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The Columbia Journal
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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Three    May 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Poll Says BC Residents Support Knowledge Network

    CPP News Service

    Privatization of the Knowledge Network does not have the support of British Columbians, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. 

    The survey, conducted earlier in March, found that 69 per cent of respondents opposed selling the Knowledge Network to a private broadcaster.

    “We are hopeful this survey will reach Premier Campbell before the 'sold' sign is hung outside the offices of the Knowledge Network,” said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. “This survey proves that British Columbians believe that privatization of their public broadcaster is simply a bad idea. Privatization of the Knowledge Network is least popular in regions of the province away from Victoria and Vancouver, where access to choice is more restricted and the Network has an even greater impact.”

    The Knowledge Network is currently owned and operated by the Open Learning Agency, a government body that is being wound down. Seven proposals to buy the provincial public broadcaster have been received. 

    Bidders include Learning and Skills Television of Alberta; a partnership of Insight Film and Video and Channel M of Vancouver; Paperny Films of Vancouver, in association with the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group and CBC; and Vision TV of Ontario, Calgary-based A-Channel, which is owned by Craig Media Inc., and a group of B.C. educators headed by Vancouver lawyer Jon Festinger. Evaluation of the bids is reported to have been completed in February.

    “Public broadcasters provide valuable services to British Columbians and at a very modest operating cost.  Citizenship, training, education and community programming are all part of the worthy accomplishments that flow from a public broadcaster that is not focused on building audiences simply to attract advertising," said Mr. Morrison.

    Friends commissioned the survey in co-operation with the Victoria-based organization The West Coast Media Society.

    The Ipsos-Reid survey was conducted in March among a representative cross-section of 800 British Columbia adults.  With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within +- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult British Columbia population been polled.

    The question posed was, “As you may know, the BC government has been talking about selling various corporations that it currently controls. One of these corporations is the Knowledge Network, British Columbia's educational television network. Would you strongly favour, somewhat favour, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the provincial government selling the Knowledge Network to a private broadcaster?”

     Morrison says that people who generally identify as being in the more conservative realm of the political spectrum oppose the sale by a two-to-one margin. 

    “The Knowledge Network is making a distinctive and worthwhile contribution to British Columbia and people know this to be true,” he said. “It has a long history and has a special place on the dial for children and adults across the province.  We hope this survey will give Liberal Ministers the ammunition they need to head off this privatization.”

    Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is a Canada-wide voluntary organization supported by 60,000 households whose mission is to defend and enhance Canadian programming in Canada's audio-visual system.

    “We will be sharing this survey news with our supporters in 13,379 households throughout British Columbia, and urging them to join in our efforts to oppose the sale of the Knowledge Network,” said Morrison.

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