Canuck art bucks

Gov't boosts CBC in $326 mil culture push

MONTREAL — The government is pumping an extra $39 million into cash-strapped pubcaster the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. as part of a $326 million boost for the country’s cultural industries.

Coin reps the first significant new funding for the CBC in several years. Pubcaster, which runs English and French TV and radio networks, has had its budget cut for much of the past decade. Its parliamentary appropriation dipped from $718 million in 1995 to $489 million last year.

CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch said the new money is a key step forward for both the English and French webs.

“This additional funding confirms in a concrete way the government’s support for CBC as Canada’s most important cultural institution,” said Rabinovitch. “This will allow for re-investment in high-quality, distinctive Canadian programming and enhance our ability to promote Canadian culture. This announcement is a recognition of our strategic direction to manage an efficient corporation and focus our resources on programming.”

The federal government hinted that the CBC budget may well see further increases in the coming years, with the new cash described as the first step in the government’s reinvestment in the pubcaster.

Coin for Canuck Internet

The Canuck government is also handing out $70 million to boost the production of Canadian content on the Internet, with a particular focus on the development of French-language content on the Web.

There will also be an additional $49 million for the Canada Council for the Arts, the government’s main grants-giving agency, and $18 million for support of the Canadian music industry.

“The vitality of our culture and heritage is one of the strongest signs of our collective success,” said Prime Minister Jean Chretien. “Today Canada has everything it needs to become one of the major creative centers of the world.”

Critics questioned the wisdom of giving so much money to arts groups and wondered where the money was coming from. Cheryl Gallant, cultural critic with opposition party the Canadian Alliance, said the government should be helping the arts in other ways — not with tax dollars.

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