Wednesday, October 27, 2004

CBC Accused of Left-Wing Bias

'The pews are empty,' CBC told by Norma Greenaway
Oct 24, 2003
Senators accuse broadcaster of bias

OTTAWA - Carole Taylor, chairwoman of the CBC, faced accusations of
anti-Israel and anti-U.S. bias in the network's reporting as she lobbied
yesterday for more secure government funding for the public broadcaster.

Ms. Taylor, backed by Robert Rabinovitch, president and CEO, also said
ratings were not the best way to judge the success of CBC's multilingual
and varied programming on the French and English networks.

Ms. Taylor told a Senate committee exploring the state of the Canadian
media that steady funding cuts over the last 15 years, including another
$10-million last month, have squeezed CBC/Radio-Canada to the bone.

"This death by a thousand cuts cannot continue, not if we are to do the
job Canadians expect us to do," Ms. Taylor said.

Tory Senator Len Gustafson said he hears complaints, especially in Western
Canada, that CBC television is anti-American, anti-Israel and left-wing.

"I'm disappointed to hear that," Ms. Taylor said. The former broadcast
celebrity said the network tries to be balanced and "toe the line of fair
journalism."

She also reminded the committee the broadcaster has two ombudsman to deal
with complaints about fairness and accuracy. Ms. Taylor urged Canadians to
use the "independent" system if they have complaints about the CBC's
coverage of events.

Liberal Senator Pana Merchant questioned CBC's impact, saying one set of
numbers she read said only 3.1% of women and 1.4% of men in Saskatoon
tuned into CBC radio and television. "I think you have a wonderful
message," Ms. Merchant said. "But I think the pews are empty."

Ms. Merchant also said people on the street complain the CBC is not
relevant to their lives.

Ms. Taylor and Mr. Rabinovitch said CBC is working to rebuild its regional
operations, decimated by the budget cuts in the 1990s, but the system
needs an infusion of serious money.

Ms. Taylor said she fears CBC/Radio-Canada will not survive if "we don't
get back to our roots."

On the issue of ratings, Mr. Rabinovitch acknowledged they are an
important measure of whether people are interested in a program, but said
they are not a CBC priority.