Canada’s government has cut CBC radio to the tune of $115 million over three years. CBC has responded by proposing staff cuts and adding advertising to its two national music networks: Radio 2 and Espace musique.
“This measure will allow us to ensure that we can continue . . . to be a point of discovery for Canadian music fans,” says Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of the CBC. “Both services will remain deeply committed to supporting and showcasing the best in Canadian music across a broad range of genres.”
650 jobs will be eliminated through 2015, according to the CBC’s announcement. And Radio Canada International will be retrenched. There will be less shortwave service and more web based streaming. Its Russian and Brazilian departments will close, with more focus on the core languages spoken by Canadian audiences: French, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.
CBC is going to have to apply to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission for that boost in advertising spots. Doubtless some listeners will oppose the idea, but the loudest protest at the moment seems to be coming from Canada’s biggest radio station owner, Astral Media, with 84 licensed stations across the country.
“Astral is fiercely opposed to seeing the public broadcaster start selling advertising,” the company told the Globe and Mail. “CBC has to decide if it wants to continue being funded by Canadians and fulfill its mandate or if it wants to operate commercial radio stations.”
So there you have it—a commercial radio network calling ads on CBC Radio 2 a violation of the public interest. Meanwhile, there is an interesting mix of reader comments on the Globe story, many of them sympathetic to the CBC plan.
“The private broadcasters whine about the CBC getting tax dollars and now they’re whining about the CBC wanting to raise revenue to support it programming,” writes one CBC sympathizer. “Apparently they don’t like competition.”
A longer comment:
If one or two CBC radio channels need to go to the private market for some measure of limited high-quality advertising, I have no problem with that. NPR has a limited commercial exposure – it’s entirely palatable. If they go for endless knife-sharpener infomercials the way CBC Newsworld has – it’s going to be damaging.
But the fate of the Astrals or the impact on the Big Mediocre (that’s being generous) Three – I could care less about them. Let them suffer and rot. Do them good.
Let me get this right. The private broadcasters don’t want the CBC to receive public funds and they don’t want them to run advertising. In other words, they would prefer the CBC to disappear so that the “dollar a hollar” stations is all Canadians would have access to. How wonderful is that?
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