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A panel of multimedia experts have been selected to advise Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge as she renews what the future role will be for the CBC/Radio-Canada amid plummeting revenues and relevancy. 

According to the Canadian Heritage department, the panelists will offer policy advice on funding and governance, having already completed its consultation with the Canadian public. 

“Canadians need a strong, innovative and independent public broadcaster that is ready to meet the challenges of this period of transformation and upheaval in news and content creation,” said St-Onge in a statement Monday.

The panlists who’ve been selected to “modernize” the CBC were picked for their diverse perspectives, which St-Onge says will help with “adapting to our rapidly changing broadcast and digital landscape.”

CBC president Catherine Tait has been calling for a long-term multi-year financial agreement from the federal government, akin to what the BBC has with the British government.

“Sustainable long-term funding is one of the solutions” to combatting the “crisis” media face,” Tait told the House of Commons committee during a recent appearance, bemoaning the competition the state broadcaster must face from international tech giants.

“I’ve been in this business 40 years and never before have I seen so great pressure on our domestic industry, and it is very worrisome,” said Tait. “We see people disappearing, companies disappearing, production houses shutting down.”

Tait recently came under fire over giving out $14.9 million in executive bonuses while laying off CBC staff. 

When she refused to divulge information about the bonuses at a recent heritage committee, it was ultimately shut down by Liberal MPs. 

Tait predicts the CBC will have a shortfall of $20 million for the 2024-25 fiscal year, despite laying off hundreds of employees and eliminating 205 vacant positions over the past several months. 

Aside from the $1.2 billion the broadcaster gets from the federal government annually, it also receives money through advertising, subscriptions and has other commercial enterprises. 

“In the past CBC/Radio-Canada had an employee body of about 10,000. Today we’re at 7,500,” Tait said. “Ninety per cent of our budget is dedicated to our workforce, so if something hits us, an economic hardship or financial hardship, the only lever we have is through workforce adjustment.”

However, critics of the CBC don’t see it that way. 

“The Trudeau government doesn’t need a bunch of panelists to talk about the role of the CBC,” Franco Terrazzanno, federal director Canadian Taxpayers Federation told True North Wire. “The Trudeau government needs to stop taking so much money from taxpayers and completely defund the CBC.”

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has said that he would defund the public broadcaster, if elected. 

“Common sense Conservatives will defund the CBC and we will restore balance for small, local, and independent voices in the media that have been crushed after nine years of Justin Trudeau,”

Sebastian Skamski, a spokesperson for Poilievre’s office, told True North.

“After nine years of Justin Trudeau, the CBC has become the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party and they are now being used as a political tool for him in the dying days of his flailing government,” said Sebastian Skamski, a spokesperson for Poilievre’s office.

The Trudeau government said it plans to redefine the CBC’s role ahead of the next federal election, slated for October 2025. 

“The CBC already receives more than $1 billion a year to be the Prime Minister’s personal stenographers instead of fulfilling their basic mandate to Canadians. Amid plummeting viewership and growing irrelevance to Canadian audiences, it is clear that Justin Trudeau’s handpicked CEO for the CBC is driving the broadcaster into the ground,” said Skamski. 

“Despite poor performance, political bias, and the announcement of layoffs for hundreds on employees, she continues to give out millions in taxpayer funded bonuses to executives and herself.”

Among the panelists are University of Southern California’s associate professor of communication and journalism Mike Ananny and Jennifer McGuire, managing director for Pink Triangle Press.