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Show cancellation highlights insecurity over future of CBC programming

The quiet cancellation this week of the long-running CBC-TV program On the Road Again with no announced replacement is a major symptom of the insecurity surrounding the future of CBC programming. The CBC is introducing expanded local news and new lifestyle programs this winter without any additional funding to pay for them.

“We are sorry to see this award-winning show go after 20 seasons and not receive any recognition from CBC for what it did to present stories to Canadians from every part of this country,” says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the CBC branch of the Canadian Media Guild.

Meanwhile, there is anxiety that CBC may again be facing a budget cut that will further reduce made-in-Canada programming.

The CBC suffered the biggest budget cuts in its history in the 1990s, losing one-third of its government funding, and was forced to make major cuts to programming. In 2001, the federal government came back to the CBC with a $60 million boost for Canadian programming. While that $60 million was never formally added to the public broadcaster’s parliamentary grant, the CBC has been receiving the top-up each year ever since. However, there is now word that the Conservative government is treating the $60 million as a request for new money in the upcoming federal budget, creating fears that the programming fund may disappear.

“It is time for the federal government to be clear on its intentions for the CBC,” says Laurin. “The broadcaster, responding to pressure from the public and from Parliament, has a plan to expand the local and regional programming that was decimated since the 1990s. And we know Canadians are hungry for shows that reflect what’s going on in their communities. But the CBC, which is one of the worst funded public broadcasters in the industrialized world, needs more money to make this plan work, not less.”

The Guild will be taking this message to MPs in Ottawa in the coming weeks.

Production employees who worked with On The Road Again have been redeployed to temporary employment with other shows on radio and TV. The CMG will continue to work with the CBC to try to find permanent assignments for the affected employees.

For more information, contact the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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