CBC’s ‘B Team’

Many months after the this unfortunate report from CBC concerning the Prime Minister’s caucus retreat in Cornwall, Ontario last August, I had the random chance of sitting down and have a couple of drinks with a senior CBC staffer. Introducing myself and expecting to duck soon after, the nice fellow instead recalled my involvement in the aforementioned report and ombudsman review that followed and we had a friendly and quite forthright conversation about blogging, the national broadcaster, and what exactly was it that happened that could have led to such a botched report. Of course, regarding the CBC, conservatives describe the personal and institutional biases of the state-run broadcaster against the Tories. While at times conservatives have a case, other times a number of other factors may be at play.

Nobody is entirely sure exactly what went wrong in that report whether it was unconscious (or potentially conscious) bias on behalf of the reporter, rushed and sloppy production/reporting or even institutional bias of the broadcaster to be blind to such an error through the various levels of approval before the piece went to air. In fact, it could be one or more of the above.

In my friendly discussion with the senior CBC staffer, he didn’t discount bias but he did seemed to mention poor standards when he described the CBC phenomena of the ‘B team’ that tends to work in the last couple of months of summer.

I had forgotten about our discussion until I read a post today by Ouimet at The Tea Makers blog. Tea Makers is a blog written anonymously by a CBC insider and often offers internal criticism of the institution. Here’s an excerpt of the post:

Have you ever watched CBC-TV and said to yourself “WTF?”

Or listened to CBC Radio. Or watched CBC Newsworld. Next time it happens look at the calendar and you’ll find that it’s July or August. Probably August.

Because the summertime is when the A-Team takes a much-needed vacation and leaves the reigns to the B-Team, a rag-tag band of not ready for prime-timers who finally get their chance to be in charge. This happens from the top down, from the “on-air personalities” to the lady who doles out the money through the petty cash wicket.

In fact, some of your favourite CBC stars go on UI in the summertime, waiting for their shows to be renewed. It’s true!

So, the ‘B team’ phenomenon is actually part of the common lexicon at the CBC. Should it be an excuse for the sub-standard quality of broadcasting?

As for the caucus report last August, was it a matter of poor standards in reporting and/or production? Using Windows Movie Maker and Youtube, I was able to cut a more accurate representation of what went on in a few hours and I wasn’t even in Cornwall. So was it various levels of bias, the B-team, or both?

Whatever the reason, let’s continue to insist that the CBC sorts it out and raises its game.