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Poll takes aim at feds over CBC funding

VANCOUVER - Cultural lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a poll today showing, among other things, that only one-quarter of Canadians support privatizing the CBC, and that two-thirds are concerned that CBC budget cuts will affect local programming.

The group issued four different press releases about the poll results with headlines like "Grudge against CBC seen as funding block" and "Quebecers don't trust Harper on culture."

The Friends describe themselves as "a watchdog group" dedicated to promoting Canadian content on TV and radio. They emphasize that they are non-partisan and "not affiliated with any broadcaster."

Detailed results of their poll, which was conducted for the Friends by the public opinion firm Pollara, are available on the organization's web site (starting on page 15 of the flash slideshow).

The poll starts by asking respondents how much they watch the CBC and how important it is to their community and to Canadian culture. Later questions take aim at the Conservative government.

On question 15, the interviewer tells the respondent that Canada ranks 16th out of 18 "major Western democracies" in funding for public broadcasting, before asking if current funding is adequate (31% said it is).

Respondents were also asked whether or not they agreed with statements suggesting that "the Harper government has a hidden agenda" favouring private broadcasters and that the government is intentionally under-funding the CBC with a goal of privatizing it.

Nearly a quarter of respondents answered "I don't know" to each statement.

Results showed that Canadians consider the CBC to be important in protecting Canadian culture and identity, and that approximately half would support increased government funding for the CBC.

At the same time, only 30 per cent of respondents said the federal government was "mostly to blame" for the CBC's financial troubles. When given only three choices, nearly the same number (27 per cent) would blame CBC management; the remainder selected the broader economic downturn as the source of the CBC's problems.

Amelia Bellamy-Royds reports for The Tyee.

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