The selling of International Sales

There will be some monster migraines at the CBC today.

A story on the front page of The Globe follows up on the pre-Christmas sale of our international distribution rights and assets.

The result is brutal.

Steve Billinger says no Canadian distributors wanted the package. Robert Lantos said he would have taken it. Billinger says the Board of Directors knew about the deal. Some Board members say they learned of the sale after the press release was issued. Billinger:

“The board was informed that we were in discussions with them. I don’t know if they gave a stamp of approval to the deal … but we’re proceeding with it, so …”

The extremely rare trailing quote means one of 2 things. The Globe is leaving something out, or Billinger trailed off wistfully, perhaps dreaming of happier times.

You might remember that 2 days after we sold the catalogue of still-undisclosed shows to British-owned ContentFilm, they were bought by Toronto-based Peace Arch. The Globe points out that Fred Fuchs was a senior vice-president at Peace Arch before coming to the CBC.

Billinger gets all Gordon Gecko on The Globe:

Mr. Billinger denied that Mr. Fuchs smoothed the way for the transaction. “I run the business. It was my deal. International sales report through me.”

The Toronto Star chimes in that

Just two months ago Gary Howsam, the CEO of Peace Arch, had to take an extended leave of absence because he’s facing fraud charges in the United States.

I have absolutely nothing to add to this except that if The Globe or The Star are looking for something untoward, or a juicy story, they will surely find it. This deal was weird from the day it was announced, and many people have emailed me about it.

I don’t know any more than you do. Which is why I don’t have a headache.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted January 12, 2008 at 7:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Today’s Globe:

    “Canadian distributors were furious to hear Richard Stursberg, executive vice-president of CBC’s English services, declare on live radio that no local players were fiscally strong and competitive enough to sell his network’s shows internationally.”

  2. Anonymous
    Posted January 12, 2008 at 7:05 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It’s gone from 130 titles to 700 (in Saturday’s Globe and Mail). Stursberg claims that no Canadian outfit was highly enough capitalized to handle it yet the dollar value was too small to merit a tender process. There are a lot of different stories floating around and some evasion. What really happened? Does anyone in News have the balls to investigate?

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 5:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Heads will roll?

    If you’ve been around here long enough, you know that heads never roll.

    When a million dollars accidentally disappeared from the budget (in ’96? ’97?) did someone get fired? Nope. So I’m not holding my breath now.

    The rare cases where people get pushed out, they often go for the wrong reasons (eg they don’t get along with the boss).

  4. Johnny Happypants
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Is it time now to talk about the high-waisted denim pants Mr. Fuchs wore to the atrium xmas party? I don’t think his work will be done until Hee-Haw is back on the air. On CBC.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    To writer who said “heads will roll”. Do you really think that heads will roll ? People said that during and after the lockout. Heads didn’t roll; individuals received promotions for the work they did.

    Do you think that just because someone is hated that they will get fired ?
    If Mr. Fuchs is doing the job he was hired to do he will remain until the job is done.

    There isn’t anyone here with a sense of ethics or, for that matter, morals in this organization. Without these qualities, the dishonourable will be with us for a very long time.

  6. bonk
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 9:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Mr. Billinger denied that Mr. Fuchs smoothed the way for the transaction. “I run the business. It was my deal. International sales report through me.”

    Fine. Now investigate them. We have far too many of these cowboys playing fast and loose. There is no managerial accountability because of a long-standing sycophantic management culture.

    At least when they’re caught with a smoking gun, can we please see some transparent, fair, and decisive action? If that demands disciplinary action or termination, then do it.

    Oh, but wait; our management don’t actually have policy and procedure guidelines, other than ‘keep the boss happy.’ What are the chances that these guys were taking some liberies attempting to find cash, any cash, to fulfil the the demands of the Executive Vice-President, English Services (you know, the ‘feel good’ guy)?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 6:49 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “Saleable” … like what? The story says they sold over one hundred shows. What are those? Just wondering.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 12:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The Department was actually making money due to the introduction of some saleable series.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    As someone who spent many years in this department none of this comes as any surprise. This is the last in a long line of poor management decisions, culminating in the selling off and closing of a department which was totally unnecessary.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Fred Fuchs’ head will roll for this. He is easily the most hated head of Arts & Entertainment in decades. Billinger may be in trouble too. This story is just beginning. Follow the money.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    this is further evidence of corruption and malfeasance
    at the highest levels of the CBC

    as a Canadian taxpayer I am outraged

    the CBC is clearly out of control

  12. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2008 at 9:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Once again I have to express my deep disappointment in the leadership of this organization. With all due respect to Mr. Billinger and Mr. Fuchs, when you come to work for a public corporation you are accountable for your actions and decisions. Transparency and working through official channels is how it’s done here. If you didn’t know that coming in, you certainly know that now. I hope Hubert calls all of the VPs into his office for an explanation. The President would certainly impress me if he did so and issued his report to us later today. Heads are going to roll and they should.
    LeonT

  13. Anonymous
    Posted January 9, 2008 at 7:01 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Nobody likes Fuchs. They have been looking for an excuse to get rid of him. They just got it.


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