CBC/Radio-Canada’s response to the Althia Raj article “CBC’s ritzy retreats. Shelled out $60Gs on 9 meetings – many near its own headquarters,” which appeared April 22, 2009, across the Sun newspaper chain.

April 22, 2009

Althia Raj’s article paints a one-sided picture of the expenses incurred for off-site meetings held by CBC/Radio-Canada staff. The piece provides no context whatsoever, but makes liberal use of such terms as “luxury,” “ritzy,” and “posh.” Employing a tone consistent with the Sun chain’s coverage of the national public broadcaster in recent months, the article is apparently trying to create yet another scandal where none exists.

The Facts

CBC/Radio-Canada is an organisation with nearly 10,000 full-time employees across the country and an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion.

The vast majority of team meetings are held on our premises via telephone or videoconference, at little or no cost – a fact the article fails to mention. To suggest otherwise is to distort the truth.

Meetings are occasionally held off-site for various reasons, including:

  • a lack of sufficient space in-house;
  • the need to isolate a team from their daily duties to conduct long-term planning;
  • the practical benefits of holding meetings close to out-of-town accommodations.

These rare, but at times necessary, meetings are conducted in accordance with approved corporate policies, which are publicly available.

Ms. Raj’s article ignores the fact that it is common practice to request bids from various establishments to ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada receives the best rates for its meetings. Moreover, the senior executive team’s travel expenses are voluntarily disclosed on our website.

Since fall 2008, off-site meeting expenditures have been reduced to the minimum. Even though we still think these meetings are desirable on occasion, the associated budgets were the first to be cut when CBC/Radio-Canada was hit by the economic downturn.

CBC/Radio-Canada takes the management of public resources very seriously. We keep our administrative expenses at levels that are among the lowest of all public broadcasters worldwide, while over the past year our services have attracted unprecedented audiences on all platforms.

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