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CBC pulling out of smaller centres

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CBC pulling out of smaller centres

CBC Radio journalist Kathleen Petty made a penetrating observation this morning during her on-air interview with James Moore, the federal cabinet minister responsible for broadcasting: "I went through the [local TV] stations that Global and CTV are closing or selling," Petty said, "and then the CBC has reduced operations in places like Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Quebec City, Moncton, Saint John, Sydney, Cornerbrook, Labrador --- Gander and Grand Falls." Petty paused to let that long list sink in, then made her point: "We're turning into a country of big city broadcasting."

"It's a concern of Canadians and it's true," Moore responded. "But I think you have to look at the entire spectrum because if you're just looking at television and radio, which is what that list describes, but I think if you're looking at media content, you have to add in the Internet." Moore's answer was a diversionary tactic designed to shift the focus away from the fact that local news sources are quickly disappearing. He went on to spout even more nonsense about the promise of new technologies. "I'm an optimist. I think this is actually an incredible opportunity for Canada who has always led the way, if you look at BlackBerry and RIM and LIONSGATE productions and new media. We have the capacity to lead the way in this country with new technologies that will allow people more choice, more freedom and how they want to live their lives and how they want to consume their media."

Unfortunately, Moore's inanities seemed to satisfy Petty who has lived for many years in big cities such as Ottawa and Calgary, not in the smaller centres she listed. Centres such as Moncton and Saint John, for example where the penny-pinching Irvings dominate both the local economy and the media landscape. She should have asked Moore why the Harperites aren't willing to spend part of the government's stimulus package on preserving local CBC coverage in the places that need it most. She also let Moore get away with the spurious claim that the feds are funding CBC generously. As the Commons Heritage Committee pointed out last year, Canada ranks third from the bottom of 18 Western industrialized countries in its funding for public broadcasting. Only New Zealand and the U.S. rank lower. The Committee pointed out that the average government public broadcasting subsidy is $80 per capita, while the CBC receives only $33.

After Petty suggested the government couldn't afford to give CBC more money, Moore got even more carried away declaring that he "absolutely" believes in the CBC. "Sometimes when I, as a government, you go to these far-reaching places, tiny communities of 2,500 people in the middle of nowhere where they have one store and one gas station and nothing for hundreds of kilometres and a CBC reporter shows up to be the person who reports to the citizens what you're in town for. That's a very valuable thing and um, it shouldn't be lost."

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Topics: Media
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