Message from The President and CEO
Constant, borderless digital connectivity is already changing the way we relate to the world and to each other. We can now reach tens of millions through a single Facebook post! To rise to its full potential, CBC/Radio-Canada needs to evolve – not just to survive, but to thrive in the era beyond traditional broadcasting. The entire Canadian ecosystem needs to change if it is to meet our country's needs in the future.
There are numerous examples of that change all around us. Since the launch of our own strategy in June 2014, we've seen many private actors in the media industry, including Bell Media, Rogers, Shaw Communications, Star Media Group, Transcontinental, V, Musique Plus, Quebecor, Corus and Postmedia announce layoffs or restructurings of their own. Private conventional TV networks have been trying to adjust and have been sounding the alarm that the Canadian broadcasting system needs to evolve.
On the regulatory front, the decisions of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the context of Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians, will require adjustments from all players. One of the decisions – often referred to as the “pick-and-pay” model – constitutes a major shake-up to the television market. The impact on CBC/Radio-Canada is discussed further in the Corporation Highlights section of this Annual Report.
Around the world, we're seeing that change is also the watchword in media, including with international public broadcasters. In March 2015, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)'s Managing Director, Lord Tony Hall, laid out the BBC's plan to play in, as he calls it, the “Internet age,” saying he needs to “reinvent the BBC once more,” and that it's at “a crossroads.” The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is rethinking the services it should and can provide, including its regional approach and the number of stations it can operate, in the face of a $477 million funding reduction. Switzerland held a June 14 referendum to transform their current licensing fee model to one in which all households and businesses pay a universal fee. Norway has announced they are eliminating FM radio by 2017, replaced by digital offerings. And in France, the government has endorsed a report calling for a total revamp of the framework that has delivered public service television over the past four decades.
None of this is change for change's sake. It is a redefinition of relevance in a world where the voices are getting more numerous and noisy.
And while we share many commonalities with our international colleagues, here in Canada we are working towards a very specific relevance: ensuring Canadians have a space in the media universe to call their own. As Canada's only national public broadcaster, we aim to be at the heart of this space.
At the core of our strategy, A space for us all, is the goal of being an organization that continuously adapts to the needs of Canadians. But within that is the knowledge that not everyone is shifting at the same pace or time. That's why we are not abandoning traditional platforms. At the same time, we are making the choices that will allow us to maintain our existing services while investing in emerging platforms now and for the future.
A lot has been and will continue to be said about CBC/Radio-Canada and its transformation. Some publicly question our strategic decisions and worry they will impact our ability to deliver on our mandate. I deeply respect those concerns. After all, the future of public broadcasting is, in fact, at stake. But that is precisely why we have taken the measures we have: to ensure a thriving public broadcaster now and in the future. Viability is the focal point of our concerns. I am convinced that we are on the right path.
The fact that several thousands have taken to the streets and made their voices heard over the last months speaks to the key role CBC/Radio-Canada plays in our society and in people's daily lives. I believe the public broadcaster is uniquely positioned to bring us closer together and to celebrate our stories, our successes and our diversity like never before. It's at critical moments in our history that we shine brightest. I am confident that CBC/Radio-Canada is and will continue to be the public space at the heart of our conversations and experiences.
Hubert T. Lacroix
President and CEO