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General · 1st February 2012
Robyn Budd
Last night I got an automated phone call from Ian Morrison of Friends of the CBC. Usually I deep-six such calls almost on principle, but this one had my full attention. Morrison's message was simple: Prime Minister Harper is set to slash CBC's budget (yes, again) by the staggering sum of a hundred million dollars – despite the PM's election promise that the national broadcaster would not be affected by cuts.

With their phone call, Friends of CBC made it easy for recipients to send a message to their Member of Parliament. In our case, that's John Duncan. Friends of CBC asked that we keep our message to him brief, polite, and to the point: that we expect him, as our elected MP, to work to uphold the election promises of Stephen Harper with regards to the CBC; and that we request a call-back if we leave a voicemail message. (I haven't received a call-back yet, even though I clearly requested one.)

So if you value the CBC's commitment to non-partisan news coverage, regional inclusivity, and nation-wide cultural expression, please call Mr Duncan's office and leave a message!

Here are his coordinates:
Toll free in BC: 1-800-667-8404
Courtenay office: (250) 338-9381
Email: john.duncanparl.gc.ca


Want more background info? Here's an article by Andrew Reeves in Digital Journal:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is bracing for upwards of $100 million in service cuts from their $1.1 billion annual budget. The expected move has many people questioning the government's commitment to public broadcasting.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s national public broadcaster, is being told to brace for cuts of upwards of $100M. The annual budget for the CBC – including all radio, television, and online programming for both English and French Canada – is $1.1B.
Proposals are being requested from the government as to what a service cut of 5-10 per cent would look like across the board. All government bodies and crown corporations are being asked to contemplate deep cuts, and the CBC is no exception, alleges the Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.

According to the Toronto Sun, Moore claimed that "everyone has to do its part, which means CBC has to do its part as well.”

The service cut requests are coming in the midst of a strategic and operational review, currently being undertaken by the Conservative government, in the hopes of finding $4B in savings by 2014 to fight the deficit.

However, many people are questioning the Conservative’s commitment to the nation’s public broadcaster. After winning a majority government in May, 2011, James Moore stated publicly that while reducing the deficit was important, the CBC could expect to be exempt from such cuts.

The Vancouver Sun reports Moore arguing in May that "we believe in the national public broadcaster." Moore adds "we have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and we will commit to that."

The difference is stark between the post-election Heritage Minister who spoke out in support of maintaining funding levels for the CBC, and the Heritage Minister of today who argues the CBC deserves no special treatment.

In the Vancouver Sun: "James Moore has been as articulate defending public broadcasting as anybody I know," says Ian Morrison, spokesman for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an advocacy group that calls itself a watchdog for Canadian programming. But he quickly adds: "There's more than one James Moore. He's a hydra-headed creature."

Where this leaves programming funding for the CBC is anyone’s guess, although all signs point to drastic reductions. Currently, the broadcaster is appealing a court decision that requires the release of spending documents, a costly battle over the right of the public broadcaster to keep private details of how money is allocated internally.
Yet "in the campaign, we said we're going to balance the budget," Moore claims in the Vancouver Sun, "and we're going to do so responsibly."
"We're going to keep our word and the CBC has to be part of that."
And for the CBC, at least there is less uncertainty over which James Moore they will deal with in coming months.