Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

A committee of experts will ensure the “sustainability” of CBC/Radio-Canada

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Invited to “Everybody talks about it”, the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St-Onge reacted to the budget cuts announced by CBC/Radio-Canada.

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The federal government will establish , over the coming months, a committee of experts to “think about the future” of CBC/Radio-Canada and ensure the “sustainability” of the public broadcaster.

This was announced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, in an interview with Everyone is talking about it this Sunday, invited to react to the budget cuts announced this week by the state corporation.

That is part of my mandate letter to reflect on the future of the public broadcaster. We modernized the broadcasting law, and the next step is really CBC/Radio-Canada. We will announce how we will work with the committee of experts, said Minister St-Onge.

The public will also be consulted on the sidelines of this committee of experts, she assures.

Advertising revenue, unfortunately, is going more and more to the web giants. We are increasingly saying to ourselves: what does CBC/Radio-Canada look like in the 21st century, with all these platforms? How can we ensure that in the long term, [the company] will be viable and that it will be able to provide services to all of Canada?

A quote from Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

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The committee of experts will wonder, among other things, whether the state-owned company should completely withdraw from the advertising market, as suggested by Quebec Minister of Culture, Mathieu Lacombe.

The committee's announcement comes after CBC/Radio-Canada announced on Monday that it would cut 600 jobs and eliminate 200 vacant positions over the next 12 months , or almost 10% of its workforce.

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CBC/Radio-Canada is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

CBC/Radio-Canada cites structural factors such as declining television advertising revenues and fierce competition from digital giants to justify its cuts, estimated at nearly $125 million for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

The minister says she was not surprised by the cuts hitting the public broadcaster, given the media crisis observed for at least a decade.

Faced with the crisis shaking the media industry, the minister assures that her government will continue to work to ensure that it has a strong public broadcaster from one end of the country to the other . We have always been convinced of the importance of the public broadcaster for democratic life.

In the latest Freeland budget, Ottawa requested budget cuts of 3.3% from all crown corporations and federal departments.

CBC/Radio-Canada management indicated this week that such a 3.3% cut will represent $11 million as early as 27 ;next year and that the target will rise to 38 million in three years.

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Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said on Monday that she was “fully committed” to CBC/Radio-Canada.

Earlier this week, Pascale St-Onge seemed to multiply the signals indicating that CBC/Radio-Canada could be exempted, or even partially exempted, from this federal budgetary effort.

Sunday evening, on Everybody talks about it, Ms. St-Onge reaffirmed that no final decision had been made on whether CBC/Radio-Canada should bend to such compressions.

We are currently in the responsible exercise of government. Everyone sees the tax situation we are in. [We have to] look at our expenses. This is an exercise that CBC/Radio-Canada was also asked to do, but no, the final decision has not been made.

A quote from Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage< /blockquote>

The minister therefore leaves a door open, maintaining that there is no intention to jeopardize an organization like CBC/Radio-Canada. On the contrary, our government invested massively in the public broadcaster after the cuts by Stephen Harper's government. And we will continue to be there to support the public broadcaster.

Voices were raised in Quebec this week to denounce the cuts which are affecting equals the English and French services of CBC/Radio-Canada, while the French market shares of the public broadcaster are much higher. In fact, 500 jobs will be cut equally by CBC and Radio-Canada.

On the subject of the distribution of cuts, the minister avoided commenting, but she invites management to answer the legitimate questions raised by this decision.

It is up to the management of CBC/Radio-Canada to answer [the questions] and 'be accountable to the Canadian public.

A quote from Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

The minister recalled that the public broadcaster is independent. Anything that concerns internal management and the budget, the government, we don't get involved. It's important to keep an arm's length.

Ms. St-Onge still maintained that the public broadcaster should continue its mandate to defend the French language in Quebec. Also, we must not forget that there are plenty of French-speaking minorities outside of Quebec.

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Catherine Tait in interview with CBC, Monday

The Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage unanimously agreed Thursday to convene the president of the public broadcaster, Catherine Tait, to explain the cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada. The committee wants to hear from Ms. Tait at its first meeting in 2024, after the holiday break, but no date has yet been set for that meeting.

With information from The Canadian Press

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