After years of cutbacks, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is getting a financial boost: $675 million over five years to “modernize and revitalize CBC/Radio Canada in the digital era.”
The Liberal government budget will provide $75 million of additional funding this year, followed by $150 million over the next four years.
“Reversing past cuts will enable the CBC to adapt to the changing broadcasting landscape –providing us with high-quality relevant content how, where and when Canadians want it,” read the federal budget document detailing the CBC’s new funding.
In 2012, the Conservative government cut the CBC’s funding by $115 million over a two-year period. Since 2008, 3,600 jobs have been cut at the CBC.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to restore the CBC’s funding by $150 million a year during his election campaign.
“The federal government’s new investment in the [CBC] announced in today’s budget is most welcome,” read a news release by public broadcasting lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. “It begins to turn the tide away from the previous government’s hostile agenda for public broadcasting.”
Former Heritage Minister James Moore was critical of the new funding.
“It’s a partial reversal, it’s less than half of the money CBC lost when it lost Hockey Night in Canada,” Moore told the CBC. “But the big question is where is this money going to go? What plans do the CBC president and board have for this money, to rehire people or invest in the digital future?”
The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting echoed Moore’s concerns, calling for an overhaul of the CBC’s Board of Directors.
“Former Prime Minister Harper turned the CBC Board into a committee of Conservatives with his sharply partisan appointments,” the lobby group said in a statement. “That Board should not be left to its own devices to make decisions about how to use this new investment.”