The time is right for a Memorandum of Understanding

June 20, 2008, Ottawa

Missed opportunity to shape CBC/Radio-Canada’s future strategic direction

The Government’s decision late yesterday not to endorse the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s report on CBC/Radio-Canada is a missed opportunity to enhance the accountability and transparency of Canada’s national public broadcaster. The report, CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining Distinctiveness in the Changing Media Landscape contains recommendations linking CBC/Radio-Canada’s objectives to a fulsome conversation with Government on services and funding.

''We are disappointed that the Government has not endorsed the Committee’s unanimous recommendations, said Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. ''The report is a blueprint for developing the future goals of public broadcasting in Canada.''

Governments around the world have recognized the importance of developing clear strategic directions for their national public broadcasters in multi-year agreements. The Heritage Committee’s proposal for a seven-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) offers the same accountability.

''The MOU would provide Canadians with a clear understanding of the future course of their public broadcaster and the resources necessary to provide the services they require.” Lacroix said. ''In addition, the MOU improves the Corporation’s governance by enabling us to plan our activities and services over more than 12 months and thereby make more efficient use of our resources.”

Given its current resources, the Corporation is facing some critical choices about its future directions. CBC/Radio-Canada believes that it is important that these choices be discussed with Government and reflected in an MOU. It will continue to press the Government on the importance of the Memorandum for public broadcasting in Canada.

The Heritage Committee’s report was the product of extensive review, study and consultation. The report itself stated: The Committee regards CBC/Radio-Canada as an essential public institution that plays a crucial role in bringing Canadians closer together… The vast majority of the evidence stressed the distinctiveness of CBC/Radio-Canada, reflected in the quality, originality and creativity of its programming. Being distinctive should not however mean being inaccessible. Its services must be accessible to the various elements of the Canadian public.

About CBC/Radio-Canada

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.

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