In 1993 the Liberal's infamous red book said this, "A Liberal government will be committed to stable multi-year financing for national cultural institutions such as .. the CBC." (p. 88)
That was good news after the Mulroney years, a welcome sign that the next government would in fact protect the CBC from cuts. After all the CBC was considered one of Canada's greatest cultural creations. I could go on for hours talking about the good CBC has done but then those that read my blog tend to be the choir.
The cuts to CBC by the Liberal government ended many local radio programs, closed CBC locations, meaning less local coverage and more regional coverage. English TV was slashed with program production reduced to Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax. Thousands of staff were laid off. The CBC today remains under pressure to make cuts, as they have since Harper took power. Harper and certainly much of the money behind his party, would love to sell off the CBC. They can't do that as too many Canadians would make him pay dearly for that. Instead he will go slowly and over time, reduce the CBC's budget. The Liberals were no different.
Here is a summary from Maclean's Magazine of the cuts the Liberal Government made to CBC in 1994...
Phased in over the next 18 months, the cutbacks will bring to $414 million the total CBC budget reductions, which were first imposed by the Liberal government in 1994. The cuts will affect every aspect of the national broadcaster, whose current budget, including ad revenues and parliamentary disbursements, totals about $1.4 billion and includes 9,000 employees. English-language CBC Radio will lose one in three staff positions - about 500 jobs - and budget cuts will total $34 million. Program budgets for CBC Radio will drop by 28 per cent. No regional stations will close (over half the division's budget will still be spent on those stations), but their spending will be decreased according to market size. A number of programs will be cancelled. French-language radio's budget, meanwhile, will drop by $20 million, to $62 million, with 238 jobs eliminated from the existing 952, and French-language stations in Vancouver, Regina and Edmonton will be downgraded to bureaus of the main network. The French television wing will see a budget decrease of $70 million, with staff reductions of 304 employees, or 30 per cent.
The hardest hit programming area, however, is English television. Staff there will be cut by 38 per cent over the next 18 months, with 1,225 jobs lost. By April, 1998, the total budget for English TV will have fallen $171 million from 1994-1995 - 28.4 per cent - the year the current round of cuts began. As with radio, English TV will not close any regional stations, but their budgets will be severely reduced. They will produce only local news programs, revamped to emphasize current affairs and national news rather than regional events - an acknowledgment that, in most markets, the CBC's local news shows long ago lost the ratings war to private stations. On the network, arts and entertainment programming will be produced only out of Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax.
In 1994 the Liberals claimed they had to make big cuts to everything to balance the books. They justified drastic cuts to the CBC, to health care, to education, housing and other social programs. In 2011, the Conservatives are making the same arguments. The difference is that it is a Conservative government that is cutting the budget, the results are the same. That might be why the Liberals are now Canada's third party and why the NDP have won more provincial and federal seats in the last seven elections than the Liberals.
I know that many Liberal bloggers are passionate supporters of the CBC. I know that many of them believe the CBC was better off with them doing the cuts. I can hear them clearly stating it would have been worse if the Conservatives did it. The facts don't support them.
If you want to save CBC, then write your MP, newspapers and get active online. Join the Friends of Public Broadcasting. Sign Bob Rae's petition if it will make you feel good, it can't hurt.
Interesting Fact: You could turn on your radio almost anywhere in Canada and receive a signal from the CBC. It was usually an AM signal. CBC's transmitting towers relayed the signal to the remotest parts of this country. Those same towers aided small aircraft as well. The signals emitted from these towers assisted with air navigation in remote areas of our country.
Most small aircraft used these signals, especially in bad weather. The towers are silent now, turned off between 1995 and 1996 for the most part.