 of the CBC Lockout and as you can tell I have decided to add some blogs about the lockout to the side blogroll. I have a link now to CBC Unplugged which gives you plenty of lockout news plus it is a useful link to all the rebel broadcasts going on across the country at the moment. The latest news it has to report is that the union is going to meet with management tomorrow to try and get talks back on track. Good. Because this situation at the CBC is a JOKE.

A number of recent events may have something to do with this decision to get negotiations back on. For one thing, the rebel broadcasts have picked up steam. Andy Barrie is now officially back on the air in Toronto, broadcasting on CIUT from 6 to 8AM with a lockout edition of his show, and CBC broadcasters across Canada have launched rebel broadcasts on campus radio, with podcasts and blogs of their own across the country.

So we have a strange situation on our hands. We have the CBC broadcasters returning to the air in droves, except they aren't on the CBC. There are also rumors on the blog sites that some of these broadcasters are considering bolting entirely for other networks (CNN has been mentioned as one of them). On the surface, CBC management is getting killed. Their radio programming seems to consist of classical music CDs, TV News has been handed to the Brits, and sports broadcasts are a joke. Now their own workers are competing against them.

On the other hand, the CBC has shown itself capable of surviving just fine without their help. A union person was crowing on his blog about how big a disaster CBC Newsworld's coverage of Katrina was (they picked up the feed from BBC and from a local station in Mobile, Alabama, instead). But I don't really see how a fully-staffed CBC from their air-conditioned studios in Toronto, giving a useless "Canadian perspective" on this American storm, could have done any better than CNN or these other places.

The other thing is that ratings for CFL football have gone up now that there's no announcers! So really, no one misses the workers at all now, not even the football fans. In short, the CBC seems to be getting on just fine on autopilot.

The real problem the staff members have is that nobody is missing them. Many people don't watch or listen to them anyway to begin with, but even the CBC diehards aren't missing them either, now that they are doing rebel radio shows from the picket line. I mean, people are still tuning into them, so why should anyone miss them, or for that matter, pay them taxpayers' money? The big argument that "the CBC needs more funding so we can put on quality programming" is going downhill fast. Why pay tax money to overpaid CBC broadcasters when you can get these same CBCers for free, broadcasting on campus radio? It's the typical-Canadian, "why-should-we-pay-for-something-we-should-get-for-nothing" mentality. The anti-CBC people have been handed a GIFT. They're ranting that there should be more CUTS now. They're on a tear, these people: guys like Peter Worthington ranting in the paper about how irrelevant and left-wing the CBC is all the time.

Personally, while these rebel broadcasts may be fun to do and makes CBC management look foolish right now, I think these rebels eventually need to completely get off the air. All over the country. That way, people will really miss them and scream at the CBC to get them back on the air. This way, though, people are just going to rant that these people should stay on campus radio and that there should be even more draconian CBC cuts.

Anyway I think both sides in this labour dispute, union and management, are pretty nervous about this situation and quickly realizing this labour dispute is doing nothing for both sides. Management should be deeply worried about the competition from its own locked-out broadcasters, while the broadcasters don't have a leg to stand on against the CBC managers and the CBC critics, who don't miss them one bit. No wonder they're going to start talking again. This thing has to END. FAST.

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