Hundreds of current CBC and former employees have joined a campaign to stop the public broadcaster from pursuing its new paid content division, Tandem. 

Signatories signed onto an open letter sent to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault slamming the new initiative as a “mockery” of CBC’s reputation. 

“The problem is that ads should never be disguised as news. When you are on a CBC platform, whether reading a news story or choosing a podcast, you should not have to ask yourself, ‘is this CBC journalism or is it advertising?’” claims the group’s website, Stop Paid Content on CBC.

“That clear separation has always been important at CBC. In fact, CBC was once so concerned that news and advertising should not mix, there was a time advertising was not allowed in newscasts.”

The employees who signed on include prominent on-air personalities like Mark Kelley, Katie Nicholson, Anna Maria Termonti and others. To this day, the open letter has accrued over 500 current and former employees of the Crown corporation. 

Tandem was first revealed by the public broadcaster in September but was halted temporarily only one month after its release due to concerns from members of the CBC union. 

“CBC says it needs more money. We agree. But this is an attempt to save the patient by selling its heart and soul. ‘Paid content’ is dishonest and it is wrong. It is working with sponsors to create ads that masquerade as journalism,” the website claims. 

“In order to sell commercial products, CBC is sacrificing the reputation of its news service, which has faithfully and truthfully informed Canadians for generations.” 

In recent years, the CBC has struggled with falling advertising revenues and dwindling viewership rates. 

In October, the CBC announced that it would be laying off 130 employees across Canada. The CBC cited poor advertising revenues and high operating costs as the reasons behind the layoffs.