No tears from Harper for CBC revenue problems

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper gestures during a news conference, Nov. 16, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger


OTTAWA — The CBC shouldn't come crying to him for more money, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says, even if a continuing NHL lockout reduces ad revenue from Saturday night hockey broadcasts.

"CBC has its funding voted annually by Parliament," Harper said Friday from Quebec City. "That is the amount we are giving it for the year."

The last federal budget trimmed taxpayer support for the state broadcaster by about $55 million and ended a special $60-million subsidy for Canadian content production.

That means the state broadcaster will have to make do with about $1 billion from taxpayers, plus almost $370 million in ad revenue.

The loss of NHL hockey for a whole season could knock $130 million off CBC English TV ad revenue, according to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting — a figure the CBC wouldn't confirm.

New Democrats are now circulating a petition calling on the Conservatives to reverse CBC budget cuts and provide "adequate and stable funding."

Quebec NDP MP Pierre Nantel says the Tories could find more money in several areas, including breaks for businesses.

"Money for this could come from many other priorities that the government has had in all these topics that we all know — these income credits that have been spared to the largest companies to all these oil subsidies that have been brought up," the NDP heritage critic said.

Oil companies aren't directly subsidized in Canada, but do get tax credits for resource exploration or other research activities.

But not even the NDP seems prepared to call for taxpayers to make up for CBC ad revenue lost because of the hockey lockout.

"I will not improvise any answer on this," Nantel said.

CBC's head of media relations, Chuck Thompson, tells QMI Agency there are contingency plans in place and labour disruption "provisions" in the broadcaster's agreement with the NHL to cushion any lockout revenue hit.
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