No free pass for CBC on cost-cutting exercise

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA - The Conservative government is kicking the CBC when it's down by asking it to look for another $50 million in potential cuts to its budget, say advocates for the public broadcaster.
The CBC is facing a $171-million shortfall this year, cutting 800 full-time jobs and reducing programming. Like other broadcasters, it's struggling with falling ad revenues, increasingly fragmented TV audiences and expensive technological changes.
And it has received word it must look for another $50 million that it could either cut or redirect.
"It is outrageous that the government would consider cutting funding at a time when Parliament is grappling with a major crisis in the media industry," the Canadian Media Guild said in a statement.
Critics also accuse Heritage Minister James Moore of misleading a parliamentary committee last week when he said the CBC would not face any cuts.
"Did he not know that the review was in the works when he gave his guarantee?" said Ian Morrison of advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. "It's at least troubling."
All federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations undertake a "strategic review" in a rotating four or five-year cycle. They identify five per cent of funding tied to programs or operations that have not been successful or efficient, and suggest ways the money can be better spent or cut.
Cabinet ultimately decides "whether to reinvest those savings within the department or to other government priorities," said Pierre-Alain Bujold of the Treasury Board Secretariat.
Moore emphasized the reinvestment scenario.
"It forces organizations to find the best ways to deliver services for taxpayers, and that's going to be true of the CBC," Moore said.
"We're going to be working with the CBC, not against the CBC."

Organizations: CBC, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Broadcasting Treasury Board Secretariat

Geographic location: OTTAWA

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