A couple days ago I stomped down the stairs into the living room. My mission: turn off the horrible music that my mom was listening to. As I huffed into the kitchen getting ready to lecture my mom on what should be considered good music, she laughed and asked me if I was going to turn the radio off. Surprised, because she usually yells at me when I even attempt to lower her music while she relaxes after a hard day of work with a Guiness in one hand and red wine in the other, she told me ?You can tell CBC is in a lockout, listen to this,
they?re playing crap.?
And so I decided not to turn off the radio that was playing some tune that nobody alive could identify. My mom listened on, if only out of loyalty to a station that she has listened to every day for the past twenty years.
I?ve started thinking about my memories of the CBC. I remember when I went up to my family?s cottage on Georgian Bay and listened to Jasper, Gracie and Tom on the Dead Dog Caf?. I also vaguely remember a radio show about some cat who was a detective, I think. I loved it.
As I grew older, Peter Mansbridge became a familiar face and I always looked forward to his coverage on the Olympics, both summer and winter.
During my broadcast classes at Ryerson, we had to study and analyze the program content for CBC Radio One and CBC The National. I remember how much fun I had comparing the CBC to other news programs, delighting in sharing my opinions on why I think the CBC needs to aim more shows towards the younger generation or why I unconditionally accept everything Peter Mansbridge tells me.
Most of the aspiring journalists in my classes at Ryerson see CBC as the pinnacle of their future careers. If they end up at CBC, they know that they have made it in the world of journalism. CBC is the word of God. And now, because of the lockout, that image is in great danger of being shattered, if it already isn’t.
The lockout is only hurting CBC, but when it does end, what will it’s image be, and will viewers and wanna-be journalists still look up to it as their number one source for news?
Already competitors are trying to lure CBC faithfuls to watch their programs. CTV bought ads in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail featuring their alternative to The National with Peter Mansbridge: the Atlantic edition of The CTV National News With Lloyd Robertson on CTV Newsnet. And you can bet other broadcast stations are closing in for the kill.
CBC is turning out to be the big loser. What with advertising dollars down the tube, angry employees and viewers who are becoming fed up and are turning to other news sources, CBC’s identity will need a makeover.
On August 15, CBC management locked out about 5,500 Canadian Media Guild members, the people responsible for the programming of one of the most watched news shows in Canada.
The lockout was a slap in the face to the Guild members who voted to strike after the CBC attempted to create a two-tiered workforce of permanent and temporary employees.
The Guild says that it is not opposed to hiring employees under individual contracts but emphasizes,?Our position is and always has been: permanent people for permanent work.? The two-tiered system that the CBC is proposing is a huge threat to the Guild because it means that one group has fewer rights and benefits than the other, and both groups end up suffering the consequences.
When the lockout ends, the employees probably won’t be any better off than before. Look at the NHL lockout that just finished not so long ago. It took 310 days to resolve but are the players any better off? Well if you think that a team salary cap, a 24 per cent salary rollback and two-way arbritation means “better off” then by all means, they are definitely better off.
Whether disgruntled and wary hockey fans are willing to forgive and forget remains to be seen, but the NHL clearly sees a need to win them back; they’ve lowered ticket prices for starters.
Will CBC fans and employees be forgiving? With so many other broadcast stations available, each of them vying for a spot in viewer’s and worker’s hearts, it will be tough to win the public back.
I have a feeling that my journalism classmates will be looking at the CBC in a new and unflattering light.