Public Policy Forum report – A welcome contribution to discussions on the future of Canadian culture

January 26, 2017

CBC/Radio-Canada welcomes the Public Policy Forum’s contribution to the government’s public consultation on strengthening Canadian content in a digital world. We are pleased to have been able to participate and contribute our views, both in the discussions which have led to today’s report, as well as in our own submission:

We continue to believe that the focus of this work must be on the needs of Canadians. How do we ensure they continue to get the news and information they trust? How do we strengthen our culture so that it supports Canadian identity, the Canadian economy, and helps share Canada’s story with the world. We will be reviewing carefully how the Public Policy Forum’s recommendations might help do this.

The report recognizes the vital role CBC/Radio-Canada plays in informing Canadians. We agree this is an important part of the public broadcasting mandate. So is providing Canadians with programming that enlightens and entertains. We champion culture, promote Canadian talent, and support Canadian identity.

The report’s recommendation that CBC/Radio-Canada make its news content freely available for use by others under a digital Creative Commons license needs further study, particularly given the growing concern over the accuracy and behavior of some online sites. Canadians need to know they can trust the integrity of CBC/Radio-Canada journalism.

The report’s recommendation that CBC/Radio-Canada receive funding to remove digital advertising is an important start to this discussion, but it is a half measure. In our proposal we recommended the government develop a cohesive cultural investment strategy and that CBC/Radio-Canada remove advertising from ALL of its platforms. That way it could become a better supporter of Canadian culture, similar to what the BBC did for the UK’s “Creative Britain” success. In order to play that key role, CBC/Radio-Canada has proposed increasing its funding by $12 per Canadian.

Removing only digital advertising would mean CBC/Radio-Canada would still be a competitor for advertising revenue on other platforms which would limit its ability to partner with other organizations. Also, because modern advertising is sold in bundles including both digital and television, partially removing ads would hurt overall revenue.

Increasing funding and removing all advertising from CBC/Radio-Canada would bring economic benefits to the entire country. It would create a net total GDP gain of $488M, a total labour income impact of $355M, and create 7200 additional jobs in Canada. Finally, approximately $158M or 2/3rds of CBC/Radio-Canada’s current advertising revenue would flow to other Canadian media. Being ad-free would also allow CBC/Radio-Canada to put more emphasis on its public service mandate.

We believe a new cultural investment policy framework will have tremendous benefits for Canadians. We look forward to continuing the discussion about the future with Canadians.

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. We are Canada’s trusted source of news, information and Canadian entertainment. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also provide international news and information from a uniquely Canadian perspective.

Follow us on Twitter: @CBCRadioCanada

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