Our History

Discover the history of CBC/Radio-Canada through a look at the major milestones of each decade. From the 1920s, when the need arose for a Canadian presence on the radio - to counter the American influence and protect Canadian culture, to the present day, when CBC/Radio-Canada is recognized as one of this country's greatest cultural institutions, learn how Canada's national public broadcaster has become a leader in producing and distributing distinctive Canadian content.

1920-1939

Canadian radio began with the first licences for private commercial radio stations in 1922. However by the late 1920s, many Canadian radio listeners were tuning their dials to American stations. This, along with the rudimentary development of Canadian radio, led the federal government, in 1928, to establish a royal commission to advise on the future of broadcasting in Canada.

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  • 1927

    • July 1 - first national broadcast covering the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.
    • New transmitters installed in Montréal and Toronto.
    • National radio coverage increased to 76 per cent of the population from 49 per cent.
  • 1929

    • The Aird Commission recommended the creation of a nationally owned company to operate a coast-to-coast broadcast system and in 1932 the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) was created.
  • 1936

    • The Canadian Broadcasting Act replaced the CRBC with a Crown Corporation, and Canada's national public broadcaster was born.
  • 1938

    • Radio-Canada's CBF station began broadcasting the program Le réveil rural, a show dedicated to economic information intended for rural inhabitants.
  • 1939

    • CBC began"farm broadcasts".
    • CBC/Radio-Canada provided full coverage of the six-week visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
    • In March, CBF launched the soap opera Un homme et son péché based upon the popular Claude-Henri Grignon novel. The soap opera ran for 22 years.
    • Regular broadcasting began of the Montréal Canadians' hockey games from the Montréal Forum.
    • With the declaration of World War II, CBC/Radio-Canada sent a team of announcers and technicians to accompany the Canadian Armed Forces' First Division to England, and so began special wartime broadcasts.

1940

The national public broadcaster really takes off in this decade. On January 1, 1941, CBC News Service is formally opened; Radio-Canada's News division is also created.

Several special radio broadcasts took place in the 1940s including Winston Churchill's speech from the House of Commons in Ottawa. By mid decade, a number of private radio stations were affiliated with the national network and a total of 43 hours of French and English programs were being broadcast daily, compared with 10 hours just a few years earlier in 1936.

As the next decade approaches, television is on the horizon and CBC/Radio-Canada is preparing for it. In 1947, the Corporation presented a 15-year plan for the development of television in Canada.

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1940

  • The national public broadcaster adopted its first emblem - an image of radio waves and a map of Canada.
  • Residents of remote communities benefit from radio service as low power relay transmitters were installed for their benefit.

1944

  • The basic national radio network was renamed the Trans-Canada Network and the Dominion Network was also formed, linking CJBC Toronto with 34 private stations to offer an alternative lighter service.

1945

  • The official opening of CBC/Radio-Canada's International Service. It would later become Radio Canada International in 1972.
  • The Radio-Canada network counted seven private affiliated radio stations in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Sherbrooke, New Carlisle, Rimouski, Rivière-du-Loup, Rouyn, Hull, and Québec City.

1946

  • Creation of the radio station Radio Saint-Boniface, in Manitoba, provided the first French language network station outside of the Province of Québec.

1948

  • The first issue of the weekly program guide CBC Times was published, to help Canadians keep track of programming.

1949

  • The national public broadcaster acquired the facilities and staff of the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland, as the province joined Confederation.

1950

This was the decade of television. In 1952, the first CBC and Radio-Canada television stations, CBLT-Toronto and CBFT-Montréal, began broadcasting. By 1955, CBC/Radio-Canada's television services were available to 66 per cent of the Canadian population.

With the inauguration of Canadian television, work continued on the regulatory framework for Canadian broadcasting. In 1951, the Massey Commission endorsed the regulatory role of the national public broadcaster. However, in 1957, the Fowler Commission on Broadcasting recommended transferring regulatory authority to a separate body. This took place in 1958, when a new Broadcasting Act established the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) to regulate all Canadian broadcasting.

The 1950s celebrated several programming firsts - for both television and radio - as well as ongoing technological development.

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1950

  • First issue of the radio program guide La Semaine à Radio-Canada.
  • Special broadcast coverage of the Manitoba floods.

1951

  • Special coverage of the four-week visit of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

1952

  • Radio programming made available to Canadian troops in Korea.

1953

  • The first private television station, also the first CBC Television affiliate, opened in Sudbury, Ontario.

1954

  • Commonwealth Games came to Vancouver and CBC/Radio-Canada played host broadcaster for this international event.

1955

  • First telecast of opening of Parliament.

1956

  • Special coverage of the Hungarian uprising, the Suez crisis and the Springhill Mine disaster.

1957

  • Major political coverage included a five-hour federal election telecast and, the first opening of Parliament by a reigning monarch.

1958

  • First coast-to-coast live television broadcast with completion of the microwave network from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.
  • Opening of the Calgary delay centre for western time zones.
  • CBC Northern Service (radio) was established.

1959

  • Special coverage of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Microwave network extended to Newfoundland.

1960

The 1960s included several important technological advances such as the opening of shortwave service to the High Artic (1960), the presentation of proposals, by the national public broadcaster, for satellite use in Canada (1961) and the introduction of colour television in 1966!

In this decade, the regulatory framework was refined and the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) established as the regulatory and licensing authority. In 1968 the new Broadcasting Act also confirmed CBC/Radio-Canada's role of providing the national service.

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1960

  • The Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG) recommended licensing second TV stations in major cities and invited applications for Canada's first private network.

1962

  • Trans-Canada and Dominion networks are consolidated.

1965

  • The federal Government announced its policy on colour television.
  • The Fowler Committee on Broadcasting recommended a new regulatory and licensing authority.

1967

  • The first broadcast of taped television in the North.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada acted as host broadcaster for Expo 67 in Montréal and the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg.

1968

  • The first televised national debate among Canadian political party leaders: co-produced with CTV.
  • The federal Government issued a White Paper on satellite communications.

1969

  • Tobacco advertising was discontinued on CBC/Radio-Canada airwaves.

1970

Canada made history in this decade by launching the world's first national domestic satellite. Put into orbit in 1972, the Anik A1 satellite gave CBC/Radio-Canada the ability to beam television signals to the Canadian North for the first time in history.

Canadian content rules for television and radio were also introduced in the early 70s. In 1970, the CRTC established a "minimum 60 per cent" Canadian content rule for public and private television broadcasters in Canada. The following year, the Commission introduced Canadian content regulations for AM radio stations - a minimum of 30 per cent was now required.

In 1976, the world's athletes came to Montréal and CBC/Radio-Canada was host broadcaster for the summer Olympic Games. The following year, Canada's national broadcaster played the same role for the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton.

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1970

  • The first CRTC-issued network licences for CBC/Radio-Canada.
  • The national public broadcaster's International Service was renamed Radio Canada International (RCI).

1972

  • The CRTC invited proposals for the future development of pay TV.

1973

  • First live television service to the North, via Anik satellite.
  • Official opening of La Maison de Radio-Canada in Montréal.
  • Canadian Government issued a position paper entitled Proposals for a Communications Policy for Canada.

1974

  • The federal Government announced its Accelerated Coverage Plan to extend CBC/Radio-Canada's radio and television services to small, un-served communities.
  • Introduction of new emblem (insert link) for the national public broadcaster, based on "C" for Canada.
  • Opening of French FM stereo network.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada discontinued most radio commercials.

1975

  • The English FM stereo network was opened.

1977

  • CRTC Hearings began on pay television in Canada.
  • The Corporation designed and installed broadcast facilities in the House of Commons at the Speaker's request. .

1978

  • CRTC denies pay TV applications.

1979

  • The start of live television coverage of House of Commons via satellite and cable TV.

1980

The 1980s saw tremendous growth in the number of private and specialty channels. In 1983, the first "general interest" pay TV channels began operation in Canada, among them the movie network, First Choice and SuperChannel.

Later came the "specialty" pay channels. CBC Newsworld was officially launched on July 31, 1989 providing Canadians with their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. It was designed for on-the-go viewers, offering frequent news updates and magazine style programming.

Canada's national public broadcaster also celebrated its 50th anniversary in this decade. To mark this milestone, a commemorative postage stamp was issued in 1986.

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1981

  • CBC/Radio-Canada introduced closed captioning on Canadian television.

1982

  • The opening of Cancom, a network service to provide remote communities with television services by satellite.

1983

  • The federal Government created the Broadcast Program Development Fund

1984

  • The national public broadcaster was host broadcaster for the 12-day papal visit.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada stereo networks began 24-hour broadcasting.
  • Federal-provincial committee publishes report on future of French-language TV in Canada.

1987

  • The CRTC licensed 10 new specialty channels: nine on basic cable at the option of cable distributors and one pay TV service.
  • The CRTC also authorized the distribution of The Sports Network and MuchMusic on basic cable.

1988

  • Cabinet approved CBC's licence to operate an all-news channel, paving the way for the launch of CBC Newsworld in 1989.
  • The CBC Broadcast Centre Development Project in Toronto received cabinet approval in April and work began a few months later, in October.

1990

From the last episode of the series Street Legal - Eric Peterson as Leon Robinovitch, Cynthia Dale as Olivia Novak, C. David Johnson as Charles "Chuck" Tchobanian. November 1994

Despite the difficulties, CBC/Radio-Canada must continue to move forward in what is by now becoming an environment of unprecedented program choice for Canadians. In 1990, the Corporation published its vision for the future in a document called Mission, Values, Goals and Objectives.

The Corporation continues to push ahead in the multi-channel universe, and in 1997 files applications for six new specialty services. The Corporation re-brands both its English and French radio properties to CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, Première Chaîne (Espace musique follows in 2004); all proceed to earn success with listeners.

CBC/Radio-Canada also goes on to become known as "Canada's Olympic network", winning the broadcast rights for seven Olympic Games.

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1991

  • CBC Toronto consolidated its operations into one downtown location, the new state-of-the-art Canadian Broadcasting Centre.

1994

  • CBC/Radio-Canada is host broadcaster for the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • In partnership with Power Broadcasting Inc., CBC/Radio-Canada launches two new specialty channels for the American market: Trio and Newsworld international.

1995

  • The Corporation established its Web presence through CBC.ca and at Radio-Canada.ca.
  • On January 1st, Radio-Canada launched its all-news channel, Réseau de l'information de Radio-Canada (RDI).

1996

  • CBC Television boasted an all-Canadian prime-time schedule.
  • The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage presented its report on the future of the CBC in a multi-channel universe.

1997

  • CBC/Radio-Canada launches a new digitial audio music service, Galaxie.

1998

  • The International Olympic Committee awarded Canada's national public broadcaster, in partnership with NetStar, broadcast rights for the next five Olympic Games; this was in addition to the previous two Games, 1996 in Atlanta and 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
  • The CRTC's licensing of Star Choice, opens up competition in the delivery of satellite radio and television services.
  • For the first time in 17 years, CBC made a presentation before the CRTC on its review of television policy in Canada.

1999

  • CBC/Radio-Canada is host broadcaster for the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

2000

Canadians are immersed in digital media and their national public broadcaster is right there with them! Today, CBC/Radio-Canada is available how, where and when audiences want their content.

This decade has included a long list of programming successes for CBC/Radio-Canada's television, radio, and Web platforms. In 2008, CBC/Radio-Canada made history with its coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games - for instance, this was the first time that Canadians could watch the Games live from their computer screens.

As of mid-2009, the national public broadcaster is undergoing a transformation from a television and radio broadcaster with an Internet presence, to an integrated content provider that leverages television, radio and the Web.

These are however difficult economic times. The Corporation is faced with severe financial constraints and managing the many challenges that come with this. Nonetheless, CBC/Radio-Canada continues its journey to become the most important creator and distributor of Canadian content across all media platforms.

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2000

  • David Suzuki's The Nature of Things celebrated 40 years on CBC Television.

2001

  • Hockey Night in Canada and La Soirée du hockey launched their 50th season.
  • Le Centre de l'information in Montréal, a state-of-the-art facility for gathering and producing news for Télévision de Radio-Canada and RDI, was opened.

2002

  • CBC/Radio-Canada celebrated the 50th anniversary of public television in Canada with various events, including an historic visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto and, in partnership with VIA Rail, a special anniversary train that travelled across the country.

2003

  • As It Happens celebrated 35 years on CBC Radio.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada opened new state-of-the-art broadcast centres in Edmonton and Québec City.

2004

  • The Prairie Aboriginal Content Unit was created to develop First Nations storytelling content for both radio and television.
  • A new CBC/Radio-Canada broadcast facility was opened in Ottawa.

2005

  • Radio-Canada brought together radio, television and digital platforms, keeping pace with audience desires to consume their content when and how they want.

2006

  • The daily program Virginie, which had run on Télévision de Radio-Canada since 1996, broke the record for most episodes ever produced (1221) as part of a French-language television drama series.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada was host broadcaster for the XVI International AIDS Conference, held in Toronto, Ontario.

2007

  • 3.7 million people tuned in to CBC Television to watch the first episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie, a comedic look at a small Muslim community interacting with the other residents of a little prairie town.
  • As of January 1st, Sirius Canada Satellite Radio had achieved 300,000 subscribers (six of Sirius Canada's 11 Canadian channels are provided by CBC/Radio-Canada).
  • CBC Television captured its first ever television Broadcaster of the Year Award at the prestigious New York Festivals.

2008

  • CBC announced its integration of radio, television and digital media.
  • The Beijing Olympics were brought to Canadians by the national public broadcaster, who made history by launching the most robust online Olympic experience in Canadian history: CBC/Radio-Canada's websites featured 13 broadband video streams with thousands of hours of live and on-demand event coverage. Through a partnership with Bell, Bell Mobility subscribers were able to receive live streaming video and on-demand highlight packages of CBC and Radio-Canada Olympic Games coverage throughout the day.

2009

  • CBC Television marked two important milestones - one, the first time that a Canadian-only prime-time schedule had beaten a predominantly American prime-time schedule, and two - that CBC Television had become the second-most-watched network in Canada.
  • Télévision de Radio-Canada also successfully maintained its prime-time market share of 19.9 per cent, despite the many reality shows and speciality channels available to viewers.
  • Four million monthly visitors came to Radio-Canada.ca and CBC.ca - both sites are extremely popular with Canadians.

2010 - Present

View highlights

2010

  • CBC.ca welcomed an average of 5.8 million unique visitors per month, with over 1.0 million audio podcasts downloaded per month and over 800,000 unique visitors enjoying CBC content on the video player.
  • Radio-Canada also enjoyed impressive growth in monthly web traffic, and launches TOU.TV, North America’s leading French language web TV service. It also launches RDI with video and the Radio-Canada mobile site.
  • The Nature of Things with David Suzuki celebrated 50 years engaging, enlightening and entertaining Canadians.
  • Technological achievements during the year included the launch of the CBC News mobile application, the CBC Radio iPhone application, and the first-ever 3D CBC Television broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada and Queen Elizabeth in 3D.
  • Signature Events included Champions of Change and Haïti, un an après le séisme
  • Radio-Canada opened two new multimedia centres, Trois-Rivières in March 2010 and Saguenay in August 2010.

2011

  • CBC/Radio-Canada celebrates its 75th anniversary with multi-platform programming and events across the country. To launch the celebrations, CBC and Radio-Canada aired 1 Day, a two-hour documentary in the form of a social time capsule, a unique 24-hour snapshot of the country.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada launches its five-year strategy, 2015: Everyone, Every way, promising to make CBC/Radio-Canada even more Canadian, more digital and more regional. It announces its first phase its plan to introduce or improve services to more than six million Canadians over the next four years.
  • Over the first six months of 2011, Canadians in more than 50 communities participated in CBC’s Live Right Now challenge to join the collective journey towards a healthier country.
  • Radio-Canada launches EXPLORA, a health, science, nature and environment specialty service.
  • CBC Television’s Hockey Night in Canada achieved its highest-ever audience, an average of 8.76 million, for the seven-game Stanley Cup final series between Vancouver and Boston.
  • Radio-Canada launches Espace.mu, one of the most complete sources of francophone music online, which also lets you interact and personalize your own line-up.Radio-Canada's TOU.TV continues to raise the bar, launching a new mobile website, a new application for android devices, and announcing an agreement with LG to make TOU.TV available directly on next generation television sets.

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