Opinion Column


Feds need better priorities to preserve vital CBC programming

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

The CBC building in Toronto is pictured in this September 6, 2011 file photo. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency Files)

The CBC building in Toronto is pictured in this September 6, 2011 file photo. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency Files)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on temporary foreign workers was Laila with 86%.

This week’s topic:

Should the government provide more funding for the CBC?

CBC made a shocking announcement last week that it would be cutting 657 positions and no longer be competing for professional sports rights, in an effort to address a $130-million revenue shortfall.

As Canadians digested the news of what is clearly a pivotal moment for the broadcasting company, conversations began on social media about how to save the CBC.

Growing up in a rural area just outside of Prince George, the only TV stations we had were the CBC and what was then known as BCTV. From watching Mr. Dressup and the Friendly Giant as a child, to the Nature of Things and the Fifth Estate as a teen, the CBC has played a huge role in shaping the person I am today.

Read Brent Stafford's column

In speaking with many of my readers, it’s clear that the nation’s public broadcaster has been much more than just a broadcaster — the CBC has, in essence, been part of our families and our lives. Hockey Night in Canada wasn’t just about watching hockey, it brought families and friends together to experience the highs and lows of watching our favourite teams, win or lose. Through the CBC, we’ve watched tragedies unfold, mourned losses and celebrated successes, and connected across the country.

The CBC’s programming is rich in diversity for both television and radio and is still a mainstay in many Canadian households — in particular in rural areas. It’s a terrible irony that in an era where government is spending millions on job-creation programs, the nation’s public broadcaster is forced to cut jobs to meet this revenue shortfall. In fact, it was inevitable.

When the federal government announced its 2012 budget, it was discovered that the CBC was going to take a huge cut to funding in 2014. It was a $115-million reduction and while the CBC wasn’t the only target of planned “savings,” it was by far the largest cut in the heritage ministry portfolio.

Ironically, the federal government spent nearly $15 million alone in 2013 marketing Canada’s Economic Action Plan – a program that ended nearly two years ago. Is it a matter of priorities? I think so.

As the CBC moves forward, it’s going to have to reinvent itself and focus not only on Canadian content that’s kept loyal followers for generations, but also streamlining its programming. It’s also imperative the government commits to preserving and protecting this public resource and that means adequate funding.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.









Who wins this week's duel on the CBC?

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