The federal government is looking into a way to help out the struggling private broadcasters in this country – but not, apparently, the CBC. Despite a certain Conservative senator telling me recently that they weren’t going to bail out the debt of the Asper family, even though CanWest Global media has until April 7th to avoid bankruptcy protection, it looks like some kind of help is coming. The Heritage minister hints that it may be more flexibility in the regulatory or tax regimes. But flexible how? Our private broadcasters have already pretty much gutted what little Canadian content they had (and no, Entertainment Tonight Canada and e-Talk Daily should not be considered Canadian Content), and they’ve spent the past how long getting fat off of a particular government subsidy known as “simultaneous substitutions.” Do we reward this by allowing them to charge cable companies “fee for carriage” charges to carry their broadcast signals (more money for nothing, in other words)? You know, neither of the two major private broadcasters should have been allowed to take over the specialty cable channels owned by Alliance Atlantis and CHUM nearly two years ago. Not only has the programming on those stations gone downhill, but it created the debt loads that these media giants are now drowning under. Too bad that the CRTC commissioner can’t pull a Being Erica and to back in time to stop himself from making such a stupid decision. Meanwhile, the CBC isn’t even asking for an actual bailout – just an advance on future appropriations to get themselves through this rough patch, and they’re going to be denied? Remind me how the one channel actual producing Canadian content should be the one to be allowed to go down, because I’d like to know how that works.
With a leadership race for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives heating up, Harper has sat his caucus down and said that he doesn’t want any internal discord to creep into the federal party as a result. Jim Flaherty’s wife is one of the leading contenders, though several other prominent cabinet ministers have started pledging their support behind her strongest rival (who reputedly also has Mike Harris’ blessing). No word yet if any of those same cabinet ministers are eager to make a run of their own.
Peter Van Loan – who is rumoured to be considering a run – was in Washington today to visit with Janet Napolitano, the secretary for homeland security. Apparently she’s ordered a review of the northern border in January. Good to know that issues affecting trade and tourism between our two countries are getting swift attention.