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Peterborough News Conference Video and Speaking Notes

Sep 8, 2015

Kady Denton
We Vote CBC! Peterborough

Ian Morrison
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
Peterborough Public Library

Check against delivery

Good morning and thanks for coming out. 

My name is Ian Morrison and I speak for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.  Friends is a non-partisan watchdog for more and better Canadian programming. We are supported by more than 300,000 Canadian families.  You can read all about us at friends.ca.

Joining me is Kady Denton, one of the leading volunteers in Friends’ We Vote CBC! campaign here in Peterborough.

This morning, we are releasing the results of a Nanos Research poll of voters in the federal riding of Peterborough–Kawartha, the first poll of voters in this riding in the 2015 campaign.

Nanos Research canvassed the views of local voters at the end of August to learn, among other things, about the party they would support if an election were held immediately.  The survey found that the federal riding of Peterborough–Kawartha has turned from a Conservative fortress to a battleground riding.

The Liberal Party is in first place with 41% of decided voters.  The Conservatives and the NDP are running neck and neck with 29% and 27% respectively.  The Green Party has 4%.  About one-quarter are undecided.

That is quite a sea change from the results of the last election when the Conservatives won twice as many votes as the second-place NDP.

Peterborough–Kawartha is now a close riding.  That means that issues – and where the Party leaders and candidates stand on them – matter.

The Nanos survey explored two issues that matter to voters in this community: the future of the CBC and the value of local broadcasting. 

As you may know, for months, Kady has been talking to voters here about the CBC.  The work of Kady and her colleagues is plain to see with We Vote CBC! signs on lawns throughout the riding.  Kady…

Thanks Ian.

That’s quite right.  We have been speaking with thousands of local voters over the past several months.  We know support for the CBC is strong: 1,210 families in this riding have We Vote CBC! lawn signs on display on their property.   I dare say that is more than any single local candidate.  Here in Peterborough–Kawartha, voters want to elect an MP who will fight for a strong CBC, instead of one who wants to tear it down.

In fact, the Nanos poll has found that 69% of residents here are more likely to vote for a candidate who favours increased funding for the CBC as opposed to just 18% who would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favours privatizing the CBC.  This includes fully half of people who say they have decided to vote Conservative. 

There’s more.

The Nanos study also found that 87% of Peterborough–Kawartha voters would urge their MP to support increasing CBC’s budget or at least maintaining it at current levels.  78% of current Conservatives Party supporters feel this way too.  We feel the current government has gone too far and its cutting of the CBC has got to stop – and be rolled back. Ian…

Thanks Kady.  Nanos also found that six in every 10 voters here think that the Prime Minister has too much influence over the programs the CBC puts on air because of his power to appoint the CBC President and members of the Board of Directors.  Political interference in the CBC’s operations is of concern here in Peterborough.

But there is another very timely and important issue of concern for voters in Peterborough–Kawartha – and that is the survival of local TV news.

The Nanos survey found the people in this riding value CHEX-TV and the window on the local community it provides. 

  • 88% agree or somewhat agree that “local TV news on CHEX helps to make the community stronger.”
  • 80% agree or somewhat agree that “local TV news on CHEX is valuable to me.”
  • 82% disagree or somewhat disagree with the statement: “I would not care if CHEX stopped broadcasting local news.”
  • 78% agree that “their Member of Parliament should work to keep local broadcasting strong in my community.”

A strong majority – 66% – of residents here trust the CRTC to ensure that CHEX’s local news is not forced to fade to black – a level of trust that seems to be misplaced.

Local, independent stations serving smaller communities such as CHEX in Peterborough are in financial distress.  In part, this is due to challenges facing all broadcasters. 

But it is also the direct result of decisions recently made by the CRTC and a willful refusal on the part of the Commission to act to protect local TV news in communities such as Peterborough.

CHEX-TV and other independent stations throughout the country have banded together to call on the CRTC for urgent help.

In a March 9, 2015 letter, the “Small Market Independent Television Station” (SMITS) coalition asked the CRTC for “emergency interim funding”. They concluded with the following ominous prediction:

“Unless support along the lines of SMITS’ proposal is in place by September 2015, the likelihood of stations going dark is extremely high.”

They have told the Commission that much of the dire financial situation they face is due to the CRTC imposing new costs while at the same time cutting funding to these stations and that without action by the Commission, some of their members will fail.

The CRTC rejected SMITS’ proposal on May 28, thereby rolling the dice on the future of 25 local television stations in 14 Canadian cities, including Peterborough.

This morning, we have tabled correspondence between this Small Market Independent Television Station Coalition – which CHEX-TV belongs to – and the CRTC, which sets all of this out in black and white. 

Will CHEX-TV or other small-market stations elsewhere in Canada fade to black next week?  I don’t know.  Of course, even if they were making plans to shut down, executives at Corus Entertainment, which owns CHEX, would hardly want to talk about it in advance.

Like the CBC’s leadership, the CRTC is run by people appointed through political patronage.  The current chair of the CRTC has adopted the Harper government’s agenda as his own, even though the Commission is supposed to work independently from political interference.

If CHEX-TV’s local news were to shut down, voters here will know who to blame – and it won’t be some faceless bureaucrat in Ottawa.

Thank you.  We are happy to take questions you may have.

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For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592 • jim@friends.ca

Related Document:

Sep 8, 2015 — News Release: Liberals currently have advantage in Peterborough–Kawartha; local voters strongly support CBC and local news: Nanos survey
A new Nanos survey has found that the federal riding of Peterborough–Kawartha has turned from a Conservative fortress to a battleground riding where support for the CBC and local news is strong among local voters.