Saturday, September 10, 2011

Canadian Money Well Spent?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has outlived its usefulness and its worth in our media industry. People will argue that the CBC is a necessity to sustain a viable amount of Canadian programming to be made available to Canadians... but at what cost to us?
The CBC receives around $1.1 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) from our pockets every year to fund its programming... and not very good programming at that. Yes, there are many people that watch CBC or listen to CBC Radio, but I am not one of them (never have). In fact, most people I’ve talked to don’t either. So, where’s the worth?
I’m sure the $1.1 billion of taxpayer money allocated to the CBC could be put to much better use across Canada: Education funding is hurting to the point that many school districts have had to lay off teachers and support workers to make their budgets balance (yet, today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders); health care across Canada is barley keeping its head above water (but I guess ensuring Canadian content is more important than ensuring healthy Canadians); and the homeless population across the county keeps on growing (but they don’t have television or radio anyways).
In addition to its programming and broadcasting, the CBC has additional ‘side’ ventures it uses to generate revenue but will not release just how much. In fact, there are many things the CBC won’t release. I have read numerous articles from different news agencies about attempts under the Access to Information Act to acquire documentation from the CBC regarding various topics—including, but not limited to, its earnings and expenditures; unfortunately, most of these requests have often lead to nothing. Even though, according to Section 4 of the Act, any Canadian Citizen has the right to access government records, including those of Crown Corporations, so why hasn’t any of the CBC’s records been released to the public? A lower court has even ordered the CBC to release its spending reports (based on a submitted request), but it is appealing the ruling and have vowed to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, if need be. The really perverse thing is that we, the taxpayers, are the ones paying for the CBC’s appeals. Our money is funding the CBC’s fight to keep information from us that we have a right to know! It really makes you wonder what it is it’s fighting so hard to keep secret?? If the CBC really has nothing to hide, then releasing its spending/earnings documents shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Not only does the CBC spend our tax money, hide how much it makes, and not tell us where the money is actually going, but it seems to think it is ‘above the law.’ As of August 31, 2011, all Canadian broadcasters were ordered by the CRTC to cease transmission of all analog signals. The transmission of “over-the-air” television is to be only digital as of September 1, 2011. All broadcasters knew this change was coming for years, and broadcasters have complied with the order and have switched the signals to digital... all but one. The CBC applied to the CRTC for an extension and was granted a 1-year extension over the deadline and is still fighting for a longer grace period (something else we are undoubtedly paying for). Really? The CBC’s argument is that it cannot afford to change all of its transmitters from analog to digital—it just doesn’t have the money to do it. Um... what about the $1.1 billion it got this year? Where’s all that money? Oh, wait... we don’t know. Honestly, do you think if any one of the private broadcasting companies were to apply for an extension based on the fact that money was short, it would have been granted? Not likely. The broadcasters would have simply been told the change has been coming for years, and the deadline will be enforced.
Even thought the CBC is owned by the Canadian Government, it should act and be treated like any other company, organization, or business. If it can’t sustain itself then it should close up shop. All other television and radio stations have to live by the ‘golden rule’ of business—make a profit or no longer operate. Private broadcasters don’t get ‘free’ money from the tax payers—nor should they. The CBC should NOT either. Whether public or private, if the revenue generated does not meet or exceed the expenditures, then it is not a very feasible company, is it? If the CBC cannot bring in sufficient revenue, we (the taxpayers) should NOT have to make up its alleged shortfall. It should just close the doors, turn off the lights, and cut to ‘snow’—because I’m tired of my hard-earned money going to fund something as useless and money draining as the CBC.
But that’s just me...

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