Ottawa – A Conservative minority report released this morning would expand the gap between CBC's mandate and the resources available to the national public broadcaster to meet it, according to the broadcast watchdog group, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
The report was issued in dissent of the majority on the Commons Heritage Committee which tabled its review of CBC's mandate this morning after almost a year of study.
"The Conservative dissenting report sets the CBC up to fail. It calls for CBC to do more but denies CBC the required resources. It is a road map that would be extremely damaging to the CBC, especially its English television network," said Ian Morrison, Friends' spokesperson.
The Conservatives disagreed with the majority of the Committee which recommended increasing CBC funding to $40 per capita, new funding to finance the expansion CBC radio and more Canadian content during prime time viewing hours on CBC's English television network.
The Heritage Committee set out to more closely align CBC's mandate and resources because it is widely recognized CBC resources are insufficient to meet its mandate. The Conservative minority report would expand this gap, not narrow it.
This is the first policy pronouncement from the Conservatives on CBC since Stephen Harper mused about privatizing CBC. On May 19, 2004, Harper, then leader of the Opposition said: "I've suggested that government subsidies in support of CBC's services should be to those things that are not... Do not have commercial alternatives." He added: "When you take a look at things like main-English language television and probably to a lesser degree Radio Two, you could there (sic) at putting those on a commercial basis."
"Today's Conservative minority report is consistent with the views expressed by the Prime Minister in May 2004. It's an approach that would set up failure, and gives CBC all forms of support short of actual help" Morrison said.
Friends welcomes the majority report as a positive contribution, although Friends regrets that the majority on the Committee failed to recommend the end of patronage as the method of appointing CBC's Board and President.
For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
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