He says his government has given the CBC and its French-language network, Radio-Canada, a total of $1 billion a year since 2006.
Harper made the comments to CHOI Radio X, a Quebec City station, in an interview recorded Friday and broadcast Monday.
"The reason for the difficulties aren't the cuts," he said. "There aren't cuts. The reason is the loss of (CBC's) audience. It's a problem for the CBC to fix."
When asked if he thought public-service television wasn't interesting enough for Canadians, he evaded the question.
Harper replied the CBC is "an important institution," adding however there are "limits" to state subsidies.
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