FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto (May 26, 2009) – Only Green Party leader Elizabeth May scores lower than Stephen Harper among Quebec voters when asked which federal political party leaders are most trusted to handle culture and Canadian identity in broadcasting, according to a new Pollara survey released this morning.
Exploring attitudes and expectations of Canadians toward public broadcasting, the survey comes as CBC grapples with a $170 million funding shortfall and in the wake of 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.
Against this backdrop, Pollara found Quebecers believe that Prime Minister Harper is intent on hobbling the CBC. This belief is more widespread among voters in Quebec than anywhere else in the country, except Atlantic Canada.
- 70% of Quebec respondents vs. 63% nationally agreed that "Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government are hostile to the CBC and would like to diminish public broadcasting in Canada".
- 54% of Quebec respondents versus 51% nationally agreed that when it comes to the CBC, "the Harper government has a hidden agenda that favours private corporate broadcasters". 23% of Quebecers disagree and 23% don't know.
- 73% of Quebecers 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 22% of Quebecers agree that privatizing and commercializing the CBC, as Mr. Harper has mused, "is the right thing to do" while 65% disagree.
Overall, Canadians think CBC is under-funded. This belief is shared by Quebec voters:
- 71% of Quebec voters agree that CBC's current funding "is insufficient to maintain a unique and vibrant Canadian identity and culture" vs. 68% nationally.
- Six-in-ten (60%) believe CBC funding should be increased from $33 to $40 per citizen as recommended by the House of Commons Heritage Committee and another 17% think this increase is too low.
- 46% of Quebec respondents would advise their MP to vote to increase CBC funding from current levels, while the advice of 35% is to maintain CBC funding at current levels, compared to 47% and 31% nationally.
A strong appetite for regional and local broadcasting is an issue of common interest between Quebecers and Canadians at large.
- Three quarters (74%) of Canadians and Quebecers "would like to see the CBC strengthened in their part of the country".
- 72% of Quebecers and 71% of Canadians agree that "we should build a new CBC capable of providing high quality Canadians programming with strong regional content throughout Canada".
Concern that recently announced cuts to the CBC budget will reduce the amount of local news and regional coverage is more widely held in Quebec at 74% than nationally (66%). Other highlights from the Pollara survey of Quebec voters:
- 83% tune in to some form of CBC programming.
- 80% rate the CBC's performance in fulfilling its mandate 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent".
- 87% believe "the CBC is important in protecting Canadian identity and culture".
- 83% believe CBC is "best suited to provide Canadian programming on TV".
- 73% of Quebecers 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", 15% favour private broadcasters, 9% cable and satellite companies and 3% Internet content providers.
- The vast majority of Quebecers want to see an end to the Prime Minister hand picking people to lead the CBC. 84% believe the CBC's Board of Directors should be appointed through a non-political process and 83% believe CBC President should be appointed at arms length from the political process.
FRIENDS commissioned POLLARA to survey a random sample of 3,361Canadians 18 year of age or older. The rate of accuracy for Quebec regional data is 4.97% nineteen times in twenty. 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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