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Majority of Canadians oppose privatizing CBC: poll

People walk into the CBC building in Toronto

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadians don't want to privatize the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., according to a poll that shows 51 per cent of respondents want the government to continue operating the broadcaster's television and radio stations.

Forum Research Inc. said 25 per cent of respondents want to privatize the broadcaster, while 25 per cent don't have an opinion on the broadcaster's future. Those most likely to support privatization were conservative men from Alberta, the poll found.

Forum did a similar survey in December, 2011, and found 53 per cent of Canadians wanted to keep the broadcaster in public hands.

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There's no reason to believe the government will spin the broadcaster off, although it said last year it would reduce its $1.1-billion budget by $115-million over three years and encouraged it to find alternative ways to generate revenue.

The CBC said it must cut hundreds of jobs and reduce services because of the cuts, and recently won approval from Canada's broadcast regulator to air commercials on its Radio 2 and Espace Musique radio stations to help fund their operations.

The poll found 54 per cent of Canadians support the idea of advertising on CBC radio, and 29 per cent disagree. Acceptance is highest in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies at 66 per cent. Support stays static along party lines, the poll found, with 61 per cent of Conservatives in favour, 57 per cent of Liberals and 52 per cent of New Democrats.

"This appears to be a case of people deciding what's good for the goose (advertising on CBC TV) is good for the gander (ads on radio) and they don't see much difference," said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff. "On the question of privatizing the network, the slim majority are still against it, but that is not the case among Conservatives in Alberta."

The poll was a random sampling of 1,525 Canadians older than 18. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate plus or minus 2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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