09 November 2012

The CBC—a very good deal

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting recently sent me an email summarizing a few pertinent facts about the CBC, our national broadcaster and the only national medium not owned and controlled by the corporate sector. Some of these facts I would like to share.

For instance, we sometimes forget in these dumbing-down days of Harper conservatism that the CBC (actually its predecessor) was created by a Conservative government, specifically that of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in 1932.

Surveys indicate that 83 per cent of Canadians believe the CBC is important in protecting Canadian identity and culture, and 78 per cent of Canadians would like to see CBC funding increased or maintained. In other words, the CBC enjoys very broad public support.

Governments, however are less supportive. Jean Chrétien's Liberals slashed the CBC’s budget by $400-million in the 1990s and funding continues to decline under the Conservatives. Only four of 26 western democracies (Portugal, Poland, New Zealand and the U.S.) spend less as a percentage of GDP than Canada on public broadcasting.

On average, government funding of public broadcasters in western democracies is $80 per capita per year. By comparison, funding of the CBC works out to a paltry $33 per Canadian per year or about eleven cents a day.

Keeping in mind we pay much, much more for corporate media via advertising, a little more than a dime a day is a bargain indeed for the only national medium that belongs to all of us, i.e. that is democratic—the only national medium that isn't run by corporate servants. Increasing that to a quarter a day would only bring us up to the average funding in western democracies, yet would allow for an even better CBC ... without the advertising.

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