Over the last few years we have seen the overall media industry struggling to keep up with the rapidly advancing digital environment. This has threatened to almost bring down the expansive and expensive news, radio, and TV giants many of us grew up with.
To deal with that struggling market, the Trudeau government has thrown a whopping $675 million at our state broadcaster, the CBC, while also recently announcing another series of massive grants, this time to some private media companies, and to the tune of roughly $600 million.
Editor’s Note: (The Post Millennial does not receive any third party grants, subsidies, or other forms of payment from the Government of Canada.)
With over $1.2 billion put up in funding by the federal government you really have to ask yourself, is this worth it?
Or is it another method (with good intentions) that ends up wasting taxpayer funds, destabilizing a market place, and buying off some Canadians who have allowed misguided nationalism to determine their view when it comes to how the government treats media.
From my point of view as an individual managing an online digital media business, it is the latter.
There is simply no real need for the government to actively spend so much funds ensuring that some companies can continue to operate in poor conditions and without providing results.
As I explained in an earlier article for the The Post Millennial the failing media giants should not be subsidized with more taxpayer money. Especially given their history of under-performing and refusing to adapt.
So how can we save Canada’s crumbling media industry?
From my view, we need to stop killing it first.
My colleague Brian Lilley summarized the problem quite well when quoting Ronald Reagan in his recent article covering the government bailout.
“Justin Trudeau may not be aware but his plan to help out Canada’s struggling mainstream media follows the path laid out by a conservative icon to a T.
Ronald Reagan famously said that liberals followed this pattern, ‘If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
The truth is repeated government interventions have allowed the media industry in Canada to become so destabilized that normal private companies have an extremely difficult time competing.
The biggest of which is the involvement of the CBC now in all realms of digital content.
“For more than 20 years CBC has offered an Internet website, cbc.ca, but in the past few years this effort has been accelerated. In its recently released strategic plan, called “A Space for Us All,” CBC was coy about its plans to compete with print media. When it was pointed out on Twitter that the strategy said the CBC wanted to turn into a “public media company,” the CBC first denied that this phrase was in the document and then tried to rationalize it.”
The CBC is operating the exact same ways as private media companies, just without the expectation to perform at the same level, and with near limitless financial (and other) resources.
Whether you are buying video content, selling advertising campaigns, or even putting up an opinion article, the CBC now competes in those areas.
The CBC is a media predator
Even when private media companies produce fantastic pieces of original journalism, within moments you can find it on the CBC for free (undercutting paywalls), and in most cases without any credit provided to the journalist who actually did all of the work.
According to Tristan Hopper in an article for the National Post, this system could be “predatory pricing. A heavily subsidized competitor is moving into a new market and offering an artificially cheap product that existing media organizations cannot hope to match.”
Now the truth is at some point the CBC made a great deal of sense. It provided a service to rural communities without any access and in many cases aimed to regulate the American market from entering Canada too quickly.
In today’s market, as pointed out by Colby Cosh in an article for Maclean’s, it may have outlived it’s usefulness.
Today even in some of the most remote areas in Canada there is access to content, and the CBC does not function like a regulator. In effect, it is just a state broadcaster actively attempting to use its state subsidy to eat up what is left of the already struggling news and media businesses.
What do you think? Should the CBC continue to operate as is or should it pulled back? Is the current mandate fair?
Join the conversation by commenting below!