Conservative Attack Zone: Target the CBC

The CBC will soon be the target of an aggressive disinformation campaign by the Conservative Party. The main strategy: have Canadians do a spittake when they learn the CBC costs them one billion dollars a year.

To pre-empt some of the disinformation that will be circulated along with this attack, I thought it would be valuable for Canadians to put the cost of the CBC in perspective.

Proportion of annual federal expenditures: 0.428 %
($1,074 m of $250,860 m)

Cost of CBC per capita: $31.23 per year or less than 9 cents a day
($1,074 m per 34.39 m Canadians)

Cost of servicing the national debt per capita: $881 per year or $2.41 a day
($30,300 m per 34.39 m Canadians)

I took a look at how spending on the CBC has changed over the last five years, and I selected a few other government programs for comparison.

Even the most partisan Conservative can see that while the government is calling for public broadcaster blood in the name of budget cutting, the security apparatus of the government has enjoyed dramatic increases in funding. The military, border security agency, and intelligence agency all received dramatic funding increases of over 40%, and correctional services expenditures increased a whopping 74% while CBC's funding declined slightly.

During this period, CBC rolled out extensive web-streaming services, podcasting, a third radio network, and still preserved an actual news-gathering organization, not mere infotainment punditry.

The real agenda here is not cost-cutting, or value for Canadian taxpayers–they're already getting that. What's really going on is that the government wants to neutralize the public broadcaster:
Public broadcasters are frequently the target of Conservatives because they consume public funds and they speak the truth. And as Stephen Colbert observed, "reality has a well-known liberal bias." (at 6:38)


Anonymous said...

A family of four pays $130/yr for one lousy channel in a 500 channel universe. It is a waste.

The mililtary endured more than a decade of deep cuts annually before the gov't realized it was inadequate.

The CBC like every other branch of the gov't should be open to scrutiny. They don't have to reveal much of their spending.This kind of mentality led to adscam.

Anonymous said...

The United States is now starting to move away from the mandatory-minimums ideology that the Conservatives are now embracing. That is one reason their penal system costs them so much. We are just simply ten-to-fifteen years behind them.

As regards the CBC and public broadcasting in general, small-C conservatives on both sides of the border take aim at it precisely because they disagree with the concept of paying for something they don't like, agree with, or want. They must be able to constantly control their message for the people to continue to support them, and that is a message best left to the private sector.

They are playing the intelligentsia off against the "normal people", hoping that votes are a sufficient substitute for informed and reasoned thought. As I read in an article recently, arguing against them with facts actually plays into their hands and reinforces their support. In the battle of ideology v. Fact, ideology must always triumph. That seems to be their philosophy (cf. The long-form census decision). Facts just get in the way of advancement of ideology.

We need a well-funded public broadcaster to stand as a bulwark against the plethora of private broadcasters, both foreign and domestic, and ensure Canadian content is produced. "Market forces," convinced the private sector to spend in excess of $600-million on foreign -- mostly American -- programming this year. When confronted by the CRTC over this in 2010, their response was "no one will watch Canadian shows." That no one will watch them is a self-perpetuating argument when the private broadcasters won't produce them, preferring instead to import programming. This, folks, is called circular logic. "We won't make any because no one will watch them" is followed, inevitably, by "no one watches them because there are none to watch." And the capital outflow to foreign markets continues.

Finally, as to the government? Well, it is true that the people get the government they deserve. Nothing more, nothing less.

igm said...

Ah yes, the adscam bogeyman gets trotted out. How predictable. So easy to remember that transgression and yet completely ignore the transgressions of a sitting Minister, Tony Clement and his $50 m slush fund.

The family of four gets Radio One, Radio Two, CBC Television, CBC Newsworld, Radio3, all the video content on demand online, live from any time zone in Canada, as podcasts from the iTunes store for free, as Kady O'Malley's stream-of-consciousness twitter feed, and on and on. The radio is commercial free and coast-to-coast. That's a good deal for $11 a month.

What do you want to know about CBC's books that you are prevented from finding out?

Louise said...

Anonymous said...

"A family of four pays $130/yr for one lousy channel in a 500 channel universe."

Indeed. In this, the age of New Media, and the multi-channel universe, it's very hard to justify expenditure on a public broadcaster, but lets be realistic about who is paying.

Roughly half of our population actually pays taxes - that is doesn't get a nice refund once a year. Folks like babies and children in school, post-secondary students and people, like seniors, on fixed or very low incomes, normally don't pay taxes to the Feds. So the per capita amount that goes towards the CBC is much higher than an across the board amount per person in Canada.

The people who actually do pay taxes (roughly half the population) are paying for all the above named classes of people who don't pay. To express CBC funding as a per capita without taking into account the 50% of the population that doesn't pay is misleading and disingenuous.