CONSERVATIVES AND REGULATOR GANG UP ON CBC: CRTC decision lacks leadership overall; undermines future of public broadcasting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 23, 2010

CONSERVATIVES AND REGULATOR GANG UP ON CBC: CRTC decision lacks leadership overall; undermines future of public broadcasting

OTTAWA – The new television regulatory policy announced yesterday by the CRTC failed to protect the public interest and sidelined public broadcasting. The decision is bad news for CBC/Radio-Canada and bad news for consumers, says NDP Culture Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay).

“The CRTC’s job is to ensure that Canadian stories are told on both the private and public broadcasters in this country. Mr. Von Finkenstein, however, has openly tipped the scales in favour of private broadcasters. The prospects for CBC’s bottom line are grim.”

The CRTC has undermined the ability of CBC to compete with private broadcasters by giving the green light to private broadcasters to negotiate a new revenue stream while denying CBC the same right. Angus says the CRTC decision will have a major impact on the ability of the public broadcaster to fulfill its crucial mandate.

Angus points out that this move will be particularly devastating in the wake of last year’s decision by the Conservatives not to allow CBC to borrow money to offset a decline in advertising revenue. That decision resulted in a major loss of services and hundreds of layoffs at the public broadcaster.

“The Tories and the CRTC appear to be working in lock-step to undermine the public broadcaster. On the one hand, the government says it expects CBC to operate like a private broadcaster, but then the CRTC won’t allow it to compete on a level playing field. That doesn’t make any sense.”

NDP Industry Critic Brian Masse (Windsor West) points out that there is nothing in the CRTC decision to protect Canadian content or local programming on private networks.

“Mr. Von Finkenstein is giving the thumbs up to the giant cable companies and private broadcasters to go off and negotiate in private. Why doesn’t the CRTC protect the public interest by insisting on clear targets, commitments and investments from these corporate players?”

“It’s not like there aren’t solutions out there that would enable the cable companies and broadcasters to go on making profits while airing more Canadian stories,” Mr Angus concluded. “The right solution means more jobs for Canadian artists and creators, and a sustainable broadcast sector on both the private and public side. Unfortunately, none of those possibilities were explored by the CRTC.”
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For more information, please contact:
Marc-André Viau, Caucus press secretary, 613-295-9228 or viaumar@parl.gc.ca