Thursday, April 18, 2024

[Opinion] Radio Canada from one fiasco to another!

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
"Alcohol scholar. Twitter lover. Zombieaholic. Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic."

Clearly, the renewal of the broadcasting licenses for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (SRC), as proposed by CRTC in June, did not pass. Dozens of organizations have viewed this as major errors in the mission of the Public Broadcasting Corporation. Last Thursday, the Governor-General, in Council, called on the Radiocommunication Commission (CRTC) to reinstate its duties so that the national public broadcaster could “continue to make a significant contribution to the creation, presentation and dissemination of local news, children, and original French-language programs and programs produced by independent producers.”

This decision is something the Canadian production community can rejoice in, and we’re thrilled. However, it leaves private broadcasters empty-handed, as it does not address advertising revenue aggressively plagiarized by CBC for itself, nor the need to tighten CBC’s mandate to ensure that its programming is complementary to those of private companies. Essential to the Canadian audiovisual landscape ecosystem. However, we should worry about its sustainability. Canadian production has never been better off, and that’s okay.

The Canadian Heritage Minister is missing the perfect opportunity here to carry out the mandate entrusted to him by the Prime Minister, i.e. to grant “additional funding so that the public broadcaster is less dependent on private advertising, the goal being to ‘eliminate advertising during news and other public affairs programmes’,” he reads. In the letter of authorization from the Canadian Heritage Minister dated December 16, 2021. However, this is a necessary first step towards the complete elimination of advertising revenue from Crown.

For many years, Crown has completely strayed from the mandate set out in the Broadcasting Act. While SRC benefits from more than $1 billion in funding taken from the public treasury, SRC is acting more and more as a private broadcaster by competing for ratings and advertising dollars. To this increasingly deadly environment have been added globalized GAFAMs, which hunt and squash regional areas without even realizing it.

Is it necessary to remember that advertising is the only source of income for public television? By adding advertising revenue to its substantial public funding, and doing so without any accountability, SRC has financial means that no private company has. It allows it in particular to sell its ad space cheaply, an unfair competition that is close to “dumping” and only hastening the fall, or even disappearance, of private broadcasting companies.

Is it in the public interest, in the interest of Canadians, that CBC and foreign digital companies, in the long run, be their only sources of information and entertainment? Isn’t the task of the state, the government and the Committee on Information Transfer and Communications to protect the diversity of information sources? To ask a question, is to answer it.

Government inaction is seriously damaging the entire Canadian broadcasting system, particularly the private companies that form its pillars. In order to restore equilibrium, we must immediately eliminate the advertisements on the SRC platforms, as was the case for its radio several years ago, which is to the delight of listeners. Several other public broadcasters are in the same boat.

Let’s protect diversity and create public radio worthy of the name.

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