CBC has boasted that 50 per cent of the cost of its TV services is paid for by advertising revenue. No more. In the year ending August 2015, CBC English TV ad revenue fell off a cliff and was barely $100 million, well under 20 per cent of TV revenues. Funding from taxpayers is now four times greater than ad revenues.
At a time when our consumption of the news is at an all-time high, the very institutions at the heart of our news media are in crisis -- and demanding the attention of our political leaders. Postmedia combined newsrooms in Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in a move that not only saw many talented and dedicated journalists pushed out the door, but also saw distinctive voices quieted.
In management's view, Rex (one and two) is in such complete control of his perceptions and biases that he can switch from one personality to the other while walking from a radio studio on the third floor of the Broadcast Centre in Toronto to a TV studio on the fifth or to his kitchen to write a column for the National Post. That is obviously impossible, although convenient wishful thinking for CBC executives stuck in a pickle of their own making.
Integrity in this context means that what you see is what you get. In the immediate aftermath of Evan Solomon's dismissal by CBC, lots of people wanted to know why him, and not Amanda Lang or Peter Mansbridge? If there is an answer to this (and I'm not sure there is) then it lies in issues of transparency.
Political speech is seemingly under attack from the last place we might expect: Canadian media broadcasters, that say parties can't use broadcasters' content in ads. Protecting copyright is not an illegitimate purpose, but this approach is less than ideal for political advertisements. Political parties rely on election advertising to persuade the electorate to vote for them. This political expression is a significantly important aspect of public discourse and should be accorded the highest priority and protection.
For the past two years I've been actively recapping Drafted, a reality show put on by The Score and Gillette to find Canada's next sports broadcaster. I usually hate reality shows but Drafted really resonants with me because (A) it's a show about people pursuing their lifelong dream of talking about sports for a living and (B) what's more fun than watching emotional breakdowns when they fail at it?
Tuesday marks the opening of another critical public hearing at the CRTC. It will be considering applications to expand the mandatory distribution of channels on the basic TV service. But, bottom line, if our own federal government refuses to kick in a few more million a year to show just how important Canadian culture is, then why should the rest of us?
Last week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced that it is terminating the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF). The fund, which was established in 2008, funneled over $300 million to broadcasters to support the creation of local programming. The decision caught the industry by surprise with the CBC calling it "astonishing" and Bell Media saying it is a "major concern."