A single-source, puff piece in today’s Halifax Chronicle-Herald says Andrew Cochran, senior managing director for CBC in Atlantic Canada, is heading to Toronto to spearhead the public broadcaster’s five-year suicide mission named “Strategy 2020.”
The Herald actually calls it a “survival plan,” but a so-called “strategy” that cheerily chops another 1,500 staff jobs by 2020 and puts the development of digital and mobile media ahead of programming on radio and TV, looks more like suicide to me.
Cochran himself is best known as the independent producer whose company created the hugely successful children’s TV series, Theodore Tugboat. Since 2007, he’s been CBC’s head honcho on Canada’s east coast where he oversaw a disastrous plan to boost supper-hour TV news ratings. In 2010, I wrote a piece in the weekly Coast magazine that included this:
Ten years ago, CBC Halifax cut its TV supper-hour news in half and gutted the staff. Ratings fell to near zero and advertisers fled. In a desperate attempt to revive the Mother Corpse, CBC managers came up with a 90-minute show based on the “action news” format touted by American consultants. If you want to gauge quality, tune in at 5pm and chug a beer for every crime, accident, fire or weather story; you’ll be shit-faced by 5:15.
In 2011, this mediaspin blogpost tried to show how dumbing down the news also made CBC’s political coverage more sensational and less accurate.
The headline in today’s Halifax Herald says “Andrew Cochran’s herculean task is to save CBC.” With his record so far, I’d say he’s more likely to help kill it.