CBC president and CEO Catherine Tait says Big Tech is to blame for the public broadcaster’s $100 million budget shortfall. 

Tait didn’t mince words at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal on Tuesday when she pointed fingers at tech giants Meta and Google for the financial turmoil CBC is currently facing.

Tait’s assertion stems from the changing landscape of media consumption and advertising revenue. She emphasized that the unregulated dominance of Meta and Google in the digital advertising market has significantly contributed to the financial woes of traditional media outlets like CBC.

“It’s now clear: deregulated competition from foreign digital giants is suffocating our industry,” Tait stated, according to Journal Le Guide

“In addition to declining subscription and advertising revenues in traditional television, our media’s transition to digital is complicated by the dominance of Meta and Google in this growing advertising market,” she added.

Tait denounced Meta’s news blocking, which, in addition to adding to the industry’s difficulties, she claimed, “lets fake news spread on Facebook and Instagram.” 

Tait explained that CBC is at the beginning of a process to examine all scenarios to deal with the cut. She said that the broadcaster is trying to cut and reduce expenses like travel or discretionary spending. 

“There will be difficult decisions to make,” she said. 

Tait didn’t go into great detail when asked how cuts would be divided between English and French services and between news and other CBC services. 

“Each component will contribute in a fair and equitable way,” she said. 

The budget cuts will undoubtedly impact CBC employees and services. Still, Tait assured that the management is working to minimize the impact on staff while maintaining their commitment to serving Canadians. The organization has already halted filling vacant positions as part of its cost-saving measures.

Tait’s concerns highlight a broader systemic issue – digital giants’ global reach and financial muscle that prioritize profit over public service. 

“They don’t have a mandate to serve the public,” Tait noted, expressing her worry about the impact of these corporations on the media landscape.

While Tait acknowledged the need for CBC/Radio-Canada to make significant cost-cutting measures, she stressed the importance of protecting essential services, particularly information services. 

“It is absolutely important to protect our information services, essential even,” Tait said.

She explained the importance of having a public broadcaster and her fears that the existence of these services is eroding. She explained that this process is already underway in some countries and blamed it on populism.

The challenges faced by CBC are not unique. Across Canada, media outlets are grappling with job losses and the shrinking availability of news coverage. This trend is not confined to the country; it’s a global issue where traditional media outlets struggle to compete with digital giants worldwide. 

Tait’s concerns about the media’s ability to provide independent information and combat polarization were highlighted when pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupted her speech. They accused CBC/Radio-Canada of not appropriately addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its coverage.

Ironically, Tait claimed that she had previously received contradictory criticism from the Jewish community for her coverage of the same conflict while appearing before a parliamentary committee. She claimed this illustrates the polarization arising from social networks.