So, people are speculating that CanWest empire just might come crumbling down. Cash poor and over extended if they do come apart at the seams, many industry people will be glad to see them go. Certainly from my perspective, CanWest’s influence on both the television and the newspaper industries has been from the start, negative.
In the early days of their involvement in television they boasted about the amount of Canadian production they did but, in reality it never aired before a vast majority of viewers were tucked away in bed. Their local programming was appallingly bad and they starved their newsrooms for resources. They made their money outbidding the other players for American programming which dominated their prime time. They didn't give a fiddler's fart about the Canadian television production industry.
Izzy Asper was a bully. He had the cash and for the most part he did what he wanted. Challenge him and he threatened to sue. We know the CRTC is mostly a spineless crew but boy, did he intimidate them. With their “Promise of Performances” seldom met, most broadcasters over rehearsed their presentations. Conversely Izzy would just sit there, challenging their authority and bullshitting them about what he planned to do next with his system, he refused to call it a network. And, the CRTC let him get away with it, pure and simple.
On the newspaper side he simply followed the Black model buying up the National Post after Conrad couldn’t make a go of it and making it even worse. CanWest took other dailies across the country, already gutted by Black and cut them even further. Wire copy replaced stories by local reporters and family members wrote national editorials that newspapers across the country were forced to carry. At least Conrad Black was a fairly good writer.
When Izzy died readers were inundated with stories about what a good guy he was. Many people who worked for him would say different.
Given the chance to make things better his family pure and simple dropped the ball. Some would argue they inherited an empire destined to come crashing down.
Should we celebrate if the empire fails? After all, what good is an economic downturn if we can’t at the very least celebrate when the bad guys fail?
If CanWest crumbles, sources will be tapped and buyers will be found but as always, it will be the people in the trenches who will lose out. The already stretched to the limit staff will have to do more with less once again, and the public will have to be happy with an ever diminishing product.
Not much good news in that I am afraid.