Remarks for Hubert T. Lacroix at PBI Montréal 2016

September 15, 2016, Montreal


Hubert T. Lacroix, CBC/Radio-Canada’s President and CEO, kicked off the 2016 Public Broadcasters International conference in Montréal on September 15, 2016.

Merci, Emmanuelle. Thank you, Matt.

On behalf of the entire CBC/Radio-Canada team, I’m delighted to welcome you to PBI Montréal 2016! The 25th conference in the history of this organization.

PBI is a great opportunity for public service media organizations to learn from each other, and to work together to strengthen the value of what we contribute to the world, so let’s get started.

I’d like to thank Mr. Sato, the Secretary General of PBI, and the members of his executive committee for their assistance.

My thanks as well to Sally-Ann Wilson from Public Media Alliance. We worked with Sally-Ann to organize our two conferences together. The conversations we have at PBI will be that much richer thanks to the input of members from the Alliance.

We also decided this year to focus our discussions around a single theme: “The NEXT Future: Connecting the Digital Generation to Public Broadcasting.”

“The Next Future.” And this future has a face – that of a digital generation. Unlike most of us, they didn’t have to adapt to digital. This generation is digital.

I know that all of you have studied this phenomenon, and factored it into your strategic planning. Many of you have ongoing initiatives to better understand the digital generation and anticipate its needs. “Generation What/Génération Quoi” comes to mind – a partnership between France Télévisions and the European Broadcasting Union.

I’m also thinking of one of Michelle Guthrie’s recent comments: “ABC must be popular beyond preschools and aged-care homes.”

This PBI 2016 is an opportunity to discuss how we attract – and retain – young audiences. Despite the challenges of the past few years, each of us have been finding ways to transform how we serve our citizens in the digital age. By sharing what we’ve learned, building on what works – and not being afraid to say what didn’t work – we will become stronger and better in what we do.

I believe public broadcasting is more valuable than ever. It informs and engages people about around the issues going on in their world. It supports public values like inclusion, diversity, and participation in civic life. It strengthens social cohesion. So we do more than make content.

You probably heard last week, even Starbucks is now moving into content creation with in-house video and podcasts that tell “inspiring stories.” Companies like Starbucks understand the power of cultural content to support their brands, their business. Our business, our brand, is public service. A great brand!

As more and more global companies start offering news and entertainment content, we need to ensure that the unique cultural identity of our countries is supported with great cultural content. And I believe that investing in public broadcasting is the most effective way to do that.

I’m pleased to be able welcome you to Canada and to my hometown of Montréal, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country. Regardless of where you’re from, I’m sure that less than a kilometre from this hotel, you can find someone who speaks your language. They may even know your neighbourhood. We are proud of our country’s diversity. We feel that it makes Canada a better place to live. And public broadcasting is part of that.

Canada created its public broadcaster 80 years ago, to counter the growing influence of the popular American radio shows so easily available to Canadians. Today, for many people, CBC/Radio-Canada IS the voice of Canada. We’re very proud of the connection Canadians have with their public broadcaster.

At CBC/Radio-Canada, we’re midway through our five-year strategy to transform the public broadcaster. We are using digital to build closer connections with Canadians and to be at the heart of their conversations.

Our political environment has recently changed. We have a federal government that is a strong believer in culture and in CBC/Radio-Canada. The government is in fact, right now, holding consultations across the country to determine how to strengthen Canadian culture in the digital world. Last spring, it announced a reinvestment in public broadcasting – the first of its kind in a decade. It’s a powerful vote of confidence in public broadcasting, the value of what we do, and in our plans for the future.

We’re doing a lot. But we want to do even more. We want to deepen our relationship with Canadians. We want to be a hub that supports a wealth of Canadian creativity. And we want to share their creativity with the world.

Key to doing this is engaging the creators of tomorrow. That is why this meeting’s focus on connecting the digital generation to public broadcasting is so important.

It’s also why I am delighted to share with you this morning, a new project at Radio-Canada to do just that. It’s called “Next Generation/Prochaine Génération.” It’s an experimental space, “un espace de création,” to be created by millennials and managed by millennials. They will be developing new ways of enhancing and sharing news and public affairs content for digital natives; even more mobile; even more personal; stories told in new ways.

We’re bringing in 15 to 20 young people to start, who will work with other millennials at Radio-Canada under the direction of our head of News Michel Cormier and our head of Digital Media, Maxime Saint-Pierre. These young people will help build their public broadcaster for their generation. And in the process, it will speed up our transformation. They have incredible talent, passion and imagination. Look for their content by early June 2017.

Next Generation is about connecting with new audiences, ensuring succession within our own ranks, and enriching the diversity of voices in our country. I have pushed hard for this to happen and I’m very excited by its direction.

And precisely because this conference is about connecting with the digital generation, this PBI 2016 will be more open, transparent and participatory.

There will be a variety of ways you can join in, ask questions and share your organization’s success and challenges. Most of our panels and keynote talks will be live-streamed over the web. That way what we’re learning here can go beyond these walls. I want everyone to hear how public broadcasting is changing for them.

I hope you will listen, participate, and be inspired by what you hear today and tomorrow, and that it will help you in your own work when you’re back home.

I look forward to hearing your ideas.

It is now my pleasure to be able to introduce you to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and a strong supporter of culture, public broadcasting, and the digital future.

Ms. Joly is a lawyer by training. She worked in major law firms in Montréal, and was a managing partner in an international communications company. Three years ago she founded a new political party; Le Vrai Changement pour Montréal and ran for mayor here.

Last fall, she was elected as a Member of Parliament and appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage. As part of her consultation on Canadian culture, she has been meeting with broadcasters and creators from around the world, and we are delighted she has accepted our invitation to speak with you today.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my Minister, the Honourable Mélanie Joly.

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