HAMILTON, ON, Feb. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - A substantial majority (65%) of Hamilton area residents would like CBC to establish a local radio station to cover community affairs, and support the Conservative's pre-election pledge to maintain or increase CBC funding. These findings emerge from a new opinion survey of Hamilton residents commissioned by the broadcast watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
"Close to a million people live in the area, yet Hamilton residents are underserved by CBC even though other much smaller communities in Canada enjoy much greater coverage of their community affairs," said Friends' spokesperson Ian Morrison.
On November 1, 2011, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced plans to introduce a new digital service in Hamilton in the spring this year. While the CBC has been coy about exact details, the digital service would likely fall short of a full local radio station, and the threat of budget cuts have cast doubt on CBC's capacity to deliver on its promise.
"The federal government's plan to make a substantial cut of 10% or more to the CBC's budget will have devastating consequences for listeners and viewers and could well scuttle new services the CBC has promised to Hamiltonians and residents of several other communities, an outcome that will clearly be off-side with the priorities of residents of this area," said Morrison.
The survey found that half of Hamiltonians agree that "just as small provinces have their own CBC stations, regions like mine should have their own station, even if it requires giving the CBC a bit more money".
If local MPs asked their constituents what to do about CBC funding, they would hear an echo of the Conservative Party's pre-election promise to maintain or increase CBC funding.
Four-in-ten (39%) Hamiltonians would counsel their MP to maintain CBC funding at current levels while 30% (vs. 23% in the rest of Canada) would advise their MP to increase CBC funding from current levels. Only one-in-four (23%) would advise their MP to vote to cut the CBC's funding.
"All MPs in the area know their constituents want them to support the CBC and this survey shows that that vast majority (69%) of area residents would like to see the CBC's budget increased or maintained," Morrison said.
Even though the Conservative Party promised to maintain or increase CBC funding during the recent election campaign, Heritage Minister James Moore is now talking about substantial cuts to the national public broadcaster in the upcoming federal budget.
"The Conservatives promised time and again before, during and after the election campaign to maintain or increase CBC funding. Breaking this promise will go against the grain for most people in the Hamilton region and elsewhere in Canada," Morrison said.
"We believe in the national public broadcaster. We have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and we will commit to that."
Heritage Minister James Moore,
May 3, 2011
The survey also found that more than half (53%) of the region's residents agree with a recent House of Commons Heritage Committee recommendation that annual CBC funding should be increased from $33 per Canadian to $40, while 17% think this recommendation should be rejected because it is too little.
Currently, Hamiltonians are less satisfied with the CBC's coverage of local affairs than Canadians living elsewhere. Sixty-six percent (vs. 74% in the rest of Canada) of residents agree that the CBC provides good coverage of local news and cultural events even without a local station.
Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government carry a reputation for being hostile to Canadian culture and the CBC. According to the survey, 66% of Hamiltonians think Canada's level of public broadcaster funding is indicative of the federal government's treatment of the cultural sector overall.
More than half of area residents (55%) think the Prime Minister would like to privatize the CBC, a policy Hamiltonians reject in about the same number as people living elsewhere in Canada, but with greater intensity; 37% of Hamiltonians vs. 26% of other Canadians disagree strongly that privatizing and commercializing the CBC is the right thing to do. More than half (52%) of Hamiltonians reject this policy while only one-in-four agree.
As for which political party is most trusted by Hamiltonians to protect the CBC, the Conservative Party scores lowest at 24% followed by the Liberal Party at 33% with the NDP being most trusted to protect the CBC by 43%.
The CBC gets high marks from Canadians and Hamiltonians for meeting its mandate to present programs that inform, enlighten and entertain as well as its mandate to serve the broadcasting needs of Canada's regions.
The online survey of 2022 adult Canadians conducted from November 4 to 10 has a margin of error of +/- 2.18%, 19 times out of 20. Hamilton data are based on a sample of 404 adults living in the area and have a margin of error of +/- 4.87%, 19 times out of 20.
The survey was designed and administered by political scientists Peter Loewen, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and Daniel Rubenson, Associate Professor at Ryerson University. Fieldwork for the poll was done by Vision Critical on the Angus Reid Forum National Panel.
For further information:
Jim Thompson 613-447-9592