Annual Public Meeting 2010

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October 20, 2010 ― CBC/Radio-Canada held its second Annual Public Meeting this morning in Ottawa. Canadians from across the country participated via live webcast.

Archives of the meeting webcast are available here. We will also post a set of Questions and Answers, which addresses the most frequently asked questions.

Tim W. Casgrain, Chair of the Board of Directors; Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO; and Suzanne Morris, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, were on hand to review the highlights of 2009–2010 and provide an overview of the Corporation’s direction for the current fiscal year and for the future.

“The Board of Directors played a key role seeing CBC/Radio-Canada through a very difficult period,” said Mr. Casgrain. “We successfully overcame many challenges and managed to come out of the year stronger, more focused, and more financially sound than we were at the outset.”

Mr. Lacroix used the opportunity to highlight the importance of a strong and relevant CBC/Radio-Canada in light of the continuing transformation of Canada’s media industry: "Recent changes in our industry leave CBC/Radio-Canada as the country’s only national television broadcaster not owned by a cable or satellite company. What’s clear to me is that the continued concentration of ownership in Canada’s media industry reinforces the need for strong, independent, public broadcasting in Canada. It also underlines the need for a regulatory environment that guarantees an open system where Canadians have access to a wide range of programming, including ours, regardless of who owns the distribution channels.”

“We want what Canadians want: a vibrant CBC/Radio-Canada that gives voice to a creative nation,” continued Lacroix.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s Annual Public Meeting permits the Corporation to forge closer ties with the public, to show greater transparency in its management of public funds, and to reaffirm its commitment to serving Canadians.

Read the news release

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Why is CBC/Radio-Canada opposed to the Access to Information Act when it comes to the Corporation ensuring transparency?

    We are not opposed to the Access to Information Act (ATIA) and have always been committed to fulfilling our obligations in this regard. Since we became subject to the Act on September 1, 2007, we’ve released over 70,000 pages of information. However, Section 68.1 of the Act provides
    CBC/Radio-Canada, the only journalistic organization subject to this Act in the country, with a specific exclusion for any information that relates to its journalistic, creative or programming activities. There is some divergence of opinion on Section 68.1 that can only be settled by the courts.

  • 2. What is CBC/Radio-Canada’s plan regarding the transition to digital TV slated for August 31, 2011?

    CBC/Radio-Canada is working hard to meet its goal of installing DTV transmitters in all markets where it originates programming (27 transmitters) by August 31, 2011. We’re confident that the plan we’ve established will provide an appropriate level of over-the-air service, given industry trends and consumer demand. When all is said and done, less than one percent of Canadians who are currently receiving an over-the-air CBC or Radio-Canada signal will need to switch to a cable or satellite provider if they want to continue receiving that signal.

  • 3. CBC/Radio-Canada appears to have a very biased style of reporting. Does the Corporation have an editorial policy?

    CBC/Radio-Canada is fully committed to maintaining accuracy, integrity and fairness in its journalism. As a Canadian institution and a press undertaking, CBC/Radio-Canada is committed to compliance with a number of principles. Foremost among those is our commitment to scrupulously abide by the journalistic code of ethics formulated in our own handbook of Journalistic Standards and Practices, which stresses lack of bias in reporting.

    The Ombudsman is completely independent of CBC/Radio-Canada program staff and management, reporting directly to the President of CBC/Radio-Canada and, through the President, to the Corporation's Board of Directors. He acts as an appeal authority for complainants who are dissatisfied with responses from program staff or management.

    In addition to the above, both CBC and Radio-Canada have just finished conducting a comprehensive study of our news coverage. On the CBC side, independent consultants and experts interviewed 2500 Canadians, and analyzed nearly 16,000 television, radio and Internet stories. They compared our products to competitors and the conclusion is that there is no such thing as the kind of bias that people are referring to when they speak of CBC/Radio-Canada. We invite those interested to consult the CBC study that is currently available on our website here. Radio-Canada’s study is still ongoing.

  • 4. Are there any plans to return to CBC Radio 2’s initial programming?

    No. Since its relaunch in the fall of 2008, CBC Radio 2 (including its four online music streaming channels, concerts on demand and podcasts) has become the country's prime location for great Canadian music in all genres. We maintain our commitment to classical music with large blocks of the schedule devoted specifically to that genre. These include favourites like Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and, during the week, Tempo and Shift, as well as two 24-hour all-classical online streaming channels.

  • 5. How much weight does listener feedback carry?

    Audience feedback is important to us and is a factor in our programming decisions; however, it is not the only one. We conduct studies throughout the year in which we ask Canadians whether our programming is balanced and fair, high-quality, and different from that of other broadcasters. The results of this research are built into our program development and selection, and form the basis of performance feedback to our staff.

    Ultimately, our decisions are based on a range of factors: are we fulfilling our public service mandate; are we providing a range of programming for all Canadians; are we reflecting the country’s various regions and a broad spectrum of opinion; are we acting responsibly, taking into account our limited resources and our mandate to entertain, inform and enlighten our audiences?

  • 6. What do you say to those who accuse you of having “dumbed down” your programming?

    We’re very proud of our programming, that is appealing to more Canadians today than it ever has in the past. Our recent fall launches on CBC Television and Télévision de Radio-Canada saw 12 programs (plus two one-off specials on Radio-Canada) draw more than one million viewers. Our radio programs occupy an important market share in numerous regions of Canada. Also, our ratings remain at historical highs. The success of our conventional services carries over to our web presence where our Internet sites are drawing seven million unique visitors a month, ranking them among the most frequented media sites in the country.

    Our success with audiences has not come at the expense of enghlightening and informative programming, a hallmark of our offering. On television, both CBC and Radio-Canada offer many hours of documentaries, in-depth political analysis, and current affairs programming during prime-time. Furthermore, the quality of our radio programming continues to be celebrated not just in Canada, but internationally as well: for the fourth time in the last five years, CBC Radio won the Broadcaster of the Year Award at the International Radio Broadcasting Awards Competition in New York.

    As for the American programs we air on CBC Television during prime time, programs like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were included with a specific programming strategy in mind. First, it is less expensive to include them in our schedule than to produce original programming. Second, because they’re popular, they also attract about a million people to the evening shows immediately following. They allow us to attract more Canadian viewers, exposing them to programming in that time slot and raising awareness about other programming schedules.

  • 7. Why can’t Canadians provide financial support to CBC/Radio-Canada?

    Unlike PBS in the United States, we’re not allowed to solicit funds from the public and therefore cannot accept donations. The PBS model is very different from ours and, contrary to popular belief, only a relatively small portion of PBS funding comes from viewers/subscribers (i.e., less than 25 percent). In fact, almost half of PBS funding comes from federal taxes or state and local tax-based sources. A great way for Canadians to support CBC/Radio-Canada is to continue watching and listening to our shows, and to use all of our platforms, letting their friends and family know about the programs they enjoy.

  • 8. Why are there so many repeat broadcasts?

    This situation can be attributed to our limited resources. In 2009–10, we faced a $171 million shortfall. 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.

  • 9. Public service broadcasting is under pressure almost everywhere. Does the unique mission of public broadcasting, in contrast to that of commercial broadcasting, have to change significantly to meet these challenges?

    This situation can be attributed to our limited resources. In 2009–10, we faced a $171 million shortfall. 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.

  • 10. What resources are being devoted to new media like iPhones/iPads, android phones, BlackBerry phones and the Web? Why do we need two radio and two TV stations when we can access an unlimited number of channels online?

    People can indeed access a variety of content online. However, the research shows that about 91% of those who watch television watch it the conventional way (i.e., in their living room). Not everyone uses a computer to view material, which is why we need to continue offering our traditional services. That said, we are following current trends and are looking at ways to increase resources devoted to new platforms and new technologies.

  • 11. How much importance does CBC/Radio-Canada attach to language quality?

    We attach great importance to language quality on all of our platforms. We try to strike a balance between accurately reflecting Canadians’ daily realities and continuing to set a linguistic standard. As a public broadcaster, we’re proud to offer content that is both accessible and of a high quality.

  • 12. What is CBC/Radio-Canada doing to better represent the multicultural face of this country?

    For CBC/Radio-Canada, diversity in hiring and programming is a priority. For many years, the Corporation has had a diversity strategy focused on the increased representation of visible minorities, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities and women in both our workforce and programming. Recently, we have expanded our diversity strategy to include additional areas of operation, and we are currently preparing a national strategic action plan on diversity and fairness that will allow us to better reflect the multicultural face of Canada in the coming years.

    We are trying to draw a faithful portrait of Canadian reality with varied programming that takes into account all facets of society. Little Mosque on the Prairie, which depicts Christians and Muslims in a small town trying to live in harmony, was an international success. It is just one example among many of our diverse offerings. It was with a view to do more that we developed our action plan.

  • 13. What measures is Radio-Canada taking to ensure that its programming and services reflect the culture of francophone communities outside Quebec?

    We are aware of the importance of reflecting and offering services to francophone communities outside Quebec, despite budget constraints. In 2009−10, we tried to limit the impact of budget cuts on francophone communities: over 85% of the cuts to French Services were absorbed by the network. Francophone communities in minority settings are a priority for the Corporation and we remain committed to offering the best services possible.

  • 14. ow is CBC/Radio-Canada ensuring that it reflects regional realities?

    We cannot be a public broadcaster without being firmly rooted in the regions. This is one of our key priorities. Last year, when we were forced to trim our budget, the vast majority of cuts were made at the network level to maintain our presence in the regions.

    CBC and Radio-Canada television each have regulatory obligations to produce non-news programming in the regions and broadcast such programming during the daytime and in peak periods, when Canadians tune in the most.

    In addition, this year, with the assistance of the CRTC’s Local Programming Improvement Fund, we have reinvested in regional programming. This was done both in English Services, by improving our regional news offerings, and in French Services, by opening three multiplatform centres in the Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke regions.

  • 15. Given CBC/Radio-Canada’s challenge of balancing fiscal responsibility and its mandate to provide broadcast services to all regions of Canada, please explain why CBC is systematically removing AM band broadcast towers in the Yukon and switching to the FM band. Based on my experience of listening to CBC here in the Yukon, AM provides a greater signal range compared to FM. Making the audience reliant on an Internet-based broadcast is not an option in the Yukon. Will CBC keep its AM broadcast infrastructure?

    Unfortunately, after 50 years at the same site, the territorial government has decided not to renew CBC North’s lease of 100 acres of land on which our AM transmission tower sits. The land will now be used as the site of a new residential development.

    We have negotiated a three-year lease extension that will allow us to broadcast in the AM band until 2012. Afterwards, we will be using our existing FM frequency tower. The costs associated with building a new AM tower (and the associated infrastructure needed to maintain it) are simply too high.

    As we plan to boost our FM signal, there will be very few people that will fall outside the new FM coverage area. In the circumstances, moving to FM is simply the most fiscally responsible approach.

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