Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, today issued the following statement following his appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications as they near completion of their study on the challenges faced by CBC/Radio-Canada in the fast-changing broadcast and communications environment. He was joined by Heather Conway and Louis Lalande, the Executive Vice-Presidents of English and French Services.
“My message to the senators was clear: Challenge us! Don’t shrink us to mediocrity, challenge us to be great. Give us the basic tools to compete in the world and we will shine.
We believe the media universe is at a crossroads, and that this period of dramatic change offers great potential for communities with the presence of mind to seize the opportunity.
If Canada wants the tools to compete in the global media environment, it will have to decide to build them. There is no one outside of the United States who thinks the market on its own will provide that opportunity. But with the right support, with a public/private approach that has served Canadians for the last 80 years, there is no one we can't beat. We are as creative, as efficient and as ambitious as any in the world.
The Canadian broadcast system currently faces real financial and public policy challenges if Canadians are to continue to have access to their own stories and be informed about their country; challenges we hope will be reflected in the committee’s final report. These are:
Canadian content: How to continue to invest in Canadian programs and services when public funding is shrinking and advertising revenue is moving away from conventional television?
Global choices: How to continue to reach Canadians with quality Canadian programming, when an almost unlimited number of global choices are available to them?
The digital shift: How to serve those Canadians who are quickly shifting to digital platforms, without leaving behind those who still rely on television and radio?
Financial viability: How to ensure that the public broadcaster does all of that today, while still remaining financially stable enough to avoid having to cut people and services every year just to balance its budget?
In our day-to-day operations and long-term strategy we are addressing these challenges head on. CBC/Radio-Canada is still strong. 87% of Canadians use our content, whether radio, television or digital, every month. We have made enormous strides in maximizing our resources and streamlining our operations in order to invest in the future. In fact, few public broadcasters in the world, if any, provide more services for less money than CBC/Radio-Canada.
But the reality is that the revenue model is broken. Advertising revenue for all conventional broadcasters is declining, and public funding for CBC/Radio Canada has constantly shrunk over decades. If we fail to address these issues, what’s at stake is our ability to offer the quality programs and services that Canadians expect from us and that the market, on its own, will not supply. My hope is that the committee’s final report will make recommendations that will allow public broadcasting to be everything it can be for this country in the digital age.”
A copy of Mr. Lacroix’s opening remarks is available here.
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.
A space for us all is CBC/Radio-Canada’s strategy to transform the public broadcaster, and ensure that it continues to fulfill its mandate for Canadians, now and for future generations. Through to 2020, the Corporation will increase its investment in prime-time television programming and continue to create radio programs of the highest quality, while promoting the development of digital and mobile platforms and content.