Reply from J. Serge Sasseville to Anne Lagacé Dowson re: Quebecor Media

Reply from J. Serge Sasseville to Anne Lagacé Dowson re: Quebecor Media

In a recent column (“Public-Interest broadcasting”), Anne Lagacé Dowson cast aspersions on Quebecor Media for what she calls its “attacks” on CBC/Radio-Canada. Unfortunately, to do so, Ms. Lagacé Dowson chose to rely on hearsay and rumours rather than on facts that would have been readily available to her had she checked with Quebecor or had a quick look at our website.

For example, the notion, spread by CBC/Radio-Canada, that Quebecor has gained as much as $500M in public funds over the past three years is truly preposterous, having already been extensively debunked in various press releases and documents posted on our website. One only needs to know that, to come to this figure, CBC/Radio-Canada counted as a subsidy the price Quebecor paid for wireless spectrum bought from the government in 2008, even though the price we paid was actually higher than what the government and independent experts had expected, and higher than the price paid by American carriers for similar spectrum. Some subsidy!

Similarly, there is no truth whatsoever to the notion that Quebecor or any of its media outlets has “hired a person who does nothing but apply through Access to information for material that could be used to embarrass the corporation”. Yes, several of our journalists do use Access to information to gain information about CBC/Radio-Canada, just as they do for every other crown corporation. Ms. Lagacé-Dowson surely cannot think that the public good would be best served by excluding CBC from public scrutiny?

Finally, while it is true that CBC does spend more than TVA in Canadian programming, it should be noted that, for the 2010-2011 broadcast year, 87% of TVA’s programming expenses, or $111M, went towards Canadian content. And this is without CBC’s more than a billion dollar head-start.

As a former CBC Radio host and frequent CBC and Radio-Canada contributor (two facts she somehow failed to mention), we can forgive Ms. Lagacé Dowson for having a soft spot for the state broadcaster. We do however believe that Hour readers would be best served if Ms. Lagacé Dowson relied on facts rather than simply rehash CBC’s attack propaganda to get her point across.

J. Serge Sasseville
Vice President, Corporate and Institutional Affairs
Quebecor Media

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