Defunding The CBC Would Strengthen Freedom Of The Press In Canada

A massive, centralized, state-run media institution is antithetical to the free and open exchange of ideas we should want to see in this country.

During a massive rally in Edmonton, Pierre Poilievre got huge applause when he said he would defund the CBC:

“Speaking on how he would save Canada money as prime minister, Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre says he would defund the CBC. This comment receives the loudest applause from the crowd so far.”

There’s a reason the crowd loved to hear that message:

CBC has lost the trust of millions of Canadians.

In the past, the idea of CBC made sense.

It was tough for people to get information, there were only a few media sources, and information infrastructure was far less developed than today.

The media – including CBC reporters – were also much less partisan and ideological, seeing their job as speaking truth to power rather than speaking power to truth.

In that kind of world, the idea of a public broadcaster that provided a centralized infrastructure and service across the country made some sense.

But today’s world is far different.

The internet has revolutionized communication, and the media landscape offers much more choice than ever before. Social media has made it possible for many Canadians to become their own media institution, sharing their views and/or covering events in person. Social media also gives people the ability to question the narratives of the media, exposing hypocrisy and dishonesty. The information infrastructure is also much more built up, meaning people in nearly every part of our country have access to the internet and can thus choose where to get their info.

In today’s world, the idea of a state-run broadcaster doesn’t make sense.

Additionally, many journalists have shifted into the realm of being activists, pushing what is often a clear left-wing agenda masked as ‘news coverage.’

Further, government bailouts – funded with our taxpayer dollars of course – have made much of the establishment media dependent on the government. How can a media institution speak truth to power when they are dependent on government power and government money?

As a result, much of the media now speaks ‘power to truth,’ and often focuses on holding the opposition parties accountable rather than holding the Liberal government accountable.

CBC becomes a tool of the state rather than serving Canadians

CBC has become the most brazen example of this trend.

Year after year, the Liberal government has increased CBC’s funding, even as CBC’s ratings decline.

The more CBC struggles to find an audience, the more taxpayer money the Liberals give them.

This demonstrates not only disrespect towards Canadians by forcing people to fund something they don’t want to watch/read, but it also has a damaging effect on freedom of the press overall.

Because CBC has been able to get both taxpayer money and private sector ads, they have a large advantage over many other media outlets.

Thus, there has been a ‘brain drain’ of media talent from private institutions to the CBC.

In effect, private media outlets are hollowed out, while more and more people are hired by CBC, even as CBC fails to convince Canadians to voluntarily consume their content.

CBC then becomes in many ways a state-run jobs program for journalists, rather than a true media outlet.

In the interests of fairness, it must be said that there are some good reporters at CBC. However, they would succeed no matter where they worked, and their success is more despite CBC than because of it.

Defunding the CBC would strengthen other media outlets

What would happen if CBC was defunded?

The biggest impact would be the significant savings for taxpayers. With CBC funding now at $1.4 billion per year, defunding would save a lot of money.

There would also be a reverse brain-drain, as journalists returned to private outlets, rather than be concentrated in a state-run institution.

Assuming that CBC defunding also occurs alongside an end to the media bailouts, the Canadian media landscape would become much more independent-thinking and willing to hold the government accountable.

There would also be real and fair competition between rising independent media institutions and the establishment press.

Without the distortion of taxpayer funding for CBC, and without media bailouts, the establishment press would have to compete for an audience in the free market just like Independent media outlets do, and this would bring Canadians more choice and truth in media.

Independent media is about freedom

The fact that Independent media has grown so much in Canada in recent years shows how it is based upon the core values of our nation. A belief in freedom and freedom of expression, and a belief that those who wield the tremendous power of the state must be held accountable.

Consider all the Liberals have done to try and prop up CBC and the establishment press, all the money they’ve given out, and all the legislation they continue to push to try and gain control over the internet and social media to push away dissenting voices.

Despite all of that, Independent media has grown dramatically in Canada.

When given the choice, Canadians have flocked to independent outlets because people recognize that the true spirit of traditional journalism now lives on in independent media, rather than CBC or the establishment press.

Imagine how much better things would be in this country, and how much stronger our democracy would be if CBC and the establishment press had to compete for support like everyone else, rather than being handed a bunch of money from unwilling taxpayers.

There’s no reason CBC couldn’t survive based on voluntary contributions from the public. Indeed, if CBC is truly as valued as it’s supporters claim it is, then they are free to organize fundraising drives and campaigns to replace taxpayer funding.

The same goes for the establishment media. If they are truly providing significant value to Canadians, then people will freely choose to consume and support their content.

It’s time to trust the Canadian People to support the media they want, rather than have the government force that decision on us.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – @Emmanuel_Rach – Twitter

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Unlike CBC and much of the establishment media who are now beholden to the government,  I rely upon voluntary contributions. If you value my perspective, you can show your support by making a contribution through PayPal, or directly through Stripe below. Your support is always appreciated.


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