EDITORIAL: Time to re-examine the CBC

We can think of many better things - health care, crumbling transportation/water infrastructure - to spend $1 billion every year

You can see the signs on lawns, here and there from Deep Bay through Nanoose Bay.

‘We Vote CBC’ they say.

Presumably, the people who present these signs want more tax-dollar support for the public broadcaster, because the last time we checked there are no candidates running in the federal election representing a CBC party.

At the very least, perhaps this campaign, if that’s what it is, will put a spotlight on the future of the public broadcaster. Or maybe it’s always in the spotlight, a national obsession that garners passionate debate once in a while, like the re-occurring spectre of Quebec separation.

Imagine being the owner of a little TV station in a small or medium-sized Canadian city. Owned by large national company or not, these outlets are asked to sink or swim on their own.

Your advertising reps are working hard to bring dollars into the station, money that supports quality programming and feeds the families of the camera operators, on-air personnel, clerical staff, ad reps, newsroom staff, etc. The retail outlets your rep visits only have so much money to spend in advertising, ie. a marketing budget.

Your rep hears that his/her station will get part of that budget, but some of it will go to the local CBC-TV outlet. Then, later in the day, you sign the cheque going to the Receiver General of Canada, or you pay the GST on something you purchase. Some of that money is going to help subsidize your competition.

Is that fair? Absolutely not.

It’s time to drastically change the model that is public broadcasting in this country. In the U.S. where the population is 10 times greater than Canada, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System also get subsidies from the federal government, but roughly half of the $1 billion the CBC gets in taxpayer money every year in this country. The NPR and PBS — which have great programming, it has to be said — rely heavily on the donations of its listeners and viewers.

Cuts to the amount of taxpayer money the CBC receives is not a sole domain of the current government. The Liberals were doing it before the Conservatives. Another advantage of taking the CBC out of the public trough would be the elimination of government, read political, oversight and interference.

So, how about a sign that says “We Vote for a CBC that is Self-Sufficient and Free of Political Interference”?

— Editorial by John Harding

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