Despite an expected funding cut of between five and 10 per cent to the public broadcaster in next spring’s federal budget, the recent expansion of radio service here will not be directly affected, says the head of the CBC.
Hubert Lacroix, who was in Kelowna Wednesday as part of a Western Canada tour of CBC station offices and the communities they serve, told the Capital News any cuts that have to be made will be done outside of the resources being used for the four-year plan that included creation of Radio West, a new afternoon radio show out of Kelowna that started last week, and the anticipated start of new morning show out of Kamloops next year.
“We will trim around the edges,” said Lacroix, adding it is not his intention to curtail the plan that will also see new regional radio shows in Kitchener-Waterloo and London, Ont., Rimouski in Que., and the addition of evening television news broadcasts on the weekends in Edmonton, Ottawa, and St. John’s.
Noting the plan, dubbed Everyone, Every Way, is being funded through existing CBC resources, the president and CEO of the corporation said there are seven million Canadians are either not served or underserved by the public broadcaster across this country.
“You cannot be a public broadcaster without being deeply in the regions,” said Lacroix.
The CBC currently receives $1.1 billion in funding from the federal government and has to raise an additional $700,000 in revenue itself to meet its budget.
Lacroix argues that in order to meet the expectations of the government and Canadians that a public broadcaster should-accessibility and, in the words of the Broadcasting Act “to inform, enlighten and entertain,”— CBC needs the money it receives.
And despite criticism often leveled at it because of the public money it gets, Lacroix has no problem defending the CBC’s operations, noting the high level of Canadian programming it airs, the $3.7 it generates for every $1 in funding received and the quality of the programming it produces.
But funding the CBC on 12-month cycle makes it difficult to plan for the future, he said. That is why he is calling on the government to commit to longer-term funding.
“How can you run a $1.7 billion company on a 12-month cycle?” he asked.
As part of Lacroix’s visit here, he planed to meet with local leaders in the community to learn how the CBC is perceived.
Recently, the Kelowna CBC bureau held an open house—one of 32 across the country—and hundreds showed up. To him that is an indication of the level of support it has in the community.
He noted in Montreal 12,000 people showed up to the open house there and lined in the rain to get in.
“I think that shows how Canadians feel about us,” he said.