Turning inner space into outer space

May 14, 2016

If Canadians can subsidize the CBC, why not other media as well?

It’s hard to be a fan of someone best know for shutting down newsrooms and laying off journalists. But Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey just might have a good idea.

He appeared before a Commons committee to make a plea for more federal government spending on newspaper advertising. He also asked for a system of tax breaks for businesses that advertise in newspapers.

I know about this because I read it on CBC’s website. Yes, the CBC that is subsidized by Canadian taxpayers to produce news for TV, radio and the Internet — but not print. The CBC that reported it will receive a “cash infusion” of $675 million over the next five years from the Liberal government.

Apparently, those same Liberals who didn’t think twice about straight-up cash for the CBC had a hard time imagining even roundabout support for newspapers.

Said Liberal MP Adam Vaughan: “There have been no fiercer critics of subsidies to the media than the Toronto Sun and the National Post. How do you square your editorial position with your corporate position?”

Godfrey had to explain that newspaper columnists are allowed to express opinions that don’t jive with those of the owners. I wonder if anyone at the CBC (Rex Murphy? Rick Mercer?) has ever criticized the government.

We’re told that taxpayers should be glad to support the CBC because it promotes national unity. To varying degrees, Canadians have bought into this argument. Local newspapers promote democracy and community, so it shouldn’t be a hard sell for taxpayers to support them as well.

The problem is that newspapers aren’t the only ones in trouble. Local TV stations are also facing hard times. And what about all the little news sites eking out a living — should they get help, too?

It might be tricky, but I say yes. We could figure it out.