POLITICS
02/10/2012 03:19 EST | Updated 04/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada Budget 2012: CBC Braces For Budget Cut Of Unknown Size

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MONTREAL - The head of the CBC says he fears that imminent budget cuts might affect programming and is anxious to learn what percentage of funding he will lose.

In a speech to the Montreal Board of Trade, Hubert Lacroix said Friday that he's wondering whether the looming cuts will keep the CBC from fulfilling the objectives set out in its latest strategic review.

The comments come as the Harper government prepares deep spending reductions in its upcoming budget, with departments being asked to prepare scenarios for clawbacks of either five or 10 per cent.

''The questions preoccupying me right now, just a few weeks before the (federal) budget, are very simple: How many dollars will be taken away, and how quickly?'' Lacroix said.

''Will we be able to respect the promises laid out in our strategic plan? How many jobs will be affected by these cuts?''

Lacroix said that, upon ''reading the tea leaves we think (the cutback) might be closer to 10 per cent,'' although he stressed that he had no idea what the government is planning.

CBC/Radio-Canada receives $1.1 billion a year. The Crown corporation already cut $171 million from its budget two years ago and eliminated 800 jobs at the time.

In his speech, Lacroix said there was no viable public model for Canadian broadcasting to survive without government support — not even in the private sector.

He expressed frustration with all the criticism levelled by the Quebecor media chain against public money going to the CBC. Lacroix said he estimates that private broadcasters also receive $900 million a year in subsidies and ''other advantages'' from the public purse — including Quebecor.

According to Lacroix, the CBC costs each Canadian $34 per year and offers quality service for that money.

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