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Most in Kamloops favour CBC expansion, poll finds by Mike Youds

Feb 1, 2012

Source: Kamloops News

The federal government appears to be backtracking on its pledge to maintain CBC spending as the public broadcaster promises to improve its regional reach in centres such as Kamloops.

That’s the rationale behind a national poll released Tuesday by the non-profit watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

The survey is weighted with emphasis on Kamloops responses — 164 out of 2,022 respondents nationwide — to determine public opinion where CBC service is slated for improvement.

A substantial majority — 73 per cent — of Kamloops area residents would like CBC to establish a local radio station to cover community affairs, the survey found. It also found that three-quarters of respondents hope their MP would champion a new station or not oppose it.

Opinion in the region appears to be at odds with the plans of the federal government, said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

“The federal government’s plan to make a substantial cut of 10 per cent or more to the CBC’s budget will have devastating consequences for listeners and viewers, and could well scuttle the promised new service, an outcome that will clearly be off-side with the priorities of residents of the area,” Morrison said.

Unlike other markets slated for improvement, such as Kitchener-Waterloo and London, Ont., where CBC service has always been deficient, Kamloops has seen a decline in service, he noted. That distinction makes it a point of interest in terms of public opinion.

The minister responsible, Heritage Minister James Moore, recently said the CBC faces substantial cuts. That contradicts statements made repeatedly by Tory politicians during last spring’s election, Morrison said. Moore himself said during the campaign that the government would maintain or increase CBC funding.

“All of a sudden there was a turnaround. Which James Moore do you believe? We thought this is a good time to re-sample public opinion to make sure we know what we’re talking about.”

Only 17 per cent of area residents would ask MP Cathy McLeod to cut the CBC’s funding.

“All MPs in the area know their constituents want them to support the CBC and this survey shows that two-thirds (66 per cent) of area residents would like to see the CBC’s budget increased or maintained and they would like their MP to help make this happen.”

McLeod said it is up to the CBC, not parliamentarians, how it spends it resources. All avenues of government spending are looking at cuts of five to 10 per cent, she noted.

“If they’re going to expand and if it’s within their budget, it’s great for Kamloops,” she said.

At the same, a concerted lobby is underway. Calls have bombarded McLeod’s office for the past two days with what she believes are automated callouts.

“There’s no question. Right now there’s a very active support from CBC groups phoning my office.”

The Friends of Public Broadcasting poll was designed by two Toronto political scientists and conducted by pollster Angus Reid.

© Kamloops News