The CBC has been sucked into a whirlwind of partisan politicking just at the time of year the public broadcaster is forced to beg for its annual allotment of federal cash.
Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made it clear today that he is rejecting a perfectly reasonable bridge financing plan to get CBC through the next year of economic turmoil that has already hammered ad revenue.
And the question of whether the CBC will receive the same base parliamentary allocation for 2009-10 as it did for the current year, which ends March 31, is still up in the air.
The Flaherty quote used today by the Canadian Press is ambiguous. Yes, the $1 billion is apparently in the budget. But, the vital $60 million fund for Canadian programming that has been in the budget every year since 2001 appears to be in doubt. In today’s scrum, he spoke of it in historical terms as an extra.
If $60 million is not in the coming year’s allocation, then the government will have made a very clear statement on its commitment to Canadian programming.
The Conservatives are pointing to Canwest and CTV and apparently looking for similar evidence of cuts and closures from the CBC. Today, CTV was obliging enough to announce the closure of two more small stations, this time in Windsor and Wingham. Is a race to the bottom for Canadian broadcasters really in our best interests as Canadians?
CBC president Hubert T. Lacroix speaks tomorrow at the Empire Club in Toronto. It’ll probably be the speech of his life and I wish him well.