CBC Licence Renewals Postponed Indefinitely as Criticism, Consultation Grows

Feb 2, 2012

Source: Mediacaster

As a national brand, it is alone among Canadian broadcasters and recognized among the Top 10 most influential brands in the country.

As a content creator, it has achieved great success with its original programming, on TV and radio, both in terms of domestic audiences and international sales.

As a government-funded institution, it finds itself under increasing attack as its operation and reputation is besmirched by government members who seek its abolition.

As a public broadcaster and cultural resource, the CBC needs to be 'Reimagined' and the 'Smackdown' it's receiving needs to stop.

In the midst of these conflicting agendas or priorities, licence renewal hearings for the CBC have been postponed, with no date announced for their rescheduling.

Already once postponed, the hearings are again delayed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The CRTC received a letter from the CBC asking for the hearings to be postponed, in large part due to the fact that the Corporation's operating budget is open for discussion if not actual revision.

The Commission's Secretary General wrote that the Commission "considers that it would be inappropriate to set a hearing date for the renewal of the CBC's licences until the CBC has had an opportunity to establish its future operating budget."

While the Minister of Heritage James Moore said last year that CBC funding levels would be maintained (at current levels, about $1.1 billion) the idea of cutting about $100 million - the ten per cent in budget reduction that the government says it seeks overall - has been floated in many quarters.

"Government of Canada funds the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the sum of $1.1 billion per annum, that the vast amount of Government of Canada funding gives the CBC an unfair advantage over its private sector competitor," Brian Jean, a Conservative MP from Alberta, said as he read aloud from the petition signed by his constituents. "(We) call upon Parliament to end public funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation."

Industry statistics have been used to show that, when compared with other  (18) western countries, the CBC actually places well down the list - 16th - in the amount per capita given to public broadcasting; it's said to be about $38 per year here, less than half the average of some $80 that other public broadcasters receive in public funding.

Despite perceived financial difficulties, the CBC has been ranked among a newly-released study of the Top 10 most influential brands in Canada - and it is the sole broadcaster on the list.

Research firm Ipsos Reid conducted the first ever Ipsos Influence Index Study in November, surveying Canadians on their attitudes toward different corporate brands based on a variety of factors including whether people view them as leading edge, trustworthy, engaging, relevant, and good corporate citizens.

Coming on the heels of its national 75th anniversary celebrations, the CBC ranked sixth overall, on a list including such iconic brands as Microsoft (#1), Google, President's Choice, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Air Miles, Visa and Wal-Mart.

The release of the Ipsos study also comes on the heels of CBC's most successful premiere weeks ever, with five of its television shows capturing audiences well over the one million viewers mark and four others attracting more than three-quarters of a million viewers.

The CBC is also seen as a key focal point in part because it has been found to produce a significant financial return on investment by the group. A recent Deloitte report shows that for every dollar invested in the CBC, the economy gets four back.

That success and resonance with its audience can be seen as one reason why national campaigns to save or protect the CBC are underway.

Citizens should be engaged in discussions of its future, say advocacy groups, and about the new opportunities it has to provide innovative content and services to Canadians.

So, OpenMedia.ca and Leadnow.ca are launching a "Reimagine the CBC" online campiagn, for example, inviting Canadians to share their ideas about the future of the CBC using an online discussion forum.

OpenMedia.ca says it will use the information it has gathered, as well as ideas from Canadians, to produce a crowd sourced set of recommendations for the CBC's review process.

And, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has launched its own initiative, Launch Stop The CBC Smackdown, seeking to defuse much of the Corporation's criticism with industry information and ideas shared by its members and supporters.

For more information related to this topic, please see:

CBC Five Year Plan Calls for More Regional, Digital Content


CBC Seeks Licensed Multi-Platform Access and Content Options


CBC Licence Renewal Postponed


Friends of Canadian Broadcasting Launch Stop The CBC Smackdown


© Mediacaster