Harper cuts CBC’s grant

Mar 9, 2011

Cuts raise questions about expansion of local services

Source: TideExchange.ca

The Harper government has quietly cut the CBC’s budget. Harper’s cut is buried within its spending plan for the fiscal year beginning April 1, a 500 page document, which was tabled in Parliament last week.

The CBC’s budget will be reduced by $16 million - $30 million in purchasing power after inflation is taken into account. For our public broadcaster, this cut is the latest in a series that, taken together are having devastating consequences that are obvious to every listener and viewer.

“This is shocking, especially after the CBC has just released its five year plan which calls for expansion of CBC’s regional and local broadcasting. With less money, will CBC be able to deliver on its promises?” asked Ian Morrison, spokesperson of the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

The Harper government’s hostility toward public broadcasting has sparked the I LOVE CBC campaign which is gaining steam in federal ridings across the country. Approximately 100,000 voters have signed a petition.

The petition may be completed online here.

“We have become very concerned for the future of the CBC,” said Claudette Preece.

A close confidante of the Prime Minister’s, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, said on February 15th that “the CBC lies all the time”. This follows the comments of another senior Conservative MP who mused about getting rid of the CBC entirely. On November 23rd 2010, Dean Del Mastro, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said “maybe it’s time we get out of the broadcasting business”.

This would end CBC Radio One, CBC Radio Two, CBC TV, CBC NewsNet and CBC.ca, and their French-language counterparts, leaving Canadian broadcasting entirely in the hands of the private sector, and in the case of TV, controlled by cable monopolies.

In response to these comments, a local group of CBC supporters is seeking meetings with MP John Duncan and the nominated candidates for the other parties to discuss their concerns and to present the names of local voters who have signed the I LOVE CBC petition.

“We want our Member of Parliament to be a public broadcasting champion. We want our MP to stand up for the CBC in Parliament and not stand idly by while Harper tears it down,” said Preece.

The I LOVE CBC petition calls on the Prime Minister to increase CBC funding from the current level of $33 per Canadian per year to $40.

On average government funding of public broadcasters in western democracies is $80 per citizen per year. A recent report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recommended increasing annual funding for the CBC to $40 per Canadian from the current $33. This increase would amount to just 2 cents per Canadian per day.

“We are asking our MP and the candidates to urge the Prime Minister to reverse these cuts in the upcoming budget on March 22nd and to increase funding so that the CBC can deliver on its promises for better local broadcasting,” said Preece.

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