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MPs, CBC president talk up importance of regions

This week at the parliament Heritage Committee hearings on local TV, CBC president Hubert Lacroix was asked numerous times about the impacts of the impending cuts on regional stations and programs by MPs from all parties. His answer provides some hope for restoring services:

“If we had more resources, or if the measures we have taken generate some flexibility that can be sustained, or if our commercial revenues bounce back and hold, I would like to put people and dollars back into the regions.” Lacroix later added that he’s trying to “create some margin of manoeuvre” to restore jobs.

NDP Heritage Critic Charlie Angus said “our communities are absolutely dependent on CBC. If they don’t have CBC North service, they don’t have a voice period. (?) I’m doing the calculations across northern Canada where we took a 50% hit in Sudbury, 50% hit in Thunder Bay, 100% in northern Manitoba, 100% in Saskatchewan. We don’t really get a feeling that those losses were balanced out, because when you take two jobs out of a market like that, you’re eliminating the afternoon show. When you eliminate the afternoon show, you’re eliminating the entire ability of a vast region the size of Western Europe to have arts programming, to introduce northern writers, to bring voices to the region.”

Conservative MP Sylvie Boucher told Lacroix that “I am a bit worried when I’m told that Windsor will eliminate programs for francophones in Southern Ontario, that in Thomson ? in Northern Manitoba ? programs will be cancelled that reach an audience made up primarily of First Nations people, that 336 jobs will probably be cut in the French services.”

The Heritage Committee is studying the crisis in local (private and public) television and is asking, among other things, what the government could do to help fix the situation.

The Guild will be appearing before the committee on May 11 and will be urging a permanent increase in parliamentary funding to support the cornerstone of local broadcasting in Canada: CBC/Radio-Canada. We will urge the committee to press for the adoption of the recommendations of its own report of a year ago on the future of the CBC, which called for the signing of a seven-year contract between CBC and Parliament and for increased, permanent public funding indexed to inflation. Click here to send a message calling on the leaders in Parliament to implement these measures.

As well, we will propose that the government add public money to the new Local Program Improvement Fund, which is currently being developed by the CRTC using a small contribution of cable and satellite revenues, a measure that would assist both public and private local broadcasters.

For more information on our campaign to restore CBC, click here.

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