Speaking notes for Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO, at the Annual Public Meeting

October 23, 2013, Toronto


Let me start by playing you something.

[Play audio of news stings for CBC and Radio-Canada]

What comes to mind when you hear those sounds?

To me, those sounds are attention grabbing, comforting, familiar and safe. They tell me what’s coming up is important.

Feelings like those are the product of a decades-long relationship based on integrity, quality and trust. And they extend well beyond news, to any of our 30 offerings on radio, television, Web, and mobile, enjoyed by Canadians every day.

For me these sounds “resonate”, they trigger an emotion, they force me to pause.

As Canada’s public broadcaster, we are more than just a media company. We are a part of the communities we serve, and we believe we have to play as big a part in Canada’s future as we’ve played in its past. That’s why this past spring, we set out to engage people across the country about the 150th anniversary of Confederation coming up in 2017. We partnered with VIA Rail and the Community Foundations to set up conferences in every Province, and the North. Our goal was to provide a public space where communities could gather and share their stories about Canada and begin planning activities to celebrate this important milestone. 1200 community delegates attended these conferences where they listened to 90 speakers who talked about their vision for the country. We connected people. This is what we do.

The format of today’s Annual Public Meeting is a fitting reminder of how much our world has changed. Radio, for example, the theme of today’s panel discussion, has gone through tremendous change in recent years.

It used to be seen as a one-way source of information. Today, radio is much more than that, as it’s evolved into a two-way channel for discussion and dialogue. From Cross Country Checkup to Espace musique’s Facebook page, the audience is often as much a part of the broadcast as the host. New digital tools allow us to engage with Canadians in real time and complement and enhance the radio experience in ways we never imagined before.

In keeping with today’s theme, I’d like to share with you some of the key accomplishments we’ve made on the radio front as we reach the mid-point of our five-year strategy. Overall, we are more present in the regions, more connected with our audiences, and we have the numbers to prove it:

  • CBC Radio had an exceptionally strong audience performance last year, with a combined 15.3 audience share. This was the highest ever fall share for CBC Radio One and the highest fall share for CBC Radio 2 since 2008.
  • ICI Radio-Canada Première and Espace musique also had a banner year with combined shares at 18.5, well exceeding the target of 16.0.
  • Last year, 20 of 23 of our local CBC Radio One morning shows placed in the top 3, with over half – 12 – at number 1.
  • On ICI Radio-Canada Première, we introduced on-the-hour radio newscasts in all regions and 30-minute mid-day slots in 8 regions across the country.

Strategy 2015 has made us more digital, and changes in how we deliver audio programming are a big part of that shift. Think of Espace.mu, CBCMusic.ca, smart phone apps, live streaming, podcasts… Available all the time.

We’re changing, we’re evolving. We’re challenging the status quo. We want to create a one-on-one relationship with our listeners.

And you don’t have to look any further than our five hosts participating in today’s panel discussion: they do just that.

  • First, Steve Patterson and The Debaters. His radio show, which at one time became a TV program, is produced in communities across the country. I attended the taping at Bishops University last winter and saw first-hand the dynamic connection between the show’s content and the live audience. Also, Steve just won Best Male Stand-up at the Canadian Comedy Awards, for a second time!
  • Anna Maria Tremonti and The Current. Celebrating its 11th year on air, The Current was awarded the Canadian Journalism Foundation's Excellence in Journalism Award in the Large/National Media category – an honour for which Maria’s team was a finalist again in June 2013
  • Rebecca MaKonnen is a prime example of our multi-platform universe. She is it! For the past four years, she’s hosted the musical variety show Studio 12, which is broadcast on TV, radio and web platforms. She’s also a regular guest on ICI Radio-Canada Première and CBC Radio, and the host of Circuit Makonnen on Espace musique.
  • Matt Galloway is the host of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One, Toronto’s top rated morning show, but you also saw him on The National do a great piece on a local school promoting diversity. By the way, in 2012, he was given the Excellence In Community Service Award for addressing issues confronting diverse communities by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute. I also understand it was just your birthday, Matt, so happy birthday!
  • Finally, Jean-Sébastien Bernatchez, host of L'heure du monde and C'est pas trop tôt on ICI Radio-Canada Première, is a regular on all of our digital platforms and uses Twitter to exchange with listeners on economic news.

Their contribution to our content is a great example of our evolution. I’m very proud of that.

I’m also very proud of the fact that the Olympics will be returning to CBC/Radio-Canada in February. As the public broadcaster, we will bring you more than just the medal count. Like we did in Beijing, we will bring perspectives and stories from Russia, to ensure Canadians understand the social, economic and cultural context in which the Games are being held. True to our mandate, we will inform and enlighten, as well as entertain.

Before I continue I want to share with you a video of some of what you can expect this February.

[Play Olympics video]

Time now for our CFO, Suzanne Morris, to bring you up to speed on our financial picture.

CONCLUSION (Hubert returns to podium after Suzanne)

Canadian culture, Canadian democracy, the Canadian experience – none of these concepts are top-down. They are the product of collaboration, dialogue, interaction. They are the product of citizens passionately exchanging ideas, values, and dreams. We want to be the place where those exchanges happen.

So let’s have a great session today. Let’s dream big, let’s have some fun, but above all, let’s keep in touch.

Thank you.

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