New financing for CBC sought

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TORONTO -- An all-party Parliamentary committee on Thursday recommended the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. receive new financing from Ottawa so it can act as a bulwark against media concentration and American programming on rival private networks here.

"Proximity to the world's largest producer of entertainment poses specific challenges for CBC/Radio-Canada," the standing committee on Canadian Heritage said in a 208-page report into the CBC's future mandate in an emerging digital universe.

The parliamentary committee recommended stable, multiyear funding for the CBC to help it meet future competition.

"It is essential that our national public broadcaster have the financial resources needed to offer its services, in two official languages, to all the Canadians living in an area of 10 million square kilometers," the report said.

"In a universe where media concentration has become the norm, a financially stable public broadcaster is even more necessary," it added.

But the Heritage committee split along party lines when it came to the CBC's future.

A dissenting report from members of Parliament representing the ruling Conservative Party said it rejected a key recommendation that the CBC only air Canadian-content shows in primetime, and not American content, including Hollywood movies.

The Conservative members of Parliament said the all-Parliamentary committee should not endorse measures to "micro-manage our independent public broadcasting corporation."

"If CBC/Radio-Canada was bound to follow this particular recommendation they would not be permitted to show classic Christmas movies during primetime on Christmas Eve, unless it happened to fall on a weekend," the dissenting Tories added.

This past Christmas, the CBC aired Frank Capra's 1946 classic "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street," which stars Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara.

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, representing about 50,000 domestic TV viewers, was critical of the minority Conservative opinion for its denial of new money for the CBC to meet goals.

"The Conservative dissenting report sets the CBC up to fail. It calls for CBC to do more but denies CBC the required resources. It is a road map that would be extremely damaging to the CBC, especially its English television network," said Ian Morrison, Friends' spokesperson, said.
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