The CBC’s aggressive plan to grow its share of commercial advertising revenue is an even more problematic example of a so-called public good competing with private enterprise. At a recent preview of CBC programming for media marketing and advertising agencies, the public broadcaster emphasized that all of its content — on TV, radio, podcasts or digital properties — is “ad friendly.”
Events like this, called upfronts, are standard in the broadcast industry. But the CBC itself is not standard. Unlike its competitors, it receives more than a billion dollars each year in taxpayer money to fund its news division as well as, among other things, the creation of original Canadian dramatic content. Why does it need advertising at all?
It’s no mystery why CBC would want advertising, of course. More money is its own reward. The problem is, the CBC is not Canada’s only broadcaster or news outlet. And every dollar of advertising it secures is a dollar less available to Canada’s other media companies, which receive no comparable direct federal subsidy.