Saturday, May 22, 2004

C.B.C.'s future uncertain with a Harper led government

Future of CBC uncertain with Stephen Harper
May 20, 2004

Stephen Harper says "government subsidies in support of CBC's services should be to those things that do not have commercial alternatives," and that "things like main-English language television and probably to a lesser degree Radio Two" should probably be put on a commercial basis.

Harper is trying to reassure Canadians about his commitment to their values and priorities with one hand; and preparing to gut the very institutions that promote those values and priorities, with the other.

Reality Check

While the recently leaked Conservative Party platform makes no mention of CBC funding, the Canadian Alliance had a long-standing policy favouring the privatization of most aspects of the CBC, with a capital infusion to be achieved through a public share offering. The only protection they offered was that they would
limit foreign ownership in the new, privatized CBC.

The Reform Party platform of 1997 targeted CBC-TV as one of three Crown Corporations to be privatized, and the Canadian Alliance platform of 2000 said the CBC was a target for expenditure reduction: "A Canadian Alliance government will allow CBC television and internet services to raise private
capital while ensuring majority Canadian ownership and retaining a public CBC radio." (Page 7)

During the recent Conservative leadership race, all three candidates - Stephen Harper, Tony Clement and Belinda Stronach - pledged to review the future of the CBC, but at a minimum they committed to reducing its government funding and return it to its mandate.

This policy direction is in contrast with that of the late Progressive Conservative Party, which has - since the CBC first began broadcasting in 1936 - been a supporter of public broadcasting in Canada.

The Alliance-Conservative position on the CBC is another example of the takeover of the PC Party and the elimination of traditional Tory values from the new Alliance-Conservative Party.

The Liberal Party has a long history of supporting the CBC, and the public broadcaster's current budget allocation is $957 million in 2004-05 and again in 2005-06 from the federal government for operating expenditures.

For more information on the Conservative's plans for the CBC, and broadcasting in general, please contact Stephen Harper.

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