FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto – Levels of support and satisfaction with the CBC are high but Canadians believe their national public broadcaster is being starved of funds by a government with a vendetta against it.
These are among the findings from a major new Pollara study of Canadians' attitudes about and expectations for the CBC.
A $170 million funding shortfall and Ottawa's decision to review CBC's budget to find new potential cuts of up to $56 million – pressures that are diminishing the CBC's creative capacity and programs, leading to 800 layoffs – are in full view of Canadians.
Against this backdrop, Pollara found Canadians believe that Prime Minister Harper is intent on hobbling the CBC.
- 63% agree that "Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government are hostile to the CBC and would like to diminish public broadcasting in Canada."
- 51% agree that, when it comes to the CBC "the Harper government has a hidden agenda that favours private corporate broadcasters". 25% disagree and 25% don't know.
- 70% agree that "Canada's level of public broadcaster funding is indicative of the federal government's treatment of the cultural sector overall".
"The good news is that Harper's disdainful treatment of the CBC flies in the face of public opinion," says Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, which commissioned the survey.
Only 25% of Canadians agree that "privatizing and commercializing the CBC", as Mr. Harpers had mused, "is the right thing to do" while 62% disagree with this idea.
Overall, Canadians think CBC is under-funded.
- 68% agree that CBC's current funding "is insufficient to maintain a unique and vibrant Canadian identity and culture".
- 47% would advise their MP to vote to increase CBC funding from current levels, while 31% would advise their MP to maintain CBC funding and 9% would counsel a funding cut.
- 74% believe that annual funding to the CBC should be increased: 54% support the Commons Heritage Committee recommendation that CBC's annual funding should increase to $40 per Canadian, and 20% believe $40 per Canadian is too low.
- 63% agree that "the CBC provides value for taxpayer money".
A strong appetite for more regional programming emerges from the survey:
- 71% agree "we should build a new CBC capable of providing high quality Canadian programming with strong regional content throughout Canada".
- 74% of Canadians "would like to see the CBC strengthened in their part of the country".
- 66% of Canadians are "concerned that recently announced cuts to the CBC budget will reduce the amount of local news and regional coverage".
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is regarded as "most trusted" to handle matters of culture and Canadian identity in broadcasting by Canadians, a view that is amplified among Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians.
Pollara also found:
- 82% tune in to some form of CBC programming every week.
- 76% rate the CBC's performance in fulfilling its mandate 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent".
- 83% believe "the CBC is important in protecting Canadian identity and culture".
- 80% believe "the CBC is best suited to provide Canadian programming on TV".
- 70% of Canadians believe the CBC should be held "most responsible for ensuring that Canadian programming continues to be an integral part of the Canadian economy and culture", 18% favour private broadcasters, 9% cable and satellite companies and 3% Internet content providers.
- The vast majority of Canadians want to see an end to the Prime Minister hand picking people to lead the CBC. 86% believe the CBC's Board of Directors should be appointed through a non-political process and 87% believe CBC President should be appointed at arms length from the political process.
FRIENDS commissioned POLLARA to survey a random sample of 3,361 Canadians 18 year of age or older. National results are considered accurate to +/- 1.69% nineteen times out of twenty. This survey was in the field from April 20 to 24, 2009
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is a watchdog group dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Canadian content on radio and TV. Friends is non-partisan and is not affiliated with any broadcaster.
For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
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