"We are not making cuts to the CBC." That's the quotation from Tory MP Joyce Bateman featured in a new radio ad from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
The Winnipeg South Centre MP made the comments in a voicemail left in April for constituent Jayanne English, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. English had called Bateman to express concerns about cuts to the public broadcaster.
Bateman later clarified her statement and issued an apology. Assisant Caitlin MacGregor told the Free Press that Bateman was trying to explain that the government has not announced any additional cuts to the public broadcaster in addition to the $115 million in cuts over three years announced in 2011. CBC received $1.15 billion in government funding in 2013.
You can listen to the full voicemail below. In it, Bateman does reference that the CBC was given a "draft exercise deficit reduction plan of between five to 10 per cent" but says that those cuts are "now over" and that "from a government perspective we are giving them as much taxpayer money as they ever have received." The CBC has received more money from the government in previous years and is implementing $45 million in cuts in the current year. The broadcaster has cut hundreds of jobs in the wake of the cuts and has scaled back regional programming. The broadcaster also lost the rights to the broadcast NHL hockey, a key ratings driver.
The non-profit group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is running the "Whopper" ads on radio in Saint John, Ottawa, St. Catharines/Niagara, London, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
“We’ve called the campaign Whopper because Bateman’s message is at such variance with the facts,” said spokesperson Ian Morrison in a press release.
Bateman's assistant told HuffPost that the MP wanted to her constituent to know that CBC's announcement of job cuts and reductions in coverage are not the direct result of "newly announced" funding cuts.
"CBC already receives significant taxpayer funds, and they can operate within their existing budget," McGregor said. "According to the CBC, it is declining viewership that is causing their challenges."
While CBC President and CEO Hubert Lacroix did blame softening advertising revenue and "disappointing" ratings when announcing the latest round of cutbacks, he also mentioned the government cuts.
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