In the debate over whether the government should help struggling media companies, it’s often overlooked that taxpayers already hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to one particular media organization: the CBC.
It’s hard to make the case for a government bailout of newspapers. While they serve a public purpose, they are private businesses and propping them up might actually delay much-needed innovation. But when the CBC’s online platform has become the strongest competitor for digital readers and revenues, it’s also difficult to argue that the government has no role to play in the marketplace.
Why is the CBC investing so much in digital when that’s outside its original mandate? Why is it selling advertising, in direct competition with newspapers?
The government should take a step back and evaluate how it can get the most value for its money in public broadcasting in the digital age. Taxpayers would be better off if all that money went into producing Canadian programming rather than an elaborate radio, television and online network that is accelerating the demise of private-sector competitors.