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Waterloo region residents want their own CBC station

Jan 19, 2012

Waterloo -- A substantial majority (68%) of Waterloo region residents would like CBC to establish a local radio station to cover community affairs and most (73%) hope their MP would champion the new station or not oppose it.  These findings emerge from a new opinion survey of Waterloo region residents commissioned by the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

"The region, including the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and also the communities of Ayr, Baden, Breslau, Conestogo, Elmira, Floradale, Linwood, New Dundee, New Hamburg, St. Jacobs and Wellesley, should have its own CBC radio station which should also serve the Guelph area," said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends.

"Close to a million people live in the area, yet residents must rely on programming beamed in from Toronto even though other much smaller communities in Canada enjoy coverage of their community affairs from their own local CBC radio station," Morrison said.

On September 26, 2011, the CBC announced it would introduce new radio and Internet services to the region by the autumn of 2012, but since then, threatened budget cuts have cast doubt on CBC's capacity to deliver on this promise.

"The federal government's plan to make a substantial cut of 10% or more to the CBC's budget will have devastating consequences for listeners and viewers and could well scuttle the promised local station, an outcome that will clearly be off-side with the priorities of residents of the area," said Morrison. 

If more money is required by the CBC to deliver the promised station, most Waterloo region residents would support that.

More than half (53%) agree that "just as small provinces have their own CBC stations, regions like mine should have their own stations, even if it requires giving the CBC a bit more money".  Only one-in-four disagree.

The survey found that almost half (48%) of area residents would counsel their MP to maintain CBC funding at current levels while one-in-four (27%) would advise their MP to increase CBC funding from current levels.  Only 17% would advise their MP to vote 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 three-quarters (75%) 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," Morrison said.

The opinions of people in the Waterloo region appear to be at odds with the plans of the federal government.  Even though the Conservative Party promised to maintain or increase CBC funding during the recent election campaign, Heritage Minister James Moore is now talking about substantial cuts to the national public broadcaster in the upcoming federal budget.

James Moore Quote"The Conservatives promised time and again before, during and after the election campaign to maintain or increase CBC funding.  Breaking this promise will go against the grain for most people in the Waterloo region and elsewhere in Canada," Morrison said.

The survey also found that half (53%) of Waterloo region residents agree with a recent House of Commons Heritage Committee recommendation that annual CBC funding should be increased from $33 per Canadian to $40, while 13% think this recommendation should be rejected because it is too little. 

Six-in-ten (60%) of Waterloo region residents agree that the CBC provides good coverage of local news and cultural events even without a local station, but this level of agreement is significantly less than Canadians in other parts of the country.

Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government carry a reputation for being hostile to Canadian culture and the CBC. According to the survey, 60% think Canada's level of public broadcaster funding is indicative of the federal government's treatment of the cultural sector overall, and more than half of area residents (57%) think Canada's level of public broadcaster funding is insufficient to maintain a unique and vibrant Canadian identity and culture.

As for which political party is most trusted to protect the CBC, the Conservative Party scores lowest  with 22% of Waterloo region residents holding this view.  The Liberal Party is most trusted to protect the by 35% of area residents and the NDP is most trusted to protect the CBC by 43%.

Canada-wide, the CBC remains extremely popular with Canadians, who by wide majorities give the CBC high marks for meeting its mandate to present programs that inform, enlighten and entertain (77%) as well as its mandate to serve the broadcasting needs of Canada's regions (68%).

The online survey of 2022 adult Canadians conducted from November 4 to 10 has a margin of error of +/- 2.18%, 19 times out of 20.   Waterloo region data are based on a sample of 406 adults living in the area and have a margin of error of +/- 4.86%, 19 times out of 20.

The survey was designed and administered by political scientists Peter Loewen, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and Daniel Rubenson, Associate Professor at Ryerson University. Fieldwork for the poll was done by Vision Critical on the Angus Reid Forum National Panel.

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For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

Related Documents:

PDF Opinion Research: Public opinion in the Waterloo Region & the rest of Canada concerning the CBC