Quebecor and the Conservatives Work to Break Down CBC on Unfair Grounds

CBC president Hubert Lacroix

CBC president and CEO Hubert Lacroix.

By: Melanie Anderson

Over the past week the CBC has been criticized for denying information requests, of one-sided coverage, and being unworthy of our taxpayers’ dollars.  The critics? Media conglomerate Quebecor and the Conservative government.  The underlying motive? Profit. So, what else is new?

The broadcasting battle, a “wringing” of wordy laundry between CBC and Montréal-based Quebecor, hit the spin cycle this week. These two competitive giants resorted to duking it out, each publishing communiqués stating critical observations to and about each other.

In the past the CBC has consistently retained its classy stance by neglecting to respond to repeated accusations from Quebecor in its attempts to tear down CBC’s reputation and ultimately take a greater piece of the Canadian broadcasting pie.  The CBC has gone along its merry professional way, opting to withhold any retort. The company has confidently adhered to reporting requirements, and most likely considered the petty accusations from Quebecor not worthy of response. However, continued rants about lack of disclosure of public fund expenditures have been at the forefront of this storm and have encouraged CBC to stand its ground publicly.

A Question of Funding

This time both companies have not backed down when accused of neglecting to openly report their expenditures of public funds — our taxpayer dollars, and have formally made it known what the various issues are between them. In a nutshell, Quebecor has accused CBC of withholding and distorting financial information. The CBC has countered clearly by openly listing its numerous reporting avenues for detailing its budget expenditures as it always has been.

In rebuttal, the CBC revealed several claims about Quebecor’s defamatory campaign

Quebecor CEO Karl Péladeau

Quebecor CEO Karl Péladeau defending Quebecor's right to probe the CBC in parliament.

against them on their website.  They revealed that Quebecor has received more than half a billion dollars subsidized by our taxpayer dollars over the past three years, but is not accountable to them.  The description also states that Quebecor “uses this public subsidy and its dominant position in protected industries to make record profits yet complains that its TVA television network “competes” against Radio-Canada.”

But CBC isn’t only under fire from Quebecor. Last week during a parliamentary committee meeting, CBC was forced to defend its economic value and societal relevance.  Some Conservative MPs questioned CBC’s objectivity, and its worthiness of taxpayers’ dollars.  After promises from the Canadian government of support, the CBC may be facing budget cuts of up to $100 million.

How can you put a price on the benefits of promoting culture?

“Organizations like this are there not to make money, but to do cultural work.”

CBC, "bringing Canadians together" for 75 years.

CBC, "bringing Canadians together" for 75 years.

For over 70 years the CBC has provided a link between the French and English Canadians across the country.   As their 1977 slogan stated, their focus is: “Bringing Canadians Together.”

Tim Blackmore is a professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, and believes the Conservatives have a different agenda.

“The conservative governments in their last 30 years have targeted public corporations which have taken decades to build up as sort of cash-cows that they can either put to work to make money, or bend to the market rules – focusing only on what the market’s want.”

Canadians should focus more attention towards recognizing the merit our public broadcasters have presented to our country, because the CBC hasn’t been market driven or solely striving for popularity. Rather, it has expressed its freedom to focus on Canadian culture.

Blackmore recognizes the value in our public broadcaster.

“Organizations like this are there not to make money, but to do cultural work, and the thing about cultural work is that you can’t attach a dollar value to it immediately – ultimately it will be pay off.”

It seems what the Conservatives need is patience, and the ability to recognize that the CBC does have the ability to provide us with relevant, up-to-date content that is predominantly Canadian and appeals to a wide audience.

As Blackmore encourages:  “We need to bulk the CBC up not bring it down.”

For more information:

An article on the parliamentary hearings.

And here’s CBC laying the smack down on Quebecor.

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