Private broadcasters to come out swinging over CBC radio advertising

The CRTC begins public hearings this week about the renewal of CBC's radio and television licences.Should the CBC be allowed to sell advertising on their radio stations?

Should a taxpayer funded entity be competing against private companies for advertising revenues?

It's a debate that is going to be awakened this week, as the CRTC begins public hearings about the renewal of CBC's radio and television licences.

According to the CRTC website, deliberations will begin Monday, about the the Corporation's overall strategy including its proposed plan to sell advertising on its Radio 2 and Espace Musique stations in the face of deep budget cuts.

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When the plan was proposed last April, private broadcasters came out swinging:

"[We are] fiercely opposed to seeing the public broadcaster start selling advertising," Astral Media — the country's largest radio broadcaster — said in an e-mailed statement obtained by the Globe and Mail.

"CBC has to decide if it wants to continue being funded by Canadians and fulfill its mandate or if it wants to operate commercial radio stations."

At the hearings this week, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters is expected to pick up the mantle. In an intervener's statement filed on the CRTC's website, the industry association which includes the likes of Astral Media, Bell Media and Corus Entertainment, claims radio ads on CBC would hurt the industry.

"In the view of the Radio Council, the application by CBC to carry national advertising on Radio 2 and Espace Musique is ill conceived, and the rationale driving this strategy is misleading and does not serve the public interest," their statement reads.

"Ultimately, it would mean that these music services would play more commercially-oriented or mainstream music rather than their current focus on new and emerging or niche artists.

"The presence of national advertising...could have a serious negative impact on secondary small markets across Canada, where national advertising revenues are largely flat or declining."

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The hearings begin Monday at 9:00am Eastern and are expected to last 10 days. CPAC will carry the proceedings live online.