Catching Up: Last week on includes funding public broadcasting and another Big Tech merger.

January 23, 2022

Public broadcasting is about to claim a front row seat in politics…but in the United Kingdom, not Canada. Britain’s Conservative government has served notice to the ad-free BBC —which boasts the most popular news site in the world— that six years hence it will not renew the BBC’s main funding mechanism established in 1946, the “TV tax,” a mandatory licence fee on every TV set. The current annual fee is $270.

The replacement for the TV Tax is undecided and such a funding mechanism, and the future of the BBC itself, is sure to become a lightning rod in British politics.

None of which has escaped the attention of media commentators here in Canada. 

We live in a world in which #defundcbc routinely trends on Twitter and Conservative Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole has promised to do just that (except in Quebec where it would kill him politically).

Loving, hating and reimagining the CBC is the birthright of every Canadian it seems. Globe columnist Andrew Coyne was first off the mark, touting a voluntary subscription fee on ad-free broadcasting with the goal of reducing or eliminating the parliamentary appropriation.

The regulatory future of Big Tech continues as a daily show in US Congress as different bills (none of which directly impact media) make their way through various committees. Microsoft gave it some unexpected immediacy by purchasing the world’s number three video game company, Activision Blizzard, (Call of Duty, Candy Crush) for $USD 69 Billion. Microsoft already owns the “pipe” to that gaming content, the ubiquitous Xbox streaming device. 

Up until now, Big Tech mergers have been mostly buy-outs of future competitors or the acquisition of media products that fit snuggly into a multi-product ecosystem fed on consumer data. We’ll see what Activision turns out to be for Microsoft.

Published by

Howard Law

I am retired staff of Unifor, the union representing 300,000 Canadians in twenty different sectors of the economy, including 10,000 journalists and media workers. As the former Director of the Media Sector and as an unapologetic cultural nationalist, I have an abiding passion for public policy in Canadian media.

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