Erin O’Toole must not be a fan of Schitt’s Creek. As part of his bid for Canada’s top job, the Conservative Party leader has pledged to defund the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) — an unnecessary action that will eliminate a vital platform for producing and broadcasting unique, Canadian content.
At the annual Emmy Awards on September 20, Schitt’s Creek won a Schitt-ton of awards. The timing couldn’t have been better. The Canadian sitcom, which premiered originally on CBC Television, swept the American award show in a fitting response to O’Toole and his assertion that CBC English TV is no longer needed.
O’Toole states that defunding the CBC will save taxpayers billions of dollars. He iterates that the CBC News Network channel is no different from private sector competitors, and that CBC Digital is a competitor and a threat to local newspapers. He promises to cut funding to CBC English TV and News Network by 50 per cent.
Privately funded producers are less willing to take risks; in order to ensure revenue, new production choices are based on what sells.
CBC Television, however, is the most prominent producer of original Canadian content and one of the few media producers in Canada with the scope to influence mainstream success. Without the support of CBC Television, it would be difficult for programs such as Schitt’s Creek to get off the ground. Elimination of CBC Television would only increase the appeal of American producers, further increasing the volume of content by Canadian artists that is produced across the border.
As a publicly funded entity, CBC Television maintains a commitment to reflect the diversity of Canadian voices. The CBC production Kim’s Convenience exemplifies that providing a platform for new voices equates success and is necessary to accurately reflect Canada’s cultural landscape.
Privately funded producers are less willing to take risks; in order to ensure revenue, new production choices are based on what sells. Content is produced based on past success, not on innovation or platforms for new voices.
A cut to CBC News Network may save the taxpayer a few dollars. It will result in the taxpayer being less informed. CBC News Network is an essential platform for providing Canadians with news stories from across the country and across the globe.
Staples of CBC News Network include investigative journalism stories and current affairs programming. One such example is the CBC investigation that exposed the sandwich chain Subway for utilizing a chicken product that contains only 50 per cent chicken DNA.
As Canadians the CBC is our voice, founded on the principle of keeping a growing influence of American culture at bay.
O’Toole has made clear his priority to fully privatize the CBC by the end of his first mandate. With a privatized CBC, relying on ad revenue, it is unlikely that Canadians will continue to see this style of investigative journalism.
O’Toole claims that defunding the CBC is simply an attempt at modernization. This modernization strategy, however, consists of ending funding to CBC Digital while maintaining CBC Radio. Although CBC Radio is popular, it was considered modern when finding a nickel on the ground was a big deal.
In the midst of a pandemic, making cuts to arts, culture, and media is kicking the industry while it is down. As Canadians, the CBC is our voice, founded on the principle of keeping a growing influence of American culture at bay.
We must have a voice for our voice; consider how a privatized CBC will impact you and the people you know, and keep this in mind when you head to the polls.