CBC contributes $3.7B to economy: study

CBC/Radio-Canada contributed $3.7 billion to the Canadian economy in 2010, according to an economic impact study by Deloitte and Touche.

CBC/Radio-Canada contributed $3.7 billion to the Canadian economy in 2010, according to an economic impact study by Deloitte and Touche.

The study, commissioned by the CBC and released Wednesday, attempts to measure the value of having a publicly funded broadcaster in Canada.

CBC/Radio-Canada's annual parliamentary allocation is $1.1 billion and its overall expenditure is $1.7 billion. The Deloitte and Touche study estimates the public broadcaster has a substantial positive impact on the economy — well above its spending power — because it supports jobs and businesses across Canada.

Among the spillover benefits are support of the independent production sector and a contribution to the vibrancy of creative and media clusters in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, the study says.

Among the measureable benefits identified were:

  • CBC commissions led to $1.12 billion in independent production in 2010.
  • CBC creates depth in the production sector by commissioning a wide range of genres.
  • CBC helps improve competitiveness and provide opportunities for exports in the independent production sector.
  • CBC regional and local activities contribute to local economies and creative clusters in many Canadian cities, including small markets such as Halifax, Moncton and Winnipeg.
  • CBC implements new technologies which are later adopted by other broadcasters and the wider creative sector.

CBC president Hubert Lacroix said the public broadcaster commissioned the report so it could prove to Canadians that they are getting value for their tax dollars.

"Very often the $1.1 billion that we receive from government is a question that is often raised," he said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "In the business world when stakeholders make an investment, they expect a return. We wanted to demonstrate to Canadians the return they get on the investment in their public broadcaster."

Lacroix said CBC chose management accounting firm Deloitte, which had done a similar study for the BBC in the U.K., because "a proven methodology" in measuring economic impact was needed, rather than just anecdotal evidence. He refused to disclose what the study itself cost.

Lacroix said CBC would be subject to the same financial review as all crown corporations, but members of the government have expressed support for the new five-year strategy CBC rolled out in February.

The strategy includes more regional spending, more Canadian programming and a commitment to develop new digital technologies. The Deloitte study can act as a benchmark to compare CBC's economic impact as it rolls out the plan, he said.

In calculating CBC's overall impact, Deloitte considered the effect of a CBC that did not have a public mandate or a parliamentary allocation and was forced to rely on advertising and other commercial revenue streams. This kind of broadcaster would contribute much less to the economy because it would be forced to buy more foreign programming, would crowd out private broadcasters and would contribute less to creative communities across Canada, the study says.

It suggests that a solely privately funded CBC would also be forced to spend less on both news and Canadian programming. The study takes into account the impact of other uses the government might have for $1.1 billion.

In the budget passed last week, the Conservative government left CBC's allocation unchanged at $1.1 billion. Lacroix says the CBC does not intend to ask for an increased allocation in the period leading up to 2015.

The full Deloitte and Touche study is available to the public on the CBC website.