One of the things I enjoy the most about representing the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola is the diversity of the region that ranges from rural unincorporated areas to more densely populated urban centres. As much as there are many different challenges because of this diversity, there are also some common themes. One of those is that most citizens have a strong connection with local media that in many regions of Canada, including here, are also struggling to survive. Princeton and Merritt have both seen community papers close their doors permanently while others have dropped their publication from twice a week to one.
Elsewhere many newsrooms have laid off staff as media organizations struggle with changing market dynamics and declining advertising revenues. As I have previously stated on several occasions and in Ottawa, local media is a critically important facet of life in our communities.
Fortunately for many citizens there continues to be local live and recorded programming broadcast by the CBC throughout our region. Although I generally hear support for the CBC, one common complaint that I do receive from time to time is that many citizens would prefer it if the CBC was entirely commercial free. This suggestion is also circulating in Ottawa as many struggling media organizations resent the fact that they are losing much needed ad revenue to a national public broadcaster that is funded with tax dollars. The debate is an understandable one as CBC is essentially immune to the same market forces that other media organizations are forced to adapt to.
This leads me to the question for this week’s MP report. For those of you who do listen to or watch CBC on a regular basis- would you support a commercial free CBC?
Key to this conversation would be recognizing that this could mean a loss of revenue to the CBC if Government did not make up a revenue shortfall created by the loss of advertising revenue. On that note I should also add that the Liberal Government is currently increasing funding to the CBC, which now receives in excess of one billion tax dollars per year.
A commercial free CBC would not in my view substantially help our struggling local media organizations however it is one measure that many national media organizations have voiced their support; this is in addition to the many local citizens who have expressed support to me for a commercial free CBC. I welcome your comments on the idea of a commercial free CBC or any other matter before the House of Commons. I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.