Cut Paper, Not Jobs at CBC
By Cassandra Ly, Grade 10
Each country has its own diverse culture and unique national treasures that hold history and stories; Egypt has its pyramids, England has its crown Jewels, and in Canada – our treasures are what make up the backbone of our country. One of those treasures includes our media broadcasting station, CBC. It is one of Canada’s most popular public broadcasters with its bilingual radio and television services. Currently, CBC is suffering from a hectic situation of planning 800 job-cuts this summer due to the nation’s recession resulting in the economy entering into a state of debt. However, a few private networks including CTV and CanWest have been reported to be excused by the government. As opposed to public broadcasting who obtains all funds from the public; including donations, specific taxes, and funding from the government. Since this is so, public broadcasters are known as “non-commercial” networks that air more educational programs and documentaries that are deemed ‘less attractive’ to the mass market, such as The Passionate Eye and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
CBC is Canada’s “pillar of public-interest journalism” and they’re focused on educating viewers and listeners on social issues, politics, multi-culturalism, and world news. With at least 393 cuts at CBC, 336 at Radio-Canada, and 70 corporate positions, approximately $171 million will be cut from the budget. This will result in downsizing their radio staff from nine to three, afternoon newscasts, and collapsing regional programs into a national one. CBC currently has 8,357 employees, down 2,306 positions from 10,663 employees in 1995. CBC television will definitely start to feel the effects of the massive layoffs more and more. By 2010, dramas, music, news, current affairs, and special event programs will be reduced and replaced with more re-runs. These changes will definitely impact marketing budgets, production techniques, and general spending; such as travelling expenses. Critics are accusing the Conservative Party of using the recession as an excuse to stab the CBC.
According to the Canadian Media Guild, Marc-Phillipe Laurin, CBC’s branch president stated that the grand number of job-cuts could have been evaded if CBC’s management’s request was answered by the government for “bridge financing” (An emergency loan). Stephen Harper has told the Commons of his concerns on job-cuts; however, he did not step forward in providing emergency funding for CBC. On top of the current situation, Canadians have also expressed their thoughts on the lack of action surrounding CBC’s situation; some have been supportive and others very much against it. Supporters have argued that CBC’s shows and radio programming are dull and boring, overexposing and exaggerating social issues. Opponents have responded by saying that CBC has provided viewers and listeners with great “Canadian content and news” from government issues to even sports updates.
CBC’s survival on Canadian television is crucial as their informative shows and raw-edged documentaries cannot be compared to any other broadcaster on the TV network. Without them, people will not be informed about the horrific genocide in Darfur, or that our society is still very much racist towards Natives and Indians, or that plastic has become a new addiction. Will people hear about these issues anywhere else? It’s definitely rare, as private broadcasters air shows, dramas, and or sitcoms to “entertain” audiences, rather than to “educate” them. CBC opens viewers and listeners to a whole new world of understanding which allows them to be aware of what’s really happening in the world. So, what are we to do? We must encourage organizations that are fighting for CBC, such as Avaaz (Avaaz.org); let others know about the situation, sign petitions, and hope that CBC will receive the help that they need, as we must protect one of our national treasures.