Speaking Notes for Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada, at the opening of The Estrie Broadcast Centre.

August 27, 2009

(Please check against delivery)

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

As President of CBC/Radio-Canada, I’m both proud and delighted to attend today’s inauguration of our new station in the Eastern Townships. It’s been a major undertaking in which local staff have invested a huge amount of time and effort. I know that the move has disrupted the summer for most of you. I’m very grateful for your dedication to this project, which will strengthen CBC/Radio-Canada’s presence in the Townships.

Given the rather difficult circumstances we currently face, I must say it gives me great pleasure to attend an event that holds promise for the future!

Since August 2008, we’ve been up against an enormous financial challenge. We’ve reined in expenses wherever possible and have been forced to make major cutbacks across the board. But we haven’t lost sight of our strategic objectives. Why? Because regardless of the economic context, we must remain relevant; we must continue to reach people; and we must adapt to our environment. This means focusing our efforts on becoming a content company, making content available to Canadians where, when and how they want it. And, as I’ve said ever since joining CBC/Radio-Canada, we’re striving to remain deeply rooted in the regions.

Our new station in the Eastern Townships clearly reflects the direction our company is taking.

For those of you who are less familiar with our operations, allow me to provide an overview of the opportunities this station affords our organization. Here in Sherbrooke, all of our staff—in television, radio, the Web, and English and French services—will be working under one roof. They’ll be crossing paths every day, exchanging news and story ideas. With their state-of-the-art technology now available to them, they’ll be better equipped to share video and audio content, not just amongst themselves, but with their colleagues nationwide. For example, footage shot here by an RDI team can now be more easily used by CBC News and Newsworld. Which in turn will make it easier for CBC/Radio-Canada to let the rest of the country know what’s happening in the Eastern Townships.

A number of things set us apart from other media companies. There is one in particular I’d like to emphasize. Whereas our competitors (both anglophone and francophone) are moving out of the regions, we’ve made a commitment to stay—and in some cases, even strengthen our position. A fundamental issue for us—something that’s directly tied to our economic situation and which I’ll be talking a lot about this fall—is the principle of a fair market value for conventional television signals.

At present, conventional stations like Télévision de Radio-Canada don’t receive fees for carriage of their signals. What does that mean? It means that when you pay your cable or satellite bill, not a cent goes to conventional television networks like CBC/Radio-Canada, even though it’s companies like ours that produce the most original content and almost all major popular programs and series. This is a problem. It’s a problem because conventional networks can no longer rely solely on advertising revenue to fund the original productions Canadians expect. They’re also finding it very difficult to fund the operations of local or regional television stations. Meanwhile, cable and satellite companies are raking in massive profits by retransmitting our signals.

Our business model has to change and this will be our top priority this fall. We have to safeguard the future of conventional television in Canada—stations like Radio-Canada Estrie—so that all of this country’s regions can continue to discover and understand one another’s realities.

Looking forward, I hope the Eastern Townships will bring us other talented people like Gérald Fillion, who provides an economic analysis every day on RDI, or France Beaudoin, who every summer brings us artistic and cultural gems on Bon baisers de France.

Thank you for listening.

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