Canadians are not watching CBC, minority communities do not rely on it, and it provides little value for taxpayers’ money

Kris Sims: It’s time to defund CBC and save taxpayers' moneyThe CBC should be defunded.

It’s a waste of money to pay $1.2 billion per year to the CBC, and now the government is set to hand it even more.

The Online News Act, Bill C-18, is the federal law forcing big tech to pay media companies when a link to a news story is posted on platforms such as Google and Facebook.

The hidden snare of Bill C-18 is that the CBC will capture the lion’s share of the online link money instead of privately owned newspapers.

Since the CBC is a wing of the federal government, this is now a new tax.

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Cheerleaders for the government-funded broadcaster often rely on three arguments to keep the tax dollars flowing.

The first is the CBC is fulfilling its mandate by broadcasting Canadian culture back to Canadians. The second is that minority communities need the CBC. The third is that the CBC provides good value for money.

These arguments don’t hold up.

First, viewership for the CBC is abysmal.

Ratings from 2019 show viewership for the CBC’s local evening 6 p.m. news is about 230,000 across the country. Less than one percent of Canadians watch the CBC supper hour news.

Recent ratings from Numeris ranked Canada’s most-watched shows, and CBC didn’t crack the top 10. It ranked 16th with The Great British Baking Show, produced by a UK company.

Second, the claim the CBC provides programming for First Nations and minority communities that cannot be found elsewhere is questionable.

The CBC spent $18.3 million on its Indigenous language television, radio and online services from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2021. Over that same time, the CBC spent over $21 million on salaries and benefits for its eight senior executives.

In contrast, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network depends largely on subscriptions and funding partnerships with private media companies.

APTN got $1.7 million from taxpayers in 2022 – a fraction of what CBC takes every year. More than 27 percent of APTN’s broadcasts are delivered in Indigenous languages. APTN reaches over four million people in Canada, with an average prime-time viewership of 712,000 per week.

For ethnic minorities, there are popular private stations across Canada that offer programming in about two dozen languages.

OMNI TV delivers TV newscasts in Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Portuguese, Tagalog and Italian.

RED (Reflecting Ethnic Diversity) FM radio broadcasts in Punjabi, Hindi, English, Arabic, Bengali, Croatian, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Sindhi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Vietnamese.

Lastly, while getting poor ratings and trying to duplicate services already offered by private companies, the CBC spends lavishly on its executives.

The CBC has 143 directors. They get an average salary of $130,906, costing the taxpayer $18.7 million per year.

CBC CEO Catherine Tait takes in an annual salary between $458,500 and $539,300. She is entitled to a 28 percent performance award. That’s a bonus of up to $150,000 per year.

The CBC is sitting on more than $444 million in real estate. Most of that is sunk into its headquarters in downtown Toronto, assessed at nearly $314 million.

The CBC takes more than $1.2 billion per year from taxpayers. That could pay the salaries of more than 16,000 nurses. It could cover the grocery bills for more than 78,000 families. What we pay the CBC equals the annual income taxes for the population of Sudbury, Ontario.

Canadians are not watching CBC, minority communities do not rely on it, and it doesn’t provide good value for taxpayers’ money.

Those who want to keep funding the CBC should pay for it through subscriptions and donations. It can also raise money through advertising, which currently brings in approximately $198 million annually.

It’s time to defund CBC and save taxpayers money.

Kris Sims is the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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