CBC Hamilton Threatened by Cuts

Proposed cuts of up to 10% could jeopardize the CBC's new digital service in Hamilton.

By Sonja Macdonald
Published March 14, 2012

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is coming to Hamilton, but for how long?

In November 2011 the national public broadcaster announced its intention to launch a new and innovative digital local service for the Hamilton region.

Since the initial announcement, the CBC has rented office space on James Street North and has hired at least five new staff, including local reporters to begin developing regular stories for the Hamilton local service.

The CBC's presence in Hamilton is long overdue, and the digital plan is the first step in ensuring that our community receives commensurate service with other communities across the country.

One of the greatest benefits of this will be the ability for Hamilton stories to connect to regional and national radio and TV audiences, unlike anything that has occurred before.

This important first step in CBC's expansion to Hamilton may be threatened by proposed cuts of upwards of 10 percent ($110 million) of the broadcaster's budget in the upcoming federal budget.

These cuts could put the long term Hamilton plans in jeopardy, by delaying the development of the service or reducing its scope.

It's important to remember that many groups and individuals, including local MPs from all parties, have been supportive of CBC's expansion to Hamilton over the years.

In advance of the upcoming budget, it is crucial that Hamiltonians communicate to the federal government, and our local MPs, how important this digital service is to our community.

Please take some time to sign on to the Keep Canada Connected petition by Wednesday, March 21, 2012.

The national petition, which is part of the Reimagine CBC campaign, will be delivered to the Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance.

The Centre for Community Study, as a partner organization of the campaign, will deliver a copy of the petition to David Sweet, MP.

Mr. Sweet, the only representative of the current government in this region, has supported the CBC expansion to Hamilton in the past. Let's remind him that, now more than ever, his support is necessary to ensure that we finally get the CBC service we deserve.

Sonja Macdonald is co-founder and research director at the Centre for Community Study. Sonja coordinates the Hamilton Media Project, which seeks to expand the local media diversity in the Hamilton region.


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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2012 at 21:39:35

The 2012 Federal Budget will have NO impact on CBC Hamilton. The funds are budgeted for and will not be cut back by CBC management.

The project is fully underway, the staff are hired, the equipment purchased, and the website design nearing completion.

CBC Hamilton is not just another CBC bureau - this is their flagship digital experiment. CBC management is not going to go cheap on their future and this experiment.

Comment edited by JoeyColeman on 2012-03-14 21:40:29

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2012 at 21:50:17 in reply to Comment 75222

And a reminder for clarity:

I have no contractual relationship with CBC Hamilton.

I've been offering my feedback to their team and pitched a few articles. Some of which are still under consideration.

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By theOther (registered) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 19:40:21 in reply to Comment 75223

Hey Joey, been following and appreciating your work for some time. Thanks very much for clarifying this.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 22:45:07

Would I be wrong in assuming that this type of medium is the future (present?) and that in spite of various cutbacks going on, this would be the absolute gem in their digital media crown? I really had high hopes for OpenFileHamilton and I am guessing that this would be very much like that, just much more so from what I’ve read online. I am not familiar with the reporters, or talent operating the site, but I’ve always been impressed with CBC Radio 1 and blogs, podcasts and updates with a Hamilton flavour should be absolutely embraced. I’m sure loads, and loads of critics can come on here and squelch the life out of the idea and possibly with some merit that it won’t meet every need they want. Still, it will be a great spotlight for our city. I’ll tell you I’ve been impressed with Matt Jelly on his weekly radio program, and if they can create anything with a similar vibe to that I will be very impressed.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 23:49:00 in reply to Comment 75224

How about hiring Matt? There's some real local flavour for them!

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2012 at 22:50:50 in reply to Comment 75224

From what I know, this is going to be unlike anything else. It's not CBC Radio, it's not TV, and it's not the city pages CBC already operates.

What it is, I don't know - but it will be a great ride for Hamilton to be on.

They'll be relying upon the community to support them and, I for one, will be.

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By nauga (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 00:05:17

Cuts to CBC should only strengthen the case for CBC Hamilton. The Corp's future is digital, and this is a beta liferaft. They'd be nuts to sink it.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted March 15, 2012 at 13:37:05

It would certainly be cruel to have all this build up leading up to the moment that beautiful Canadian symbol landed on a building in our city, and for it all to be yanked back. 'Want a lick. Psych.'

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By CBCHamilton (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 15:23:06

The cuts threaten the long-term viability of an expanded CBC presence in Hamilton. The Hamilton Digital service is a starting point for service out of necessity due to the fact that there are no available radio frequencies. The goal should be to have service on par with other cities of similar size in Canada and cuts to the broadcaster would impact the CBC's ability to invest the larger dollars necessary to expand serve in other forms in Hamilton.

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By Macaron (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2012 at 14:08:50 in reply to Comment 75235

That will naturally happen. A truckload of water will only ever fill so many glasses.

The Ceeb has a finite budget -- $1.8 billion, roughly two-thirds of which is government funding -- goes to funding content and delivering it via 30+ services in two languages, with a view to to reaching 34 million Canadians.

The vision study "Everyone, Every Way" neatly encapsulates this. Expanded regional service and addressing the gaps in Western markets will necessitate budget-minded business models.

It's not an easy task, and the results are often like watered-down oatmeal: inoffensively nutritious but thin and flavourless. The afternoon shift at Radio 2 is increasingly sounding like everything else on the dial, distinguishable mostly by its sexless chatter. Light classic rock, adult contemporary CanCon (lately, the commercial tic of rotation in daily samples of the same song from Leonard Cohen, Kathleen Edwards, Joel Plaskett, etc), hosts whose inflections are so similar that you wonder if cloned vocal chords are part of the economy measures. It's hard to imagine that this is the same CBC that dared to offer audiences Brave New Waves. (And even that era died when Brent Bambury left... the retirement of Peter Gzowski and Lister Sinclair in the following years only cinched it.) Digital arrives without baggage and can be its own thing, if we will only let it.

Forget the glass-half-empty grumping about deserving expanded service from digital for the foreseeable future -- simply being able to talk about "CBC Hamilton" as more than a hypothetical is already a service expansion.

Then again, a solution might reside in enlightened spending.

Holding onto programming like HNIC is an increasingly expensive endeavour, as sports rights tick upward faster than government spending. Letting that flagship go would free up money for underserved markets. You might be able to each "Everyone, Every Way" but you cannot also be everything to everybody.

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By Ty Webb (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2012 at 21:07:38 in reply to Comment 75260

HNIC is a revenue generator for CBC.

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By Macaron (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2012 at 08:11:42 in reply to Comment 75269

No question. One of the only significant revenue generators, I imagine.

Will be interesting to see what comes of Bell Media & Rogers muscling in over at MLSE. Could be that Leafs games will be priced out of the equation.

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By TerryR (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2012 at 21:01:40 in reply to Comment 75273

I was reading recently that the NHL is not quite enamoured with the CBC and that it may not be long before they split. And that would definitely be a huge ad loss for them. They have three hours of good audiences that they can sell against for game one and thn another three hours of decent audiences that they can sell for game two. Sure you might hear that Little Mosque did well this week but that's only a half hour long. So they need 12 decent shows to make up the ratings that HNIC gets.

Then add in playoffs happening very night for a month then probably every other night the monh after that

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 18:08:51

Jamaica has spent around 10-13% of its GDP on public debt charges, since at least 2006. In that time, government spending on programs/wages has increased at an average rate of 13.1%/year.

From 1998-2008, Canadian government(s) spending on programs/wages has averaged 5.30% and this is with debt charges that averaged 6.7% of GDP and are now less than 4%.

To put that into perspective, from 1969-89, Canadian government spending (ex debt charges) averaged 12.18%.

So, when Flaherty says there is no money to spend for program X, or room to cut taxes for households, he is simply not telling the truth.
Both Canada and Jamaica have their own central bank and this bank ensures that the central government always has the money it needs to meet its spending requirements.

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By Egon (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 08:42:25 in reply to Comment 75236

The national poverty rate in Jamaica is around 13%; Canada's is around 10%.

The national unemployment rate in Jamaica is around 12.4%; in Canada, it's 7.4%.

Canada's per-capita national debt seems to be 25th largest worldwide (~$29,625USD). For sake of comparison...

Portugal: 46,795USD
Ireland: 519,070USD
Italy: 36,841USD
Greece: 47,636USD
Spain: 47,069USD

Jamaica's equivalent seems to be 52nd worldwide (~$4,660USD).

Admittedly, that's just Wikipedia.

And also, a lot of those countries are doing just great. Example:

Netherlands: 226,503
Switzerland: 154,063
United Kingdom: 144,338
Norway: 131,220

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By Egad (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 11:11:12



United Kingdom


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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 12:21:54

>> The national unemployment rate in Jamaica is around 12.4%; in Canada, it's 7.4%.

Jamaica's large current account deficit (average 7% for the last twenty years) is the culprit. When this cash leaves the country, it isn't available to be spent creating jobs in Jamaica.

To counter this cash exodus, the Jamaican government needs to add net savings to the economy. They could do this by encouraging more exports/trade and/or they could run larger deficits.

If the savings level of the Jamaican private sector gets big enough, it will eventually be spent and this will create lots of jobs.

>> And also, a lot of those countries are doing just great. Example:

Netherlands: 226,503
Switzerland: 154,063
United Kingdom: 144,338
Norway: 131,220

Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway all run large current account surpluses. That means that cash is flowing into their economies, creating higher incomes, spending levels and job creation.

As for the UK, the opposite has happened. Cash is flowing out of the country, driving incomes down, driving tax collections down and increasing the national debt from 44.5% to 80%, since 2008.

Canada is also running a current account deficit (avg 3% last two years), which is draining savings from the economy. So far this hasn't killed demand, because people are using their homes as ATM's.
However, because these debts have to be paid back, this will end as rates get close to zero.

If the feds were smart, they would recognize this and add savings to the Canadian economy before we get a spike in unemployment. The ONLY way to do this is to run much larger deficits, either through increased spending and/or lower taxes. Unfortunately, our leaders are more focused on the imaginary federal deficit (can print money) than the real household deficit (can't print money).

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:31:25

Please. I come here to read about CBC Hamilton. Surely there are other places to discuss such things.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2012 at 23:33:12 in reply to Comment 75257

Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor not a neo-Keynesan economist!

For what it's worth, I don't disagree with Smith's basic point (cuts to public spending don't spur growth), and yes, there are numbers to back that up. But this isn't really the place for long lists of comparative debt:GDP ratios. What needs saying is that "austerity" programs like the Drummond Report are politically driven, not evidence-based, and just as likely to wreck the economy as not.

Mr Smith, have you considered getting a blog so you could post links to more in-depth numerical analysis, where we might all go into more depth without taking up quite as much space here? I'd visit and post replies (if ya'd let me).

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By Scared (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2012 at 14:36:05

CBC operates like a scared chicken afraid to deal with Cherry's outdated mode of entertainment because it appeals to so many red-neckish Canadians that dominate this land.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2012 at 22:23:26 in reply to Comment 75342

If in your opinion red necks dominate this land.... maybe that makes you the odd man/woman out and the cbc is merely catering to what their consumer base wants?

Hockey Night in Canada is the most popular show in this country..... by a country mile. It is so to a large extent because of Don Cherry and Ron McClean. It takes in the most advertising revenue of any CBC production and enables the CBC (along with the $Billion plus in taxpayer money it gets every year) to give us such gems as Little Mosque on the Prairie, the laugh track laced This Hour has 22 Minutes, past beauties like Wind at My Back etc. Oh and lets not forget Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune......wait aren't those American productions?

So maybe the next time you're sitting at home in your turtle neck and birkenstocks listening to jazz on CBC radio with the other 6 people that listen to it, sipping an imported Pinot Noir..... perhaps maybe you should tip your glass to Don Cherry and say thanks.

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By theOther (registered) | Posted March 22, 2012 at 09:56:46 in reply to Comment 75349

It's my understanding that viewership significantly declines during the 'Coach's Corner' segment of Hockey Night in Canada these past several years. I'll suggest that Canadians in great numbers watch HNIC for reasons other than Cherry and McLean, though no doubt they add value for many. But for sure the broadcast is a gold-mine for the corp.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2012 at 19:14:30 in reply to Comment 75364

Do you have a source?

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By Scared (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:11:45

Shempatolla, Cherry encourage fighting to continue in what should be a great sport. Sorry but that to me is a sign of a red neck attitude and many people, probably yourself, seem to condone this type of violence in sport. If that is your taste, so be it, it certainly isn't mine. I have no problem and actually enjoy contact sports but if you fight, you ought to be tossed out of the game.

And by the way I enjoy beer, IPA's and Guinness and don't much care for wine.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2012 at 19:40:58 in reply to Comment 75365

He doesn't encourage fighting in hockey, he understands that it has always been a part of the game, it is there for a reason (at the professional level), and that the movement to remove it from the game is a political one driven by ignorant leftist sentiment that doesn't get that a fight on the street is different from a fight on the ice. Name me another sport (other than lacrosse, where fighing is allowed) in which every player on the field/ice/pitch is carrying a potential weapon? Fighting in hockey (the way it used to be) protects players from getting hurt. They policed themselves and there was an understanding that if you broke the accepted boundaries, you were going to pay a price. Do you no ever wonder why (until very late in his career after the "instigator" penalty was introduced) Wayne Gretzky never got a concussion, never got sticked in the face, never got cross checked from behind into the boards, was never picking stick tape out of his teeth? It's because if he did you knew Dave Semenko or Marty McSorely were going to pound your face in. And then they were going to pound the face in of the best player on your team.

Simply making RULES that penalize such actions as head shots, stick infractions, hitting from behind hasn't stopped it and in fact have increased injuries to marquis players. The evidence is obvious. Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, James Reimer, One of the Sedins, Brent Seabrook how many others? Hundreds of man games lost due to head injuries from mostly cheap shots. The penalty? A few games suspension and a fine. Wow. Those players are almost all millionaires. A few thousand dollar fine and five games isn't going to stop it. The certainty that you are going to lose some teeth does.

The fans do not want fighting out of the game, the players do not want fighting out of the game, the general managers do not want fighting out of the game. Those that do are a small but vocal bunch of journalists, bureaucrats, and do gooders who think they know whats best.

Violence in sport is different than a hockey fight. If you are a professional hockey player, you have a reasonable expectation that a fight on the ice could take place and that you could be in it. A fight on a soccer pitch is a different story. For that matter what Todd Bertuzzi did is a different story. Tossing guys out of the game in pro hockey is only going to lead to more star players getting hurt, or worse. If a little blood is too much for your sensibilities maybe you should watch something else.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 24, 2012 at 08:26:00 in reply to Comment 75418

...the movement to remove it from the game is a political one driven by ignorant leftist sentiment that doesn't get that a fight on the street is different from a fight on the ice.

Do you have a source?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:15:40 in reply to Comment 75421

Ralph Nader is a leftist, I'll grant you that, but he bases his opposition to fighting in hockey on the medical evidence, so he is certainly not ignorant.

The other links also show that the opposition is based on documented medical evidence, without even the slightest connection to leftism.

Please provide sources that prove your contention that opposition to fighting is based on ignorance and leftism, because the only sources you've provided so far prove that the opposition is evidence-based and apolitical.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted April 02, 2012 at 17:20:06 in reply to Comment 75422

Look at the publications the articles were published in. Tell me they aren't leftist in orientation. The medical evidence shows us concussions are up, not that they were caused by fighting. In fact they have been caused by cheap shots on marquis players that the absence of the instigator rule would likely have averted.

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By Beige Beigne (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:06:55

Rick Salutin, writing in today's Toronto Star, asks "What’s more public: CBC or the Internet?"

"I think what always deceived us was the assumption that “public” equals ownership. If the Canadian people own the CBC, it should have a public nature, n’est-ce pas? But that’s a legalism which becomes doubtful when an alternative that looks far more like public broadcasting heaves into view — on the Internet.

Maybe we were mesmerized by the wrong issue: ownership. That isn’t the problem. It’s the medium, stupid. It doesn’t matter who owns it. A unidirectional, one-to-many medium like network TV delivers irresistible clout to those who control it and deliver its programming to the nation. Being human, the power will go to their heads and they will routinely identify with other powerful, usually rich individuals and groups. Maybe what we need is a distinction between public broadcasting, which is a mere matter of who formally owns a network, and public media."

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By old guy (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2012 at 15:57:57

So back when this thread was about Hamilton, my question was not about digital vs analogue or radio vs TV or CBC vs CHCH but I wonder....what is the ACTUAL CONTENT going to be????

any other comments about Don, Beachcombers or Red Green are irrelevent to me...

What do people want from the CBC 'digital' that CHML and CHCH are not giving them?

I have a gut feeling that the CBC Hamilton thing will be a web site with shaky vids that appeal to hipsters but edited to avoid offending network sponsors and local influence...

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By Beige Beigne (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 15:07:42

CBC will cut 650 jobs over the next three years, including 475 this fiscal year, in response to last week’s federal budget, which reduced funding to the public broadcaster by $115 million over the same time frame.

“When we add up the reduction to our appropriation, unavoidable cost increases, and the investments that CBC/Radio-Canada needs to make to ensure its continued transformation into a modern public broadcaster, we actually face financial pressures amounting to $200 million over the next three years,” said Hubert T. Lacroix, president and CEO of CBC, in a statement.

The CBC will detail its plan to employees in a town hall Wednesday afternoon.

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By Casimir (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2012 at 06:47:57

Ralph Benmurgui on the "CBC’s Questionable Direction":

"Perhaps it’s time not to add commercials to CBC Radio 2 but to drop them from CBC TV. Bring back regional television, tell our stories from the ground up, and revive our once proud current affairs and interviewing traditions.

If we must dedicate more of our common wealth to building the next version of the CBC then let’s get on with it because this country is changing, evolving and full of stories waiting to be told."

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