Did I hear that right? Media executives from the private sector called out CBC’s expansion beyond their mandate before the House of Commons Heritage Committee. Not one but two executives telling MPs that CBC is competing too much with the private sector, with one even using the term “uber-predator.”
It comes as CBC continues their hiring spree and expansion while other media outlets are shrinking. The latest example is CBC launching an online only opinion section, much like newspaper opinion pages, hiring Robyn Urback away from the National Post to run it.
This is something that goes well beyond their mandate.
CBC is mandated by Parliament to run radio and television services across Canada. With the advent of the digital age they’ve used the excuse that they need to promote and showcase their content online but anyone paying attention knows that CBC’s online offerings long ago stopped being about promoting radio or TV shows and became all about being the biggest media empire in Canada; a digital powerhouse taking on all comers and using tax dollars to compete.
It’s why John Honderich of the left wing, CBC supporting Toronto Star complained to the committee. It’s important to point out that this wasn’t me or someone from the Sun tabloids or a conservative of any sort telling MPs that CBC is unfairly competing, it is the head of TorStar. For a while, the Star ran a whole section on their website defending and celebrating the beauty of CBC.
But as Honderich told the committee, they are the biggest competitor for his newspaper and he wants changes.
Imagine the Toronto Star calling for changes. It’s interesting now that they’re taking away his ad revenues, he has concerns about competition.
And well he should. Honderich told the committee that he used to employ nearly 500 journalists, but the evaporation of ad sales markets have forced cuts and now the Star has less than 200 journalists.
Shocking isn’t it?
But CBC is still hiring and expanding. The Robyn Urback hire is to run what essentially amounts to a columnists website at CBC, well outside their mandate which is why James Baxter who started a publication called iPolitics told the committee that CBC is a predator.
CBC supporters will claim the state broadcaster is filling a void, doing what the private sector won’t do, serving under served markets but that’s poppycock.
CBC’s latest expansions whether into a columnist and opinion section, into digital only newsrooms in places like Hamilton, Kelowna or London are nothing but the government owned enterprise using their billion dollar plus per year subsidy to compete against the private sector.
As Baxter told the committee, CBC’s practices are having a chilling effect on entrepreneurs like him and scaring away investors.
CBC as uber-predator, stealing talent, expanding into new areas and killing off the competition using money that comes from the taxes those very same competitors pay.
It’s a great system isn’t it?
And CBC isn’t just doing this on the news side. They’re competing with the private sector in digital media on all fronts from offering a music streaming service that plays Adele, Michael Buble and other artists, to running a Netflix type service aimed at Francophones in Quebec for $6.99 per month.
When did any of this become part of CBC’s mandate?
CBC takes $1.1B per year from taxpayers and got an additional $150M per year from the Trudeau Liberals still claiming they don’t have enough money to broadcast properly but they’re expanding into digital everywhere, and this is on purpose.
Their 2015 plan called “Everyone, Every way” promises to see CBC expand into more digital news, more TV shows and programming just for the online world.
This is an expansion that should be stopped because it’s killing off local media across the country.
Roger’s has announced fewer print copies of Chatelaine and MacLeans and have announced layoffs.
Every broadcaster in the country – except for CBC – has been going through round after round of layoffs.
Same with newspapers.
I’ve been warning media executives for years that CBC was expanding well beyond their mandate and they wanted to be king of all media. To replace the local newspaper, to replace the local pop music station, to replace all the other outlets at once.
Some media executives are finally waking up to this and that’s a good thing but it will take politicians waking up for something to actually be done to stop it.
CBC needs to be reigned in. I’ve long said they should be sold off but if we can’t have that, we can at least ask the government to make them stick to their mandate.