The CBC, in the course of a budget exercise, recently decided that there wasn't a sound business case for keeping their in-house staff of publicists. Instead, they are going to outsource to standalone PR firms. Now, the CBC is partially funded by the government. It produces made-in-Canada programming that has to compete with American programming broadcast on our other networks. And it has to raise profile for this programming in dozens of tiny markets with a limited quantity of MSM.
John Doyle, the television columnist for the Globe and Mail, asks: "Why is CBC shooting the messengers?"
"... it's called an asymmetrical outsourcing model, a phrase that is easily the outstanding bafflegab of the year so far. Essentially, it means that in the key, concentrated markets for Canadian TV, freelance publicists will be hired to promote CBC programs.
No offence to freelance publicists, who contact me daily, but CBC managers must be out of their minds. This is how it sometimes works with the freelance publicists and me. Long before the show airs, I'm pestered with calls and e-mails about the show, which I haven't seen. Before a tape or DVD is provided, I'm asked to commit to writing about it ...
The freelance publicist, if reachable, can't answer, must make numerous calls and gets back to me long after my deadline. Sometimes they can't be reached at all, having long since moved on to promoting some other project. The result is that somebody who worked on the program I review gets busy composing the angry letter about his or her efforts receiving no mention.
Among the now-redundant CBC staff are people I've called at home, late at night or on weekends, when a news story needs to be written by me or another reporter and in some cases I've often spoken to their spouses and children. They never complain because they're helping to get attention for Canadian-made television. They are an essential part of the fabric of a homegrown TV industry. They're the messengers. Getting rid of the messengers, at a time when the CBC and Canadian-made TV need all the help they can get, is worthy of an Air Farce skit."
(Globe and Mail, sub. req. )