Monday, March 16, 2009

Trash the Ceeb

Lorne Gunter gets on a roll in this column for the National Post. Tear it all down
Would you favour hundreds of millions of your hard-earned dollars going to subsidize Crossroads Television System (CTS), the Christian service with stations in Ontario and Alberta? Or how about al-Jazeera, the English-language Arab station that now has a place in Canada's channel line-up? Neither is anymore overtly biased than the CBC is to the advancement and defence of its causes. So where is the justification in denying those stations subsidies while lavishing nearly one-third of Ottawa's cultural budget on a service that captures less than 8% of Canadian television viewers and just about the same number of radio listeners?

But that is looking at the question from the wrong end. Rather, I should have asked the following: If the proselytizing on CTS and al-Jazeera TV can survive without largesse from the public treasury, why shouldn't the CBC have to do the same?


For a long time the CBC has justified its huge annual federal gift because it sees itself as the vehicle through which Canadians tell one another their stories. If this pompous self-image were ever true (and I'm doubtful), it cannot possibly be true now with only one in 12 Canadians actually watching.

CBC TV no longer carries the two most distinctly Canadian sports events of the year -- the Grey Cup and the Brier -- and the world has not ended, the country's identity has not eroded. Its hockey coverage, arts programming and original drama and comedy could all be picked up by cable and digital services and no one would notice.

There is simply no way to argue that it is worth $1-billion to all Canadians to keep the CBC alive. The few people who like its programming may insist it is worth it, but why should their preferences be kept afloat by taxing the 11 of 12 Canadians whose viewing and listening habits aren't being subsidized?

As President Obabma said: "A crisis can be a great opportunity." Here's definately the case. With country in severe economic decline it makes less and less sense for average people to support the massive subsidies to the CBC.

Wouldn't it be nice to see subsidy bums like Jian Gameshi, Rick Mercer and George Stroumboulopoulos be forced to get real jobs?


  1. Dream on. I can`t think of one single government program that was ever declared redundant. In fact now the CRTC wants to tax internet users, and use the money to create a "CBC" of the Internet. The nightmare continues.

  2. True enough. CBC isn't going anywhere.