CBC just cancelled all local TV news broadcasts across Canada, citing insufficient resources. With COVID-19 spreading fast, accurate, timely information about the situation in each of our communities is an essential, potentially life-saving service. It must be restored.
How did we get here?
To deal with chronic under-funding over the years, CBC has centralized technical resources into its Toronto control room, stripping local stations of the ability to broadcast on their own. This creates a bottleneck in the system. CBC management now claims the demand for live interviews from all the local shows, on top of the live events covered by national programs at the same time, is simply too much to fit through the bottleneck. They stay that if the pressure is not released, the whole system will crash. And so they’re halting the local shows all together.
The bottleneck issue is not inevitable. It is the result of chronic underfunding and generations of CBC management teams that regard local news as expendable. CBC and the various governments that have starved it of funding are failing Canadians in our time of greatest need, especially elderly Canadians, who are most likely to rely on TV for news and information. Delivering programs conceived and produced in Toronto to audiences in Saskatoon or St. John’s is contrary to CBC’s mandate and the duty it has to its audience.
In this moment of uncertainty, knowledge keeps us safe and reassures us that we’re in good hands. We need to do everything we can to get CBC local TV news back on the air.
FRIENDS is calling on the federal government to make its policy clear that the CBC must meet its Broadcasting Act obligations to serve the special needs of regional audiences, and to step in with emergency funding, if necessary, to allow the CBC to restore local TV newscasts.
Please tell Heritage Minister Guilbeault to do everything in his power to put CBC local TV newscasts back on the air.