Volume 90, Issue 64

Friday, January 17, 1997

double talk


A west coast pitch to save the CBC

By Joshua Budd
Gazette Staff

Faculty and students at Simon Fraser University's school of communications are joining the movement to save the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bob Anderson, international communications professor at the Burnaby B.C. university, said the school is forming a new non-profit organization which will act as an intermediary between the CBC and its audience. It will promote public programming and protest against recent budgetary and personnel cutbacks.

"We want to organize the public that relies on the CBC to pressure the government for stable funding and show how much the public supports public broadcasting," Anderson said.

The school's initiative comes at a time when cutbacks at the CBC threaten the corporation's ability to maintain a balance of information and reporting in the Canadian media, Anderson added. The organization will promote a balance of international, national and regional news on CBC radio and television along with educational and cultural programming.

"Media concentration comes and it goes," Anderson said. "Now we have extreme concentration in Canada which makes the CBC all the more important."

Tom Curzon, senior director for the CBC in Toronto, said he is aware of the Simon Fraser initiative and is encouraged people are taking note of the cutbacks and attempting to do something about it. He added the SFU organization is not the only one of its kind and he has been contacted by many organizations across Canada with similar objectives.

The Friends Of CBC, a Vancouver-based organization, has advocated public broadcasting and stable funding for CBC radio and television since the late '80s. John Lloyd, a robotics researcher at the University of British Columbia, is a volunteer for the Friends campaign against the Liberal government's cutbacks to the CBC.

Lloyd said the Liberal government has implemented a budget which, by 1988, will result in a one-third cut in the parliamentary allotment to the CBC. The cutbacks come after a Liberal campaign promise to maintain five years of stable funding for the CBC.

To protest cutbacks, Friends has launched a lawn sign campaign in co-operation with other CBC advocates. They are distributing signs reading, "The CBC Promise. Keep It" to Liberal ridings across Canada.

Lloyd is concerned the cutbacks might lead to complete privatization of the CBC and ultimately increased commercialization of the Canadian media.

"The CBC isn't perfect but they give voice to opinions not likely to be heard anywhere else," Lloyd said.

David Spencer, acting dean of Western's journalism school, said he was not aware of any formal organization at Western active in the campaign to promote public broadcasting. However, he said many professors in the journalism school support the campaign and are active in writing letters and petitioning government officials.

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