The things I do for you people. While the rest of you were dipping a toe into summer, I plunged headfirst into the new report on the future of the CBC, A Space For Us All, so you wouldn’t have to.
I was hoping that report might be called The Miracle Of The Loaves And The Fishes, given its promise to do a lot more with a lot less. Apparently that title isn’t compatible with a digital-focused future, since it brings to mind the wrong kind of tablet.
The report is, shall we say, unwieldy in its use of jargon, and densely forested with word-thickets where management likes to hide the bodies. I understand the need for this strategy: A report that consists only of the word “Aieeeeeee” accompanied by a screaming face is likely to frighten the locals.
Anyway, there I was, prepared to drill down and pick some low-hanging fruit, to circle back on the disruptive technologies that will provide platform-agnostic synergies for the future. Even as CBC president Hubert Lacroix was addressing his understandably cranky troops about how their future lives in a cellphone and not in news reporting, I had my highlighter out with the report, translating its contents for you, gentle readers – who are also listeners, and viewers. And if I had to lie down later with a dose of Dr. Renzetti’s Magical Elixir for the Relief of Management-Speak, well that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Here’s what it says:
The report: CBC/Radio-Canada must “lighten its technology and real-estate footprint across the country, focusing efforts and resources on content rather than infrastructure.”
My translation: Does anyone want to buy a very large red and white building with Jian Ghomeshi’s face on it? Close to shopping and the subway.
Report: “Local service is at the heart of the public broadcaster’s role and remains a top priority for audiences. Local news, in particular, is prized by Canadians. A space for us all reaffirms the importance of a regional presence across the country and commits to being even more local than today, but at less cost.”
Translation: We plan to produce just as much local news with fewer staff, for less money. A job posting will soon go up for shamans, alchemists, magicians and grifters who have ideas on how this might be accomplished. (These are non-union positions.)
Report: “CBC/Radio-Canada will identify important target segments, and be intentional about the specific purpose of each service for the respective segment. The focus is to engage target segments intensely with some, but not all, services; to engage Canadians in the public space in a way that is meaningful and personal to the individual.”
Translation: Okay, I was stumped by this for a bit, but I think it means that news about birds and books and other things of interest to old people will continue to be found on radio at 6 a.m., while the rest of you can play the latest game about Drake’s pants on your iPhones. Could be wrong, though.
Report: “Prime-time entertainment titles are the biggest drivers of audience and revenue on conventional television. These titles are the most powerful vectors of culture …”
Translation: Prepare for a reality show about the cutthroat world of competitive curling called Get Your Rocks Off, and also Dragon’s Playpen, in which toddlers choose the toys best aligned with their corporate objectives.
Report: “Documentaries will include bold, thought-provoking, point-of-view programs reflecting the most relevant issues to Canadians.”
Translation: As long as we don’t have to make them.
Report: “Scripted comedies will be cutting edge, with character-led focus rather than traditional ‘sitcom’ formats.”
Translation: We will run a continuous feed of Rob Ford’s press conferences, with guest appearances by the “brother” character and the “shady” character(s).
Report: “Letting go of the infrastructure, systems and processes that are less necessary in today’s world, and embracing flexibility, scalability, agility, simplicity and partnership.”
Translation: Honest to God, I have no idea what this means. But I am willing to accept guesses, and the most entertaining will receive a copy of Knowlton Nash’s memoir, which does not contain a single mention of “scalability.”
Report: “The corporation’s work force must also continue to reflect the Canadian population. The average age of CBC/Radio-Canada’s work force is 45 years, with 13 years of seniority – over 20 per cent of employees are eligible to retire between now and 2018. The number of accredited unions with different working conditions also adds complexity. As well, there is a higher rate of turnover with the younger work force. Being able to attract, retain and engage diverse talent with the necessary skills for the future will be key to long-term success.”
Translation: Middle-aged employees, the ice floes are this way. Yes, you can bring your microphones. Young employees, the two-day contracts are here for you to sign. No, that coffee is not for you.
Well, I hope that was a useful exercise. I’ll be back here in six years to explain the public broadcaster’s next report, A Space For Us All (Where The CBC Used To Be).