The secret to our success

Last week Richard Stursberg sent out a rather lengthy note that could have been entitled “Reminding You of Our Successes.”

For each show there is a PARC target, indicating how we expect the show to perform in terms of public values (P), audiences (A), revenues (R) and costs (C). Successful shows are those that hit their targets; unsuccessful shows are those that do not.

We will report regularly on how we are doing against our targets. If we are not succeeding, we will take corrective action. If we are succeeding, we will look to build on our strengths. Resources will be allocated accordingly.

Is this a joke?

Somehow I don’t think so. It has something to do with the Auditor General putting the screws to us about measuring performance and setting targets.

I’m all for a little more accountability in the CBC, but who’s going to set a goal for (P)? Who will measure it? Shelia Fraser? Us? If we do it, I’m predicting a run of slam dunks and plenty of (P) for everyone.

According to Playback, the Auditor General also claims that in her 2005 report she found we had 6000 hours of programming unaccounted for. This number hard to swallow. What could this footage possibly be? Ralph Benmergui tying his shoes?

Although the issue is that we can’t prove we aired the Lost Benmergui Tapes, even though we very well might have. And probably did.

One of the amazing things about the CBC is that despite the incredible bureaucracy, when the rubber meets the road it often comes down to whether a single person is on their game that day. Witness Joe Mahoney’s astonishing report on the split-second decisions that get Q on the air. I love this stuff.

So in all the excitement it’s possible someone neglected to type something into the proper cell in a spreadsheet. 6000 times. But even this is debatable.

While sitting in these boardrooms looking at spreadsheets and PARC targets I imagine it’s very easy to forget that programmming does not operate at the glacial pace that the Office of the Auditor General does. Some days it’s like a war zone in here.

This figure of 6000 hours is even harder to swallow when I can’t find it in the original 2005 report. As far as I can tell her most potent advice is to rent out more (RE). That is, “real estate.”

So this may be a little late, but I’m respectfully calling bullshit on either Playback or the Auditor General on this figure, depending on who’s shovelling it higher.

We might be disorganized, but there’s no need to make up stories about it.


  1. Allan
    Posted May 30, 2007 at 8:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Trendsetter to some … folkhero to others.

    If I could draw a New Yorker cartoon
    it would be of Rabinovitch and Stursberg sitting and staring at your blog, while one of them remarks
    “she’s the only one that makes us look like we have a conscience.”

    One day, Ouimet, they will look back on this era and you’ll get the recognition you deserve.
    Journalism students could write a thesis on your standing in the community and history of dissenters.
    The CBC has never had a better friend.

    Hail Ouimet
    The Brown Pumpernickel of the CBC

  2. Anonymous
    Posted May 25, 2007 at 6:30 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey Ouimet –
    Stursberg read this, and now he wants to start a blog, just like you!
    You’re a trendsetter, baby!

  3. Johnny Happypants
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 4:01 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Kevin Said

    “So what’s the latest on the Anna Nicole saga?”

    I don’t know, I’m not watching Newsworld either.


  4. Anonymous
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 3:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


    You confuse effort with achievement, the former rarely counting for much in showbusiness. And Eric Idle and Charles Taylor are also more of the usual suspects. The show is dull because it has been done before, tough, are we supposed to like it better because of the hard and earnest work of the team making it? Don’t like criticism, get out of the public space.

  5. Grondzilla
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 11:49 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey anonymous the 1st thanks for being a demeaning ass to someone who clearly takes their job seriously and spelled out pretty clearly what it’s like trying to make a national show run smoothly. You obviously didn’t notice that this isn’t college radio and despite what you may think of the guests and the programming they have standards that they are very committed to meeting. Yup…that boring old CBC interviewing the same old people like Eric Idle and John Du Prez or on the weekends Richard Dawkins and Charles Taylor. Just for the sake of clarity why not start your post with a phrase like “And now for my comments in which I will be dismissive of the CBC and anyone associated with it”. Funny that they should start a new program abouyt arts and entertainment by featuring one of Canada’s most prominent authors of fiction and perhaps the most successful independent female musicians in the entire country…what would those people know about arts and entertainment.

    Ouimet: So if I’m hearing this properly the CBC managed to falsely claim they had created more than 250 straight days worth of programming? Well hot damn! That’s the kind of accounting shenanigans we mere more can only dream of accomplishing…or perhaps the AG is smoking something. The truth is likely somewhere in between but like your comments about this PARC nonsense seems to require someone who is willing to try to quantify values that almost defy such pigeonholing.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 9:28 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I understand you might see some of the Great Canadian Drama series that CBC choose not to make on other networks in the next couple of years.

  7. Enik Sleastak
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 8:14 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    P and C can’t really count for much, or Opening Night would still be on the air.

    Gill’s show hobbled out of the gate with one leg, so to fix it they cut the other one off at the ankle and then at the knee.

    If Little Mosque exceeds its targets, does this mean its new budget will be $24 million?

    Also: pages and pages of old news and WTF–but no mention of Ahab’s great white whale, the Canadian Drama Series.

  8. Kevin
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 7:36 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    By the way…I’m one of the more than 30,000,000 Canadians who didn’t watch The National last night.

    You say that like it’s something to be proud of.

    So what’s the latest on the Anna Nicole saga?

  9. Johnny Happypants
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 4:04 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Cleopatra counts for about 20 hours of this. Isn’t this like expecting Loblaws to claim rancid meat as product.

    By the way…I’m one of the more than 30,000,000 Canadians who didn’t watch The National last night.

  10. Allan
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I understand the A,R,C parts (kind of duh! since they’re basic to all production success), but can anyone explain the P?
    “how we expect the show to perform in terms of public values”
    What is the CBC is looking for?
    Please enlighten us.

    Where was Gill Deacon on the P meter?

  11. claire
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 3:35 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    sadly, it seems like arts coverage on radio one is going into the shitter, fast . Q is incredibly facile. and just this morning on cbc montreal I heard coverage of the new Celine Dion disc. WTF?? I’m about ready to give up listening.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 11:00 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The PARC thing was embarassing from the start, a classic case of a bureaucrat trying to quantify qualitative factors in order to try to understand them. (I sometimes wonder if people who could have said something at the time did not because they wanted to see the senior managers look stupid) Focus testing is the same sort of thing, they persist in using it even though there is no evidence it works. Audiences have never known what they want until they see it. So programming and program making remain art, not science, and far outside the area of expertise of the decision makers at CBC.

  13. dull boy
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 8:28 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This is how I understand Fraser’s 6000 hours. Say CBC TV paid for the right to broadcast “Desperate Hockey Wife: The Janet Gretzky Story” 6 times over 2 years. They aired it once, it failed to meet big-ticket event targets, and they opted not to air it again, leaving 5 hours of excess programming assets. And likewise for a bunch of other shows, totalling 6000 hours.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 7:20 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    …and, of course, PARC spelled backwards is CRAP…

  15. Anonymous
    Posted May 22, 2007 at 6:42 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I don’t understand how someone could get in such a lather about “Q”. They spin discs and interview they same old people the CBC always interviews (Atwood and McKinnett on the first show!). Surely they’ve got that down by now. Couldn’t they just just run an old Vicky Gabareau and speed up the tape so she sounded like Jian?

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