Lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is once again calling on the federal government to stop political patronage appointments to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the CRTC. Friends made the call as CBC president Robert Rabinovitch’s five-year appointment is set to end on November 15. The call was made in conjunction with the release of a new report commissioned by the lobby group on government appointments to the CBC since 1936. The study reveals that 92% of the 152 CBC appointments made by past prime ministers have been affiliated with the governing political party. Only three of the appointments have been visible minority or Aboriginal people, and only 21% have gone to women. Friends is asking prime minister Paul Martin to commit to genuine reform of the process of appointments to the CBC in time for selection of the next CBC president. Below is an excerpt from the report, Process and Criteria in Public Broadcasting Governance: Appointments to CBC and CRTC. The Appeal of patronage The existing appointments process...perpetuates itself to some extent because the current process has benefits not easily ignored. The first benefit is convenience. It is far easier to appoint people with whom one is familiar with than to initiate a selection process for thousands...The expediency of a patronage system may also help to explain the frequency of appointments. Overall, just more than one-third of appointments to the CBC and CRTC have been re-appointments... The second factor sustaining the current appointments process is the difficulty in both finding and retaining superior candidates. As more conditions are appended to the appointment process, it becomes more challenging to find candidates who meet the requirements. Added to this is the fact that some appointees decline their ab initio. Early resignation has been common among those who do accept...In both organizations, almost one in four appointees have resigned prematurely, an average of almost two years early. A final factor perpetuating the existing appointments process is that it is realistic to imagine that some appointees will meet the needs of their appointment. It is possible, perhaps even natural, to begin a term of appointment with particular political or regional loyalties but to emerge having acquired a strong interest and attachment to the organization. And politics is not necessarily responsible for reducing the high caliber of appointments. …In addition, it is arguable that entirely abolishing political appointments would leave no way to reward volunteer contributions to political parties, one of the underpinnings of the Canadian political system... Problems with patronage Yet although the current appointments process may be entrenched, the question remains whether the CBC and the CRTC should be subject to it…There is a need at both organizations for a more impartial appointments process to provide broader representation of eminent Canadians reflecting the regional, ethnic and gender demographics of modern Canada. More principled appointments could also provide the kind of skilled leadership that would inspire the vision that CBC and CRTC increasingly need as they grapple, respectively, with the challenges of a scarcity of resources and "doing more with less," and finding solutions to difficult and inherently controversial regulatory problems. Those rationales aside, the current model should arguably change for major appointments if only to assure the greater public of an objective, impartial and transparent process. In his campaign for the Liberal leadership in fall 2003, prime minister Paul Martin spoke of a plan to "confront the democratic deficit" in Canada, which he identified as necessary to broaden public participation in government and restore public confidence in the individuals who serve the Canadian public. In fact, democracy has an intricate relationship to broadcasting and the media. The Broadcasting Act charges the CBC with representing and speaking to diversity, protecting diverse voices, and preserving national identity. The late Dalton Camp saw clear links between media and democracy and repeatedly emphasized them over decades as commentator and direct participant in the political process. In that respect, the independence of appointments to the boards of key cultural organizations such as the CBC and CRTC is fundamental.