Posts Tagged ‘accountability

CBC mega post!

- December 6th, 2010

Two weeks ago we started a series of stories about CBC and how they spend the $1.1 billion in taxpayer subsidy we give them each year. Often the stories have been about blank, or near blank, pieces of paper.

At the heart of the issue with the CBC is that we don’t think they are following the access to information law in the fullest. To demonstrate we have showed that the state broadcaster has generated far more complaints to the federal information commissioner than other government departments or agencies. We also detailed the ongoing court battle with the CBC and the Office of the Information Commissioner.

CBC of course does not share our point of view. That’s to be expected.

Since the launch of the series they have responded with an ad that ran in several newspapers and an open letter, which we published in Le Journal de Montreal.

Other media outlets have not taken up the push to have CBC be more open and transparent. That doesn’t mean they don’t like the issue overall, they just don’t want to do stories on the CBC. On Saturday The Star had a front-page story about the costs of renting out “American-owned” Deerhurst for the G8 summit.

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The Citizen had a front page story on the costs of contracting out services in Ottawa.

Then over at CBC’s website there was an interesting blog post by David McKie, a respected journalist who uses access to information as one of his regular tools. McKie was commenting on the federal government’s lack of full transparency.

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I have refrained from commenting on CBC’s journalistic practices during this series on accountability because all of the claims and counter-claims about bias at the CEEB are not the point, it is about accountability for our tax dollars that is. The reason for bringing up McKie is the same reason John Tory brought up The Fifth Estate in his rant on CBC last week, a government organization can’t demand openness and accountability and not provide it themselves.

Several people have claimed that Quebecor, the owners of Sun Media and QMI Agency should be providing the same level of openness as we are demanding of CBC. This is a false argument on several fronts.

Firstly, Quebecor does not take $1.1 billion from the taxpayers, CBC does and that is why they are subject to the Access to Information Act. Secondly, compare this story, or this story, where we showed that CBC released only some but not all information on executive salaries and bonuses with this snapshot of a company report from Quebecor.

Sure the executives at Quebecor make more money – at least we think they do – but again they are not subsidized by taxpayers. But also note that their names, salaries and bonuses are posted. CBC released bonus figures but no names. CBC released a range for their VP salary that is $200,000 wide. CBC won’t tell you which VP earns which salary.

Quebecor executives are accountable to their shareholders, of which I am currently not one, despite questions from the Liberal candidate from Gatineau.

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CBC executives should be accountable to their shareholders, the Canadian people. I don’t think they are accountable enough yet.

A final note.

Norman Spector at the Globe has been fascinated by the back and forth between our bureau and the CBC and is convinced this is all about advancing the economic interests of Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau. If this series does this, it is a side benefit. Nor have I, despite the sad story of David Patry, had a single word dictated to me by any of my bosses.

This series is about a good story that other journalists are not touching. In fact there has been more ink spilled, more pixels generated by members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery to discuss our Sun News venture than there has been to investigate the CBC’s use of $1.1 billion.

The end. For now.

John Tory rips into CBC over accountability

- December 1st, 2010

John Tory is a passionate man but not an excitable man. He’s passionate about politics, Toronto and football but he’s not one to get excitable and lash out. I’ve known John a little while now – covered him as a politician and worked with him as a broadcaster. Still I was shocked to hear how angry he is at CBC for their accountability, or lack of accountability as the case may be.

I’d been asked to go on John’s show and chat about Sun Media’s ongoing series on the CBC called Down the Drain where we look at where your money is going, the $1.1 billion we give the CBC each year. Listen as John tory takes listeners from explaining why he used to defend the CBC and why he no longer will.

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Stash your cash “climate” summit is coming

Don Cherry works for CBC, the state broadcaster that still holds back documents on how it spends your money

Boozy days to fade away for civil servants

CBC refuse to release more documents

- November 23rd, 2010

OTTAWA – CBC has refused to release documents prepared for their executives to help them answer MPs’ questions at a public hearing.

The documents requested relate to a September 2006 appearance before the House of Commons heritage committee to discuss the state broadcaster’s mandate.

Read more from our ongoing series here…

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Fund the CBC or move to the States say CEEB supporters

Layton, May, Cowan and Mitchell must want abortion made illegal then….
When some are more equal than others

Iran warns tourist off Canada, tourism industry takes coffee break

Canadians yearn for one world government says poll

Fund the CBC or move to the States say CEEB supporters

- November 22nd, 2010

Apparently I should move to the United States. That’s what one reader has told me for daring to write something that questions the CBC and their $1.1 billion subsidy plus their access to hundreds of millions of dollars more from other sources of government mandated money for broadcasters.

Mike from Nova Scotia sent me the following in response to my weekend stories on the state broadcaster.

It is Canadian,(the CBC) if you have issue move to the states, take up one of their sports, listen to their version of CBC and make real sure your private health insurance is up to date and you have your lawyer(s) read everything twice, IT IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY.

I didn’t actually write anything that complains about CBC programming, I’ll leave that to others, what I am writing about is accountability. I can tell you from experience that the waste of money at CBC is a pet peeve of many CBC employees including reporters who can be nickled and dimed while the executives spend in ways that no other executive suite in the country would dare. Many of the stories we hear about CBC come from CBCers themselves.

It is true that the company I am employed by is owned by Quebecor, a competitor of CBC. Some wrote to say why should CBC have to open up how they spend their money of Quebecor does not. That’s simple – the $1.1 billion subsidy each year.

That subsidy costs more per year than the F-35 fighter jet purchase ever will. The CBC subsidy is worth 4 times the cost of the sponsorship scandal that saw millions flow to Liberal friendly people and firms in Quebec. One year of the CBC subsidy could fund three years of Canada’s Affordable Housing Initiative.

And of course there is the environment. One year of CBC funding could fund the Green Energy infrastructure fund for another five years. It was former Liberal environment minister David Anderson who said, “I don’t have the resources of the CBC.  It’s a good policy question as to whether or not we should be reversing that.”

I’m not calling on the CBC funding to be cut, just that they are open about how that $1.1 billion is spent. They have safeguards in place to protect journalistic sources and information that competitors could use to attack it, say like Quebecor. But it is our view that they are applying these exemptions far too widely.

If you have a story about the CBC wasting taxpayers money, we’d love to hear it. Email us @ cbctips@sunmedia.ca

If you missed the original stories you can read them at the links below.

Secretive CBC lacks accountability

CBC worst offender for ignoring info requests says expert

Government to CBC: be open, comply with law

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