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Advocate wants feds to fund news media through CBC
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Advocate wants feds to fund news media through CBC

Écrit par
Rachel Emmanuel
Publié par
iPolitics
le
06 avril 2020

FRIENDS has proposed an emergency journalism stabilization fund that would allow the CBC to pay private media outlets to produce news and information on a freelance basis, which would then be made available for use by any willing news organization.

A public broadcasting advocate wants the Trudeau government to provide COVID-19-related emergency funding for the media sector through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a Toronto-based nonprofit that protests cuts to the public broadcaster, has proposed an emergency journalism stabilization fund that would allow the CBC to pay private media outlets to produce news and information on a freelance basis, which would then be made available for use by any willing news organization. The proposal would fund media organizations struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic without sending aid directly from the government, the group said in a news release.

“This is an acute emergency and Canadians want Ottawa to intervene quickly to save these trusted institutions from mass extinction,” the group’s executive director Daniel Bernhard said in a statement.

The proposal comes nearly two weeks after the federal government announced its own measures to support the news media sector, which is seeing lucrative advertising revenue drop precipitously as Canadian businesses cut costs in a bid to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those measures, which were criticized by some industry experts as simply rehashing the government’s 2019 budget commitments, included formalizing some $595 million in long-promised tax measures and vowing to invest money from the government’s $33-million national pandemic awareness campaign in Canadian media outlets.

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In the release, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting also said nearly 500 people have been laid off from Canadian media outlets since the COVID-19 lockdown began.

The group also cited a Nanos Research survey, conducted for the CBC advocate, which found that 67 per cent of Canadians generally support using financial aid to keep failing news providers from closing down, including 41 per cent that somewhat supported the concept.

In a December interview with iPolitics, Minister Guilbeault suggested that CBC News could be used to produce more regional content by hiring more people, opening more offices, or partnering with existing media outlets.

“There could be some form of shared agreement where the content is being used and promoted on CBC’s platforms for those smaller news outlets,” he said.

Camille Gagné-Raynauld, press secretary for Minister Guilbeault, said they could not comment on the specific proposal but would have more say in “due course.” She said they are studying all potential measures to support the sector, and remain attentive to as the situation evolves.

“We recognize the critical role our public broadcaster and news media organizations play in helping Canadians stay up-to-date with the most recent information regarding COVID-19,” Gagné-Raynauld said in an emailed statement.

Conservative Heritage critic Steven Blaney urged the Liberals to be cautious when providing supports to the news media sector, arguing governments in healthy democracies shouldn’t determine what outlets ultimately receive taxpayers’ support, whether it be directly or indirectly.

He also said a substantial amount of the government’s recently announced $33-million advertising campaign should support regional and community media outlets.

“It is important to use Canadian platforms to disseminate government messages,” he said in an emailed statement.

© iPolitics