Critics predict decline in Canadian content creation
Source: Montreal Gazette
MONTREAL - Cuts to CBC, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board of Canada could lead to a significant reduction in Canadian film and TV production, and will almost certainly lead to layoffs at the CBC.
The federal budget includes 10-per-cent cuts to CBC, Telefilm Canada and the NFB.
"The Harper government has broken its election promise and has cut the CBC's budget by 10 per cent," said Ian Morrison, spokesman for watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
"It's a vindictive action. In English-speaking Canada, about one-third of Canadian TV viewing is Canadian content and CBC is by far the largest player in that one-third. So it will reduce Canadians' access to Canadian programming."
Morrison said the move might be good for Hollywood because CBC may have to buy more U.S. programming if it can't afford to finance local shows.
One positive for the cultural milieu is that Stephen Harper's government has maintained the same level of funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, which will continue to receive $181 million annually.
"For the Canada Council, it's great news, especially in the context of a budget where there are cuts everywhere," said Simon Brault, vice-chairman of the Canada Council.
The cuts to CBC, Telefilm and the NFB will be phased in gradually, only hitting the 10 per cent mark in the third year.
So CBC will be cut by $115 million in the third year, the NFB will be slashed by $6.7 million that same year, and Telefilm will see its budget reduced in the third year by $10.6 million.
The CBC, which gets about $1.1 billion a year from the federal government, will see its funding cut this year by $27.8-million, and increase to $69.6 million in 2013-14, and finally reach the $115-million savings mark in 2014-15.
Until now, the Tories have been consistent with the federal funding flowing to the CBC.
Public account documents for 2007 through to last year show that the federal allotment to the CBC has ranged from a low of $1.1 billion in 2006 to a high of $1.14 billion in 2010 and 2011.
"We think the government is going in the wrong direction and that they should be investing more money in new content creation," said Stephen Waddell, national director of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the country's main actors' union.
"The economy is growing. So why is the government cutting? It'll have an impact on jobs in the industry. And in terms of production, it'll reduce opportunities. Those agencies are doing the best they can with the money available and now they have to take a 10-per-cent cut.
"It's going to make it even more challenging to create product in this country."
© Montreal Gazette