Public Values

Hidden Agenda for Public Broadcasting

Gap grows between Conservative election policy and current stance.

Hidden Agenda for Public Broadcasting by Ian Morrison, Friends of Public Broadcasting

There is a huge and troubling gap between the 2006 election policy statements of Stephen Harper's Conservatives and their past comments on public broadcasting and cultural sovereignty. Since coming to power on February 6th, 2006, these contradictions have grown more pronounced.

The Conservative candidates' Pocket Policy Guide for the recent election states (on page 10): "Arts and culture make essential contributions to our national identity. A Conservative government will ensure that the CBC and Radio–Canada continue to perform their vital role as national public service broadcasters."

Yet, on January 3rd, 2006, the Conservative central campaign office in Ottawa sent the following message to Candidates advising them how to respond to FRIENDS supporters' e–mail questions: "We are to use this in response – it is a one size fits all response to broadcasting issues." That e–mail includes the following statements:

• "The CBC–SRC is an important part of the broadcasting system in Canada. It must be a true public service broadcaster, relevant to Canadians. The Conservative Party will focus the CBC–SRC services on its mandates as public broadcasting services."

• "Private sector broadcasters and service–providers first and foremost are businesses that must be able to compete in an ever–increasing fragmented and global market."

• "The CRTC's role in content regulation will be reduced to eliminate duplication where other legislation exists."

These three sentences threaten CBC's role in presenting the Olympics and professional sports (such as Hockey Night in Canada) as well as undermine the CRTC as a defender of minimum levels of Canadian programming in the radio and TV systems…

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting is an independent, Canada-wide, non-partisan voluntary organization whose mission is to defend and enhance the quality and quantity of Canadian programming. FRIENDS is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

Links and sources
  Friends of Public Broadcasting Briefing Note

Posted: April 01, 2008

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