1. Why are there so many repeat broadcasts?
This situation can be attributed to our limited resources. This year, we faced a $200 million shortfall following the reductions announced in the budget. We had no choice but to air more repeats on both television and radio. However, we are trying to offer varied content and to strategically program repeat broadcasts in order to reach a wider audience.
2. What is CBC/Radio-Canada doing to promote French language and culture across the country, especially in francophone minority communities?
We’re aware of the importance of reflecting and serving francophone communities outside Quebec. In 2009−2010, we tried to limit the impact of budget cuts on these communities: over 85% of the cuts to French Services were absorbed by national network programming, with regional stations accounting for only 15% of the reductions.
In February 2011, we tabled our five-year plan 2015: Everyone, Every way, in which we presented CBC/Radio-Canada’s top three priorities for the coming years: becoming more distinctly Canadian, more regional, and more digital.
That said, in light of the budget cuts announced in March 2012, we won’t be able to move as far or as fast on certain elements of Strategy 2015 as we might have liked. We’ll continue to build partnerships, air concerts by francophone artists across the country, and increase our presence in French-speaking communities outside Quebec.
3. What is CBC/Radio-Canada’s plan going forward for integrating new media technologies into its offerings?
As announced in our 2015 Strategy, we will double our current level of digital investment. That will allow us to extend our leadership in Canadian digital spaces and strengthen competitive position of our multiplatform offering.
We are always looking at ways to make our content available to the most Canadians possible. Canadians are increasingly turning online and to their mobile devices. We’ve worked really hard over the past few years to evolve with them.
We’ve been doing more and more multi-platform programming like 8th Fire, a series about aboriginal Canadians that aired on both CBC and Radio-Canada, and web documentaries like Exile Without End, Palestinians in Lebanon that got recognition internationally. Another example is #bullyPROOF, which address bullying among Canada’s youth, that included stories, features and a documentary broadcast over a week on CBC Television, CBC News Network, CBC Radio One, and online. Content and audience discussions were also available on Twitter and Facebook.
We continue to grow our digital services with new Radio-Canada micro websites for Montreal’s North and South Shores. CBC’s first all-digital service in Hamilton launched in May. We also have two new digital music services, CBC Music and Espace.mu, both generating more than a million audiostreams in their first months.
Finally, our new CBC News mobile app and redesigned CBC.ca website offer a quicker, cleaner digital experience that gives Canadians real-time access to the news and information that matters to them.
4. Why is the licence renewal important?
It’s been 13 years since CBC/Radio-Canada’s licences were last renewed. During this time, broadcasting technology and consumer demand and expectation have changed exponentially. Given our tough financial situation and the sea changes in our industry, the stakes are high.
We’re asking the CRTC for two things.
- A modern regulatory framework that will enable us to implement our strategy across all of our platforms and allow us to evolve and progress with our audiences, with technology and with our changing environment.
- An opportunity to generate new revenue to meet the significant financial challenges presented by the Corporation’s current operating environment. One of the main ways in which the Corporation intends to increase revenue is by adding advertising and sponsorship to both CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique. The CRTC is considering the Corporation’s proposal to do so in the context of this licence renewal process.
5. What impact will the discontinuation of the LPIF have on programming?
We’re disappointed with the CRTC’s decision to eliminate support for local television programming by discontinuing the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF). The fund was a great success. It was achieving its objectives.
Improving local service is one of the Corporation’s top priorities. This decision doesn’t change that, but it does present a challenge that could limit our local television activities.
For CBC/Radio-Canada, this means a loss of around $47 million. What we need to do now is evaluate the loss of this funding against the priorities of our 2015 plan and the challenges we’re facing because of our reduced parliamentary appropriation. We’re in the process of looking at what this means for our services. Decisions will be communicated as soon as possible.
6. How much money did you spend on the Olympic Games bid?
While we won’t disclose specific details, our bid was determined by our analysis of the revenues we can generate from the property.
As we did when we bid for Vancouver and London Games, we bid as much as we could without risking putting the venture into the red and honouring the commitment to excellence in broadcasting that has been a signature of the Olympic games.
7. Are you considering the consumer oriented alternative funding approaches of either PBS style donations or BBC type levies on televisions or other hardware?
As part of our strategic planning process, CBC/Radio-Canada regularly analyses alternative sources of funding that would supplement our public appropriation. To date, we have concluded that the impediments to accepting direct donations from private individuals and businesses outweigh the benefits. But we continue to review all potential avenues to leverage Canadians investment in their public broadcaster, taking a fresh look every few year to determine whether changing circumstances warrant further investigation of this model.
8. Does CBC/Radio-Canada plan to expand its digital over-the-air coverage?
CBC/Radio-Canada has installed a digital transmitter for every one of its television stations, for a total of 27 transmitters (14 for CBC and 13 for Radio-Canada).
The evolution of our industry has moved us towards the difficult balancing act of allocating scarce resources across a wide range of platforms and priorities.
Very few Canadians today use an antenna to watch TV. And as demand for over-the-air service continues to decline, the demand for service on new platforms – streaming online audio and video and mobile applications – increases. More people access our programming online today than they do over-the-air.
Our new five-year strategic plan places the regions as a top priority for CBC/Radio-Canada. We will be investing in the regions over the next five years. But instead of investing on transmitters that serve fewer and fewer people, our strategy consists of enhancing our local programming offer and finding ways of providing local programming on radio and on the web to the 7 million Canadians who don’t currently have local service.
Ultimately our industry should be aiming to have all Canadian homes connected to the digital economy through high-speed Internet, broadband satellite or cable, where the future of our industry clearly lies.
We’re conscious of the fact that subscribing to cable or satellite is expensive, indeed unaffordable for some Canadians. We believe that should change. The multi-channel universe should be accessible to all. That’s why the Corporation has proposed that the CRTC establish and affordable, small, basic package for cable and satellite companies so that for just a few dollars, all Canadians can get access to a minimum number of TV channels.
9. What’s the status of the RCI transformation?
As part of the transformation, RCI’s shortwave operations were shut down. All broadcasting and sharing of content with partners is now done via Internet only.
RCI no longer produces newscasts, and has closed its Russian and Portuguese sections.
RCI continues to offer web and audio content in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin.
10. Following government cuts, we heard a lot about all that CBC was doing to reduce costs, but what have you done to generate more revenues?
CBC/Radio-Canada is determined to face the $200 million financial pressures by continuing implementing its three-year plan that focuses, among other things, on increasing its revenues.
As a starting point, CBC/Radio-Canada will look to increase its self-generated revenues by $50 million over three years, as a way to minimize the need for reductions.
CBC/Radio-Canada will increase its revenues by better leveraging existing television advertising by maximizing the return on its most popular shows. We'll also aggressively pursue digital advertising revenues.
We'll also look to our real estate portfolio to generate more revenues. In the short- to mid-term, much of the additional revenues will come from leasing significant square footage in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto. The Corporation will also sell some of its buildings to become tenants in more efficient and less-costly premises.
By implementing this self-generated revenue diversification strategy, CBC/Radio-Canada will ensure more robust long-term funding for the public broadcaster.
Despite all of this, CBC/Radio-Canada will also need to add advertising and sponsorship to both CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique as a means of further increasing its revenues. The Corporation has already submitted an application to the CRTC for a change of its licenses.
11. CBC/Radio-Canada has been subjected to the Access of information Act for five years, now. Why is there still such a big backlog of requests and complaints to the Information Commissioner?
Since CBC/Radio-Canada became subject to the Access to Information Act in 2007, we’ve refined our processes, revisited policies, made our website much more robust, and significantly upped the amount of information we proactively disclose (including, now, documentation related to Board of Directors meetings) with a view to being even more transparent.
You can expect continued improvement in responding to requests and an increase in the proactive disclosure of information.
We are improving our performance constantly:
- We’ve responded to 1,620 out of the 1,637 requests received (to September 20, 2012) since we became subject to the Act.
- Our “deemed refusals” rate is down from 80.47% in 2007-2008 to 4.24% as of March 31, 2012 (beating our objective to reach 5% by more than a year).
- The average number of days it takes us to respond to a request has dropped from a high of 187 in 2008-2009 to 36 as of March 31 2012.
- We’ve released more than 98,680 pages of information.
- We’ve made over 30,600 pages of information released under ATI available to the public on our website.
- We’ve launched a Transparency and Accountability Bulletin that provides regular updates regarding our performance.
Even the Information Commission has acknowledged, in her last annual report card, that we’ve shown steady improvements since being overwhelmed by requests in 2007.
12. What do you say to those who think that CBC Music should not be competing in the same space as private broadcasters?
We can say quite simply that CBC Music exists to serve Canadians, musicians and our cultural community in a rapidly expanding digital environment.
We offer a distinctive service. No other service features such a wide range of editorial content and context along with music.
An important piece of our strategy involves showcasing Canadian artists side-by-side with the best in international music. It allows us to promote Canadian talent effectively to a broad audience of music fans, it's consistent with how people consume music and most importantly, it's what the artists and their labels have told us they want from CBC.
13. Is your inclusion of questions submitted via video by ReimagineCBC an indication that CBC/Radio-Canada sanctions the work that the group is doing?
No. Our APM is an opportunity for Canadians to pose questions to the senior management of the Corporation. Reimagine CBC's questions were submitted to us in that context, on behalf of their constituents.
While we remain interested in the ideas that are being brought to the table through Reimagine CBC and look forward to their final recommendations, CBC/Radio-Canada is not involved in the ReimagineCBC project.That said, we're encouraged by the fact that so many Canadians are voicing support for their public broadcaster and having a meaningful discussion about its future, its services and its funding.
14. Why doesn’t CBC/Radio-Canada broadcast provincial elections nationally (besides Ontario and Quebec)?
Last fall, we were faced with the following election lineup:
Prince Edward Island and Northwest Territories on October 3; Manitoba on October 4; Ontario on October 6; Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon on October 11.
Given the multiple elections on the same days, it was clearly impossible to turn the whole CBC News Network over to each provincial/territorial election individually. There are also limits to how far our central election support team can be stretched. In Ontario there was the additional challenge of the election coinciding with the opening night of the NHL season.
In each case we try to put on the best coverage we can. This year, the news network did provide comprehensive national coverage of the Alberta and Quebec elections. We always broadcast an election show locally on the conventional channel and, at the least, regular updates on News Net through the evening and live coverage of key moments.
As broadband internet use becomes more universally accessible, this problem of duplication can be addressed by access to the live comprehensive local election coverage via CBC.ca anywhere in the country. Given that new accessibility, increasingly the decisions about what is carried on the national News Network will be driven by the national audience's viewing interest.