The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is the government-owned television and radio network of Canada. In this officially bilingual nation, CBC operates television and radio channels in English and French as well as in eight “aboriginal” languages for peoples of its northern territories. It also operates cable and subscription channels.
CBC grew out of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), which was established in 1932 largely to counter the growing influence of American radio and efforts to expand U.S. broadcasting networks into Canada. The CRBC took over radio stations established by the government’s Canadian National Railways, and in 1936 CRBC became a crown corporation called the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
CBC has always prided itself on being a voice and source of Canadian national identity. This has often manifested itself through opposition to things, policies, ideas and values that are American. Anti-Americanism, wrote Vancouver columnist George Jonas, is part of CBC’s “mental wallpaper.”
CBC is government-owned and receives annual subsidies of nearly $1 billion (Canadian) from the Parliament in Ottawa. Relative to population, Canada’s subsidy of CBC is 20 times larger than Washington’s funding of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States.
Unlike the United Kingdom, Canada has never imposed a license fee or tax on television sets or radios to support CBC. And unlike public broadcasting in most other countries, CBC affiliates are not all government-owned. Some have been privately owned, profit-making commercial stations.
“Like a neo-Chomskyite lodestone, the CBC’s institutional mythos exerts an irresistible ideological attraction on too many Canadian journalists,” wrote John Weissenberger and George Koch in the March 17, 2004 National Post, “not least because it’s a major employer. A CBC gig is their life’s ambition, and they align themselves to Mother Corp.’s agenda the instant they enter ‘J-school.’ The corrosion extends even to some print journalists, fantasizing about TV jobs.”
The leftward tilt at CBC has increased in recent years because Canada’s liberal party has held an unbroken parliamentary majority for more than a decade and used it to install monolithic partisan control over CBC’s Board of politically appointed directors.
CBC routinely defies critics such as CBCwatch who demand that it comply with its obligation under Canada’s Broadcasting Act to “provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.”
According to CanadaFreePress.com, CBC programming tilts so far to the Left that many Canadians refer to it as “The Communist Broadcasting Corporation.” Others call it the “Cuban Broadcasting Collective,” especially after CBC was eager to broadcast the pro-Fidel Castro documentary Comandante by leftwing filmmaker Oliver Stone.
CBC has been criticized for staging “public” discussions of issues with audiences and milieus carefully selected to favor the left side of those issues, as well as for other questionable journalistic practices. During the latest Canadian election campaign CBC made almost daily assertions that the nation’s conservative party had a sinister “secret plan” to change government policies in an American direction, and with this anti-conservative propaganda CBC helped the liberal party win.
In 2002 the CBC show “The Fifth Estate,” its equivalent of CBS‘s most watched news magazine show “60 Minutes,” did a sympathetic story about the leftist Canadian domestic terrorist group “the Squamish Five” that detonated 550 pounds of dynamite in the Toronto plant of Litton Industries, which manufactures guidance systems for U.S. cruise missiles. “In a time of politics, plots and a passion to change the world, five young Canadians built a secret cell,” said CBC host Anna Maria Tremonti. “[They] left behind a possible debate about the limits of political protest. … It is not such a big leap from leaflets to bombs.”
In November 2004, days before a state visit by neighboring President George W. Bush of the United States, one CBC comedy show featured Liberal Party Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish of suburban Toronto. This “right honourable” lawmaker, as journalist Stephen Brown reported, “stomped on a George Bush doll with her boot,” then continued to entertain CBC’s audience “by performing voodoo on the doll’s head, where, she said, ‘it would do the least damage.'”
CBC has also exhibited growing bias against Israel in its news coverage. One CBC correspondent reported an unsubstantiated claim by a group he neglected to tell viewers was virulently anti-Israel, a claim that Israeli agents had been involved in interrogating prisoners at Abu Graib prison in Iraq. In 2002 CBC defended the presence of the Iran-aligned Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah in Canada, describing it as a legitimate political party in the Middle East. CBC reporters rarely if ever describe groups such as Hezbollah or Hamas as “terrorists,” but rather as “militants.”