Broadcaster Magazine

UPDATED — CBC Recommends Moving to Ad Free Model

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  • CBC/Radio-Canada wants all its services to broadcast advertising free, however it will require $318 million in new annual funding to do so.  The proposal is one of several the CBC made Monday in a submission to Canadian Heritage’s public consultation on homegrown content in a digital world.

    “This figure takes into account the lost advertising revenue ($253 million), the cost to produce and procure additional Canadian content ($105 million) that is required to replace the advertising programming and the cost savings associated with the reduced cost of sales ($40 million).”

    The CBC says removing ads would allow the public broadcaster to focus on the cultural impact of its mandate and strengthen Canada’s creative economy.

    In order to go ad-free, CBC/Radio-Canada would need the federal government to boost its per-person funding to $46 — an increase of  $12 per Canadian.  It notes the amount is “still well below comparable public broadcasters around the world, like the BBC, which receives $114 per person.”   That hike in per-person funding would include $100 million annually for “new investments to face consumer and technology disruption.”

    The position paper also pointed to the success of Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, which “offers a compelling model of how an advertising-free public broadcaster with a strong public service mandate can serve the interests of domestic audiences and, at the same time, support the global ambitions of the country’s creative and cultural sectors.”

    The public broadcaster says the move would also “free up advertising revenue to help private media companies transition to a digital environment.”  “Advertising revenues for conventional television are down as audiences become more fragmented, ad-free content becomes more available, and alternate content providers such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and, Apple TV/iTunes continue to make inroads.”

    “The business model and cultural policy framework in which CBC/Radio-Canada operates and carries out its public mandate is profoundly and irrevocably broken,” reads the proposal.

    The proposal states the new funding model would “allow CBC/Radio-Canada to put even more emphasis on their public service mandate, provide a more distinct and engaging offering for Canadians, and become a stronger and more valued partner to communities, individual artists and creators, universities, culture organizations, and the sector’s commercial players.”


    CBC/Radio-Canada is also calling for its funding to be “predictable and stable, tied to the existing five-year licence cycle, indexed to inflation, and separated from the election and annual government budget cycles.”

    Last week, Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch proposed scrapping the public broadcaster, saying it’s unfair that while private media companies are struggling to stay afloat, the CBC is able to rely on federal subsidies.

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    1 Comment » for UPDATED — CBC Recommends Moving to Ad Free Model
    1. Ron Tucker says:

      Well, it’s back to the future all over again.
      I’m old enough to recall an ad-free CBC.

      In the seventies when I completed Broadcast studies, “News” was a sacred institution (well, for some). Commercials were banned in the one minute before a newscast, and there were none within, nor the minute after. The newscast itself, while not perfect, was presented with an emphasis on factual reporting rather than speculation and prognostication. It was easy to discern “news” from entertainment.

      It took only 10 years for the broadcast industry to perfect infotainment. In Canada, a broadcaster can now legally run 100% commercials, with no programming whatsoever …if the “market” would put up with it. Only a die-hard news junkie can currently tell the difference between news and “whatever else” will titillate an audience. The saddest commentary on today’s state of journalism is that so many look to comedy shows and personalities for insights into what’s really going on.

      Reverting CBC to a publicly funded service would benefit Canadians. CBC has always had serious and ethical journalism at its core, which was its main differentiation from others, and arguably still is. For half a month’s cost of a cable package, a Canadian could get a whole year of critical thinking insights through a publicly funded non-commercial CBC. This would allow private broadcasters to do what they do best, and help them cope with the internet free-for-all that presents ego-centric chaos as a legitimate way to build a more functional world.

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