Sunday, 21 February 2016

CBC Must Abandon Ads And Find New Sources Of Funding

CBC has boasted that 50 per cent of the cost of its TV services is paid for by advertising revenue. No more.
In the year ending August 2015, CBC English TV ad revenue fell off a cliff and was barely $100 million, well under 20 per cent of TV revenues. Funding from taxpayers is now four times greater than ad revenues, an outcome that was predicted here.
Despite cuts by the Conservative government, a large increase in public dollars was required to balance the books of CBC TV in 2015, money taken from other areas, especially CBC Radio.
To make matters worse the cost of selling ads and promotion on CBC TV represented $62 million last year. Administration costs, some of which are for sales, were another $78 million.
After deducting these overheads, there is no meaningful profit to be made from advertising, which begs the question: why is CBC still in the advertising game?
Even in years such as 2014, when ad revenue receievd a boost from the Olympics and World Cup soccer, the cost of buying the rights to such events all but wipes out any increase in ad revenues: expenditures on sports that year were almost half of all CBC TV program costs, over $230 million. CBC Radio and Internet services spent additional dollars covering these events.
So, again, what is the business case for the public broadcaster playing in the ad business? CBC suits will try to make the case, but will it be credible?
For decades and right up to 2012, CBC maintained that the ad revenues from NHL hockey were profitable and underwrote the cost of other programming. Only after losing the rights to the NHL in 2013 did a humbled CBC president admit that they weren't making money off of hockey.
CBC did once make substantial money from ads. Twenty years ago, adjusting for inflation, CBC TV generated almost half a billion in sales revenue, somewhat less in French TV, but those halcyon days are gone.
The measly revenue raised by CBC Radio is another case in point: ads were introduced two years ago and English Radio made the paltry sum of $1.2 million and French Radio less than $200,000 in ad revenues in 2015. The cost of selling and producing the radio ads far exceeds the revenue.
Ad revenues from CBC Internet digital services, such as, are apparently so embarrassingly low that they are folded into the revenues of TV/Radio or buried. CBC committed to increasing Internet digital ad revenue by 50 per cent, but it is still of such Lilliputian proportion it has never been publicly reported. Whatever revenue is generated, it is primarily at the expense of local and national newspapers, many of whom are at death's door.
"CBC desperately needs new direction, starting with board members who have a knowledge of broadcasting and are representative of Canada's younger demographics."
The situation in CBC French TV is no better. Ad revenues fell by 18 per cent in 2015, hitting a new low for the decade. For more in-depth information on French TV and radio, please visit my blog.
The most compelling reason for jettisoning ads from all CBC TV services, or at least dramatically reducing them, is that the ads are almost all the same ones that run on private stations.
Thus, the ads also advertise that CBC is no different than private TV, especially since slackening demand has meant CBC is reduced to airing repetitive ads for third-tier products and services. It has gotten so desperate that CBC only gets paid if you call the 1-800 number in the ads.
The second compelling argument for eliminating commercials is their effect on programming. Neil MacDonald (knowingly?) summarized it in an analysis piece, stating that traditional standards in news organizations have "given way to naked fear, as media managers, and not just in newspapers, desperately try to hold onto splintering audiences and plummeting revenue."
He reminded us that "news institutions must place principle ahead of metrics, or our core withers, and we become clickbait hustlers for corporate paymasters who would rather see stories about a Kardashian." MacDonald ends his piece giving his personal view, once considered a mortal sin for a CBC journalist.
One can't blame CBC journalists or other staff, whose salaries now comprise the lion's share of programming expenditures. CBC staff numbers have been reduced by 20 per cent since 2009 but inflation means salaries are now a much greater proportion of the TV budget.
No wonder so many panel discussions are comprised of CBC journalists talking to CBC journalists. This is a financial disaster waiting for future managers.
The CBC Board of Directors is comprised entirely of non-broadcasters, all appointed by the last government, with an average age approaching 60.
This board is responsible for the policy to increase the number of ads and types of products and services that are advertised, and to spend more money on selling ads than the revenue generated.
This board is responsible for the current state of CBC journalism. More importantly, the board is accountable for the policy to reduce budgets for the most successful CBC services, CBC English and French radio, to support CBC TV, presumably because they are under the impression that CBC TV makes money from advertising.
The current board is never going to be able to right the CBC ship; more likely, they will sink it, given the time.
CBC desperately needs new direction, starting with board members who have a knowledge of broadcasting and are representative of Canada's younger demographics.
CBC is woefully short of the funding. As noted elsewhere, neither public nor private Canadian TV has sufficient funding to compete with programming from the United States, England or France.
An industry-wide strategy is needed to find new sources of funding and focus the efforts of CBC and private broadcasters. The misdirected CBC strategy to compete for advertising dollars should finally be abandoned.
A clean slate of board directors, with like-minded senior managers, should function like the boards of hospitals and universities and raise funds from the public and corporations to supplement government grants.
This should not be so difficult, since CBC, especially radio, still has dedicated viewers and listeners.

This article first appeared in Huffington Post.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

CBC TV is Addicted to Sports and Selling Your Eyeballs to Advertisers

CBC TV has broadcast NHL hockey on Saturday nights for over 60 years. CBC executives thought it was a sacred right, until Rogers bid $5.2 billion for all national NHL rights in 2013 and took control of Hockey Night in Canada. Until that fateful day, no one at CBC could imagine a HNIC hosted by anyone else but Ron MacLean and Don Cherry.
Once upon a time CBC also had Expos and Blue Jays baseball, as well as CFL and NFL football, Raptors basketball, the Olympics and a variety of other sports. Sports were the main audience and advertising engine of the CBC schedule for decades. At some point CBC programmers began to think CBC couldn’t exist without sports. Besides, the sports leagues do all the marketing and create the audience demand; all the CBC has to do is cover the action on the ice or the field. That requires a lot less effort and imagination than creating original drama or comedy programs.
With the advent of sports channels starting in the 1980’s many of these sports properties were lost to TSN and Sportsnet, as were many of the executives, producers, technicians, etc. who developed their programming skills at CBC Sports. But the addiction to sports, despite the fact that there were two sports channels who would gladly air anything on CBC, using the on-air and production talent developed by the Corporation, remains unabated to this day.
In fact, CBC expenditures on sports reached a new peak in 2014, $236 million or 47% of all program expenditures. This easily surpassed the money spent on news and information ($170 million) and almost tripled the combined dollars spent on drama ($61 million) and other entertainment ($25 million) or a total of $86 million. In the years just prior to 2014 sports expenditures had hovered around $150 million annually, dipping slightly in 2013 when the NHL season didn’t start until mid-winter. In 2014, CBC bid for the rights to air the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, which meant sports expenditures suddenly accounted for almost half of all programming dollars.

Ironically, when CBC won the rights for the Olympics and soccer, it didn’t keep them exclusive to CBC but rather sold some events to TSN and Sportsnet and private radio, thus negating some of the value to CBC. Double irony is that the sports channels have declared they won’t bid on the Olympics because they are unprofitable. They support the idea of CBC bidding on the games and selling them access to selected events cheaply. Likewise, Rogers after securing NHL national rights was pleased to take over the full CBC network at no cost to Rogers on Saturday nights. This can undoubtedly be justified by bean counters at CBC but is it the role of the public broadcaster?
CBC still airs Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights but all editorial decisions are made by Rogers. Moreover, all ad revenue generated by HNIC is retained by Rogers. The impact of this is massive on CBC revenues. This past spring, the first with Rogers in control of HNIC, overall CBC English commercial revenue fell from $123 million to $54 million, mostly the result of an approximate 70% decline in TV ad revenues, raising the question as to whether the CBC should be in the business of selling viewers to advertisers. Is it really a “business” for anything other than major events like the Olympics?
To feed the insatiable cost of sports CBC has to find money from other sources (besides selling some events to TSN and Sportsnet). One is advertising revenue; it is relatively easy to attract advertisers to the Olympics, although the CBC English and French TV ad revenues in 2014 don’t appear to have grown proportionally in 2014. Another is to cut expenditures in TV drama/comedy programming. That area saw budgets shrink from $85 million in 2013 to $61 million in 2014, a 29% hit, mostly to independent producers who sell their programs to CBC. A third source of funds to support the habit is to harvest money from CBC Radio, which has seen its budget cut dramatically over the years by some 27%.
The overall program budget of CBC TV hit a new high in 2014, surpassing $500 million for the first time. In other words, TV has seen no budget cuts while CBC Radio has been slashed. Elsewhere, I question whether this is lawful. Who would have guessed CBC TV program expenditures would hit an all time high the year staff (mostly in radio) was being cut drastically and CBC executives were crying poor?
Some would say, so what, it’s the best the CBC can do in an era of shrinking budgets and audience fragmentation. Besides, that’s what the audience wants. True, people love sports but has CBC ever asked the audience if all the sports programming could be found on other channels, would they prefer a CBC focused more on quality drama and entertainment? More pointedly, why does CBC’s French-language sister network, generally considered a relative success, follow the exact opposite strategy, leaving sports to the two French sports channels and leading the market rather than following it? Let’s examine how Radio Canada spends its programming dollars.
CBC French TV has a programming budget of about $300 million annually and its budget too has held steady while French Radio since 2009 has seen a decline in its budget of some 29%. French TV has also been harvesting the funds of French Radio. Spending on TV sports by Radio Canada is so minuscule in recent years, the numbers can’t be fitted into the graph. However, in 2014 spending on sports increased to $22 million, the amount Radio Canada had to contribute, probably reluctantly, to cover the cost of the Olympics and FIFA. Ad revenues of French TV increased by only about $10 million in 2014, so the Olympics/FIFA were in net terms a money loser for the French network.
In 2002 the VP in charge of French TV, Michelle Fortin, who subsequently left to run the Quebec provincial public broadcaster, made the decision to cease airing NHL games. It was a controversial decision and CBC was called before a Parliamentary committee to explain. She told me at the time that after Quebec lost the Nordiques and thus the Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry, the NHL was less important to Francophone audiences. Radio Canada has a history of being hesitant to commit to mega-sports events like the Olympics.
What does the French network spend its money on? CBC French TV spends over half its programming dollars on drama ($63 million) and other Canadian entertainment ($90 million) or $153 million in total. News and information is also a major program expenditure, $122 million in 2014, slightly less than the previous two years, perhaps again to pay for the 2014 Olympics. So, incredibly, the smaller French network outspends CBC English TV by almost 2:1 in drama and entertainment. Does CBC’s Board of Directors or the government understand this and does it not signify that a serious review of CBC is needed? This is the first time these data have been compiled. 
What does it mean for the future? The indubitable media critic, Simon Houpt, recently asked the question, what is wrong with the Canadian film industry? His analysis reveals a parallel situation; Quebec films are far more successful than those from English Canada. The box office receipts of some English films are hilariously depressing.
In the case of CBC TV, we need only look at the financial data to understand that if most of the money is spent on securing rights to and producing sports and so little on drama and entertainment, one can only expect modest success in drama and entertainment. International experience shows us that quality TV, other than programs from the massive U.S. entertainment industry, can only be achieved with public funding, ideally from a dedicated fee or tax. The BBC is successful because everyone who owns a TV pays about $250 annually to support it. CBC should be funded in a similar way, directly by the public. CBC is clearly underfunded and is eating its young and abusing its elders to survive. A properly funded and focused CBC should be one of the first items addressed by the next government.

Additional data:

Monday, 3 August 2015

The BBC is About to Repeat Canada's Mistake

As the BBC approaches its 100th anniversary, the venerable broadcaster is in a pitched battle for its future.
The newly-elected Conservative government wants to reduce the financing and the scope of BBC activities; it has just phased out a £750m subsidy that substituted for 'free' TV licence fees for persons aged 75 and over. This is in addition to the elimination of a £245m subsidy that had for decades funded the BBC World Service. Now both must be funded by others' TV licence fees or some other funding source.
The biggest share of BBC revenues comes from the TV licence fee, which a household is required to pay if they watch (live) TV. Much like a driver's licence but there is no exam to pass.
The Canadian experience provides a lesson on how not to fund the BBC. Canada abandoned the licence fee in the 1950's on the premise that TV, which was being introduced, was too expensive to be funded by individual households, especially since only a handful of homes had a TV in the early days. From that day to this the CBC has been subjected to tortuous annual negotiations for direct government funding. Abandoning the licence fee and not replacing it with another mechanism allowing the public to pay directly for public broadcasting was a mistake.
Every year the CBC must plead for government grants and the Corporation is continually on tenterhooks. On several occasions with the onset of a recession governments have made drastic cuts to the CBC budget as part of general austerity programs. There have also been times when funding has been cut ostensibly because of perceived journalistic bias or alleged inefficiencies. The public has no say in these cuts.
Canadian politicians, not surprisingly, are just like British politicians, regularly accusing the public broadcaster of bias. Pierre Trudeau once even asked the CRTC to rule on CBC bias. This at least confirms that the public broadcasting system is open and robust. But it can lead to unfortunate outcomes. The leader of the Canadian Senate recently asked whether the CBC should be out of news entirely, which would basically neuter the CBC and deny Canadians of an important voice. Able-minded politicians should relish the attention granted by public broadcasting journalists who are by definition the most impartial, although management must be vigilant about possible biases in programs.
Lacking direct public funding and given the vagaries of annual grants from Parliament, CBC has sought out revenues from two other natural sources, advertising and subscriptions. Advertising on CBC TV has made the service indistinguishable from commercial networks and undermined one of the core purposes of public broadcasting, which is to examine all aspects of society, including government, without real or perceived servitude to any interest group. CBC TV has lately even resorted to turning over valuable prime time hours of its schedule to commercial broadcasters (Rogers NHL games and TV series).
CBC has successfully raised limited revenues in recent years from subscriptions but then, desperate for revenue, ran ads on these channels for any interest group or business that would pay. Subscriptions to individual services are increasingly difficult today as TV is becoming platform agnostic and, of course, it is not feasible to collect radio subscriptions.
If subscriptions are the way to fund public broadcasting then it should likely not be for individual services. Just as the current BBC licence fee covers the cost of not only TV but also radio and other BBC services, an overall fee added to the bill of pay TV and internet providers (fixed and mobile) could fund all BBC services. This is a concept being explored in Canada, since the present mechanisms to fund CBC have failed miserably.
British consumers would likely willingly accept this new subscription fee, since it would replace the licence fee. The cost of collection would likely be no more or less than the 3-4% it costs to collect the licence fee. Canadian consumers would be more reluctant and so a widespread educational campaign would be required.
Only those households without internet access or pay TV (via cable, satellite or IPTV) would be excluded from the new subscription fee. Those who subscribe would be required to pay the fee in order to receive pay TV or internet, thus no need to force payment by legal means.Ofcom estimates that over 80% of British homes had residential internet access in 2014 and over 60% had smartphones. Many of those without fixed or mobile internet would have some form of pay TV and it is probable that less than 5% of homes have neither, roughly equal to the 5% of homes who currently evade paying the licence fee. Many are likely to be low income homes and/or with persons aged 75-plus and they would not be required to pay the BBC subscription fee. If the subscription fee was based on a percentage, it would mean those who spend the most on pay TV/Internet, would pay more than those who spend less on these communication services.
What BBC services should be offered in future and how to manage them efficiently is another critical issue.
The BBC should seek to serve the whole public since virtually all pay for it but BBC need not continuously "chase ratings." The licence fee is an annual fee, not a daily or weekly fee. Reaching all members of the public on some regular basis or even occasionally with programs or services that are meaningful would suffice, not precluding some programs with wide popular appeal.
As for the concern that the BBC duplicates programs of commercial broadcasters, it can be argued that quality standards of BBC productions only rarely are equaled by commercial British productions. Generally, only U.S. programs funded by the huge American market and their worldwide audience can equal BBC quality and entertainment value.
Commercial broadcasters, understandably, will do whatever necessary to shift costs to the bottom line to profit. The BBC, being funded directly by the public, has the freedom to invest in quality and need not answer to the demand for profits. But it must be efficient and BBC management, ideally drawn from a professional broadcasting talent pool, must constantly evaluate the merits of all programs and ensure the BBC spends wisely and not just equals but exceeds commercial broadcasters.
Certainly, it is a challenge to argue that BBC should be seeking online readers as well as viewers and listeners, given the proliferation of newspapers and other news sources online. BBC internet services would seemingly be better suited to providing mostly audio-visual content and to work with rather than compete with newspapers for readers.
With long term stagnation in government funding, fragmentation of the advertising and subscription markets, CBC TV is today but a shell of its former self and commands a fraction of the BBC's audience share. Today, in weeks without a major sporting event on offer CBC TV captures only about 1 hour of the average Canadian's time. Fortunately, CBC radio fares somewhat better, as do French-language services.
What has befallen Canadian public broadcasting is not what Britain wants for the BBC. BBC released some data that is startling for North Americans: virtually every adult in the UK spends 18 hours per week on average with BBC services. This figure comes from a BBC-commissioned survey and may exaggerate but it is more time spent on any other activity but for sleeping. 

The Beeb is not perfect but is important in the lives of most Britons, and, millions around the globe. I think a case can be made that the BBC is not just a national treasure but also Britain's ambassador to the world and largely responsible for maintaining its reputation as a political, economic and cultural bellwether. When people around the globe are exposed to BBC news or entertainment they imbibe Britain. Surely it is the responsibility of all political parties to ensure another century of BBC services for the world.
Please don't make the Canadian mistake of assuming that the public broadcaster should be funded by annual government grants, which only leads to commercialization of the public broadcaster and ultimately the belief that commercial broadcasters can replace it.

Monday, 27 July 2015

CBC Needs a Rethink

CBC recently appeared before a Senate Committee examining its future and demonstrated that it has no real strategy for the future. Instead of a strategy, CBC has an agenda. The agenda is to shrink the CBC.

Before he became president of CBC, Hubert Lacroix, told Parliament it was his job to find new sources of revenue but after taking the job he said CBC doesn't need more money.

This month CBC submitted a document to the Committee and a 90-page slide presentation that contained contradictions, errors and misleading information.

Here are some of the problems that a quick reading reveals:

-CBC told the Senate it relies heavily on public funding, over $1 billion per year, "as do the privates." According to CBC, the privates receive production tax credits and funds from the Canada Media Fund. No mention that CBC also receives these additional benefits, above and beyond its Parliamentary funding. Rather than whining about the privates, why doesn't management make the case that the public broadcaster should receive all the public funding?

-More importantly, these so-called benefits relate only to TV. Private radio has no similar benefits, while CBC Radio receives over a quarter of a billion dollars in public funding.

-Total revenues of CBC TV and Radio amounted to almost $1.9 billion in 2013-14, a sizable sum given that the government has reduced funding by $115 million per year. In one part of the document it is claimed that 26 per cent of the total revenue comes from advertising; in another section it is claimed that ad revenue represents 21 per cent. The difference is almost $100 million. But ad revenue is not what public broadcasting is all about. Even private broadcasters like HBO Canada, Netflix, shomi and Crave TV are going commercial-free.

-CBC's basic "strategy" is to concentrate less on radio and TV, which are expensive, and focus on cheaper digital, Internet services. CBC claimed it is "a leader among news and information digital properties" and in its appearance said it was the number one digital news site. Neither statement can be verified. The monthly audience reach data CBC submitted is for, the portal that encompasses not only CBC news and information but also all CBC drama, comedy, sports and other entertainment programs and all of CBC Radio. One can watch full episodes of Heartland22 Minutes, etc. or listen to radio on One would have to separate out the news audience ( to fairly compare to Huffington Post, CNN, etc.


-The Internet audience data for could mislead the Senate, as it appears to have misled CBC management. The CBC online audience is really quite small. In an average minute of the day has about 5,000 users. That is, roughly the audience that Sun TV News had when it shut down recently. 

-CBC has never released information on advertising revenue and would only tell the Senate that it is doing "very, very well." Expenditures on CBC Internet-based services may exceed $100-million but we have no idea how much revenue comes in. Advertising revenues of the Internet are growing but are not going to web sites like It's fair to conclude that public funds are being spent on, which competes with private radio and TV and even newspapers. Did Parliament create CBC for this purpose? 

-CBC detailed how its web audience is currently nine-million monthly users and set a goal to double it to 18-million or about half of all Canadians by 2020. That should be easy. The data CBC submitted show that alone has nine-million monthly users; but (a mostly additional) two million use its French website, so that is a good first step to achieving the goal. Other CBC data claimed that half of Francophones and about a third of Anglophones use CBC websites, so the good news is that the managers have basically already achieved their goal (but don't seem to know it.) 

-CBC also referred to monthly audience reach of its other services. The source was a CBC survey but we have no way of knowing how the reach numbers were arrived at. Without knowing how much time a person must spend with a service to be counted in the audience, it is of dubious value. Audience share, like average audience, is a better tool for measuring performance.

-CBC did provide audience share to the Senate. CBC claimed its English TV prime time share is 8.2 per cent. In fact, it was 8.2 per cent in 2013-14, according to the CBC. Audience share in 2014-15 to-date, that is, the first full year with Rogers controlling NHL hockey was not provided. Oddly, a letter to the Committee refers to the prime time share in a single week of January 2015. 

-Also missing is the whole day audience share. More total viewing takes place in the hours outside of prime time. Audiences start to grow about 4 p.m. and are almost as high as in prime time. The whole day share encompasses performance not only in prime time but also the other hours of the day. CBC told Parliament it had about a 5 per cent whole day share prior to this season and it makes sense that it has dipped below 5 per cent in 2014-15. Why would CBC managers conceal the effect of budget cuts, the loss of NHL and increased competition and not make the case for additional funding? Are they in a conflict of interest and ignore shortcomings?

-CBC said Canadians spend about 27 hours per week watching TV; 17 hours per week listening to radio; and about 20 hours per week on the Internet. What is CBC's share? CBC TV has about a 5 per cent share of TV viewing; it has an impressive 15 per cent share of radio listening. Results are even better for Radio-Canada. But despite its large monthly reach CBC has only about a 0.2 per cent share of internet usage. Not 1 per cent, much less than 1 per cent. Not much of an ROI. Where do you think it should focus its resources? On radio and TV, which will be around for decades to come or on web-based services that compete with thousands of other web services?


-If CBC slowly withdraws from traditional radio and TV, which is the strategy being proposed, it will mean the end or the diminution of CBC. Is a public broadcaster really necessary on the Internet, which has no scarcity of content providers? 

CBC should have an audio/video presence on the web but its radio/TV infrastructure is far more important and will be for many years. The valuable service provided by CBC Radio and CBC TV (which may be starting a renaissance with programs such as Book of Negroes and X Company) should not be starved of funds to provide digital services that few will use. If CBC managers think otherwise, then make all web services pay services, as do many newspapers. Besides, shouldn't the core strategy be to find new sources of revenue, as Mr. Lacroix promised?

(This post originally appeared in Huffington Post)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Ghomeshi/Soloman Are the Tip of the CBC Iceberg

David Cooper via Getty Images
The Jian Ghomeshi and Evan Soloman scandals signal that CBC managers have lost control of CBC. The Corporation has resorted to hiring an outside labour lawyer to investigate what went wrong with management processes, an admission of failure. But the signs of trouble have been there for some time.

CBC is a relative bargain. In 2014 Canadians paid on average only $18 per capita in public monies to fund CBC Radio and TV, a tiny fraction of what they spent on other TV-related services, such as cable TV or Netflix. (We paid only $11 per person to fund Radio Canada.) We also pay smaller amounts for CBC specialty channels, such as CBC News Network ,and CBC benefits from other, smaller government funds.

The finger-pointing for CBC's problems has become a national pastime but its roots are fairly obvious.
For over a decade CBC Presidents, who, along with the CBC Board of Directors, are appointed by the government, have hired outsiders to manage CBC English Radio and TV. Hubert Lacroix, the current President admitted when he accepted the job he knew very little about the CBC. For the President to in turn rely on outsiders to manage the programming services is a departure from a long practice of relying on staff who came up through CBC ranks to become vice-presidents. This is proving disastrous as the CBC once again has suffered government funding cuts and is trying to maximize other revenues. But it is evident to me that the current senior management team knows very little about the organization they are in charge of, the result of broken management systems and practices. The Ghomeshi scandal is the tip of the iceberg.

Some other examples:
- CBC senior managers have recently given three different estimates of CBC's commercial revenue, including advertising. Which is it? The difference amounts to about $300 million. How can one budget properly without knowing?
- Hubert Lacroix asserted recently that TV advertising revenue accounts for 93% of "business revenue." According to CBC's annual report he is off the mark by 30 percentage points. 
- Mr. Lacroix should know but he has been busy with extracurricular activities. While President of CBC he has been a director of several private companies, one of which paid him almost $100,000 in 2011. He's been so busy he misread the policy on travel and inadvertently billed the CBC for $30,000 in ineligible travel expenses. 
- Ad revenue currently accounts for about 30% of CBC TV's total revenue, substantially less than 15 years ago, yet the President has claimed it was between "40% and 50%." Have senior managers lost track of tens of millions of dollars?
- For years CBC managers boasted that NHL hockey was a profit centre. Yet, after CBC lost the NHL rights to Rogers, the CBC President admitted that at best hockey broke even. What kinds of decisions are made with such conflicting information? 
- The President told the CRTC that CBC Radio would be protected from further cuts but CRTC data reveal that cuts to radio continued and radio's annual budget is $100 million less today, which may be in violation of the Broadcasting Act
- CBC says it has cut over 2,100 staff in recent years. But CRTC data reveal that the staff reductions are about a third of the number claimed (most are in radio). Do senior managers monitor staffing?
- Journalistic policies are being ignored by those in the trenches. There is evidence that policy on expressing opinion is being violated, most notably by Rex Murphy. Mr. Murphy and others have been criticized for accepting large fees for public appearances, even from charities such as the Salvation Army. This has not always been the case for CBC-branded celebrities. Is the lack of management oversight the cause? 
- Despite overall TV viewing levels at all time highs and CBC radio audience shares at modern-day record levels, CBC managers have announced that they are planning on making murky, new "digital" services a higher priority than radio and TV! The new digital strategy comes with no business plan, no estimates of costs or revenues. Is this simply an invention of managers with little broadcasting experience?
Is it surprising that CBC is in such crisis?

The last decade has taken a toll. The President and the majority of his Board are supporters of the Conservative party, which seems to have handcuffed efforts to fight for funding from a government they personally fund. Ironically, they don't seem to know that the majority of the Conservative "base" also support CBC

The result is acquiescence in government cuts and a reluctance to make the case for new sources of revenue. The best they can come up with is to cut staff and then rent out the space once occupied by the departed.
Source: Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

If you wanted to slowly strangle the CBC, you couldn't imagine more ideal circumstances. With a stacked Board of Directors and senior management team so inexperienced in TV/radio programming, how could they possibly make the case for CBC? The first step to righting the ship is to put in place an experienced captain and crew.

(A version of this post first appeared in Huffington Post)