The Canadian Media Guild is endorsing the We Choose CBC campaign, sponsored by the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting. An overwhelming majority of Canadians support our public broadcaster and worry about the scourge of misinformation more broadly. FRIENDS’ campaign is putting that support on the political map as the federal election approaches.
“Our political leaders need to know that Canadian voters strongly support public broadcasting and understand the indispensable role of professional journalism in our democracy. FRIENDS recognizes that our members deliver a vital public service. That’s why we are supporting this essential campaign,” says CMG President, Kamala Rao. “We will be encouraging members and our supporters to participate in FRIENDS’ campaign in any way they can,” says Rao.
FRIENDS is distributing We Choose Canada, We Choose CBC and We Choose Canadian Journalism lawn signs in 22 battleground ridings to demonstrate the full extent to which voters will support policies – and politicians – that strengthen the CBC and all Canadian journalism. Volunteers in these ridings are taking the campaign to community events and are also briefing candidates one on one.
“We are extremely pleased that the Guild has thrown its support behind this campaign,” says FRIENDS Executive Director Daniel Bernhard. “The Guild represents a very important group of private and public sector journalists and media workers who keep our democracy alive in increasingly difficult conditions. Canada needs this campaign to succeed, and with the CMG on board, our prospects for success have markedly improved.”
Even after the Trudeau government’s re-investment, the CBC/Radio-Canada remains among the most poorly-funded public broadcasters in the developed world. At $34 per person per year, Canada is 16th out of 18 OECD countries when it comes to funding public service media. Switzerland is at the top of the pile, investing $196 per capita while the US is at the bottom of the list investing $4 per capita. The average investment in public broadcasting among OECD countries is $87 per person per year.
More broadly, Canadian journalism is gravely endangered. During the past ten years, thousands of journalists have been laid off. 250 media outlets have closed, many in small- and medium-sized communities with few alternative sources of news and information.
“Our democracy needs more journalists, not fewer. As a start, we are calling on all federal party leaders to commit to fund the CBC with $50 per Canadian per year in 2020,” says Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director FRIENDS.
The federal government has acknowledged the journalism crisis. But Ottawa’s bailout package is grossly inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem. And it does nothing to deal with key problems, such as the flight of advertising revenue to foreign digital publishers which Canadian tax policy actively encourages, a major oversight noted by the journalism organizations asked by the federal government to help design the bailout program.
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting is a non-partisan watchdog group supported by 364,000 Canadians that works to keep Canadian story-telling and journalism strong on air and online.
The Canadian Media Guild is a democratic trade union representing over 5,000 media workers at Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (aptn), CBC/Radio Canada, The Canadian Press and PMNA, BuzzFeed, Thompson-Reuters, TVO, TFO, VICE Media, ZoomerMedia and CKOI Radio Gatineau (Québec).