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.