The federal budget delivered by Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty 3/29 shows $115 million in cuts to pubcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) over the next three years. According to budget documents, the cuts will be phased in, starting with $27.8 million in 2012-2013, $69.6 million in 2013-14, and reaching the full $115 million in reductions by 2014-15.
“It’s a dark day for public broadcasting in Canada, and it would be easy just to throw in the towel, but we’re not going to do that,” Ian Morrison, the spokesperson for the advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, told Vancouver’s Straight.com. “We’re going to stand up to the [Canadian PM Stephen] Harper bullies, including James Moore…and we’ll be calling on Canadians to join us.”
Morrison predicted that the cuts, which amount to about 10% of the broadcaster’s funding, will lead to hundreds losing their jobs. He argued that the reductions also translate to a retreat on the Conservative government’s commitment last election to maintain or increase support for the broadcaster—a promise that was reiterated by Heritage Minister James Moore the day after the election last May.
The cuts to CBC comprise the largest portion of the $191.1 million in spending reductions planned for Canadian Heritage programs over the next three years. The department overall will see a $46.2 million reduction, while funding for the National Film Board of Canada will be reduced by $6.7 million, the Library and Archives of Canada budget will decrease by $9.6 million, and Telefilm Canada will see a $10.6 million reduction. Canada’s national museums will not see any cuts.
According to Jamie Biggar, the spokesperson for the Reimagine CBC project, the 10% cut to CBC, compared to a 7% reduction for the Canadian Heritage department, singles out the broadcaster: “It appears that the CBC is being targeted to a degree by this budget, which is unfortunate, because…there’s a strong majority of Canadians that support either maintaining or increasing funding for the CBC, so this budget is quite out of step with public opinion, public support for the CBC as an institution,” he told the Straight.
Biggar said his group intends to continue gathering supporters through a petition against cuts to the corporation that has collected nearly 30,000 signatures, and to encourage input from members of the public on the future of the broadcaster.
CBC/Radio-Canada said in a statement that it will view its approach for dealing with the reduction in a way that “doesn’t overly compromise” its strategy for the future. “The measures that CBC/Radio-Canada intends to take over the next three years will be set out in greater detail for our employees and the Canadians we serve as soon as possible.”
RBR-TVBR observation: CBC/Radio-Canada must have known this was coming. Just recently, it announced an expansion of digital ad opportunities, unifying its digital sales team into an integrated, single point of access for advertisers–English or French, mobile or online.