If CBC/Radio-Canada is to reach its potential and be the public broadcaster Canada needs, it needs a new contract with Canadians. This is the essence of the message that Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, carried forth today on behalf of the Corporation to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its review of the public broadcaster's mandate.
"In a broadcasting industry that is evolving at an unprecedented rate, in which media ownership is becoming more concentrated, Canadians need a public broadcaster more than ever," Mr. Rabinovitch said. "It is through public broadcasting that the Government can ensure a place for distinctive Canadian content, telling Canadian stories and serving Canadian citizens."
In his opening remarks to the Committee, Mr. Rabinovitch suggested that a contract should be struck with Canadians, which would lay out the obligations that CBC/Radio-Canada owes to its 32 million owners over a ten-year period. It would be based on five core principles:
As with any contract, sufficient resources would need to be provided to permit CBC/Radio-Canada to discharge its mandate and meet the expectations set out in the contract.
"CBC/Radio-Canada is at a turning point that no one-year answer, no one-dimensional response will resolve," Mr. Rabinovitch said. "What we need, and why we appreciate the committee's initiative, is a long-term, properly resourced strategy for broadcasting in the next decade. We need to engage Parliament and Canadians in a planning process to address the big policy questions."
Mr. Rabinovitch was accompanied by Executive Vice-President of CBC Television, Richard Stursberg; Executive Vice-President of French Services, Sylvain Lafrance; and Executive Director of Programming for CBC Radio, Jennifer McGuire (acting for Vice- President of CBC Radio, Jane Chalmers), who provided additional insight into issues of interest to Committee members.
CBC/Radio-Canada's submission outlines why Canada needs a public broadcaster; the role and value of public broadcasting; some of the more pressing challenges that the national public broadcaster faces; an overview of its 28 services; and, audience performance information.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. With 29 services offered on Radio, Television, the Internet, satellite radio, digital audio, as well as through its record and music distribution service and wireless WAP and SMS messaging services, CBC/Radio-Canada is available how, where, and when Canadians want it.
Through this array of activities, CBC/Radio-Canada brings diverse regional and cultural perspectives into the daily lives of Canadians in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, in nine languages on its international Radio service, Radio Canada International, and in eight languages on its Web-based Radio service RCI viva, a service for recent and aspiring immigrants to Canada.