Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New tax for cable customers courtesy of Conservatives?

New ideas being floated by the Conservatives on the broadcasting front: "Ottawa considers ad boost to help broadcasters." You can imagine how the idea of increased government ads on our television screens might play out:
Ottawa has a new option on the table for helping local TV stations make it through the recession: buy more government ads.

The idea, which is under discussion at the cabinet's powerful committee on priorities and planning, is seen as a way to replace private advertising revenue that has fled since the onset of the financial crisis, a source told The Globe and Mail.

“In the short term, the most efficient way to get money out to broadcasters might be through advertising, because that's where the initial loss was,” said the source.

“That's where things have gone.”

Although a good number of MPs and cabinet ministers support help for the industry, the question of how best to deliver it is the subject of significant discussion. The government has talked about shelling out between $150-million and $75-million this year and $75-million next year in an effort to get money into the hands of the broadcasters quickly. However, some MPs are concerned that funnelling money directly to the broadcasters would not do much to prevent cuts. At least the government could benefit from the ads. (emphasis added)
Sounds a might politically opportunistic and not exactly coherent policy making.  Ads flooding the private broadcasters courtesy of the Harper federal government doesn't sound like a sustainable strategy for the broadcast industry for any length of time and it's not good for taxpayers who would yet again be put in the position of making up for the mistakes of over leveraged communications giants. 

The fee for carriage option is also floated in the report, and again, that's likely to hit consumers directly on their cable bills, to the tune of $10+ per month. For Conservatives who are so quick to decry tax increases, it's hypocritical to be turning in this direction. 

And of course, no word on whether any such plans would apply to the CBC.

Update (8:20 p.m.): Man, I've really got to start checking what FarNWide is wearing before I venture out into the blogosphere these days...:)