Sunday, September 04, 2005


Walked by the CBC the other day and was amused by the picket line. There was a CBC political reporter who I recognized marching on the line with all these producers and techies. I didn't see any really big names, though, no Peter Mansbridge or anyone like that.

I have been watching the CBC lockout very closely and I gotta say I've been siding with the union this entire time, mainly because I have not been a fan of CBC management for a very long time. I just feel this contract-worker situation over there is a disgrace; workers shouldn't be treated that way, that's the way I see it. Plus I don't like some of the decisions they've made in recent months with respect to programming and personnel- especially the Chris Cuthbert fiasco and the debacle they made of the curling coverage. So it's very hard for me to side with the management at the CBC after that. But I'm not big on unions, either, generally, because unions just encourage more bureaucracy in an organization. I sort of have the Don Cherry attitude towards unions. I just hope after this lockout is over things somehow improve at the CBC, for everyone.

Well, word on the street is that the CBC negotiations are proceeding and that the big lockout should be settled, maybe not this week but certainly by the end of September. From what I've gathered, they want to get this over with in time for Hockey Night in Canada to come back, so that's why they are picking up the pace with the talks.

So that's what is really important to the CBC, eh? Being back in time for hockey?! The Labour Day CFL classics aren't enough of a motivation for management to want the workers back, and neither is Hurricane KATRINA. But HOCKEY is something no red-blooded Canadian can live without, so that's why they have to be back. Hockey, Canada's Official Sport. The One Sport No One Can Live Without--- not even for a whole year.

I find Canada's obsession with hockey annoying at times, especially when other good sports like football and baseball get the shaft. Nobody goes to baseball games anymore and the games have been kicked off conventional broadcast TV for cable, and we lost the Expos to the United States because of poor attendance and all these problems. The fans say they all hate baseball now because they went on strike and hosed the fans, and they also say that ticket prices are atrocious. Yet everyone is rushing back for hockey and cowtowing to Gary Bettman, even though they killed a whole season. And their ticket prices are way worse than baseball's. After all this bad treatment, these fans still can't wait for their hockey on CBC! I just don't get it.

Actually, the truth is that Hockey Night in Canada is probably the only good show the CBC carries when you think about it. Can't argue there. The Ron and Don Show gets the biggest ratings on the CBC by a country mile over every other show. So it's important to the country that these people return to the air for the much anticipated return of hockey and the "new NHL". If the CBC staff remain on the picket lines, then fans across Canada will be screaming mad and picketing the CBC, too. So the CBC will be a mass of picket lines. The coming hockey season will, well, look just like the last hockey season. After last year's experience no one at the CBC wants that.

Plus, the CBC has been taking a media hit with everyone writing about how irrelevant they are and how the CFL broadcasts are a big improvement without announcers. Not that I agree with any of this bull; I think the CFL broadcasts on CBC are in the toilet without announcers. But there is simply no love for the CBC out there with the press or the public, whose loyalties are entirely to the personalities who make up the CBC as opposed to the CBC institution itself. University of Toronto radio station CIUT is confident they'll make campus radio history and be the number one station in all of Toronto, with locked-out Andy Barrie at the mike in the mornings. No one cares what station he's on, no one even cares he's on a university radio station. They just want to hear Andy Barrie.

No wonder, then, that everyone wants this labour mess over with.

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