How PMSD Is Ruining the CBC

Program Management/Staff Development, PMSD. It’s an innocuous-sounding and much-despised program that is meant to align the efforts of employees with the goals of the CBC. Unfortunately, the goals the Senior Executive Team has set are entirely self-serving and not aimed at improving service to the public. Rather, the broad goals that start this top-to-bottom exercise are to maximize the number of ears and eyeballs that come to CBC. The much-discussed bonuses we’ve all heard about for SET members depend on everybody in the organization working toward the goal of making those bonuses become a reality.

So, it comes as no surprise that the cuts that have just been announced have been made with an eye to reducing services in smaller communities. Local radio in the large centers has been largely left untouched. Bigger audiences mean bigger bonuses. It is simply not in the economic interest of the SET to make cuts that jeopardize audience sizes in large cities. But if cuts have to be made, cutting in those places that have larger audience shares but smaller absolute numbers, makes perfect economic sense.

Similarly, the SET is making cuts to network radio programs with smaller audience shares. The SET is using the economic crisis as cover for these cuts. Instead of making across-the-board cuts that would have drawn a line in the sand and united all of CBC’s viewers/listeners in protest, managers are re-shaping the CBC in their best interests. The Broadcasting Act’s call for all Canadians to be served in an equitable manner is subsidiary to the call of bigger bonuses.

The bias of SET is also evident in its treatment of programs that provide a great public service but don’t meet audience targets. These programs, such as Market Place, are targeted for cuts. Instead, the investments are made on bets to produce shows that maximize eyeballs.

The maddening thing about PMSD is that we’re all complicit in helping senior managers secure those bonuses even when we may have views of the role of the public broadcaster that are at odds with their goals.

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 5:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    What do you expect with a former head of research as second in command of the network? It’s all about numbers. There’s zero discussion about mandate because it’s not a priority, and won’t bring in the bonus to pay for that new addition.

    It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to audience. But the moment that number gazing trumps mandate, your leaders have failed and you cease to be different from commercial companies. Meanwhile, our leader walks around calling us a “content company” while people outwardly laugh.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    love that logic. fight for the regions — proportional cuts across the board, take your lumps too, or we’ll bump your ass!

  3. Kev
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I think the argument is that it’s competitive with other weekly late-night talk shows, and it’s capturing a younger audience that isn’t tuning in to the evening news.

    Also, web presence can be measured, there’s just no one true Nielsen-esque currency so it’s hard for the old school to get. Which is funny, since TV measurement is pretty much just a consensual fiction that, were it not so entrenched, wouldn’t survive any serious critical analysis. (Fun fact I only found out last week: there are 75 Neilsen boxes in New York. Yeah, that’s going to give you a good confidence level.)

  4. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If audience share is the SET focus, please explain “The Hour”? I believe it’s running around 100,000 viewers per night. Many of the regional stations that have been savaged in these cuts and likely have more listeners each morning with one-fifth of the budget of “The Hour”. Let me guess — some explanation about web presence and internet buzz created by programs like this, things that can’t be proven and are purely rhetorical. Convenient.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Please don’t say that a show like Marketplace does not achieve audience goals – in fact, this year they were surpassed. The audience numbers for Marketplace were consistently better than those for Being Erica.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’d say the CBL union will be speaking up once some of their members are bumped from jobs in the broadcast centre…..

    Putting the BUMP in “Northern Bumpkin”

  7. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This also explains why staff in urban centers have remained silent while the regions have been chopped up.

    It would be wise to speak up before the hinterlanders bump you from an urban newsroom, or, heaven forbid, bump to a newsroom near you where you might have to work with them.


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