On March 29th, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled the newest federal budget. Long rumoured to be a bearer of bad news for the CBC, Budget 2012 certainly lived up to its reputation.
The CBC now faces a 10 per cent cut in its federal funding, set to be rolled out over the next three years, beginning with a 2.5 per cent cut for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. On Wednesday, CBC president Hubert Lacroix hosted a town hall with CBC employees across the country to answer the question on everyone's mind: Just where, and with what force, is the axe going to fall?
From the announcement, which details only high level cuts (more detailed information on the impact to front-line programs and services are expected next week), we learned things like CBC must absorb 650 job cuts and documentary production will suffer significant funding reductions.
ReimagineCBC.ca, a community of Canadians involved in a project to help the CBC take advantage of the opportunities in the new digital era, is reacting strongly to these cuts.
We are in a moment where digital technologies are opening up exciting opportunities for interactivity, participation and innovation in the media industries. They are helping us tell new stories and encouraging us to connect old ones in new ways. Because of their mandate to serve citizens first, public media organizations like the CBC are in a unique position to make the most of this moment of transformation. Today more than ever, big ideas coupled with stable long-term funding hold out the promise of building a vibrant future for public media in Canada.
And yet, in this budget, we're seeing steep cuts to precisely those areas where the greatest opportunities for growth and evolution reside -- regional services, engaging documentary production, in-depth reporting and comprehensive news gathering.
That's why at Reimagine CBC, we're committed to using this moment of potential crisis as an opportunity for creative intervention. In the weeks leading up to the budget announcement, we collected nearly 30,000 signatures for our Keep Canada Connected petition, calling for a halt to severe reductions to the CBC's funding. Now we're focused on moving that energy to the streets with a new poster campaign that has Canadians from across the country taking their support for the CBC directly to MPs.
Polls consistently show that Canadians support the idea of a well-funded public media alternative. Now is the time to turn up the pressure on policy makers and show them that we won't accept further cuts to the institution that connects us as a nation.
Of course, we're not naïve. It will be impossible for the CBC to swallow cuts this severe without scaling back the services Canadians care about. A 10 per cent reduction to an already chronically underfunded institution is going to hurt our news services, Canadian content, and digital economy, no matter how the CBC attempts to absorb it.
But given that the cuts are set to be rolled out over three years, we now have an exciting and critical opportunity to build support for our public media landscape. We're going to make a strong stand against the worst of the cuts by building a community focused on developing creative solutions to the challenges the CBC faces. The Reimagine CBC community will continue to work to help the CBC take advantage of the opportunities offered by a new age, and thrive into the future.