Tuesday 10 April 2012

Hi I'm Mark Kelly and here's what I want to Connect:


To tell you the truth, I often enjoy watching Connect with Mark Kelly. Ya, he applies his own slant to certain subjects, but the interviews are snappy and generally well done, and the news segments with Reshmi Nair and more recently Genevieve Tomney are refreshing. They always start with the grim news and finish up with something light, so that they can banter with Mark and flash their smile for the camera.

I am a little surprised that they would cut this particular show. It does not seem like a large budget show. One host, a studio, a team of researchers and some teleconferencing costs, basically; as opposed to something like Republic of Doyle (oh that Crazy Doyle .. I can't believe he stuffed that police man in the trunk again) which is a scripted on-location drama with writers, actors, the whole bit. It's no surprise that Doyle was chopped.

Part of the problem is that CBC is just too spread out. They have English TV, French TV, CBC News Network, CBC Radio 1, CBC Radio 2, CBC French radio, etc ... I think what CBC does best is news and investigative stuff. Maybe they need to consolidate to 2 radio staions (English & French) and 2 TV stations and focus on that.


I can relate to Mark Kelly. I lost my job too, quite recently. Unlike Mark, and government employees in general, I worked with an axe hanging over my head for years. Layoffs and aggressive cost cutting were a way of life at my former place of employment. Every year I saw colleagues and teammates laid off, and more often than not I would have to absorb additional work. Sometimes the cuts seemed completely unreasonable, yet despite all the layoffs we got the product out the door. The quality of the product may have suffered on occasion, but company profits kept increasing, revenue grew, and work kept getting done. My experience is that if people are forced to do more with less, they can and they will. If they can't or they won't then they will be the next ones out the door.

Which makes me wonder about CBC and all the TV shows that have been cut. The CBC execs may think that they run a lean operation and that there is no choice but to chop shows, but have they really tried to do more with less? The cuts were quite large and sudden, so maybe it was necessary. I don't know .. I don't have a good grasp of how much overhead there is at the CBC.

I will say this though: when people panic at cuts to government spending in general, saying that core services will have to be cut, I call bullshit. Most government departments at any level have not had to cut back by any significant degree for years. There is certainly capacity to do more with less. Core services need only get cut if people refuse to work more efficiently. It is a choice, not a necessity.

I lived that reality for years. When the cuts come, you think "My God, how will everything get done?" Then you begin to find things -- reports, meetings, whatever -- that aren't really critical, and you get rid of those, and you get rid of travel, and you streamline other stuff, and you end up finding a way to get the job done. Year after year we did that. Any government department can do it too.


Christian Cassidy said...

I'm most disappointed with cutting Dispatches. An excellent show on CBC One. No frills, just a host talking to foreign correspondents from around the world about their daily experiences. Probably the best show on the station for learning about different parts of the world.

I watch a lot of PBS. Shows like Nova, American Experience, Frontline, Great Performances that are all done very well but likely at a 1/2 the budget of, say, the overproduced fifth estate which spends an inordinate amount of time and effort on re-enactment sequences and musical scores than versus reporting the actual story.

Even look at CTV's National vs CBC's. You can still do good news with an old-fashioned "newsreader sitting at a desk" versus fancy sets, live weather feeds and reporters standing in studio with you.

Too bad that more cuts won't come out of executive levels and some of the "dog and pony" things added to these shows. Instead some good, basic programs will be cut instead.

Hmm.. I think I have the makings of a blog post here.

Dean said...

Why were the cuts being done this way? Well first off I thought this was just the proposed cuts and they will be deciding next week? But anyway.. lets say they do go ahead with these exact cuts as outlined. Why instead of merely trimming across the board? Why not do something with less impact?

Because...those options will have less impact. The CBC brass have obviously decided to go after the things they think will piss people off the most...and they wont be pissed off at the CBC they will be pissed off at the conservatives... and if they are pissed off at the conservatives there is a chance a different party will get voted in in 3 years and the hopes are obviously that the budget gets put back to what it was.

One Man Committee said...

Total sidenote, but I agree completely with Mr.C re: Dispatches. Of all the things they could have cut at CBC they chose to eliminate one of the few things that is not duplicated by any other Canadian media source?!?!

Perhaps there's more to to the story than there would appear... maybe Rick McInnes-Rae wants to retire or some such. But either way it's really too bad that this show, of all shows, is the one getting the axe. That kind of global perspective will not be replaced by any other media outlet in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I watch CBC constantly & I've never heard of Dispatches nor whatever the name of the show was you mentioned in the main article!
I hope they hang onto Dragon's Den & Mr.D - that show is great!

cherenkov said...

Mr.C / OMC: I suppose there were big cost savings in closing down the foreign bureaus, and maybe that's why Dispatches was axed?

Dean: that occurred to me too. I thought to myself "no, that's too cynical", but maybe you're right.

Anon: Dispatches was a radio show, so you'll never come across it watching TV. Connect is on 7-8 PM on CBC News Network, not the main channel. Dragon's Den is good .. I enjoy that too.

Anonymous said...

There's always the BBC's From Our Own Correpondents that's available as a podcast

Anonymous said...

Pardon me Peanut but I have to ask:

You admit that you had to work harder and longer, sometimes the quality of your product suffered but profits increased and they got rid of you once they were done exploiting you for full economic value and you think this is a model that should be applied to others?

I do not quite accept the Conservative mindsight but I do hope you were able to find some gainful employment

cherenkov said...

That's basically right, ya. I understand the need for cutting costs, and do not blame the company for doing so, however I think they may have cut too deeply at times.

Governments, by comparison, do almost nothing to control cost. There is a vast middle ground between the two.

Brian said...

Cutting Connect was a fine decision. Cherenkov, who is normally right about everything, is totally wrong about that show; it's dead air on the network, and a campy, cheezy, purile waste of airtime.

Dispatches, on the other hand... cutting it is an outrageously dumb decision, not least because it was actually a very cheap way of getting foreign news onto the CBC; much of what it aired is often done by stringers and freelancers - which might explain why it was cut, perversely.

Anonymous said...

I found this thread looking for a place to vent about Mark Kelley. This so-called journalist has zero personality and when the CBC mercifully removed him from the part-time anchor role, his interviews came off as forced. Then they gave him Connect and I was so happy that he was quarantined to some show I wasn't invested in. Apparently he was no good there either because that was cancelled, and now he is going to ruin the Fifth Estate. When will the CBC get rid of this dead weight?

Thanks for listening

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