When is a cut not a cut? When it’s just a review

The CBC is being included in a review of government spending that calls for the pubcaster to find the lowest-performing 5% of its programs and services.

A spokesperson for Heritage Minister James Moore put down talk of further cuts at CBC, following word that the pubcaster will be included in a review of government spending.

Looking ahead to the federal budget for 2010/11, the review calls for the pubcaster to find the lowest-performing 5% of its programs and services, which, following review by Ottawa and recommendations from the Ceeb, could be cut from next year’s budget or redirected. The 5% works out to $50 million, given the CBC’s budget.

The pubcaster already cut programs and eliminated 800 full-time jobs in March.

Moore has taken heat for the move. Advocates for the Ceeb including Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and the Canadian Media Guild say the minister misled a parliamentary committee last week when he indicated that the pubcaster would not face further cuts.

Yet a Heritage spokesperson emphatically denies that there will be cuts, noting that all government departments must take part in the review. The reviews are a new effort, started by the Tories in 2007, which require all government departments to review their spending every four years. ‘A strategic review does not necessarily mean that funding is going to be cut…all that’s been asked of CBC is to identify the bottom 5% of their programs and services that are in the lower [bracket] in terms of performance,’ says Deirdra McCracken, adding that about 21 departments have undergone the same process.

McCracken also points out that funding could be reallocated within CBC.

Pierre-Alain Bujold, spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat, says ‘while the CBC is not a department, it is a federal organization that receives funding from the federal government. All federal organizations that receive appropriations from parliament, including the CBC, are required to review their direct program spending.’

From Playback Daily