Fear of a Black Broadcaster

Last week was “Spring Cleanup Week” in the TBC. The Real Estate department encouraged us to organize office cleaning parties and advised us that cleaning staff were on hand. We could call them if we wanted them to vacuum.

Now, a CBCer in her natural habitat is a filthy sight, but there’s no reason for the Real Estate department to rub it in via GroupWise. And why don’t they save me the phone call and just ask the cleaning staff to vacuum the whole damn building? Do they even have vacuums?

Watching people at the last Christmas party I was struck by how many visible minorities work here, more than I ever remembered, some of them incredibly visible. Turns out they don’t work for us, they work for Profac (“the cleaning staff” and “the janitors”) or Pitney Bows (“the mail room”). We outsource to these companies and they hire minorities.

This makes for a Titanic-like situation at the TBC, with the displaced in steerage in the basement, and the rest of us up above in the cabins. It’s another world down there.

We have a comfortable amount of visible minorities on air. (although soon to be one less – bon voyage, Sarika!) Hell, Canadian Immigrant Magazine gave us a diversity award for Ian Hanomansing alone. But a trip on the elevator in the TBC is as white as rice, and the CBC’s own numbers back this up.
More recent reports show this went down to 5.3% in 2005.

These numbers are troubling and difficult to explain. The makeup of this country has changed drastically over the last 10 years, and especially in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver. How can the makeup of the CBC have changed by only .5% in that time?

The numbers, and my doorman, suggest that the CBC is racist. Call me naïve but I find this very hard to swallow.

Closer to the truth is that it’s insular. And old. With a lot of old people making decisions. People from another generation who aren’t used to hanging out with the New Canada.

And like hires like.

Is that racism?

And where are the visible minorities in senior management?

The good news is that these days the place is getting younger and you’ll see more young visible minorities in the TBC, and not just pushing brooms for Profac, and not just living it up at the Christmas party, but working in the cabins.

Quotas serve no one. Yet times change, and we need to change.

But for the people in the basement, we probably can’t change soon enough.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted May 16, 2007 at 3:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I got a kick out of the ‘likes hire likes’…

    Let’s see here, about 40% of the population is politically centre-right and CBC is, oh let’s see 99.9% far left. There’s a good relection of the country for you

    (Grapes, the .1 was for you buddy)

  2. John W
    Posted May 14, 2007 at 1:57 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    So what’s the story on Sarika? One of my favourites on Newsworld.

  3. Allan
    Posted May 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    One example of not thinking, not trying, and not caring at the CBC:
    Broadcasting one program 3 times a day.
    What purpose does that serve?
    The Hour is broadcast on 2 channels while everyone is asleep.
    Is this supposed to be for the VCR/TIVO crowd?
    Are you saying they can’t tape it at 11 pm just as easily?
    From 12 am till 6 am the CBC has several hours to try new programs, and they don’t.
    If Gill Deacon can’t attract an audience at 2 pm why does the CBC think it can get viewers at 4 am?
    And why wasn’t her show (actually intelligent and useful) also available for download like The Hour?

    What was so interesting about Halle Berry that she was used on two news shows in place of a Canadian personality?

  4. Allan
    Posted May 13, 2007 at 6:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    In last week’s episode Tony Soprano is giving a pep-talk to his loser son, and tries to list what Jr. has going for him, including that he’s white.
    There are many books available to answer your question. Start with “The Vertical Mosaic”, and do a Wiki on the phrase “affirmative action”.
    There’s actually some sense behind not hiring the recent grad from Upper Canada College.

    The nitty gritty of the gripe most of us have these days with traditional media is that they are so blind to the way the landscape has changed.
    They think that throwing diversity or youth at the problem of shrinking audiences is the answer.
    They are so wrong.
    Re-design the Globe?
    Make the Toronto Star 11/2 inches wide in a couple of weeks?
    How is that going to bring new readers?
    Radio has fragmented so much that no one station matters any more.
    (of course you’re listening to the CBC where they have no commercials but ten times the budget of any other station)
    Newspapers are losing readers to the internet and audio-books while the population is increasing, and so is their boredom with papers whose idea is to think advertiser first and then content.
    Television in Canada is largely an exercise in copying others.
    Dragons’ Den and other programs are lifted from the BBC.

    So what’s the real reason for the dismal performance of huge and expensive media companies?
    Well, what’s your guess?
    A lack of imagination and nerve.
    Frustrating to see, when the answers are right in front of them.
    Infuriating to tolerate, when we’re hyped to accept a show like The Hour as being different or new when it’s the same old stuff now done by those still growing up, as if that’s a new perspective.

    Where are the new shows for a new generation?
    Not on the CBC, because government doesn’t lead, it follows.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted May 12, 2007 at 2:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This so-called debate is one of the reasons CBC produces so much shit.

    Focusing on the race — not even the culuture, but the race — of staff while ignoring how well they perform is patently absurd.

    Would you rather have a TBC staffed by 50% visible minorities (vizmins??) creating mediocre programming, or one with 5% visible minorities creating great programming?

    Please don’t read the above graph as an insinuation that visible minorities can’t produce great programming.. that’s not what I’m saying.

    It’s about focusing on a factor that has nothing to do with how creative, energetic, insightful, trustworthy or competent someone is.

    What’s wrong with working to get the best job done by the best people available, regardless of race?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted May 11, 2007 at 10:12 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    So no longer are we racist, but we’re “ageist”? Can’t we just all get along? Muddle through? Can people with fresh ideas and those with the experience to carry them out not work together? Or am I a delusional old fart?

  7. Allan
    Posted May 10, 2007 at 7:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Closer to the truth is that it’s insular. And old. With a lot of old people making decisions. People from another generation who aren’t used to hanging out with the New Canada.

    WHAT THE F … !!! (not “Q”)
    Would you care to explain? Shall i be brief?
    Old people are no longer relevant.
    There has to be a cut off date or a label on anyone over forty that clarifies their INTELLECTUAL EXPIRY DATE.
    Old people have common characteristics:
    they are old
    they are wrong
    they have no new ideas, let alone good ones
    they don’t understand a good joke
    they are uptight
    they are holding back young people
    they are what’s wrong with the CBC
    The Hour is the future.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted May 10, 2007 at 4:27 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Have to say as an invisible minority, you would not Im not Canadian until I talk, because Im white & white folk think all white folk are like them I gotta say painful as it sounds the CBC is ever so racistin that liberal cutesy way. But if I have to sit through one more meeting and hear the phrase them and us I may drop my fake Canadian accent (so the Canadians listen to what I say & not how I say it) and let flybut then I remember that CBC is reflecting very very accurately Canadian society.

    As the puppet sang were all a little bit racist

  9. Enik Sleastak
    Posted May 10, 2007 at 2:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I for one welcome our new black impaired lesbian aboriginal cleaning overlords.

  10. Bill Lee
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 9:38 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Of course they hire their own.
    I am noticing in the West (not Ontario) that more VizMins are on air. Whether behind the scenes we can’t “see.”

    Those broadcast schools are turning them out, but few want a contract job and the ‘old men’ aren’t leaving fast enough to create openings.

    SRC Vancouver has 2 vizmins with clear French.
    CBC TV has about 3, radio has a couple of TPIs.

    Lots more ‘clericals’ but that is the nature of the resident population they have to choose from.

    Besides, they don’t think of themselves as a minority or very different.

    In Vancouver they have had to hire vizmins with East Asian (Cantonese, Mandarin) and South Asian (Punjabi, Hindu, Urdu) language skills to deal with a growing population. But since they report in English, on radio, few notice.

  11. Mike
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 6:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Anonymous said: If I had to hazard a guess, it’d be that Mike is neither black, nor impaired, nor aboriginal, nor female, nor gay. Nor a cleaning person.

    Mike said:

    Yep. I can definitely see where not being one of the diversity groups makes people “rednecks”.

    Labelling is oh so easy.

    Gotta say though anon. I do qualify for one of your groupings ( in addition to the “redneck” ) that is.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Wow, lotsa rednecks on Teamakers today! Yeehaw!

  13. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 11:53 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I continue to be outraged that the TBC is full, to the rafters with people from Ontario, they dominate they institution in numbers out of all proportion to their numbers in the country. Their influence on programming is painfully, painfully obvious.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 11:41 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If I had to hazard a guess, it’d be that Mike is neither black, nor impaired, nor aboriginal, nor female, nor gay. Nor a cleaning person.

    How’d I do?

  15. Mike
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 11:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Why stop there.

    How many people who work in this illustrious TBC have mobility or psychological impairments? How many are aboriginal? How many are women? How many are gay? Ok disregard that last one.

    And on and on.

    Quotas for all I say. Political correctness all round!!

  16. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2007 at 9:35 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You could NOT be more dead on. Thanks for telling it like it is.

    In my department (40+ people) we have exactly one person of colour and one person of Persian descent. The only white cleaning staff I’ve ever seen is that guy with the suspenders.

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