Maybe you got Kirstine Layfield’s email yesterday before you knew what she was so upset about. She was referring to an article in Playback called CBC in ratings tailspin:

The numbers are in on CBC’s new fall shows, and, despite some typically high-quality programs, the ratings are disastrous.

In all fairness, despite low viewerships overall, some of these series are showing growth, which speaks more for word of mouth than any marketing efforts on the part of the pubcaster.

Speaking of word of mouth, I’m digging Dragon’s Den these days, both the show and the website, which has a lively comment section that gives you a chance to second-guess the investors. Those poor Jobloft nerds got robbed blind! Blind, I say!

I digress. According to the Playback tastemakers, these online marketing efforts are useless and there must be some other mysterious reason why ratings have increased for this show. Kirstine:

We ended last season with a 7.3 percent audience share and this year so far have moved that up to 7.6 percent.

Do we have a number of shows for which we’d like to see higher average minute audiences (AMAs)? Absolutely, but AMAs are just one measure of performance and part of a much bigger picture.

What we’re doing is building a whole schedule that’s the sum of many parts, and aiming to turn over timeslots with lower performance last year into better this year.

But why are we concentrating on turning over timeslots? With every network frantically shuffling shows, and with PVRs and whatnot, aren’t these timeslots becoming meaningless from week to week?

And aren’t they tied to ratings? Or rather, AMA’s?

I thought the goal was better programming? We’ve got some good shows. Why are the AMAs low?

Also yesterday Paul Gorbould, who’s doing a gorboulriffic job at Inside the CBC, tips us off to part 2 of an interview with CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch:

We are committed to stay in professional sports – for a couple of reasons. Number one: It connects the country together. We feel that’s one of our responsibilities.

Well, it isn’t. It used to be in the Broadcasting Act, but they took it out in 1991. Although most people think it’s our responsibility, and the president is probably just being folksy, so I’ll let it slide. But you’re not fooling me, sir.

On the lockout:

I still think there are people who are living in the past, very few. But when I talk to staff, the lockout is not an issue. In fact, some of them joke and say “lockout or strike, you call it what you want,” which they wouldn’t have done a few months ago.

And I don’t think many people are doing it now, besides your secretary. Although the president is probably just being folksy again, and perhaps sweating in the cartt.ca hotseat, so I’ll let it slide. But you’re not fooling anyone here, sir.

It’s not something one wants to do very regularly, but… the fact of the matter is at the end of the day, we are very satisfied with the contract that we negotiated. We think we have the flexibility to move forward, and I think if people read the contract they will see that we did quite well. And I’m not boasting because I think the employees did very well as well.

Well, you are boasting. And being a bit smug. But there may be reason for that.

Despite the union’s cries of “we won!” when the lockout ended, since then many of its members have complained to me about the contract they ended up with. They suspect they might have been suckered like Jobloft.com nerds. I’ve yet to read the collective agreement from end to end and compare it to the previous one, and to be honest it doesn’t sound like much fun. But maybe I should?

Also, we are now accepting applications for Guy Fornier’s old job, that of Chairperson of the CBC. No salary is listed, but it’s a part time gig requiring 70 days of work a year. The list of qualifications is rather sparse. You don’t even need to know Microsoft Office.

But note the “Sound judgment” criteria.

Make up your own snarky joke, I’ve got to get back to work.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 10:11 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Layfield is on very thin ice claiming that CBC’s audience share is up this season. She would have to be talking about Tuesday nights 8-9 o’clock in the first 2 weeks of October among those homes whose cable was out and who were on the wrong side of the building to get satellite!

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 9:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    So… at the end of the day, the staff lost more than the corporation from the lockout? It’s not surprising. Still, wasn’t it clear to those who voted in favour of the tentative agreement that what they were getting wasn’t a significant improvement from the starting point of the negotiations?

    Or did everyone just decide to collectively “take one for the team” (to restore programming to Canadians), knowing that Rabinovitch would walk away from it both triumphant and arrogant?

  3. bryanf
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 1:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Honestly, I don’t watch CBC television. But then I don’t watch any television “live” anymore (except TVOKids and Treehouse when my 3.5yo daughter insists someone “COME SIT WITH ME!”).

    All two shows I regularly watch are either time-shifted using pre-PVR technology (we called it a VCR, sonny), or downloaded from, er, somewhere. Usually shows are available online before they’re aired in Canada, especially shows that only air on specialty channels.

    I consume far more video podcasts per week (and per day) than I do TV shows. And none of those podcasts are from CBC either. If CBC started putting out 5-15min audio or video podcasts on topics I found interesting I might watch. Otherwise… there’s a planet of content out there.

    I got a call from BBM the other day offering to let us become of the lucky households who get to write down their viewing habits in a little notebook. What fun! Sadly, my brother was sucked over to AA in the wake of Claude, and they decided that was too close a relationship. Oh well, won’t be able to skew the results.

  4. power-pointy
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 1:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    make better programming??

    I’ve never heard anyone in management make this proposal. They are all off in power-pointy land with ideas like “brand focusing” or “revisioning”

    Those of us who actually do broadcasting work daydream about
    making better shows, but it just doesn’t seem to be a priority inside the company.

  5. Allan
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 12:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Rabinovitch exhibits the worst of the traits we’ve come loathe in every boss we’ve ever had. A person who constantly puffs themselves up in front of a handful of superiors while concurrently pissing on the thousands of people working below. He proclaims last year’s lock-out as a win-win for all involved, as puzzling as that may seem to those who felt so powerless only 12 months ago.
    The only time a contract is good for both sides is when the viability of the entire enterprise is riding on it’s outcome.
    But one thing he is clear about, if mistakes were made, they weren’t made by him.
    And if you’re one of the “few” who can actually tell the difference between a strike and a lock-out, then you’re “living in the past”, with no sense of humour.
    Could he be any more demeaning?
    Expect more insensitive, ungracious, and short-sighted remarks “going forward”.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 10:13 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Layfield and Rabinovitch are, respectively, in the first and third stages of grief over the television network.

  7. CBC Frank
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 9:02 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the single greatest hurdle we need to overcome is the CBC aversion problem.

    When channel surfing, the CBC channel is quickly bypassed because “it’s good for you” in a manner similar to your least favourite vegetables.

    For that matter, those who don’t watch sports will even delete it from their channel list, along with the foreign channels. This is Channel Aversion.

    What to do about it? We can be sneaky and sell our stuff to the other networks. They need to satisfy their Canadian content quotas, and our stuff will certainly do that, only we can’t be too busy proclaiming that we did it; leave the credit at the end to sell us. If it’s good, we wont have to tell our audience that.

    As for Herr Rabinovitch’s poopooing of the lock-out, I’d point out that a family with two or more kids, living in an expensive city would probably have dipped into RRSPs, RESPs, or simply gravitated toward insolvency because of their managerial acumen.

    If morale had been in the toilet before, it has now managed the impossible…

    In general, I’ve reason to concluded that the most technical decisions being made here are done so by secretaries, because they certainly ain’t being made by broacasting people. I don’t mean to disparage secretaries however; I think too many of them have been sacked in order to pay for the excessive number of fresh appointments I keep reading about.

    It’s hard to take this place seriously.

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