Canada needs to initiate a national conversation on the country’s media ecosystem and the public broadcaster’s place in it – that’s one of the central messages CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix conveyed today in a speech before the Canadian Club of Montreal. On April 10, CBC/Radio-Canada announced $130 million in cutbacks and plans to eliminate the equivalent of 657 positions over the next two fiscal years. These reductions are coupled with $390 million in financial pressures the public broadcaster has had to manage since 2008–2009.
“The announcement provoked concern, questioning, and heartfelt appeals,” says Lacroix, stressing that he is open to all comments. “What the public broadcaster needs at this point in its history is a nationwide conversation about its future. Canadians must now ponder whether they believe in and support the public broadcaster, and to what extent they’re willing to invest to help it carry out its mandate.”
Currently, each Canadian contributes $29 per year for all of CBC/Radio-Canada’s services. The annual average worldwide is $82 per citizen. The public broadcaster’s services and its capacity to deliver on its mandate are both directly linked to the amount of funding it receives.
Faced with a constantly shifting industry and a declining advertising market, CBC/Radio-Canada must transform between now and 2020. “We need to invest – and do it wisely – in our people, our technologies and our programming to meet Canadians’ changing needs, and a Canada that’s evolving. If the public broadcaster doesn’t generate other revenue or adopt a new business model, the funds to finance future programming will have to come from its existing services.”
To help guide it, the public broadcaster has begun reflecting on what it will do now to get to 2020, and plans to release its next five-year strategy early this summer. Certain questions must be addressed in the reflection process: How do we adapt to upcoming demographic shifts? Can we invest in new delivery platforms and continue to serve the traditional ones as well? At what point do we stop providing over-the-air television services? These issues, and many others, are crucial to ensuring CBC/Radio-Canada is well positioned for the future.
It’s a future in which Canadians must play a key role. To help them share their thoughts, we invite Canadians to visit cbc.radio-canada.ca/future.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages.