October 15, 2012,
IN A RECENT SUBMISSION TO THE CRTC, SENATOR PIERRE DE BANÉ HAS SUGGESTED THAT RADIO-CANADA IS NOT FULFILLING ITS MANDATE UNDER THE BROADCASTING ACT. IN SUPPORT OF HIS VIEW HE HAS COMMISSIONED A STUDY COMPARING TWO TELEVISION NEWS PROGRAMS; LE TELEJOURNAL ON RADIO-CANADA AND THE NATIONAL ON CBC. WE BELIEVE IT IS IMPORTANT TO CLARIFY SOME FACTS ABOUT THE SENATOR’S POSITION:
- Using one program, in this case the Téléjournal, as the measure of Radio-Canada’s fulfillment of its mandate is spurious. CBC/Radio-Canada has many news programs on many platforms which serve the needs of specific regions as well as sharing regional stories with national audiences (*).
- CBC/Radio-Canada’s editorial independence is enshrined in the Broadcasting Act. The editorial decisions of Le Téléjournal reflect the market that it serves. To impose a political agenda on those editorial decisions is to politicize the public broadcaster.
- Radio-Canada is the only French-language media organization with a presence in all regions of the country. The network has 20 stations across Canada, including 11 outside Quebec:
- 13 multiplatform stations (TV, radio and web) in Moncton, Régina, Toronto, Ottawa/Gatineau, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Québec, Montreal, Rimouski, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay.
- With an additional 7 radio stations in Halifax, Charlottetown, Matane, Sept-Îles, Rouyn-Noranda, Sudbury and Windsor.
- Service to Canada's regions is one of the three priorities of our 2015 Strategic Plan. We have, thanks to our renewed focus on improving regional service and to additional funding received through the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), made significant improvements to our local service over the past few years, including:
- Increase of local news programming from 5 days to 7 days a week in almost all markets across the county
- Reintroduction of local news on statutory holidays in all markets
- Enhanced coverage of local sports, special events, elections, breaking news and weather
- Addition of public affairs series, documentaries, cultural magazines, and special programming to highlight important, unifying local events
- Increased presence of local news on the national network.
- The Senate’s Standing Committee on Official Languages has for close to a year been examining the question of Radio-Canada’s obligations under the Official Languages Act and some aspects of the Broadcasting Act. CBC/Radio-Canada has been an active participant in that study. In fact, both the CRTC and CBC/Radio-Canada addressed Senator de Bane's concerns in detail when we appeared as witnesses last April. The Committee is looking at the broad scope of Radio-Canada’s services. We believe that to be the right way to approach this question. We look forward to the Committee’s final report.
(*) The following are some examples of the ways in which Radio-Canada reflects Canada and its regions for audiences across its many platforms:
- A minimum of 33% of the content on the Réseau de l'information de Radio-Canada (RDI) comes from the regions. RDI also has dedicated journalists situated across the country. The newscast, Le National, broadcast twice, at 6 and 11 pm, has the mandate to report on current regional events. That coverage represents a half-hour weeknight newscast that rounds up the top stories from all the regions across Canada. It draws heavily on the reports aired seven days a week on the regional Téléjournal newscasts.
- On Radio’s Première chaîne, 100% of primetime hours – specifically, the morning and afternoon commuting periods – are produced regionally by our local radio stations. A strong regional presence also allows us to better reflect these communities’ cultural, democratic and economic life on our national network.
- The web has become an increasingly important part of CBC/Radio-Canada offer, giving audiences a new way of connecting with our content, with each other and with their country. We’ve invested accordingly, adding, for example, new web-based resources at stations across the country and developing geo-location capacity for our web and mobile services ensuring that visitors get immediate access to the stories that matter most to them.
- Our multiplatform stations in minority-language communities produce an average of six to eleven hours of local television programming each week. The bulk of this programming is in news and current affairs, but we have also expanded and diversified regional production into other genres, including independent production. All of this content is made available online for people across the country and around the world.
- Over the past three years, regional stations of Radio-Canada produced 34 episodes of the documentary series Tout le monde en parlait hosted by Guy Gendron, including 19 by our minority-language stations.
- Many of our network programs also produce remote broadcasts outside of Quebec. In March 2012, the national arts show Bouillant de culture was in Vancouver to mark the launch of the Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada, which showcased literary works by Francophone authors outside Quebec, and this year’s final show was broadcast in primetime during the Pénélope McQuade show. Télévision de Radio-Canada also carries on its network schedule, a daily program produced out of Ottawa and whose specific mandate is to report on life in French-speaking communities across Canada. Aired on weekdays, C’est ça la vie is in its sixth season.