An open letter to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore from the Canadian Media Guild.
We were heartened to hear your words of March 17 in support of a national public broadcaster that provides local, regional and national news, drama, arts and public service programming in both official languages across the country.
We point out respectfully that the public broadcaster must respond to a situation not of its own making when it attempts to boost commercial revenue in order to pay for other important programming that can no longer be afforded on the parliamentary appropriation.
That appropriation of around $1.1 billion this year is approximately the same in constant dollars as in 1995. In today’s dollars, the 1995 appropriation would have been more than $1.5 billion. CBC’s per capita public funding is far below what public broadcasters in Europe and Australia receive and means that it can be less distinctive relative to private broadcasters.
The all-party Heritage Committee recommended a year ago that a seven-year memorandum of understanding with CBC/Radio Canada be negotiated. It would outline public expectations and provide for adequate and stable funding, indexed to inflation, throughout the term of the agreement. We also urge you to move forward and make sure to cost out the mandate carefully to ensure that it is adequately funded and able reduce its reliance on commercial revenue.
This new funding structure would permit CBC/Radio-Canada to do the job Canadians expect while providing day-to-day and year-to-year independence from government ? a crucial element of public broadcasting. Public pronouncements on the CBC every year at budget time leave the unfortunate impression of potential government interference in what is supposed to be an arm’s-length relationship.
Canadian Media Guild