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

September 26, 2017, Ottawa

(PLEASE CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)

Dean Mérette of the Faculty of Social Sciences,
Dean Kee of the Faculty of Arts,
Hello, everyone.

I’m very pleased to welcome you to our Annual Public Meeting.

I like the feel of university campuses, particularly in the fall. Always have. Goes back to the times when I was a sessional part-time lecturer in law school and a university women’s basketball coach. September meant new students, new players, new energy, assignments and the beginning of the various varsity athletics programs. I envy you… Have fun!

Anyways, back to the APM.

This yearly gathering is a privileged setting for us to engage with you. About the role we play and our goal of staying at the centre of Canadians’ conversations. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on our programs, on our digital initiatives, on your expectations of us and how we can get even better at meeting them.

I’ve been at the helm of CBC/Radio-Canada for nearly ten years now. My term ends on December 31st.

So I hope you’ll indulge me as I briefly run down a few things, to put these last few years in perspective.

When I started, there was no iPad, no Netflix, no Vice, no Snapchat, no Spotify, no Instagram, no Amazon (at least not in the way we know them now) and only 9% of Canadians had a smartphone. Now, more than 70% do!

Our digital journey has been audacious, innovative, bold… and difficult.

But it has turned CBC/Radio-Canada, an 80-year old corporation built around, and known for, its radio and television programs into what is today, the number one digital media company in Canada.

And we did this in spite of serious financial challenges, a fragmented media ecosystem, and the appearance of the Googles, Facebooks, and Netflixes of the world, who have weakened the business model that used to support the entire broadcasting industry.

And throughout this incredible transformation, we stayed true to and strengthened our legal mandate to Canadians.

We put “local” at the centre of Strategy 2020 – our five-year strategic plan launched in 2014. We created eight new multimedia stations in communities across the country, and strengthened our regional coverage to seven days per week, 18 hours per day, from “Bonjour” to “Bonsoir.”

We said we would double our digital reach to 18 million unique visitors each month by 2020. Well, we surpassed that goal this summer, two and a half years ahead of schedule. And that 18 million number doesn’t include our 2 million followers on Facebook and Twitter.

CBC News is now the number one Canadian news app with more than 3.9 million downloads. We lead in podcasting with more than 200 million downloads since 2016; the popular investigative podcast series Someone Knows Something alone has been downloaded more than 30 million times.

ICI TOU.TV programs are streamed more than 6.4 million times each month. RAD, our recently formed lab within Radio-Canada where we aim at reinventing the way we deliver news and current affairs on social media to digital citizens, is already producing compelling content with 15 reporters and digital-savvy content and user-experience designers, and with no one over 35 years old in that unit! Go see their stuff on Facebook!

And CBC News: Indigenous, and Espace autochtones, at Radio-Canada, are hugely successful web portals dedicated to Indigenous stories.

We are today a leading public broadcaster in the digital world.

And in an era of “fake news,” we are proud to remain the most-trusted Canadian source for news and information.

That trust is in large part because of the continuous work of our incredibly talented journalists, and I am delighted that some of them are here with us today to share stories with you.

Clearly, we were only able to achieve these results because of our CBCers and Radio-Canadiens, because of their commitment to public broadcasting, because of their creativity, their vision and their resilience.

Today, as I am about to exit, I want to say a very profound “thank you” to all the people who work at CBC/Radio-Canada, and to my Senior Executive Team, for having committed to this transformation and having spectacularly delivered on it.

I also say thank you to our Board members for the time invested in the public broadcaster and to Rémi for chairing the Board for the last five years.

Your public broadcaster is a great place to work, as we continue to attract some of the best and brightest this country has to offer and reinvent ourselves. Over the last two years, we have hired nearly 250 people to support our digital initiatives and have retrained about 2,900 of our own CBCers and Radio-Canadiens, as there is no finish line to this transformation.

And we are doing this with an unwavering focus on diversity and inclusion. Our vision is clear: we want a range of faces, voices, experiences and perspectives in both our content and our workforce so that we reflect the Canadian mosaic in everything we do.

I hope that, someday, some of you will join us.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and answering your questions.

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