Anthony S Manera was appointed to the presidency of Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada for a five year term in 1994. A year later, he resigned in protest over the hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts and shortfall he was to preside over and which would compromise the broadcasters ability to fulfill its mandate to “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,”
Since then the CBC has seen several more budget cuts and more job losses. In 1996, a year after the resignation Anthony “Tony” Manera wrote a book after his experience called “A Dream Betrayed: The Battle for the CBC” He has just written an update for 2015.
“I will not preside over the dismantling of the CBC,” Tony Manera
One of those many subsequent budget cuts since Manera’s resignation included an approximate 80% cut to RCI’s budget, with an equivalent staff loss, the end of shortwave broadcasting and the transmitter site dismantled, as the remaining service was transformed into its current web-based operation.
In early 2014 another 657 jobs were eliminated across CBC/Radio-Canada due to another $130 million dollar budget cut. Current president Hubert Lacroix said at the time that another 1000 to 1,500 positions would be eliminated by 2020.
In Manera’s case, the day after he learned of the cuts during his presidency. he resigned citing personal reasons in a letter to the then Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
However, he later told Macleans magazine about his letter of resignation, “I was simply trying to be a good soldier and not raise a fuss. Now that somebody is pushing these kind of lines I have to come right out and say, look, the ‘personal reasons’ are that what is happening to the CBC affects me very much. I believe in the institution.”
“To dismantle the CBC would erode our country’s very reason for being, our belief that we as Canadians created something different on the northern half of this continent.” Tony Manera- a dream betrayed
In his book he writes. “To dismantle the CBC would erode our country’s very reason for being, our belief that we as Canadians created something different on the northern half of this continent. Why would we allow our television screens, the most powerful communication medium in history, to be dominated by the American dream? Is there no longer a Canadian dream?”
Manera notes that the CBC has to deal with a combination of challenges faced by no other public broadcaster, even though the other nations public broadcasters are better funded. This includes but is not limited to, massive spillover/competition of media from a foreign neighbour (the US), the requirement to broadcast in several languages, English French with aboriginal service, in radio, TV and now various web services as well, and across several time zones and the second biggest land mass in the world.
His new 2015 version will be available on his website in e-book version starting February 1. The updated verion examines the effect on the CBC of ever-evolving web-based platforms along with several recommendations on how to enhance the CBC’s nation-building role through stable and adequate funding, greater independence, better governance and a more transparent accountability system.