Cyprus Mail

CyBC: a freak organisation and a poster child for dysfunction, American consultant says

An American consultant has called the public broadcaster CyBC a ‘freak’ and a ‘poster child for dysfunction’, according to a report published on Sunday by Politis.

The newspaper said it had acquired a copy of the three-page report dated May 25, 2016, and published a photo of the documents by consultant Bill Lewis who spent some time at the CyBC over a period of three days in May.

It said Lews was taking part in a seminar, part of which was to record the organisational, structural and operational problems at the corporation.

In the documents Lewis says he did not expect anyone to be surprised by his comments due to the poor reputation the broadcaster already had.

“CyBC is the poster child of how bad things can get when the government is running things… waste, dysfunction distrust, political favours, inefficiencies, uncooperative people between sectors of the organisation is the norm,” the document reads.

It added that unions and employers classified as ‘permanent’ were a perfect example of how CyBC had developed a culture of mistrust and ineffectiveness.

“The organisational structure is a mess,” Lewis says, adding that with an acting general manager and a board of directors appointed by politicians, operating departmental directors who argue with each other to protect their silos and unions who operate to cause more problems than to support the organisation, “what could a person expect than what CyBC has become.”

“A body without a head is a dead body. A body with nine heads is a freak. I can only conclude that this body called CyBC is a freak,” the report said. Lewis added that he had never seen a company as dysfunctional in all his 25 years as a consultant.

He also said that 40,000 dollars of government money had been spent on a PWC report that had been stumped when it came to working out solutions to changing the culture at CyBC.

Speaking to people at the broadcaster, Lewis said in his report that one board member suggested taking small steps such as performance reviews, but the American said these suggestions would do nothing to change the underlying “toxic” culture.

“When your arteries are severed, you don’t put a Band Aid on to try and stop the bleeding,” said Lewis.

Photo: Politis
Photo: Politis

Politis asked CyBC chairman Thanasis Tsokos for a comment on the Lewis study. The paper said his view was that Lewis had only spent a short amount of time at the broadcaster over a period of a few days and it was in his opinion it was not enough time to draw proper conclusions and that Lewsis himself had said as much, citing two months as the minimum time that would be needed to do a proper study.

Only last month, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said CyBC could not survive without the annual €24-million grant it receives from the government and has failed to follow the correct criteria in its employment practices especially in its search for a general manager.

He said CyBC has yet to confirm the academic credentials of half its staff, while the appointment of an acting general manager, as well as the invitation of applications for a permanent general manager, were both found to have been irregular.

In assessing the public broadcaster’s financials for the previous year, Michaelides found a working capital shortfall of €9 million, mainly on obligations to its staffs’ pension fund, as well as dues for employees’ “marginal benefits”.

With regard to CyBC staff’s academic credentials, the Audit Service reported that 11 individuals had not produced the credentials required by their job descriptions, while the broadcaster has yet to confirm the credentials of 45 – out of 91 – permanent employees, as well as 155 of 267 contractors.

Last week the cabinet appointed a new CyBC board to be headed by Alecos Evangelou.

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