Budget could put CBC Hamilton in jeopardy

Feb 8, 2012

Source: Hamilton Spectator

A public broadcasting advocacy group says if expected funding cuts are made to the CBC in the upcoming federal budget, the corporation may have to kill its planned online service in Hamilton.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesperson Ian Morrison said the cuts would “have devastating consequences for listeners and viewers and could well scuttle new services the CBC has promised to Hamiltonians and residents of several other communities.”

A spokesperson for the CBC stopped short of saying the Hamilton service could be dropped, but acknowledged a heavy budget hit could send planners back to the drawing board.

“We’re facing a budget cut, questions about the future of the Local Programming Improvement Fund and a softening ad market. Dealing with the financial pressures will be a challenge,” CBC spokesperson Chris Ball said.

“If the budget reduction remains within the range originally envisaged and other funding sources remain stable, progress toward our five-year strategy may slow, but the ultimate goal remains achievable — including our expansion of local services across the country, including Hamilton.”

The federal budget is expected this month, and many believe it will contain at least a 10 per cent chop to the CBC.

In November, the CBC announced it was starting a digital service in Hamilton. The city is the largest community in Canada without any kind of CBC radio affiliate.

Last week, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released the results of a survey that found 65 per cent of Hamilton area residents want the CBC to establish a local radio station to cover community news. It also found that 69 per cent of the people in the community would support increasing or maintaining CBC funding.

The survey of more than 400 Hamiltonians was part of a larger national survey done Nov. 4-10.

Sources say the CBC has found the locale for its Hamilton operation and it will be 118 James St. N., between Cannon Street and Wilson Street. Springtime occupancy is being looked at. CBC officials did not return calls seeking comment about the location.

The 1920s-era building, formerly the home of Dominion Furniture, underwent a $3.5-million renovation and is now the home of Thier Curran Architects Inc. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is set to open an outlet in the building.

Neighbouring businesses are excited about seeing the CBC come to the street.

“It’s a positive development,” said Mixed Media owner Dave Kuruc, who’s been dubbed the King of James. “There’s definitely anticipation for this.”

© Hamilton Spectator