CBC/Radio-Canada's response to Greg Weston's article, "CBC wants more. In hard economic times others cut, the public broadcaster begs" - The Sun newspaper chain, February 22, 2009

    OTTAWA, Feb. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The article written by Greg Weston and
published in The Sun newspaper chain yesterday presents a flawed picture of
the situation CBC/Radio-Canada is facing. In fact, almost all assertions in
the article are either a distortion of facts or are flat-out wrong. We should
point out that Mr. Weston did not check any of his facts with us before
writing this article.
    So here are the corrections we feel appropriate to communicate in order
to get the facts straight:
    The public broadcaster will not be in the red this fiscal year, which
ends March 31, 2009. CBC/Radio-Canada will break even, in spite of the
economic downturn, because of cost-cutting measures put in place by management
starting last August. In fact, we have not been in a year-end deficit position
in 10 years.
    Contrary to Mr. Weston's statement, our parliamentary appropriation was
not increased by 8% this year over last year. Our appropriation was exactly
the same as the previous year, save for a 1.5% salary increase that Treasury
Board allotted to all Crown Corporations and a carry over of some funding
originally projected for the previous year. In fact, our base operating
appropriation has not been increased in constant dollars for 35 years.
    Mr. Weston writes, "The CBC brass evidently continues to operate on the
assumption there isn't much a government cheque can't cure." CBC/Radio-Canada
has not asked Government for a hand-out, an increased subsidy or an increase
to our appropriation. In this economic environment, when every industry is in
difficulty, everyone has to tighten their belts. We understand that.
    CBC/Radio-Canada is trying to manage its existing appropriation in a way
that spreads the effect of the financial crunch over several years. Private
broadcasters have the financial flexibility that comes from access to capital
markets and commercial borrowing. As a Crown Corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada has
no access to this type of borrowing for working capital purposes. To finance a
short-term financial gap, we have to make cuts to services, programs and
people. That is what we are faced with today. Far from being immune, we too
will need to take decisive action in the coming months, whether we find a way
to increase our financial flexibility or not. And that is the situation we
wanted to communicate to our staff in a regular financial update, an early
draft of which was obtained by Mr. Weston.
    Meantime, we are exhausting all possible avenues for financial
flexibility in order to protect the investment Canadians have made in public
broadcasting, and the services they get that no one else will provide, through
this economic crisis.
    For more information, please check our Corporate website:

    About CBC/Radio-Canada

    CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its
largest cultural institutions. With 29 services offered on Radio, Television,
the Internet, satellite radio, digital audio, as well as through its record
and music distribution service and wireless WAP and SMS messaging services,
CBC/Radio-Canada is available how, where, and when Canadians want it.
    Through this array of activities, CBC/Radio-Canada brings diverse
regional and cultural perspectives into the daily lives of Canadians in
English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, in nine languages on its
international Radio service, Radio Canada International, and in eight
languages on its Web-based Radio service RCI viva, a service for recent and
aspiring immigrants to Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Marco Dubé, Director, Media Relations and
Issues Management, CBC/Radio-Canada, (613) 288-6039, marco.dube@cbc.ca

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