Dear CMG members:
The election of a minority Conservative government in Canada suggests that Ottawa’s approach to the CBC is up for change in the same year the CBC goes before the CRTC to renew its broadcast licenses. We believe it is important that Canadian Media Guild members, as front-line CBC/Radio Canada employees, develop a proposal for the future of public broadcasting in Canada.
Because of the events of the past year, there is a keener recognition in Ottawa and elsewhere that CBC employees are the public broadcaster. People have looked to the Guild and its members for ideas, positions and informed opinion. Many of you discussed the future of public broadcasting informally during the lockout. We would like to formalize your ideas into a position that policy makers cannot ignore.
During the election campaign, the Guild asked candidates from all parties whether they supported an increase in the CBC’s budget to allow, among other things, expansion of local and regional programming.
The Conservative Party’s stand on the CBC was vague. Its platform vowed simply to “ensure that CBC and Radio Canada continue to perform their vital role as national public service broadcasters.”
Bev Oda, the party’s culture critic in the previous session of parliament and a top candidate to become Heritage Minister, put a resolution through last fall calling for a task force to review the mandate, role and services of the CBC-SRC. The day after the election, she told CBC radio’s Toronto morning show that “Canada needs a strong public broadcaster and we should review its mandate to make sure that it remains relevant to all Canadians in light of today’s technology and the different ways that people are accessing the news and information ? and entertainment.”
Just before the election, Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper told CBC radio’s The House that “we’re going to have to look at the mandate (of English TV) and figure out how to adapt that to a multi-channel universe.”
While we don’t know the shape a CBC mandate review will take, we expect it will be extensive and will put the role of the public broadcaster at the centre of a new national debate. And it’s likely to happen before the CRTC hearings on CBC’s licenses, scheduled for this fall.
We are proposing that the Guild undertake a national discussion among members toward development of an informed position on the future of the CBC. How the process takes shape will depend on how many of you want to participate.
We anticipate that a central working group would develop key questions and areas for discussion and ensure Guild members everywhere have a chance to weigh in. CMG staff ? or someone seconded to work on this project ? would do the administrative leg-work.
So this is a call for volunteers. If you’re interested either in taking part in discussions or in developing and shaping this process, please let us know. Please email email@example.com and indicate this is about “The future of CBC”. Let us know who you are, where you’re based, your email and other contact information, and details on how would would like to participate (eg. serve on a coordinating committee, give your thoughts in writing or in person, etc.). We’ll begin an online discussion with those who step forward. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lise Lareau, National President, CMG
Arnold Amber, CBC Branch President, CMG