|New Style Public Broadcasting|
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, a volunteer group, advocates for Canadian content in radio and TV broadcasting. The group is worried about the Harper Government’s intentions. Rightly so. Commercial broadcasters lobby government regularly, seeking ways to increase profitability. Those ways usually involve eliminating original domestic programing and replacing it with foreign content. In radio, local on-air staff is becoming rare as stations turn to syndicated material and robo-jocks, computerized voice track systems.
Because media barons control access and politicians thrive on exposure, broadcasters usually receive generous treatment from regulators. In Canada, the CRTC is under constant pressure from the Harper Government to reduce ‘burdens’ placed on broadcasters. Previous Liberal governments were almost as generous as today’s Tories. As a result, 5 of the 6 richest families in Canada owe their fortunes to media, at least in large part. Numerous more media magnates make the 2010 Rich 100 list published by Canadian Business. No other segment of the Canadian economy receives such diligent wealthcare.
A prime target of private radio and TV broadcasters is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC has been under threat for years and, long past the point of cutting fat and excess, the national broadcaster is now unable to fulfill its mandate. As a result, it looks and sounds like the Toronto Broadcasting Company.
Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting sent out this email recently:
Something very alarming has come to my attention which I want to share with you on an urgent basis.
Stephen Harper’s secret plan for the CBC was revealed on November 23rd when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage mused publicly about killing our public broadcaster!
Dean Del Mastro floated an extremely dangerous trial balloon at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting by asking whether the government should“get out of the broadcasting business”. As shocking as it may seem, a senior member of the Conservative caucus blurted out that the government is considering cutting ALL funding to the CBC! You can listen to his comments for yourself here.
As you know, Harper exercises absolute control of his government’s messaging. None of his Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries or MPs speak out without prior approval from the Prime Minister’s Office. That’s why Mr. Del Mastro’s comments about cutting the CBC’s entire grantare so sinister.
Consider for a moment: cutting CBC’s grant would kill CBC Radio One, CBC Radio Two, CBC Television and CBC NewsNet, leaving Canadian broadcasting entirely in the hands of the private broadcasters, and in the case of television, private broadcasters controlled by cable monopolies!
I read through Hansard to see if the Minister offered any comfort to people worried about the CBC. This is what I found:
Question by Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.):
“Recently the parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister suggested that it was time we got out of the broadcasting industry, time to sell the CBC. What does the Prime Minister have up his sleeve for the CBC? Is he preparing to privatize it? If not, will he reprimand his parliamentary secretary, or better still, replace him with someone who supports public broadcasting?”
Response by Hon. James Moore (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, CPC)
Rule #1, Ignore the question and simply change the subject.
Question by Mr. Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Lib.):
Last year, at the height of economic crisis, the minister refused to help the CBC. As a result, hundreds of people were laid off and the CBC had to sell off $125 million in assets. And recently we learned that the government is cutting another $13.7 million from the budget.
Their dream has always been to either shut down or privatize the CBC. Are the Conservatives essentially doing indirectly what they cannot do directly?
Response by Hon. James Moore (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, CPC):
See Rule #1, above.
It is worth remembering that broadcasters pay almost nothing for their primary assets, exclusive broadcasting frequencies, regulated to ensure the industry stays among the most profitable in Canada. Strangely, the right wing never challenges huge subsidies that taxpayers provide broadcasters. The truth is that commercial stations pay almost nothing beyond the costs of regulation and that is conducted mostly to ensure that competition is not an obstacle faced by big broadcasters.
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting ask this:
|First, sign the petition. When we have 50,000 signatures we will take it to Parliament Hill as an indicator of the support CBC enjoys from Canadians.|
|Once you and all of your family members have signed, please circulate it far and wide to your own email contacts.|
|The third thing you can do is to share the petition on your website, your Facebookpage, or your Twitter account.|