Archive digitization: a coordinated effort by CBC/Radio-Canada to preserve and showcase our heritage

May 11, 2017

Michel Bissonnette, Executive Vice-President, French Services; Heather Conway, Executive Vice-President, English Services; and Steven Guiton, Executive Vice-President, Media Technology and Infrastructure Services, CBC/Radio-Canada, today announced the beginning of the mass digitization of the public broadcaster’s audiovisual archive collection.

CBC/Radio-Canada is committed to protecting and showcasing our audiovisual heritage. The mass digitization of audio and video material is being carried out to ensure that our archives are preserved under the best possible conditions, while making them more readily available to our production teams and discoverable by our audiences.

Over the course of this project, CBC will digitise 720,000 physical media assets (audio and video) while Radio-Canada will digitise more than 650,000 assets that include audio, video and film.

Archive digitization is part of managing the public broadcaster’s content assets carefully, responsibly and proactively. Globally, CBC/Radio-Canada is among the industry leaders in applying best practices for audiovisual archive preservation.

The project is also necessary to address the deterioration of physical recording media, equipment obsolescence and the increasing cost to production staff and media librarians of maintaining playback devices. The need to make content accessible in a tapeless environment, in Toronto, Montreal and regionally, was another factor in CBC/Radio-Canada’s decision to undertake the project.

For CBC, a number of new positions will be created internally to support this project, with details to be confirmed in the coming weeks. At Radio-Canada, approximately 20 positions will be created. Preparatory work is already under way and mass digitization, which will take at least five years, is slated to begin in winter 2018. Digitisation will be done by leading industry suppliers using best practices to ensure the quality and speed necessary for successful project completion. Digitizing the CBC/Radio-Canada archives will enable us to more easily access and showcase this treasure trove of historical content.

CBC/Radio-Canada will also be drawing on the expertise of the NFB with respect to image processing and correction in digitizing a selection of films of great historical value.

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