A Just Transition for the CBC

The influence of traditional print and broadcast news media has dropped dramatically. Even with handsome government handouts, many of them are barely alive today. In the market transition that is […]
Published on January 23, 2023

The influence of traditional print and broadcast news media has dropped dramatically. Even with handsome government handouts, many of them are barely alive today. In the market transition that is taking place, out of the slump of the old media a few new ones, such as True North, Rebel News, and The Epoch Times, and the Western Standard, are springing into life without state support. They are more nimble, more adaptive, and more responsive to the market demands for serious journalists. Without the subsidies, the market will eliminate the dead weight, and the better ones will remain.

The disruptions technically do not affect the CBC, whose only concerned with markets is vacuuming advertising dollars from the markets. Notwithstanding media disruption, CBC expects to continue enjoying large subsidies (about $1.2 billion a year) without the pressures of being adaptive, responsive, or even relevant to the lives of the vast majority of Canadians.

It is their lack of relevance that makes one wonder whether the public broadcaster is even faithful to its mandate. Ottawa says CBC’s “mandate…is to inform, enlighten and entertain; to contribute to the development of a shared national consciousness and identity; to reflect the regional and cultural diversity of Canada; and to contribute to the development of Canadian talent and culture.” But instead, it has for some time become an organization that largely represents the views of vote-rich cities, such as Toronto and Montreal, and their woke literati. It gave up articulating rural Canadian views and experiences, let alone those of prairie Canadians.

CBC is now a self-proclaimed engine of social transformation, wishing to bring and push Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver to Canada. Absent an identifiable national identity, their agenda is to transform the country in their woke image, completely absorbed inside the fake world of faddish identity politics. In doing so, they have abandoned journalistic and professional neutrality, and have embraced an unseemly servility to the agenda of one government, which also happens to be almost exclusively rooted in those three cities. CBC has slayed independent journalism and thoughtful programming for the sake of peddling their overlapping agenda. Any local voice or programming that runs against enlightened wokism is silenced, suppressed, or sidelined. It doesn’t enter their buildings unless it is slated for condemnation.

There are options to deal with this state-fused, rogue media. One is simply to end CBC. There is no need for “nationalist” agents in a post national-state. The day after a new government forms in Ottawa, Prime Minister Poilievre should announce the immediate disbanding of the CBC board and the closing of the Corporation.

In the spirit of a “Just Transition,” employees should be given severance pay, and the guarantee to transition them justly into the job market. Here is an opportunity to meet labour demands across the country. Offer them free training as carpenters, electricians, tailors, shoemakers, construction workers, farm workers, mechanics, and janitors. Alberta would be thrilled to absorb many of them into the oil and gas industry.

A transition board should liquidate all the Corporation’s assets. But no company that has received government media subsidies in the last ten years should be permitted to acquire any of the Corporation’s property. Canadians do not need to birth a second CBC indirectly.

Perhaps, experimentally for the ensuing next few years, ten percent of the money CBC received in 2014 could be repurposed toward training independent journalists in the spirit of the ethic that once made great journalists in the preceding two centuries. This should be done away from present “schools of journalism,” and no better a center for a transitional training institution than one in Flin Flon, Manitoba, for instance.

If the vast majority of Canadians should still want a public broadcaster, it should be one that comes close to what the CBC was one or two generations ago. Partly to achieve a much-needed reset, the legislation governing a new Corporation should make it mandatory that its HQ be located in Lloydminster, in the New West as it were, straddling the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan (Two provinces that have no representation in the current CBC board of directors.) That would bring the Corporation closer to the majority of marginal Western and Indigenous Canadians and closer to the Territories.

All the CBC staff wishing to have jobs with the new Corporation would need to move to Lloydmister within three months of this great reset. Those who opt out will justly be transitioned into the job re-training programme.

Moving toward an independent media class, unhitched from the state, the ruling party, or the vote-rich Laurentian center would be an enormous benefit to the country’s unity and to the health of its democratic culture.

Granted, boot-licking journalism will not disappear over-night. But unrewarded, servility does transition toward other nourishing and more productive market pastures.

 

Marco Navarro-Génie is the President of the Haultain Research Institute and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He is co-author, with Barry Cooper, of Canada’s COVID: The Story of a Pandemic Moral Panic, forthcoming

 

Related reading –

Options for the CBC: Alternative Roles for the National Broadcaster

Continually Bleeding Cash: A Valuation & Strategic Appraisal of the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 

 

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