CBC execs: low on reason, high on the hog

CBC execs: low on reason, high on the hog

Yesterday’s Toronto Sun reported on its freedom of information requests that dug up the following on the expenditures of senior CBC executives:

Former president and CEO of the taxpayer-funded CBC, Robert Rabinovitch, enjoyed a five-day stay at the posh Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel in Turkey.

The stay in September 2006 cost $4,377 to enjoy the hospitality of one of the world’s most luxurious resort accommodations…

Bill Chambers, CBC’s vice-president of communications, said Rabinovitch’s trip was to attend a conference of top broadcasting executives.

He called it ‘a very wise expenditure of our funds’ because it provided a unique opportunity to discuss future co-productions from around the world.

In 2005, I interviewed Rabinovitch in the Toronto Star, discussing the shortcomings of CBC funding:

The subject of our discussion was an interview he had conducted with worldscreen.com in 2001.

[WORLDSCREEN.COM]: How is the CBC funded?

Rabinovitch: The CBC is funded, from a public-broadcasting point of view, in the worst possible ways. We are a combination of advertising and a public grant from the government, which comes on an annual basis as an appropriation. Therefore we are vulnerable, unlike the BBC, which gets its license fee every 10 years. We also raise about 30 per cent of our money through advertising, and the advertising, in turn, can mean less distinctive programming, because the purpose of advertising is to deliver eyeballs.

Please note the phrase “the worst possible ways”—not “in a manner that could use improvement,” not even “wretched,” “terrible” or “dismal.” The. Worst. Possible. Ways.

I asked him if, four years later in the midst of the worst labour dispute in the history of the CBC triggered by management, i.e. him, this was still his position.

“This very much remains my position,” he said. “If you add the instability caused by the cuts we have taken over the last 20 years, the constraints therefore on program planning where it takes three to four years from idea to getting a story on the air, etc., the impact on the CBC is obvious.”

Um, so how does this work? How could Rabinovitch go on the record saying that the government does such a piss-poor job funding the CBC, then spend that kind of money complaining to his international colleagues of same? I’ve put this question to the current set of worthies at the CBC. I await their response.

• Puttin’ on the Ritz [Toronto Sun]• The price of our ambivalence [Toronto Star]