Canadian industry reacts to government subsidy cuts for CBC

The reactions range from sharp criticism to outright applause after the Canadian federal government imposed escalating cuts on the CBC, Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and the CRTC.
March 30, 2012

The Canadian film and television industry on Thursday lined up to react to the federal budget, issuing responses that range from pointed criticism to outright applause.

“CBC/Radio-Canada will review its approach for dealing with this reduction in a way that doesn’t overly compromise its strategy for the future, 2015: Everyone, Every way,” the pubcaster said after hearing its annual parliamentary appropriation will be slashed by $115 million over three years.

That cut, amounting to 10% of its annual $1.1 billion contribution from the federal government, heralds inevitable job cuts.

“The measures that CBC/Radio-Canada intends to take over the next three years will be set out in greater detail for our employees and the Canadians we serve as soon as possible,” the CBC added in its statement.

Ian Morrison, spokesman for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said the federal Conservatives¬†were making “punitive cuts” to¬†the CBC’s annual parliamentary subsidy.

“The Harper government has singled out the CBC for punitive cuts and has broken its election pledge to maintain or increase CBC funding in the process,” Morrison said.

Stephen Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, the performers union, insisted Ottawa was wrong-headed to impose cuts on Canadian content production that aims to spearhead the country’s transition to a 21st century digital economy.

“It could have been worse. But that said, it’s going in entirely the wrong direction,” Waddell told realscreen‘s sister publication Playback Daily.

Besides the CBC, the big loser from the cuts will be indie producers receiving less money to make shows for the pubcaster.

“It’s going to have an impact on jobs there. What will be impacted more significantly is the opportunity to make a contribution to licence fees for independent production,” Waddell said.

Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and the CRTC also face gradual cuts after Ottawa unveiled its Deficit Reduction Action Plan on Thursday.

But David Krayden, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, applauded the 10% cut in the taxpayer subsidy for the CBC.

The think tank last October called for the CBC to be privatized.

“The CBC is a world class broadcaster, fully capable of competing in the private sector. The more than $1 billion in government funding the CBC receives annually is a misuse of tax dollars since virtually every service it provides can be, or is being, provided by private broadcasters in Canada,” Krayden argued in a statement issued after the 2012 federal budget was unveiled.

“By reducing the size of the subsidy it receives every year from taxpayers, today’s announcement represents an important first step toward the CBC’s inevitable privatization,” he added.

(From Playback Daily)

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.