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LILLEY: Canadians are ditching CBC, so why do we keep funding it? – Toronto Sun



Every single time I critique CBC, I’m told that we need to have the state broadcaster, that Canadians rely upon it.

But the numbers would beg to differ.

Whether we are talking audience share or advertising revenue, CBC is a broadcaster in decline.

Did you know that across Canada, over a total of 27 stations coast to coast, the average audience for CBC’s supper hour newscast was 329,000 people? That’s not 329,000 people per market, that is across the country.

Compare that to just one of CTV’s local supper hour newscasts, CFTO in Toronto, which averaged 1.4 million viewers per night in the first week of 2020. That doesn’t include other major markets like Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary or Ottawa where CTV outstrips CBC. It doesn’t include Global News, which is dominant in Western Canada and like CTV doesn’t take a $1.5 billion per year subsidy from the taxpayers.

These CBC ratings aren’t numbers that I’ve made up, they were contained in CBC’s most recent annual report and highlighted by Ottawa-based media outlet Blacklock’s Reporter.

Other nuggets in that annual report include that CBC’s prime-time audience share in television was 5%, down from 7.6% in 2017-18. We also learned that CBC News Network’s total audience share is 1.4% of all TV viewers.

These slumping ratings mean slumping ad sales, the report says advertising revenue is down 21% overall — the decline in English Canada was actually much bigger, a 37% drop. If it were not for CBC’s French language division having a pretty good year, things would have been much worse.

Ad revenues dropped from $318.2 million in 2018 to $248.7 million in 2019 and things are not likely to get better. Well, except for the increase in government revenue.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were elected on a promise to increase CBC’s base funding by $150 million a year. That promise has been met and I’m sure Trudeau will soon be considering more money for his favourite news and media outlet.

Meanwhile, as I reported about two weeks ago now, CBC is asking the CRTC for permission to broadcast less Canadian content on TV even as they take more of our money. As part of their broadcast licence renewal application, the state broadcaster is asking the broadcast regulator for permission to show less “mandated content,” meaning less Canadian content.

Would we even notice?

CBC’s latest attempt to get ratings heading in the right direction has seen them bring in Family Feud Canadian Edition. Nothing says telling Canada’s stories to Canadians quite like importing a dated American game show and selling it like it is something new.

What’s next? Showing Home Alone 2 and editing out Donald Trump?

CBC does well in radio — as someone who worked for years in private radio and competed against CBC Radio, I can say they have an audience and do a good job.

Yet on TV, Canadians are voting with their clickers.

Long before cutting the cord became a concern for TV executives, CBC was the third horse in a three-horse race. They were the least preferred option for comedies or dramas and the least preferred for news.

This may come as a shock to some media folks, especially on Parliament Hill, but CBC’s The National has been the third most watched national newscast for decades. Their recent reboot has only made things worse, pushing ratings below 400,000 viewers a night and at times I am told below 300,000 viewers.

CBC is out of touch with Canadians and what they want to see.

Their supporters may say ratings shouldn’t matter for a state broadcaster like CBC but if they aren’t producing shows we want to watch with their massive subsidy then what is the point of continuing to fund them?


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Teck withdraws application for $20B Frontier oilsands mine – CBC.ca



Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd., has withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta, citing the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada.

The federal government was slated to make a decision this week on whether to approve the $20.6-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier. 

Sources close to the project confirmed to CBC News the application was withdrawn. 

The company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the project, which it said would have created 7,000 construction jobs, 2,500 operating jobs, and brought in more than $70 billion in government revenue.

“We are disappointed to have arrived at this point,” CEO and president Don Lindsay wrote in a letter addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, posted to the company’s website Sunday evening.

“Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”

Lindsay wrote that customers want policies that reconcile resource development and climate change — something he said the region has yet to achieve, but he did not clarify if the region he was referring to was Alberta or Canada.

“Unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project,” he wrote.

Cabinet was to decide this week

But he said he wanted to make it clear the company isn’t shying away from controversy.

“The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are prepared to face that sort of opposition,” he wrote.

“Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.”

Following Teck’s announcement, Wilkinson and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed in a statement that cabinet will no longer be making a decision on the project.

“As Teck has rightly pointed out, and as many in the industry know, global investors and consumers are increasingly looking for the cleanest products available and sustainable resource development,” the statement read.

Fourteen First Nations and Metis communities signed participation agreements with the company on the mine, and the project was awaiting approval from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which had been expected by the end of the month.

Cabinet was expected to discuss the project at its meeting on Tuesday. It had until the end of the week to make a decision, though it could have decided to push that deadline back.

Wilkinson has been signalling for weeks that cabinet’s discussion would include the fact that Alberta has not set specific greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, and in recent days specifically asked the Alberta government to enforce its cap on emissions from the oilsands.

Teck’s Frontier oilsands project was planned for northern Alberta. The company pulled its application for the project on Sunday. (Teck Resources)

Ottawa ‘let us down,’ says Kenney

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described Teck’s announcement as a grave disappointment for Albertans, but said it didn’t come as a surprise. 

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” Kenney said in an emailed statement, pointing to what he described as weeks of federal indecision on blockades in solidarity with those opposed a natural gas pipeline proposed by Coastal GasLink in northern B.C.

The premier wrote that the province agreed to federal requests and conditions for approving the project.

“The factors that led to the today’s decision further weaken national unity.… We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down,” Kenney said.

Pressure still on Liberals, says political scientist

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau spoke with Kenney Sunday evening to discuss Teck’s decision, and the ongoing railway blockades.

“The Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with Alberta and the resource sector to keep creating good jobs and to ensure clean, sustainable growth for Canadians,” the statement said.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said Teck’s decision to pull the application won’t relieve pressure on the Liberal government from critics.

He said even though Teck’s letter did not lay blame on the prime minister, he anticipates it will be interpreted that way by his political opponents as part of the “anti-Trudeau … anti-Liberal discussion.”

“This will just be rolled in as part of that narrative,” Bratt said. 

Sunday’s announcement came just hours after the Alberta government announced it had struck deals with two First Nations over the proposed project, which would have been located 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. 

The province said the agreements with the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations addressed bison and caribou habitats and protected Wood Buffalo National Park. 

Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis, one of 14 First Nations and Métis communities in favour of the project, said the withdrawal is a “black eye” for Canada.

But Bill Loutitt, CEO of McMurray Métis, said while his community supported the application, the decision to withdraw was the correct one.

“We know Teck as a progressive company and supporter of the Indigenous communities in Wood Buffalo, but tonight’s statement clearly shows that Teck acted in the best interests of Canadians, as they always have,” he said.

Project’s economic viability questioned

In July 2019, a joint federal-provincial review panel recommended the mine be approved, saying the economic benefits outweighed what it described as significant adverse environmental impacts. 

However, a January report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis made the case that Teck’s application showed a “reckless disregard for the facts regarding oil prices in Canada.”

The joint-review panel relied on a long-term oil price projection of more than $95 US per barrel provided by Teck, the IEEFA wrote, about $40 US higher than current prices and around $20 US higher than other forecasts.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province had agreed to federal requests and conditions for approving the project. (Mike Symington/CBC)

On Friday, Teck released disappointing fourth quarter results, saying global economic uncertainty negatively impacted commodity prices.

The project was also expected to produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over its 40 year lifespan, and disturb 292 square kilometres of pristine wetlands and boreal forest — although that whole area wouldn’t be mined at once.

Greenpeace applauds decision

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development,” Lindsay wrote. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

Energy consultant Greg Stringham, who has worked for the industry, government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said tight economics and increasing risks put Teck at the centre of debate around energy projects.

“And they’re going, well … do they want to be the straw that breaks the policy camel’s back?” he said in an interview.

Keith Stewart, senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said he was surprised by Teck’s decision to withdraw the project, but believes it is the right one.

“This project never made economic sense; it didn’t make climate sense; it wasn’t really going to happen,” Stewart told CBC News.

“This was a project that might have made sense 10 years ago. It certainly doesn’t today,” he said.

Read Teck’s letter to the environment minister below: 

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Canada Strong initiative raises more than $3M for Iran plane crash victims – Global News



Families of the Canadian victims who died in the Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran last month are set to get some additional financial help.

The Canada Strong fundraising initiative, launched by Mohamad Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, announced it had raised $3,293,624.75 for the families through donations and a pledge by the federal government to match contributions up to $1.5 million.

The amount is in addition to the $25,000 for each Canadian victim previously offered by the federal government.

“It’s such a warm feeling when the community comes together,” Fakih told reporters gathered at the Persian Palace restaurant in Richmond Hill.

“It’s so moving when we show that whether we are citizens by birth or by choice, whether we’ve been citizens for decades or for days, a Canadian is a Canadian.”

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Iran will ‘never’ yield to U.S. pressure for talks, President Rouhani says

Fifty-seven Canadians were among the 176 people killed when the airliner was shot down on Jan. 8. In all, 138 of the passengers were en route to Canada via Kyiv.

The money is intended to help families with short-term expenses related to the crash.

Masoud Niknam, whose brother, Thornhill dentist Farhad Niknam, died in the crash, said the gesture provides both financial and emotional support.

“Canada is a unique place. Things like this, supports like this — even two months after an incident like that happened — it only happens in Canada,” he said.

Trudeau criticized for shaking hands with Iranian foreign minister after deadly plane crash

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he hopes the money will help with the healing process.

“I understand — I think we all do — that when these kinds of tragedies happen there are going to be scars no matter what,” Tory said.

“There’s healing but there are going to be scars — but you hope you can begin the healing process by joining other Canadians who wanted to help.”

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Donations went through the Toronto Foundation.

The money is expected to be distributed over the next four to five weeks.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Passenger on Air Canada flight to Vancouver is not a new case of COVID-19: B.C. officials – Global News



B.C. health authorities say the passenger on an Air Canada flight from Montreal to Vancouver who later tested positive for COVID-19 is the same case reported in the province Thursday.

The airline says it was advised by health authorities on Saturday about the passenger, who flew into Vancouver on Feb. 14.

“Air Canada is working with public health authorities and has taken all recommended measures,” a spokesperson said in an email Sunday.

6th case of COVID-19 reported in B.C., contracted by woman visiting Iran

B.C.’s Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) later said that female passenger travelled to Montreal from Iran, then flew Air Canada to Vancouver. The COVID-19 case was confirmed to have been contracted in Iran in late January.

The woman, who is in her 30s and is in the Fraser Health region, is recovering at home from a “mild” case of the new coronavirus.

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New case of COVID-19 reported in B.C. after woman returns from Iran

New case of COVID-19 reported in B.C. after woman returns from Iran

PHSA says passengers who were seated near the woman, as well as the flight crew, have been notified by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Officials don’t believe any of those people are likely to contract the virus, however, saying they were notified as a precautionary measure.

Neither Air Canada nor the PHSA have provided a flight number for the Air Canada flight.

The Montreal Airport Authority said it had not heard of the case until hearing about it in media reports. It’s not yet known how long the woman was in Montreal before boarding the Air Canada flight.

COVID-19: Iran confirms 6th person has died from virus

Vancouver International Airport could not speak to whether any airport staff have had to be notified about the case, which is still considered presumptive by the province.

Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday said officials expect the case to be confirmed, however.

Fraser Health on Friday sent a letter to all school districts within its region — which includes Burnaby, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and the Tri-Cities — warning that contacts of the woman “may have attended schools in the region and are currently isolated.”

“These contacts were not showing any signs or sumptoms of illness while attending school, and remain well,” the health authority’s medical health officer Ingrid Tyler wrote in the letter.

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“There is no public health risk at schools in the region. There is also no evidence that novel coronavirus is circulating in the community.”

COVID-19: Iran says virus has spread to several cities, reports at 2 new deaths

COVID-19: Iran says virus has spread to several cities, reports at 2 new deaths

The case was the first one in Canada to not be connected to travel in China or the country’s Hubei province, where the COVID-19 outbreak first began.

Five other cases have been confirmed in B.C., although one of those has since recovered.

—With files from Brittany Henriques

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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