LETTER: Report examines the role of the CBC

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A new study published last month by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy shows that technology, not budget cuts or political interference, is driving change at CBC.

letter to the editor

Changing technology is affecting all broadcasters, not just CBC. 

Industry experts and commentators agree and they have been suggesting interesting and radical solutions.

In “The Role of the CBC – Technology is Driving Change,” I examine the changes facing the broadcasting system and their impact on the CBC. 

On-line video growth is eroding revenue for both private and public broadcasters and ending growth for cable and satellite video distributors. 

Many viewers prefer to select their own programming on-line when they want to watch it instead of having a cable company or a broadcaster make the decision for them.

Important events such as the CBC’s loss of Hockey Night in Canada to Rogers and recently announced layoffs highlight the trend away from the traditional broadcasting system. 

Some commentators call the traditional system “appointment TV” because viewers are tied to a schedule. Former CRTC commissioner Tim Denton calls it “Broccoli TV.” Watch it because it is good for you. 

The elaborate set of rules that supports and promotes Canadian programming content in general and the CBC in particular is bypassed by on-line video.

The study looks at several solutions that have been proposed by commentators, some at recent Senate Committee Hearings, and examines the two broad categories of proposed solution: narrowing the CBC mandate, and finding new revenue.

The current CBC mandate is very wide. The CBC airs news, weather and sports nationally and locally, children’s programming, regional interest programming, drama, comedy and variety. It also benefits, as do the private broadcasters, from U.S. programming that generates significant amounts of advertising revenue. 

The study concludes that if Canadians want to keep the CBC, Canadian programming and the industry that has developed to produce it, we need to accept the need for a television licence fee or a distribution tax. 

This is the solution adopted by many other countries where the advertising market is too small to support national programming.

To read the full report, vist: https://www.fcpp.org/posts/the-role-of-the-cbc

— Roland Renner is with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and is president of Renner Associates Consulting Ltd. He can be reached by email at the following: rrenner@globisdata.ca

Organizations: CBC, CRTC, Senate Committee Hearings Frontier Centre for Public Policy Renner Associates Consulting

Geographic location: Canada, U.S.

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