Liberals' budget gives more money to things you don't watch or read

Sheila Gunn Reid looks at the new handouts for the media laid out in the Trudeau Liberals' latest budget.

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The Liberals' latest inflationary budget includes much more money for things you don't watch or read.

Remember when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “the commitment needs to be to grow the economy and the budget will balance itself”?

Ten years after this infamous quip, the budget has not balanced itself — not even once, not even close — despite Trudeau's insistence that he could just “will” it to be without any work whatsoever.

But you won't hear how bad it is out there for Canadians, with 50% of us just one paycheque away from ruin.

And the reason that fact won't be on the front page of every newspaper is the hush money bailout Trudeau has given to the media in the latest budget.

Let me show you. Directly from the Liberals' budget this week.

Here's what the Liberals are doing for the failing state broadcaster:

Investing in CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is key to our democracy. As Canada's national public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada ensures people in all parts of Canada, including rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, have access to local and Canadian news and entertainment in their preferred official language. Like many media organizations, CBC/Radio-Canada has experienced declining advertising and subscription revenues that threaten its ability to fulfill its mandate of providing public television and radio programming.

  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $42 million in 2024-25 for CBC/Radio-Canada news and entertainment programming, ensuring Canadians across the country, including rural, remote, Indigenous, and minority language communities, have access to high-quality, independent journalism and entertainment.

They admit that CBC is doing poorly, that nobody's watching it — but that's not going to stop the Liberals from giving them another $42 million on top of the $1.3 billion or so they already get from taxpayers every year.

And here's what the Liberals are giving smaller outlets struggling to capture or maintain an audience:

Promoting Local Journalism

Access to high-quality and independent news and information is a key pillar of any democracy. Over the years, private corporations have bought up media outlets, including small community papers and broadcast channels, but have not been there to support the journalists who are the heartbeat of news. Combined with shifts to the digital platforms of multinational tech giants who are reducing revenue streams, local news is facing critical challenges. If we allow the erosion of news media, we are enabling the sort of unchecked disinformation and misinformation that will erode our democracy.

The government believes that Canadians, no matter where they live, especially those in small, underserved, and official language communities, need to be able to have access to independent local journalism.

To support the production of independent, reliable, and diverse local news across the country, the government announced $58.8 million over three years, starting in 2024-25, to the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Local Journalism Initiative. This support would be available to written press, community radio and television, and online news services.

Again, they're admitting that local journalism is failing but instead of encouraging the industry to rethink its business model, the Liberals have something else in mind. You see, to make small-time journalism independent, the Liberals are going to make them dependent on the government.

But the Liberals weren't done colonizing the information space with government money. Next, they dished out more funding for public-interest programming:

Investing in Public Interest Programming Services

Public interest programming services, including the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Accessible Media Inc (AMI), ICI Television, and TV5 Québec Canada, among others, play important roles providing news programming to Canadians, and ensuring diverse voices are heard and accessible across the country.

The services provided by not-for-profit media organizations, like APTN, which amplifies Indigenous voices covering Indigenous news, for Indigenous communities across the country, need urgent support to continue delivering the news.

  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $15 million over two years, starting in 2024‑25, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to support public interest programming services, including $5 million in 2024-25 to support CPAC's capital requirements.

It's almost like the Liberals are spending money on their media enablers like they are plummeting in the polls, embroiled in a series of scandals, with an affordability crisis created by their own mismanagement, with an election just 17 months out.

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