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The public broadcaster’s shrinking audience and relevancy has led to ad revenues dropping 53 percent from 2014 to that of 2019.
In the first six months of 2014 the CBC pulled in $192.2 million in ad revenues. The first half of 2019 that overall number had dropped to $90.9 million. In in the first six months of 2017 the CBC brought in 92.8 million in ad revenues, almost $2 million more than this year.
The CBC cut 35 jobs at its HQ in Toronto in November due to the continual downturn.
“I often joke it is easier to manage growth than downsizing,” said CBC’s Radio Canada’s executive vice-president Michel Bissonnette at the Commons heritage committee earlier this year. “Unfortunately we are in a downsizing environment, and we have to maintain our services for all Canadians.”
The CBC receives $1.2 billion from federal taxpayers every year, a total that was increased by $150 million annually by the Trudeau government when the Liberals took power in 2015, fulfilling a campaign promise which left the public broadcaster in a major conflict of interest in covering federal politics.
Almost two years ago the CBC relaunched its flagship show The National with a new format, replacing anchor Peter Mansbridge with four anchors. Despite The National‘s audience dropping 10 percent (from 525,000 to 460,000) by April of 2018. By June 2019 the audience had dropped off another 59,000, or 13 percent. Even though the new format is failing, a distant third for ratings compared to CTV and Global, the CBC has continued on with the new format and four hosts.
The National‘s co-host Rosemary Barton was caught in conflict-of-interest controversy during the 2019 election when her name was included in a lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada for using clips of CBC coverage for copyright infringement. Although her name was eventually removed from CBC’s lawsuit, Barton never answered whether she knew her name was going to be included as a plaintiff initially, and she continued to cover the news for the rest of the election in spite of the apparent conflict of interest. This and other actions by CBC employees during the election raised questions about the public broadcaster’s claim to impartiality.