Saturday, 31 May 2014

Time for the Government to Offload the CBC From Taxpayers

Recently, I received an e-mail from the Conservative Party complaining against CBC media bias against them and asking for a donation.  I do agree that the CBC has a left-wing bias and I don't like it one bit.  The CBC is funded by all Canadian tax payers of all political stripes to the tune of around one billion dollars a year, so when I see my tax dollars used by the public broadcaster to shore up the cheerleading squad for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, it drives me nuts.  That being said, I think the CBC's bias is simply a product of human nature.  The folks in the corporation know who supports them and who doesn't, so its only natural that they would support the Liberals and sometimes the NDP, because they know that with either of these parties in power, their budget will likely grow.  They also know that under a Conservative government, their budget will shrink, as it already has under the current government.  It's simply a matter of CBC staff trying to protect their jobs, and I certainly can't blame them for that.

Don't get me wrong, I actually like the CBC, or at least some of its programming.  I love Hockey Night in Canada and I'm a regular viewer of The National.  I also love watching Kevin O'Leary on Dragon's Den as well as the occasional documentary program.  And we all know how good CBC documentaries can be.  The problem is that the best days of the CBC are long gone.  The public broadcaster suffers from low ratings and has just recently been hit with the biggest bombshell of all: the impending loss of its hockey revenue after Rogers bought the rights to all of Canada's hockey broadcasts.  Without hockey, it is very unlikely that the CBC can survive, let alone thrive, unless it receives additional financial support from taxpayers.  But inasmuch as I and many others admire what the CBC does, I believe that our hard-earned tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere.

I just think that the CBC's estimated billion dollar budget should go towards more important things, like health care and education.  A billion dollars can buy a lot of great things, like hospital beds and MRI machines.  It could pay the salaries of more family doctors, which are hard to find nowadays.  Or perhaps we could use the money to help more university and college students pay their tuition.  Basically, what I'm saying is that the federal government should spend our tax dollars on things like schools and hospitals, instead of George Stromboulopoulos and Heartland.

But what should be done with the CBC if the feds decide at some point to offload it in favour of bigger priorities?  The first thought that comes to mind is privatization.  The government would surely get a big, one-time financial boon for selling the public broadcaster, and I'm sure that the big boys at Rogers and Bell Media would be more than interested (as if our media isn't concentrated enough already).  But outright privatization isn't the only option.  Another way for the government to offload the CBC is to have the corporation adopt a PBS-style model in which the broadcaster would rely on donations from its viewers to keep it afloat.  I kind of like this idea because it will force supporters of Canadian broadcasting to put their money where their mouths are and pony up for the programming that they feel so passionate about without making the rest of us taxpayers do so.

The CBC is indeed a national institution, but it has run its course in its current form, and it is ludicrous for the folks in the federal government to keep telling voters that they can't afford to help the provinces pay for things like prescription drugs and financial assistance for indebted students because they need to keep paying Peter Mansbridge's salary.  Whether the CBC is privatized or left to its supporters to pay for, the feds should offload the public broadcaster from the backs of Canadian taxpayers as soon as possible. 

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