Thursday, January 22, 2009

CBC - Communist Broadcasting Corporation Part 1

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently celebrated 70 years of broadcasting, making it the oldest broadcasting service in Canada. It offers radio broadcasts, television series, National news, Foreign News as well as a comprehensive website available to all residents of Canada. While its basic package is “free”, it has also made strides into cable television, offering subscribers various television and radio options with additional features. Many have placed the CBC in the same category as the BBC, suggesting it has reached a dominating place in the broadcasting world. I write this piece with one thing in mind; to offer a view of the CBC that is rarely ever exhumed and discussed. The CBC is not just a broadcasting service but a dominating and powerful institution that has had a profound effect on Canadian politics, culture and society. While many may view this role as a positive, the reality that this piece will attempt to reveal involves a vehement scrutiny of this institution. This piece will focus on the negative influence the CBC has on Canadian society, its left wing political bias as well as the lack of accountability surrounding its financial structure.
Perhaps the best way to start would be to demonstrate how unique the CBC is in comparison to other public broadcasting services. The first troubling sign is how it receives the public funding it needs to survive. Unlike PBS in the United States, the CBC does not depend on personal contributions from its viewers; not directly anyway, this will be addressed shortly. Also unlike PBS, the CBC receives a massive amount of money from the Canadian government; more specifically they receive close to 1 billion dollars from tax payers which is essentially deposited into their account and left for them to do what they like with it. These financial statements are available for the public to see but they do not make it easy to obtain. One has to travel deep into their website to pull these PDF files from their system. Once these files are found, yet even more troubling signs can be revealed. While the CBC receives a massive influx of tax payer’s money every year, they also have advertisements which ensure even more financial contribution. When Canadians watch their beloved hockey games they are bombarded with commercials in between periods and referee stoppages. While they watch Tim Horton’s or Labatt Blue ads, they should come to the realization that their taxes are also being provided to the CBC. Even the BBC, to which our national broadcasting service is continuously compared to, has notable differences. The first is that while they also receive funding from the government, residents of Great Britain still need to pay a small charge in order to have access to BBC broadcasts. So theoretically, if someone does not want to contribute they do not need to. In Canada, no one has a say as to how the CBC is managed, how their money is spent or who gets hired and fired. Secondly, while the BBC has public funds at their disposal, they arguably put it to good use. The BBC has always had renowned and award winning television programs and series, notably Top Gear, a witty and intelligent program dedicated to the scrutiny of some of the worlds most expensive and luxurious automobiles. The show captures audiences and is consistently inviting celebrities, public figures and notable athletes to test drive their cars. In addition, notable shows like The Office, Couples and The Thick of It have all had success in Britain and in many other nations. The CBC on the other hand has had falling ratings for the last 5-10 years. Their television programs and series have not faired well in comparison to other Canadian networks and imported American television shows. That being said, it is close to impossible to justify the amount of money the CBC receives from the tax payers and to add insult to injury, the CBC has commonly held the view that their current budget is just not enough to compete with other networks and therefore needs even more funding, hence the argument for receiving advertising dollars.

The bulk of this piece however, centers on the political bias the CBC has within itself and the way in which they propagate that into the minds of millions of Canadians every morning, afternoon and evening. While the way in which the CBC is structured financially is cause for concern, it is nothing compared to the realm I am about to discuss.

It is no secret that the CBC has a left wing political agenda; studies at major Canadian Universities have shown that there exists a left wing bias within much of the CBC’s programming schedule and political analysis. These studies have shown that a nation wide broadcasting corporation, paid for in most part by Canadian tax payers has within its structure, a mentality that favors the economic, social and political left. Inevitably the question then arises; why is this not questioned or examined further? To an American, this question would have considerable weight because the United States has within its roots a right and left wing contingent. For conservative minded Americans, this issue would be of paramount importance due to the strong conservative backbone that exists in American culture. This particular root does not exist in Canada. Canada has always been, with the exception of Alberta and various parts of Ontario, a socialist nation. Environmentalism is rampant on the west coast, Ontario is where the NDP was born and continues to thrive and Quebec has never hidden its strong socialist traditions. The Maritimes would vote for just about anyone who isn’t a conservative and the Northern parts of the country are too disjointed from the rest of Canadians (for good reason) to care enough to take sides. So what am I trying to suggest here? The history of Canadian politics, culture and society has not allowed for a conservative base to develop and therefore, there does not exist a strong enough conservative element to voice their concerns; until now. In actual fact, putting my own politics aside for a minute, this particular issue with the CBC would be just as troubling had it been a conservative bias that they exhumed. The CBC and its problems are in a league of their own and while much of this piece will criticize the left, it is the CBC that deserves the bulk of the scorn.

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