After months of urging politicians to publicly share their position on CBC/Radio-Canada, specifically whether they support increased funding and guaranteed independence, we were happy this week to hear from Stéphane Dion on The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright discussing the value of the national public broadcaster.
Echoing comments made by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau – who said clearly several months ago that he is committed to increased funding for CBC/Radio-Canada – Dion shared his appreciation for the cultural benefits, including bilingual programming and international news coverage provided by CBC.
In emphasizing his strong philosophical support for the principle of an independent public broadcaster, Dion noted that in this environment where a small group of people increasingly own almost all the media, the role of a public broadcaster not bound by commercial pressure is crucial. He suggested public investments are needed to protect the broad mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada and to help it adapt to technological change, and he highlighted the economic impact of cultural institutions funding, where money spent supporting arts and culture generates ten times the value in positive economic benefit.
For all these reasons, Dion spoke of stable multi-year funding, much like the BBC’s 5-year plan, and changing the way the CBC president and board of directors are selected so it’s not a PMO appointment, but instead a non-partisan process.
On the precise question of whether the Liberals would give CBC more money, Dion said a Liberal government would at least reverse the recent cuts, and indicated there would be more to do. Currently Canadians fund CBC/Radio-Canada with the equivalent of $29 a year for the national public broadcaster’s massive programming mandate. CMG is urging politicians to increase that to $43.5, which would still be among the lowest funding globally for a public broadcaster.
We liked the sound of Dion’s commitment, and we are looking forward to hearing more details – from Dion and from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau – in their platform before the election.
National President, CMG