With Don Cherry's future in doubt on Hockey Night in Canada in the wake of Rogers' purchase of national rights for NHL broadcasts, the CBC will come under scrutiny from a Senate in an upcoming review of the public broadcaster.
Source: National Post
OTTAWA — The Senate is planning a comprehensive review of the CBC’s role in Canadian society examining how it has used billions of dollars in government subsidies received over the years.
A Senate committee, led by Liberal Sen. Dennis Dawson, approved the review Tuesday, and it will be conducted through public hearings slated to begin in the coming months.
Dawson, noting that he had a preference for having the committee looking at some other issues such as rail safety or Montreal’s crumbling Champlain Bridge, said that the CBC review became more pressing in light of last week’s television deal that will cause the public broadcaster to lose advertising revenues from Hockey Night in Canada.
He also dismissed questions about whether the Conservative majority on the committee could drive the review to attack the public broadcaster, reflecting some well-known anti-CBC views from within Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s caucus.
With the Senate’s credibility on the line due to the ongoing spending scandal, Dawson explained that all senators had extra motivation to deliver a well-researched review, reflecting some previous studies done by the Senate’s transportation and communications committee, including a recent study on air transportation.
“(Conservatives) know if this institution is to survive, it has to be credible,” said Dawson in an interview. “They know that it will not be credible if we go out there and have a report that is perceived as being an extension of the PMO or the Conservative caucus.”
Dawson said the CBC review would seek out viewers and stakeholders across the country to evaluate their feedback on the service they are getting from the public broadcaster. Senators would also hear from CBC management, as well as its competitors from the private sector, as part of the proposed review, Dawson said.
Rogers Communications outbid the CBC last week on the 12-year television deal for the National Hockey League that calls for more than $5 billion in payments for exclusive broadcast rights of games in the regular season and the playoffs. As part of the deal, the CBC would be allowed to continue broadcasting some regular season games over the next four years, but would turn over the costs and ad revenues to Rogers.
“We’re going into this with an open mind to look carefully at what the CBC’s capacity is in a changing environment; where it is and where it needs to be in order to remain competitive, and to be able to provide the cutting edge cultural broadcasting, which is the mandate the CBC has had now for decades, on behalf of Canadians,” said Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos, a deputy chairman of the Senate transportation and communications committee.
“Senators have been in the news, as parliamentarians have been in the news, for quite a while now and we will continue to be in the news, and that will not impede us from conducting our job as parliamentarians.”
Housakos explained that the Senate committee also wanted to examine how the public broadcaster is using government funding, of about $1 billion per year, and what it would need to remain relevant and competitive.
“The CBC has been an important cultural icon in this country, which successive governments have funded in terms of significant amount of taxpayer dollars, and warrants to be looked at from Parliament’s perspective,” he said.
The CBC received about $1.1 billion in annual federal funding in 2012-13 according to its last annual report, but also faced about $115 million in cuts that year due to deficit reduction measures introduced in the Harper government’s 2012 federal budget.
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