Statement from Premier King on the suspension of local CBC news programming

The Premier issued the following statement today in response to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to suspend their local television news programming: 

“I am incredibly disappointed in the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s (CBC) decision to suspend local news broadcasts across the country, including Prince Edward Island’s own CBC News: Compass program. 

I have been saying all along that these are unprecedented times, and the challenge we are facing with COVID-19, as a province and as country, is like nothing that we have ever seen before. The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly – hour by hour, and day by day – and we continue to see the emotional and economic impact it is having on Islanders and their families. With the health and safety of Islanders at the forefront, it is vital that we continue to share the latest information with Islanders in real time. 

It is my opinion that now is not the time for the CBC to suspend its local news programming, and I will be bringing this up on my scheduled call with Deputy Prime Minister Freeland later today. I will also be reaching out to the Prime Minister to express my concerns. 

Prince Edward Island is a largely rural province with varying internet connectivity to access local online news from CBC Prince Edward Island. Many Island seniors do not use the internet, have social media or pay attention to digital news platforms. They are our most vulnerable Islanders and need the most up-to-date information to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. 

CBC News: Compass is the only local daily television news program in our province, and it provides a vital public service that keeps Islanders informed. The reach of CBC News: Compass into the living rooms of Island households, community and long-term care homes and seniors’ residences is essential now, more than ever. Our Chief Public Health Officer and government are working together to share important information, recommendations and directions for Islanders as we navigate the current state of public health emergency in our province and CBC News: Compass is a critical partner in helping us do this.

As Premier of Prince Edward Island, I am formally requesting the Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, as minister of the crown responsible for the CBC, exercise his authority and reverse the decision to suspend local news broadcasts. We will be contacting the Minister to discuss our concerns and ask him to intervene. 

We acknowledge and share the CBC’s concern for the health and safety of their staff. CBC Prince Edward Island staff and journalists are our friends, neighbours and community partners. As a government, we are more than willing to work with local CBC station and national leadership to ensure continuity of the local CBC television news program in our province. 

If we are going to get through this pandemic situation, we need to do so together and by leveraging all of the resources we have. Now is not the time to scale back.”  

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