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CBC licence renewal hearings 2012 – FAQ

1. Why is the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) speaking at the CBC licence renewal hearings?

As a union that represents media workers, we are attentive to events that affect the media environment, including CRTC hearings on media matters. We are active participants and make submissions to the CRTC when we have something helpful to contribute to the process. In the end, our focus is always on quality journalism and a healthy media system that serves all Canadians.

The current CRTC public hearing on the renewal of CBC licences is important in many ways. First, this is a chance for Canadians to help shape our public broadcaster and the programming it provides across the country in English, French and eight indigenous languages. Second, as a union that represents media workers in Canada, including at CBC, we are here to listen to others and also to share our unique perspective in this proceeding.

2. What are the main proposals the CMG is making at this CRTC hearing?

In our submission to the Commission, we make two main proposals:

-We urge the regulator to establish a fund from 0.75% of gross revenues of cable and satellite companies – approximately $65 million – to support local and regional programming by public, provincial and community broadcasters across Canada

-We propose that the CBC be required to report to the Commission on a plan and its implementation to better reflect the “multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.”

 3. Why is the local and regional programming fund necessary? 

 To effectively meet its mandate under the Broadcasting Act, CBC provides quality local programming across Canada in both Official Languages and also in eight indigenous languages in the North. With its limited budget, CBC serves 57 communities across Canada with daily local programming, compared to 31 for Bell and Rogers, 25 for Québecor and 13 for Shaw. The CBC is the only national broadcaster to provide daily French-language programming outside of Quebec and Acadia and to provide daily regional television programming north of the 60th parallel.

In the context of significant cuts in federal public funding, the fund we are proposing would support vital local and regional programming by CBC/Radio-Canada, including in official language minority communities that have no private-sector alternative. Supporting local programming among public and community broadcasters is an essential support to the diversity of editorial and broadcast voices in communities across Canada.

It is important to note, however, that the proposed fund would not close the public funding gap and we suggest Canadians and the CRTC need to take a serious look at the long-term public funding challenges.

4. Doesn’t CBC already receive a lot of money from the government?

The CBC will receive around $1 billion in direct federal funding this year out of a federal budget reaching $276 billion. Funding to CBC represents barely $30 per Canadian per year, compared to $80 per capita, the median received by public broadcasters in all OECD countries.

5. Is it appropriate to ask the BDUs to pay for a fund that would essentially benefit their competitor?

CBC made excellent use of the disappearing local program improvement fun and it’s fair to say Canadians recognize that strong public broadcasters are important to a diversity of voices in a healthy media system.  The proposed fund is an essential support to reaching that goal in the context of the concentration of private media ownership and the lack of funding for public media. The CRTC’s role is, in part, to ensure a healthy balance between the three components of the system: public, private and community. In 2011, the revenues of the four major private media conglomerates was more than $38 billion.

6. Why is CMG asking for a plan to ensure the CBC reflects the “multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada”?

Reflecting Canada’s multicultural and multiracial nature is part of CBC’s mandate. However, this goal has fallen off the public agenda in recent decades. Meeting this part of the mandate is essential to ensuring its relevance to Canadians. We want to see formal reporting on CBC’s employment of indigenous and non-white people both in front of and in decision-making roles behind the camera to help spur progress in this area.

7. Do you have other recommendations for the CRTC at this hearing?

Yes, we are calling for guaranteed mandatory carriage of CBC News Network in French-language markets, and Réseau de l’information in English-language markets.  And again, because of the significance of quality, local programming in our democracy, we are also asking that the Commission undertake or commission systematic research on the impact of the loss of local news and other programming on the communities that lose it.

8. What do you mean by quality journalism?

We fight for good media jobs in healthy media organizations because we believe this is a good way to ensure Canadians continue to get news and other programming that is meaningful to them as citizens of a democratic society.

In the recent crowd-sourced Reimagine CBC project, 90% of Canadians who support public media said they support more courageous reporting from CBC. Courageous reporting is an aspect of quality journalism that a healthy media system permits.

9. What is your position on CBC’s request at this hearing to run ads on Radio 2 and Espace Musique

With the cuts that CBC has endured over the past 30 years, we understand such a request. We maintain that the sustainable solution would be stable and sufficient public funding.

10. Aren’t you just here to defend your members’ interests?

Our members are interested in delivering quality public programming that serves the varied needs of their audiences. We are at the hearing to speak to the importance of public broadcasting and the need to secure its future to serve Canadians’ democratic, cultural and human needs.

Who we are

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) represents 6,000 media workers including journalists, hosts, producers, technicians, videographers, editors, librarians, programmers, sales reps, administrative staff and freelancers. Our members work at CBC/Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press, TVO, TFO, Thomson Reuters, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Shaw Media, ZoomerMedia, MBS Radio and CKOI (Gatineau). We believe a quality media system that serves all Canadians is built on healthy organizations that treat workers fairly

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) is a democratic union representing media workers across Canada. The CMG is one local of CWA/SCA Canada, which is in turn affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA); CWA has a membership of over six hundred thousand workers across North America. www.cmg.ca.


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