Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tech, Money & Sports: CBC is Sinking Man, And I Don't Want to Swim...
The full measure of the most extensive financial cuts in CBC/Radio-Canada's history have finally been released today. We won't mince words: the news is bad all around. Every single sector of the CBC's operations has been hit hard by the $171 million shortfall the Corp(se) faces, and sports coverage is taking a major hit in all this.
First, the somewhat palatable news the CBC will completely drop all Blue Jays telecasts. While this is pretty crappy news for anyone who prefers broadcasts sans Jamie Campbell on Sportsnet, it's not as if the CBC was actively involved in baseball coverage as is. It's sort of tolerable, in other words.
The real bad news is the CBC's cutbacks to amateur sports coverage, namely a complete scaling back or wholesale cutting of international figure skating, the CONCACAF Champions League soccer, Skiing, World Aquatics and -- wait for it -- World Athletics.
There's no way to describe this other than bad for all those amateur athletes who depend on the CBC for coverage of events that private broadcasters would never, ever cover. Unlike professional sports (and in CTV's case, the Vancouver Olympics), there's little money to be made in covering alpine skiing events or track and field events (unless, of course, they're Olympic events, in which they're apparently ideal for TV, which just goes to show how hypocritical people are when it comes to the sporting events we watch and how hype is a dangerous thing).
I know there's CBC haters out there who will say 'hurray' for these cuts, as if the people losing their jobs -- all 800 of them -- don't matter. You're entitled to feel, sometimes rightly, that the CBC has a tonne of waste in it that needlessly and ineffectively spends taxpayer dollars for programming people do not want.
This being said, there's a real sense of loss today that not only are average people losing their jobs, but a part of Canadian culture has died today too. Amateur sports may not be sexy to beer companies or generate the same kind of knee-jerk lunacy that infects Canada like a sickness every four years during Winter Olympics hockey games, but it means a lot to a lot of people who struggle everyday -- mostly on below poverty-line wages -- to play, compete and strive for better.
Now, we've lost the ability to see those people compete. And that's just awful, awful news for all of us.