Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, September 30, 2005

My Prediction:
The CBC Will Settle Soon

As I have posted several times before, I have been delighted with the current CBC lockout. The only thing that would improve it would be having a manager announce the titles and performers of music that is being played both before and after it is played.

But I think this slice of near-heaven is doomed for two reasons:

First, if management has any sense, they will realize that most CBC listeners/viewers do not really miss the CBC. From Michael Campbell, p C03, of the Sept. 29th Vancouvre Sun [h/t to JAK]:
Day 46 and the CBC is still out, but the country's holding together. Is there any limit to the resilience of the Canadian public?

You'll have to forgive me (of course, friends of the CBC won't), but the passionate supporters of the national broadcaster have always been over the top in couching the CBC as the glue that holds the nation together. For some, it's the primary rationale for the nearly $1 billion that taxpayers pay to support the public broadcaster.

To be more precise, according to the latest budget documents, Canadian taxpayers spend about $2.7 million per day to subsidize the CBC, which works out to $982.4 million a year (up from $702 million in 1997). It's this level of spending, combined with low ratings for the CBC's English-language television, that has many people asking whether taxpayers are getting their money's worth.
And if nobody misses the CBC, what is the point of subsidizing it to the tune of $47quadzillion? CBC managers should soon become concerned about whether a different set of politicians might vote to privatize the broadcaster and remove its subsidy because, if that were to happen, many of them would be looking for new jobs.

Second, the NHL is about to begin regular-season play. Hockey night in Canada has been a major revenue source for the CBC, and if they are unable to present hockey in its full glory, if at all, they will suffer both short-term revenue losses and long-term reliability concerns: the NHL could easily strike new deals with the other networks to provide even more hockey than those other outlets already provide, and the CBC could be left on the outside. The expectation of this possible loss of revenue, in both the short term and long term, gives the members of the guild a stronger hand in bargaining now than they had a month ago.

Management has presented a new offer to the Guild.
CBC management made what it described as "significant compromises" yesterday on several contentious issues, particularly new limits on the number of contract workers it would hire per year, in order to end its labour dispute.

However, the Canadian Media Guild, which represents the 5,500 locked-out CBC staff who have been walking on picket lines throughout Canada for seven weeks, called management's settlement offer only a small step toward ending the dispute.
My point estimate is that they will settle by mid-October. Here is hoping I am wrong. But if I am correct, here is hoping it is not for the wrong reason [$ subscription required]:

Heavyweight Liberal MPs called for an overhaul of the CBC management and an end to the labour law that allows the crown corporation to lock out staffers as management put a new offer on the table last night.
I had been impressed, up 'til now, that Liberal and NDP politicians have not become more involved on the side of the Media Guild. But this is something we do not need: MPs declaring the CBC a sacrosanct employer that must not be allowed to lock out its workers.
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