These are Creative People. They bear watching These are CBC Administrative Personnel. They watch Creative People
ONE THING EVERYBODY at the CBC is aware of is that a little guy — “a little Bob Cratchit,” says Max Ferguson — sneaks into people’s offices periodically and checks the measurements with a tape, and looks at the furniture and carpets and so on to make sure there is no Deviationism going on. See, everything is supposed to be in line with Head Office Policy. This little guy with the tape and another little guy who designs forms — they are legendary characters around the CBC. Max Ferguson says the second little guy, who is supposed to come from a department called Forms and Procedures, once told a pal of his in Ottawa that he had spent the last month designing an order form for ordering forms.
Well, it could happen in Ottawa, where the CBC has put up this marvelous two-millioneight-hundred-thousand-dollar Head Office that contains everything a broadcasting organization could possibly want except cameras, microphones and studios — there aren’t any within five miles of the place. People are terrifically busy at Head Office all the same. They are drawing up Reports and Flow Charts and things like that and making appointments to confer with each other and sitting brightly in board rooms while bilingual secretaries with alert backsides hurry down corridors carrying messages of interest and importance.
But — what has all this got to do with Don Messer’s Jubilee? That is what outsiders and even CBC people who produce radio and television shows would like to know. Fowler
said that a visitor to Head Office could wander around in there for hours “without having the slightest reason to believe he was in the headquarters of a broadcasting organization.” And the four hundred and ninety-four people at Head Office somehow seem representative of about half of the eight thousand, one hundred and seventy-six people who work for the Corporation in the sense that . . . well, what are all those people doing in there anyway? The CBC is a wonderful thing, but is it a broadcasting organization or some kind of gargantuan, tottering case of Parkinson’s Law disease?
Things do happen at Head Office. For example, the CBC’s National Changeover of 1965 was conceived and launched there. Not the changeover from black-and-white to colortelevision equipment — the changeover from wood to steel. “We’ve gone over to steel standards,” says George Green, Director of Office Services. “Until a year ago the standards were wood furniture throughout the Corporation.”
Actually, Green has a lot more to worry about than steel standards. He is personally
responsible for the entire Office Standards Program of the CBC. “We found that some people wanted to set up grandiose offices of their own,” he says. “We were getting anomalies without standardized control.” Green changed all that. It is now clearly stated in the CBC’s Standards Manual what size office everybody is entitled to and what furnishings he can put in it. For instance, at the Directorship level, offices are one hundred and ninety to two hundred and twenty-five square feet, and furnishings include one genuine walnut desk (as opposed to the simulated walnut of Senior Supervisory Personnel), one carpet, three side chairs, one closed credenza (as opposed to the open credenza of Producers and other Supervisory Personnel), one wastebasket, one costumer (that’s a coatrack), desk trays as required. Green’s own office is like that, but it is a funny shape. One of the little crosses Green has to bear is the architecture of the CBC’s three-winged Head Office: many of the offices in it, especially around the central core, are odd shapes — trapezoids and rhomboids and so on. For this and other reasons a degree of flexibility is maintained in the Office Standards Program. “If it becomes a question of tearing down masonry partitions, we do not adhere to the size specifications as set down in the Manual,” says Green.
So here arc George Green and his colleagues up in Ottawa doing what they feel is yeoman service for the Corporation, and all the time people are grumbling about the alleged bureaucrats allegedly horsing around in the alleged white elephant of a Head Office. George Green and his colleagues — they do not understand. Half the grumbling is done by CBC personnel in Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver. That is what drives the Head Office people wild. Captain W. E. S. Briggs, the Vice-President of the CBC, likes to say that the Corporation is
like IBM — would IBM Senior Management permit IBM Junior Management to say anything critical of IBM in public? Hardly. It is just intolerable. The CBC has two hundred and six people working in Information Services. They will do the talking for the CBC.
A stiff Confidential Memo went down recently from the CBC’s Supervisory Personnel level to a number of offending Producers. The Memo states: “This is to advise all staff to work with Information Services if questions are asked by newsmen . . . When you do speak to the Press, do not give your opinion about controversial matters . . . Producers should reflect the Corporation’s views only. These are not invariably identical with personal opinions which, if in conflict with the Corporation’s views, should be aired only in private.”
Still, these personal opinions keep getting aired in public, and even the stiffest Confidential Memo doesn’t seem to help. All Head Office wants is a degree of loyalty and respect, a sound family relationship with its personnel. Is that too much to ask? In some cases steps
must be taken — Head Office has no choice. There is a tacit agreement that Ross McLean, the TV producer who invented Close-Up and discovered Joyce Davidson, should not be employed more often than once a year or so. McLean was always so . . . indiscreet. Finally he was told as much by Bud Walker, the CBC’s General Manager. Why, once when Walker tuned into Front Page Challenge, there was McLean, a guest panelist, telling the whole country that the CBC had failed to promote its variety artists. As bold as you please!
But what most of these people pontificate about — without ever checking with Information Services, of course — are little annoyances and delays, petty little things, which they blame on the bureaucracy. The Seven Days people spread it around that, for a whole year after they moved into a new CBC building in Toronto, their offices were on two floors, five floors apart, even though they shared one floor with Sales Services, which could have been anywhere. Producers say there is so much paper work going on / continued on page 36
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Kennedy had been shot. Then: “But is it a Canadian story?”
at the Supervisory level that there is a chronic shortage of filing cabinets — they say they have had to file things in cardboard boxes for years. The News and Public Affairs people say they have been going out and hiring new portable Pennybaker camera equipment for four years while the CBC has been declaring that it is going to
build its own. The portable equipment costs about a hundred dollars a day, and the News and Public Affairs people say the Corporation could have bought three complete eight-thousanddollar Pennybaker units with the money already spent on rentals.
Unfortunate anecdotes make the rounds. Some imaginative wiseacre
from Head Office told the lowerechelon Toronto people about the alleged “CBC Spin.” According to this anecdote, somebody at Head Office will pop out of his office and march determinedly down a corridor, then realize he has nowhere to go, at which point he will execute the “CBC Spin” and march off even more
determinedly in the other direction.
Other anecdotes are supposed to put the finger on bureaucratic timidity. David Marcus-Roland, who used to produce Newsmagazine, likes to tell about the time the show was trying desperately to get a crew down to Dallas, right after the Kennedy assassination, and the CBC kept finding reasons to procrastinate. The first man Marcus-Roland had to deal with was John Lant, who was Executive News Editor. According to MarcusRoland, Lant demanded, “But is it a Canadian story?” (In 1964, fifteen News people threatened to walk out because, they said, Lant had no experience in News and didn’t know what was going on. Lant then became Station Manager of CBLT. Two months ago he moved into Film Services.)
There was the kuffuffle over CBC coverage of the Queen’s visit to Quebec City in the fall of 1964. Captain Briggs, who is strong on protocol — he is the CBC’s reigning Coronation expert — told the Special Events people not to seek out any little untoward incidents that might mar the Royal occasion. The result was that, while newspaper reporters discovered picket lines, paddy wagons and police clouting students on the head with truncheons, the Corporation described cheering throngs, official greetings and cringing flower girls — all this in its best Gentleman - Usher - of - theBlack-Rod manner. Not until the morning after the riots did CBC television get on the air with a fourminute film of the action, shot by a News crew that had managed to wangle official permission to cover the visit as a ghost squad. Three days later, Newsmagazine screened more film after a lengthy argument with Captain Briggs. “We were told not to use the riots,” says Gerry Lawton, a former Editor of Newsmagazine. Finally the Captain relented. But — “Be careful,” he warned.
Elections? A slow burn
The stupefying diversity of the Corporation often leads to little resentments and jealousies among outsiders. There are newspapermen who do a magnificent slow burn — a real John Diefenbaker — at the mention of CBC coverage of last fall’s election campaign. The thing was, here would be a newspaperman, clutching his wad of copy paper and his fat yellow copy pencil, and being pushed out of the way and trampled over by half a dozen camera crews from the CBC, crews from News, crews from Public Affairs, crews from Seven Days, crews from the French network, gawd, and all these pushy directors and officious little . . . characters posing as newsmen and getting in the middle of everything. And then at the freeload that is always held later for the Press here would be maybe fifty assorted CBC types all bellying up to the bar, pushing everybody else aside so you could hardly get a drink. Six deep! What kind of a ... ? A hoarse chuckle issues from Norman DePoe. the CBC's Political Reporter. “The duplication of News and Public Affairs was terrible,” he says. “We were making plans almost entirely without reference to each other. Then,
“Walk in anytime and you could find something inefficient”
the Seven Days boys had to cover everything themselves, and the French — their attitude is, if you can do it, we can, too.”
DePoe says the CBC brought in a man named Peacock from the BBC several years ago to look at News. “This guy said, ‘You’ve got too many Supervisors.’ Since then we’ve got six new Supervisors in Toronto.” Tom Gould, the CBC’s Far Eastern Correspondent, says the trouble is that “almost none of these people has ever covered any sort of TV news story. We all have the feeling that foolish men somewhere are making foolish decisions.”
Well, from the Corporation’s point of view', all these little peeves and incidents and so on are not really damaging so much as they are bad Public Relations. “You can never get one hundred percent efficiency in an organization of this size,” says R. C. Fraser, one of the CBC’s VicePresidents. “You could walk in here anytime and find something inefficient” Still, there is no reason why CBC employees have to . . . Senior Management, in their two-hundredand-twenty-five-square-foot offices at Head Office or in the Kremlin, which is Head Office in Toronto, can’t help resenting the — shall we call a spade a spade? — big mouths of CBC personnel in the lower echelons, and the people who have left the corporative fold and who keep embarrassing Head Office with these peevish outbursts.
Barry Harris, a Producer, quit the Corporation a year ago to produce TV commercials after one of his shows, A Second Look, was canceled and he was more or less ignored, he says, for nine months. “I’ll never know whether I quit or was fired. You never can get anything out of the bureaucrats. They are a great bunch of bunglers — funny, funny terrible people. They sit on your shoulders all day long and ask you why you are doing this and that. After a while I picked up the prevailing attitude — the hell with it.”
Noel Moore was writing a Montreal TV series called The Way Things Are when he quit last winter, ostensibly to write a novel. “I realized that you can’t do anything at the CBC but earn a living, and you can only do that if you accept their pecking order. The boys in Ottawa don’t know what is going on. As for that college of cardinals in Toronto — you can’t get through to them. It’s the Gelatine Barrier. It won’t stop you dead but it will slow you down until finally you can’t get any further.”
The rebellious element within the CBC believes that the Gelatine Barrier and the whole Festering Bureaucracy thing came along with television in the early fifties. There was a really staggering jump in personnel — from two thousand to eight thousand in fifteen years—and a parallel proliferation of titles and departments. “Look at them all,” says Harry J. Boyle, the CBC’s top radio producer and a thorn in the flesh of Head Office for twentyfour years. “It’s the damned Royal Tour.” Boyle got a title himself, Radio
Network Supervisor, but it didn’t make him any less crusty or more inclined to identify with the biggies in the Kremlin. “I don’t like administration,” he says. His supporters in the lower echelon — and he is probably the most popular Officer in the CBC — believe that administration doesn’t like Harry J. Boyle. “The brass hate his guts
because he isn’t afraid of them,” says Tommy Tweed, the actor.
Boyle has worked out a theory about the bureaucracy. “In the beginning the Corporation attracted two types.” he says, “people who were creative and people who wanted to work for a nice organization and dig themselves in. These second people
dug in and assumed control. In the old days people sacrificed titles and offices for the sake of programs. But titles are what a bureaucracy lives for. See, the only thing now they will sacrifice is the talent. They’ll cut down on that if they have to save money. Some of these people would be much happier if there were no programs.”
The rebellious element says that the proliferation of titles has hamstrung staff communications. Tom-
How many titles at CBC? Nobödy knows
my Tweed says he used to get notes from Davidson Dunton — that is, from the Chairman of the CBC — whenever his radio satire would offend the audience. “Dunton would say. ‘Dear Tommy. You got me in a lot of trouble. Please do it again.’ Now there are committees all over the place, and you don’t know who they are or what they are up to.”
Max Ferguson says he once sought approval for something he wanted to do on radio, something topical, and he got it — “one year to the day later, from a tribunal of three up in Ottawa." Ferguson says the Corporation is splitting up into countless celllike spheres of influence. “The lines of demarcation overlap so you keep running into guys who say, ‘Gee, I don’t know whether that’s my responsibility.’ ” Then, the titles—Ferguson says he has stopped trying to figure out the titles. "It’s a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.”
Only to the uninformed! The titles make a great deal of sense to Head Office. From time to time Head Office will send out an Amendment to its most recent List of Officers. The most recent Amendment, Number Eighteen, is printed on yellow paper and runs to sixteen pages. Each Amendment is printed on a different colored paper and comes with a form letter telling the recipient to incorporate it immediately into his current List of Officers. But the rebellious element likes to incorporate Amendments immediately into the wastebasket along with other memoranda from Head Office.
Not that the Amendments are dull reading. No, no, they are endlessly impressive. Head Office has a kind of genius for creating graceful titles and the subtlest titles in all the world. Brackets, prepositions, dashes, synonyms for supervisor — these are clues to hidden meanings and fine shadings. Here are a few new titles listed under Expo 67 in Amendment Number Fourteen, printed on pink paper: Director of Broadcasting; Associate Director of Broadcasting; Broadcasts Operations Manager; Technical Director. Broadcasting; Production Manager of Broadcasting; International Liaison Officer — Broadcasting; Network Liaison Officer (English); Liaison Officer — Broadcasting. All different—the ingenuity of Head Office!
Nobody knows how many titles there arc at the CBC or how exactly the line is drawn between Officers and the people who actually turn out radio and television programming. The Corporation says that to find out would involve going through eight thousand one hundred and seventysix cards. The Corporation has better things to do.
But what about the charge that half the bodies rattling around in the CBC could be disposed of without compromising the broadcasting service at all? Specifically, what about the three hundred and eighty-five bodies still rattling around in the old CBC Radio Building in Toronto? Appar-
ently the figure is right up there at the pre-TV level, when radio was king and there was another network, the Dominion Network, in operation. Couldn't Roy Thomson run the present setup with a man and a dog? Max Ferguson says there are Producers in the Radio Building “waiting around for kings to die.” Barry Harris swears there are people in there who turn out only four shows a year, “but you could never prove it because the red tape is so thick that you can’t tell whether anybody is working or not.” Jack Budgell, Producer of The Max Ferguson Show, says Harris is right — there are people in there turning out four shows a year. “You don't see some of them around the place for weeks on end. But they are all involved with more shows.” Harris says, “See, a Producer’s connection with a show might be to unwrap an envelope containing a tape from the BBC.” Budgell says the Radio Building is a graveyard of deceased careers. “People try to make it in Administration, then come back here. It’s a nice quiet place.”
Well, needless to say, the Corporation, speaking officially now, has some points to make re this proliferation of bodies business and to put the record straight re a few other matters. In the first place, the old Radio Building houses an unspecified number of people in “slopover” departments — Farms and Fisheries, Sports and Announcing Services all have personnel in there. As for comparative radio staff levels, the Corporation says no conclusion can be drawn because many of the present personnel are concerned with both television and radio — to find out what exactly is happening, the Corporation would have to go through those eight thousand one hundred and seventy - six cards. As for the Corporation’s being overstaffed, R. C. Fraser, the VicePresident and Assistant to the President, says that in the overall sense it is somewhat understaffed. “We always seem to be prepared for normal operations, which we never have,”
“I know no creative person who agrees with Administration”
chuckles Fraser. To give one an idea
— he and other members of Senior Management have spent fifty to seventy percent of their time for years preparing statements of the CBC’s Official Position and presenting them to sundry investigative bodies, commissions, committees, study groups and so on. One million words were produced for Fowler. “These things keep you hopping.” says Fraser. “Of course, we would become the bureaucrats we’re charged with being if we were not under scrutiny. However, there is the frustration of going over the same ground year after year after year.” Fraser says he doesn’t know about the CBC Radio picture in Toronto. “We've been neglecting radio
— we admit it. There might be a temporary slack. Sometimes we don’t let people go if we think we'll use them again in the future. These local conditions arise from time to time.” He himself is concerned with the overall picture.
The overall corporate picture, as Fraser sees it. is this: “While Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are broadcasting today, we at Head Office are broadcasting in the future. The bigger you get the further ahead you work. We never dreamed of what the CBC is today fifteen years ago. Staff services have to grow with any big company. We provide central services — we could be anywhere. Of course, not everybody is temperamentally suited to do a Head Office job. The creative people have fits over what we do. I know of no creative person who agrees with Administration.”
But what is all this about broadcasting in the future? To demonstrate, Fraser sends for Bill Armstrong, who is the CBC's Director of Overseas and Foreign Relations, and who set up a committee called Centennial Program Planning. But wait a minute. That was back in '64. The old committee disbanded and Armstrong now sits on a new committee, the Centennial Broadcasting Co-ordination Committee. Anyway, he is concerned with planning CBC coverage of the gala events coming up in '67, and he is working with multicolored charts, five feet long, three of which he sets up in Fraser’s office. The charts show what is happening in ’67 and how the CBC is going to trundle around the country keeping on top of everything. There are colored lines showing the projected Royal Tour, the course of Expo and a lot of other things. The CBC is going to cover Banff Indian Days, the Manitoulin Island Indian Pow-wow (“Radio Only”) and Refurbishing of Gen. Store, Saint John, NB. The first item on one of the charts, under January I, '67. is Wild Bells.
One of the recurrent rumors around the CBC is that somebody from the News Department has been sent somewhere — Instanbul or anywhere
— and forgotten about by the biggies in the Kremlin. If it ever happened, the News person has been forgotten about completely. He is still there. Phil Calder, over in Bonn, reportedly did go for a year without hearing from the television people, and Nor-
man DePoe once was lost for four months in Toronto. DePoe was doing a TV series called Graphic, and a department was created around it called TV Special Features. After two seasons Graphic folded but TV Special Features kept right on keeping on with DePoe as Editorial Supervisor. “For four months I had noth-
ing to do," he says. “Finally I went to the Director of News and begged him to let me back into his department.” A funny thing happened to Tom Gould in New Delhi. There he was. covering the Indo-Pakistan war. only the war was over, and Gould's dysentery was kicking up again and he'd been sitting there for five days asking
for permission to head back to Hong Kong, or anywhere else. Gould had no camera crew, so all he could do was radio, and in every radio report he stressed — he almost whined — that the cease-fire was going to hold. Dammit, the story was dead. On the sixth day, Gould received four cables from various CBC News Supervisors in Toronto. Two of them ordered him to return immediately to Hong Kong. The other two ordered him to stay where he was. ★