Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Whither the CBC

...It says here we should be proud that we are free
And our free press reflects our democracy

--from Billy Bragg's "It Says Here"

Well this is discouraging. Just when I was getting my hopes up that closure would be coming soon to the CBC's lockout of Canadian Media Guild members, there's this article (courtesy of those same CBC Guild members, so you really have to take it as a press release more than a news story) dampening any enthusiasm for a quick end.
Despite mounting political pressure to come to an agreement, the Canadian Media Guild says “management has made no substantive movement on its positions on employment status or on layoff and recall provisions during extensive discussions in the presence of federal mediators.”

Layoff provisions and the status of contract workers are the two main sticking points.

Calling CBC management’s position “virtually the same as it held before it imposed the lockout,” the union statement says management is refusing to budge on its proposal to use more contract workers.

"It says here that the unions will never learn..."

While it's true management can blame the federal government for reducing their funding yet still demanding the same level of services, I'm with the Guild on this one. They aren't asking for pay raises. They just want to protect their numbers in an environment where they are being asked to do more (reporting) with less (resources) all the time.

It's not just the CBC. The newsrooms of the nation have been shedding reporters in a steady stream of lay-offs and cut-backs that began in the 1980s. CKAC radio is the latest to lose its newsroom to the bottom line. The media consumer is the victim of course, getting fewer viewpoints and skimpier reportage for their buck.

"...It says here do you ever wish
That you were better informed..."

This contracting-out of the work might seem like a boon to the animal known as the freelance journalist, but these people battle daily just to keep their heads above water; and they have to work like the dickens getting to the point they can earn their keep at it. One freelancer friend of mine said it took him years just to patiently build-up to earning 20K annually. (He unfortunately had to abandon it last year, needing steadier work, after nearly a decade of struggle.)

"And it says here that we can only stop the rot
With a large dose of law and order
And a touch of the short sharp shock"

So until this lock-out ends, I'm no longer tuning in to CBC radio, TV, or on the web. But at least I can check out the CBCUnlocked in the meantime. (I hadn't heard about this until now.) The site calls itself "a free public service for Canadians, developed by locked-out employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation...guided by the principles of honest journalism, intelligent entertainment and public responsibility."

Good on 'em, I say.

Update: More detail from the Globe & Mail.

Last word goes to Bragg:
"...Just remember, there are two sides to every story"

- 30 -

1 comment:

Gazetteer said...

Made the same decision myself....but in the CanWest (not)Global, Corus dominated electronic media wasteland that is Vancouver it fast leads to intellectual anoerexia.