CBC needs $ 65 million, fast

February 25, 2009

The CBC is deep in the redbecause, well, nobody’s buying advertizing time right now. Apparently discussions are already under way with Heritage Canada. Most government-watchers I talk to agree there will be some kind of rescue funding but some cuts will have to be made – the process is already underway internally. There shall be pain.

It’s nice to see the dismal situation has not affected CBC VP Stursberg’s metaphorical speaking style. “The revenues fell off a cliff. … I have not seen a slide that precipitous and that deep in my entire life.”

So is the Mother Corp sinking?

“We have not been able to bail the boat as quickly as the water is coming in over the gunwales.”

Better keep pumpin’, mate!

February 26 update: Okay, so it seems the government isn’t seriously considering additional funding for the CBC after all. Perhaps my contact were doing a little spin themselves… Still, there are many ways to get money to the CBC and not call it a bailout. Let’s see what happens now.


Media will suffer as recession deepens

December 7, 2008

When companies suffer, one of the first things to get cut is the advertizing budget. The painful process has started early this year and is intensifying: advertizing sales in major media outlets are down-waaaaay down. Employees cringe as owners look around for positions to cut, or any kind of savings at all. Forget about the training budget, or the new equipment.

Some newspapers, TV and radio outlets might not make it through the recession. One industry report says some major American cities might find themselves without daily newsprint (thanks to David Akin for the link). Canwest got rid of a whole bunch of positions (including reporters) and more is to come on that front. CBC executives are standing around a huge whole in their budget, scratching their heads. I would not be surprised if more organizations pulled out of Canadian Press, thus bringing down this venerable and very professional news service.

But why so serious? As our Prime Minister reminded us during the election campaign, there are opportunities to be grasped from human misery, for those smart enough to grasp them.

So the ground is shifting: contacts will disappear, reporters will move, news editors will change the way they work (more of them doubling as assignment editors I expect). Keep your ear to the group, update those contact lists and  stay ahead of the curve.

Better yet – less reporters mean news organizations will need prepackaged news (provided by flacks) more than before. Sure, the newspapers will shrink – less ads mean less pages. But it’s likely that there will be as much TV and radio news as before (until the stations shut down of course).

Hopefully, the PR world will respond by producing quality information. We have no interest in objectivity, but quality we can do. But since our budgets will often get cut too, 2009 might simply herald the return of the Gainesburger: the dry, crumbly news release the dogs will eat because they’re hungry and they know that’s all they’ll get.

Ottawa Sun smear campaign against CBC exec?

November 24, 2008

Catching up on my reading, I come across the smear campaign the Ottawa Sun has launched against CBC vice-president Sylvain Lafrance. Back in 2006 charged the $80,000 in travel, theatre tickets and meals.

‘Smear campaign’ is how a colleague described the attack to me recently. She seemed to think the Sun is targeting a CBC exec for behaviour that is normal.

Indeed, the CBC’s own spokesperson says that “Those expenses are fully compliant with CBC corporate policy … if you compare them with the private (sector) they are very low.” I’m sure that’s true – I can only dream about what they’re doing at CTV. However, if you judge them by the standards of the Public Service, the working lunches with managers, the $450 hotel, the alcohol purchases are all Radwanskiesque and out of line.

The CBC receives a massive amount of public funding to fulfill a difficult mandate. Its executives need to realize that implies public accountability.