Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
|Availability||National; available on terrestrial and cable systems in American border communities; available internationally via Internet and Sirius Satellite Radio|
|Owner||The Crown (Publicly owned)|
|Key people||Hubert T. Lacroix, president
Neil McEneaney (interim), Executive Vice President, English Networks
Louis Lalande, Executive Vice President, French Networks
|Launch date||November 2, 1936 (radio)
September 6, 1952 (television)
|Official website||CBC/Radio-Canada Corporate Site
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (French: Société Radio-Canada), officially branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation (i.e. state sponsored) that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster. The English- and French-language services units of the corporation are commonly known as CBC and Ici Radio-Canada respectively, and both short-form names are also commonly used in the applicable language to refer to the corporation as a whole.
Although some local stations in Canada predate CBC's founding, CBC is the oldest existing broadcasting network in Canada, first established in its present form on November 2, 1936. Radio services include CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, Première Chaîne, Espace musique and the international radio service Radio Canada International. Television operations include CBC Television, Ici Radio-Canada Télé, CBC News Network, le Réseau de l'information, Explora, ARTV (part ownership), and Documentary. The CBC operates services for the Canadian Arctic under the names CBC North and Radio Nord Québec. The CBC also operates digital services including CBC.ca / Radio-Canada.ca, CBC Radio 3, and CBC Music / espace.mu, and owns 20.2% of satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM Canada, which carries several CBC-produced audio channels.
CBC/Radio-Canada offers programming in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages on its domestic radio service, and in five languages on its web-based international radio service, Radio Canada International (RCI). However, budget cuts in the early 2010s have contributed to the corporation reducing its service via the airwaves, discontinuing RCI's shortwave broadcasts as well as terrestrial television broadcasts in all communities served by network-owned rebroadcast transmitters, including communities not subject to Canada's over-the-air digital television transition.
The financial structure and the nature of the CBC differs from other national broadcasters, such as the British broadcaster BBC, as the CBC employs commercial advertising to supplement its federal funding on its television broadcasts. The radio service employed commercials from its inception to 1974. Since then, its radio service, like the BBC, has been commercial-free. However, since the fall of 2013, CBC's FM Radio Networks Radio 2 and Espace Musique have introduced limited advertising amounting to 4 minutes an hour.
- 1 History
- 2 Corporation
- 3 Services
- 4 Unions
- 5 Cultural significance
- 6 International Broadcasts
- 7 Controversies
- 8 Issues covered extensively by the CBC
- 9 Over-the-air digital television transition
- 10 Personalities
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes and references
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
In 1929, the Aird Commission on public broadcasting recommended the creation of a national radio broadcast network. A major concern was the growing influence of American radio broadcasting as U.S.-based networks began to expand into Canada. Meanwhile, Canadian National Railways was making a radio network to keep its passengers entertained and give it an advantage over its rival, CP. This, the CNR Radio, is the forerunner of the CBC. Graham Spry and Alan Plaunt lobbied intensely for the project on behalf of the Canadian Radio League. In 1932 the government of R.B. Bennett established the CBC’s predecessor, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC).
The CRBC took over a network of radio stations formerly set up by a federal Crown corporation, the Canadian National Railway. The network was used to broadcast programming to riders aboard its passenger trains, with coverage primarily in central and eastern Canada. On November 2, 1936, the CRBC was reorganized under its present name. While the CRBC was a state-owned company, the CBC was a Crown corporation on the model of the BBC. Leonard Brockington was the CBC’s first chairman.
For the next few decades, the CBC was responsible for all broadcasting innovation in Canada. This was in part because, until 1958, it was not only a broadcaster, but the chief regulator of Canadian broadcasting. It used this dual role to snap up most of the clear-channel licences in Canada. It began a separate French-language radio network in 1937. It introduced FM radio to Canada in 1946, though a distinct FM service wasn't launched until 1960.
Television broadcasts from the CBC began on September 6, 1952, with the opening of a station in Montreal, Quebec (CBFT), and a station in Toronto, Ontario (CBLT) opening two days later. The CBC’s first privately owned affiliate television station, CKSO in Sudbury, Ontario, launched in October 1953. (At the time, all private stations were expected to affiliate with the CBC, a condition that relaxed in 1960–61 with the launch of CTV.)
From 1944 to 1962, the CBC split its English-language radio network into two services known as the Trans-Canada Network and the Dominion Network. The latter, carrying lighter programs including American radio shows, was dissolved in 1962, while the former became known as CBC Radio. (In the late 1990s, CBC Radio was rebranded as CBC Radio One and CBC Stereo as CBC Radio Two. The latter was re-branded slightly in 2007 as CBC Radio 2.)
On July 1, 1958, CBC’s television signal was extended from coast to coast. The first Canadian television show shot in colour was the CBC’s own The Forest Rangers in 1963. However, colour television broadcasts did not begin until July 1, 1966, and full-colour service began in 1974. In 1978, CBC became the first broadcaster in the world to use an orbiting satellite for television service, linking Canada "from east to west to north."
Frontier Coverage Package
Starting in 1967 and continuing until the mid-1970s, the CBC provided limited television service to remote and northern communities. Transmitters were built in a few locations and carried a four-hour selection of black-and-white videotaped programs each day. The tapes were flown into communities to be shown, then transported to other communities, often by the "bicycle" method used in television syndication. Transportation delays ranged from one week for larger centres to almost a month for small communities.
The first FCP station was started in Yellowknife in 1967, the second in Whitehorse in 1968. Additional stations were added from 1969 to 1972. Most stations were fitted for the Anik satellite signal during 1973, carrying 12 hours of colour programming. Broadcasts were geared to either the Atlantic time zone (UTC−4 or −3) or the Pacific time zone (UTC−8 or −7) even though the audience resided in communities in time zones varying from UTC−5 to UTC−8.
It would be many years before television programs originated in the north without the help of the south, starting with one half-hour per week in the 1980s with Focus North and graduating to a daily half-hour newscast, Northbeat, in the late 1990s.
CBC Television slogans
- 1966: "Television is CBC"
- 1970 (ca.): "When you watch, watch the best"
- 1977: "Bringing Canadians Together"
- 1980: "We Are the CBC"
- 1984: "Look to us for good things" (general) / "Good to Know" (news and public affairs)
- 1986–1989: "The Best on the Box"
- 1989–1992: "CBC and You"
- 1992–1994: "Go Public" / "CBC: Public Broadcasting" (to emphasize that CBC is a public broadcaster)
- 1995–2001: "Television to Call Our Own" and "Radio to Call Our Own"
- 2001–2007: "Canada’s Own"
- 2007 to present: "Canada Lives Here"
- 2009 to present: "Mon monde est à Radio-Canada, SRC" (English translation: My world is on Radio-Canada)
- 2011: "Yours to Celebrate" (French: "Un monde à célébrer") (for the CBC's 75th anniversary)
The original logo of the CBC, designed by École des Beaux Arts student Hortense Binette and used between 1940 and 1958, featured a map of Canada (and from 1940 to 1949, the Dominion of Newfoundland) and a thunderbolt design used to symbolize broadcasting.
In 1958, the CBC adopted a new logo for use at the end of network programs. Designed by scale model artist Jean-Paul Boileau, it consisted of the legends "CBC" and "Radio-Canada" overlaid on a map of Canada. For French programming, the "Radio-Canada" was placed on top.
The "Butterfly" logo was designed for the CBC by Hubert Tison in 1966 to mark the network’s progressing transition from black-and-white to colour television, much in the manner of the NBC peacock logo. It was used at the beginning of programs broadcast in colour, and was used until all CBC television programs had successfully switched to colour. A sketch on the CBC Television program Wayne & Shuster once referred to this as the logo of the "Cosmic Butterfly Corporation."
The fourth logo, officially known internally as "the gem", was designed for the CBC by graphic artist Burton Kramer in 1974, and it is the most widely recognized symbol of the corporation. The main on-air identification featured the logo kaleidoscopically morphing into its form while radiating outward from the centre of the screen on a blue background. This animated version is also known as "The Exploding Pizza." The appearance of this logo marked the arrival of full-colour network television service. The large shape in the middle is the letter C, which stands for Canada, and the radiating parts of the C symbolize broadcasting. The original theme music for the 1974 CBC ident was a three-note woodwind orchestral fanfare accompanied by the voiceover "This is CBC" or "Ici Radio-Canada". This was later replaced by the more familiar 11-note synthesized jingle, which was used until December 31, 1985. The logo is also referred to simply as the "CBC Pizza".
The updated one-colour version of the gem/pizza logo, created by Hubert Tison and Robert Innes, was introduced on January 1, 1986, and with it was introduced a new series of computer graphic-generated television idents for CBC and Radio-Canada. These idents consisted of different background colours corresponding to the time of day behind a translucent CBC gem logo, accompanied by different arrangements of the CBC’s new, orchestrated five-note jingle. The logo was officially changed to one colour, generally dark blue on white, or white on dark blue in 1986. Print ads and most television promos, however, have always used a single-colour version of this logo since 1974.
In 1992, CBC updated its logo design to make it simpler and more red (or white on a red background). The new logo design, created by Swiss-Canadian design firm Gottschalk + Ash, reduces the number of geometric sections in the logo to 13 instead of the previous logo's 25, and the "C" in the centre of the logo became a simple red circle. According to graphic designer Todd Falkowsky, the logo's red colour also represents Canada in a symbolic way. With the launch of the current design, new television idents were introduced in November that year, also using CGI. Since the early 2000s, it has also appeared in white (sometimes red) on a textured or coloured background. It is now CBC/Radio-Canada's longest-used logo, surpassing the original incarnation of the Gem logo and the CBC's 1940 logo.
As the oldest currently operating Canadian broadcaster, and still the largest in terms of national availability of its various networks, the nickname "Mother Corp" and variants thereof are sometimes used in reference to the CBC.
A popular satirical nickname for the CBC, commonly used in the pages of Frank, is "the Corpse."
There is an urban legend that a CBC announcer once referred to the network on the air as the "Canadian Broadcorping Castration", which also sometimes remains in use as a satirical nickname. Quotations of the supposed spoonerism are wildly variable in detail on what was said, when it was said or even who the announcer was, but there is no evidence to confirm the truth of the story. The only known recording of this phrase being spoken was created by American radio producer Kermit Schaefer for one of his best-selling Pardon My Blooper record albums in the 1950s, and is not in fact a real recording of a CBC broadcast.
The CBC has also been mistakenly referred to as the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
The 1991 Broadcasting Act states that...
...the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains;
...the programming provided by the Corporation should:
- be predominantly and distinctively Canadian,
- reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,
- actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,
- be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities,
- strive to be of equivalent quality in English and French,
- contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,
- be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose, and
- reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.
As a crown corporation, the CBC operates at arm’s length (autonomously) from the government in its day-to-day business. The corporation is governed by the Broadcasting Act of 1991, under a Board of Directors and is directly responsible to Parliament through the Department of Canadian Heritage. General management of the organization is in the hands of a president, who is appointed by the Governor General of Canada in Council, on the advice of the prime minister.
Board of Directors
In accordance with the Broadcasting Act, a Board of Directors is responsible for the management of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The Board is made up of 12 members, including the Chair and the President and CEO. A current list of directors is available from the Canadian Governor in Council here.
- 1936–1939: Leonard Brockington
- 1940–1944: René Morin
- 1944–1945: Howard B. Chase
- 1945–1958: A. Davidson Dunton
- 1958–1967: J. Alphonse Ouimet
- 1968–1972: George F. Davidson
- 1972–1975: Laurent A. Picard
- 1975–1982: A.W. Johnson
- 1982–1989: Pierre Juneau
- 1989: William T. Armstrong
- 1989–1994: Gérard Veilleux
- 1994–1995: Anthony S. Manera
- 1995–1999: Perrin Beatty
- 1999–2007: Robert Rabinovitch
- 2008 to Present: Hubert T. Lacroix
- Esther Enkin (January 1, 2013 – present)
- Kirk LaPointe (November 2010 to 2012)
- Vince Carlin (January 2006 to December 2010)
- David Bazay (1995 to January 2006)
- William Morgan
- Pierre Tourangeau (Nov 14, 2011 to present)
- Julie Miville-Dechêne (April 1, 2007 to July 2011)
- Renaud Gilbert (2000–2007)
- Marcel Pépin (1997–1999)
- Mario Cardinal (1993–1997)
- Bruno Gauron (1992)
For the fiscal year 2006, the CBC received a total of $1.53 billion from all revenue sources, including government funding via taxpayers, subscription fees, advertising revenue, and other revenue (e.g. real estate). Expenditures for the year included $616 million for English television, $402 million for French television, $126 million for specialty channels, a total of $348 million for radio services in both languages, $88 million for management and technical costs, and $124 million for "amortization of property and equipment." Some of this spending was derived from amortization of funding from previous years.
Among its revenue sources for the year ending March 31, 2006, the CBC received $946 million in its annual funding from the federal government, as well as $60 million in "one-time" supplementary funding for programming. However, this supplementary funding has been repeated annually for a number of years. This combined total is just over a billion dollars annually and is a source of heated debate. To supplement this funding, the CBC’s television networks and websites sell advertising, while cable/satellite-only services such as CBC News Network additionally collect subscriber fees, in line with their privately owned counterparts. CBC’s radio services do not sell advertising except when required by law (for example, to political parties during federal elections).
CBC’s funding differs from that of the public broadcasters of many European nations, which collect a licence fee, or those in the United States, such as PBS and NPR, which receive some public funding but rely to a large extent on voluntary contributions from individual viewers and listeners. An Abacus poll from August 2011 showed that approximately one out of two Canadians would like to see the CBC's funding switched to the PBS/NPR model, while one out of three Canadians want Parliament to sell off or privatize the CBC. On the other hand, one out of four Canadians want the CBC's annual subsidy to be increased.
The network’s defenders note that the CBC’s mandate differs from private media’s, particularly in its focus on Canadian content; that much of the public funding actually goes to the radio networks; and that the CBC is responsible for the full cost of most of its prime-time programming, while private networks can fill up most of their prime-time schedules with American series acquired for a fraction of their production cost. CBC supporters also claim that additional, long-term funding is required to provide better Canadian dramas and improved local programming.
CBC News is the largest broadcast newsgathering operation in Canada, providing services to CBC radio as well as CBC News Network, local supper-hour newscasts, CBC News Online, and Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment. New CBC News services are also proving popular such as news alerts to mobile phones and PDAs. Desktop news alerts, e-mail alerts, and digital television alerts are also available.
CBC Radio has five separate services, three in English, known as CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2 and CBC Radio 3, and two in French, known as Première Chaîne and Espace musique. CBC Radio One and Première Chaîne focus on news and information programming, but they air some music programs, variety shows, comedy, and sports programming. Historically, CBC Radio One has broadcast primarily on the AM band, but many stations have moved over to FM. Over the years, a number of CBC radio transmitters with a majority of them on the AM band have either moved to FM or had shutdown completely.
CBC Radio 2 and Espace musique, found exclusively on FM, air arts and cultural programming, with a focus on music. CBC Radio 3, found only online and on satellite radio, airs exclusively independent Canadian music.
CBC Radio also operates two shortwave services. One, Radio Nord Québec, broadcasts domestically to Northern Quebec on a static frequency of 9625 kHz, and the other, Radio Canada International, provides broadcasts to the United States and around the world in eight languages. Additionally, the Radio One stations in St. John’s and Vancouver operate shortwave relay transmitters, broadcasting at 6160 kHz. Some have suggested that CBC/Radio-Canada create a new high-power shortwave digital radio service for more effective coverage of isolated areas.
In November 2004, the CBC, in partnership with Standard Broadcasting and Sirius Satellite Radio, applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a licence to introduce satellite radio service to Canada. The CRTC approved the subscription radio application, as well as two others for satellite radio service, on June 16, 2005. Sirius Canada launched on December 1, 2005, with a number of CBC Radio channels, including the new services CBC Radio 3 and Bande à part.
In some areas, especially national or provincial parks, the CBC also operates an AM or FM transmitter rebroadcasting weather alerts from the Meteorological Service of Canada’s Weatheradio Canada service.
The CBC operates two national broadcast television networks; CBC Television in English, and Ici Radio-Canada Télé in French. Like private broadcasters, both those networks sell advertising, but offer more Canadian-produced programming. Most CBC television stations, including those in the major cities, are owned and operated by the CBC itself and carry a common schedule, aside from local programming.
Some stations that broadcast from smaller cities are private affiliates of the CBC, that is, stations which are owned by commercial broadcasters and air a predominantly CBC schedule. However, most affiliates of the English network opt out of some network programs to air local programming or more popular foreign programs acquired from other broadcasters. Private affiliates of the French network, all of which are located in Quebec, rarely have the means to provide alternate programming. Such private affiliates are becoming increasingly rare, and there have been indications that the CBC plans to discontinue all affiliation agreements with non-CBC owned television stations in the 2010s.
CBC television stations in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon tailor their programming mostly to the local native population, and broadcast in many native languages, such as Inuktitut, Gwichʼin, and Dene.
One of the most popular shows is the weekly Saturday night broadcast of NHL hockey games. In English, the program is known as Hockey Night in Canada, and in French, it was called La Soirée du hockey. Both shows began in 1952. The French edition was discontinued in 2004, though Radio-Canada stations outside of Quebec simulcast some Saturday night games produced by RDS until 2006. The network suffered considerable public embarrassment when it lost the rights to the show's theme music following a protracted lawsuit launched by the song's composer and publishers.
Ratings for CBC Television have declined in recent years. In Quebec, where the majority speaks French, la Télévision de Radio-Canada is popular and garners some of the highest ratings in the province.
Both terrestrial networks have also begun to roll out high-definition television feeds, with selected NHL and CFL games produced in HD for the English network. After the digital switchover, CBC chose to use the 720p format on CBC and Radio-Canada.
The CBC also wholly owns and operates three specialty television channels – CBC News Network, an English-language news channel; RDI, a French-language news channel; and Explora, a Category B digital service. It owns a managing interest in the Francophone arts service ARTV, and (82%) of the digital channel, documentary
Children's programming currently air under the commercial-free preschool programming block called Kids' CBC.
The CBC has two main websites. One is in English, at CBC.ca, which was established in 1996; the other is in French. The website allows the CBC to produce sections which complement the various programs on television and radio. In 2012, the corporation launched CBC Music, a digital music service which produces and distributes 40 music-related webstreams, including the existing audio streams of both CBC Radio 2 and CBC Radio 3.
In 2012, the CBC announced its plans for a new local news service in Hamilton, Ontario. With the Hamilton area already within the broadcast range of CBC Radio and CBC Television's services in Toronto, it was not financially or technically feasible for the public broadcaster to launch new conventional radio or television stations in Hamilton; accordingly, the corporation has developed a new model, with Hamilton as its test project, to launch a local digital service that would be accessible on the Internet and telecommunications devices such as tablets and smartphones. The project launched in May 2012.
Established in 2002, the CBC/Radio Canada merchandising business operates retail locations and cbcshop.ca, its educational sales department CBC Learning sells CBC content and media to educational institutions, CBC Merchandising also licenses brands such as Hockey Night in Canada and Coronation Street.
CBC Records is a Canadian record label which distributes CBC programming, including live concert performances and album transcripts of news and information programming such as the Massey Lectures, in album format. Music albums on the label, predominantly in the classical and jazz genres, are distributed across Canada in commercial record stores, while albums containing spoken word programming are predominantly distributed by the CBC's own retail merchandising operations.
CBC provides news, business, weather and sports information on Air Canada’s inflight entertainment as Enroute Journal.
Unions representing employees at CBC/Radio-Canada include:
- Canadian Media Guild (CMG) represents on-air, production, technical, administrative and support staff outside of Quebec and Moncton.
- Association of Professionals and Supervisors (APS)*
- American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM)*
- Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (performers; ACTRA)
- International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (stagehands; IATSE)
- Writers Guild of Canada (WGC)*
- Association des réalisateurs (AR)
- Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC)
- Société des auteurs de la radio, de la télévision et du cinéma (SARTeC).
- Syndicat Canadien de la fonction publique, Conseil des sections locales, Groupe des employé(e)s de bureau et professionnel(le)s (SCFP).
- Société professionnelle des auteurs-compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ)
- Syndicat des technicien(ne)s et des artisan(e)s du réseau français (STARF).
- Union des artistes (UDA)
During the summer of 1981 there was a major disruption of CBC programming as the technicians union, N.A.B.E.T. (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) went on strike. Local newscasts were cut back to the bare minimum. This had the effect of delaying the debut of The Journal, which had to wait until January 1982.
On August 15, 2005, 5,500 employees of the CBC (about 90%) were locked out by CBC CEO Robert Rabinovitch in a dispute over future hiring practices. At issue were the rules governing the hiring of contract workers in preference to full-time hires. The locked-out employees were members of the Canadian Media Guild, representing all production, journalistic and on-air personnel outside Quebec and Moncton, including several foreign correspondents. While CBC services continued during the lockout, they were primarily made up of repeats, with news programming from the BBC and newswires. Major CBC programs such as The National and Royal Canadian Air Farce were not produced during the lockout; some non-CBC-owned programs seen on the network, such as The Red Green Show, shifted to other studios. Meanwhile, the locked-out employees produced podcasts and websites such as CBCunplugged.com.
After a hiatus, talks re-opened. On September 23, the federal minister of labour called Robert Rabinovitch and Arnold Amber (the president of the CBC branch of the Canadian Media Guild) to his office for talks aimed at ending the dispute.
Late in the evening of October 2, 2005, it was announced that the CBC management and staff had reached a tentative deal which resulted in the CBC returning to normal operations on October 11. Some speculated that the looming October 8 start date for the network’s most important television property, Hockey Night in Canada, had acted as an additional incentive to resolve the dispute.
The CBC has been affected by a number of other labour disputes since the late 1990s:
- In early 1999, CBC English- and French-network technicians in all locations outside Quebec and Moncton, members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, went on strike. The Canadian Media Guild was set to strike as well, but the CBC settled with both unions.
- A similar dispute, again involving all technicians outside Quebec and Moncton, occurred in late 2001 and concluded by the end of the year.
- In spring 2002, on-air staff in Quebec and Moncton (again, on both English and French networks) were locked out by local management, leaving, among other things, NHL playoff games without commentary on French television.
While all labour disputes resulted in cut-back programming and numerous repeat airings, the 2005 lockout may have been the most damaging to CBC. All local programming in the affected regions was cancelled and replaced by abbreviated national newscasts and national radio morning shows. BBC World (television) and World Service (radio) and Broadcast News feeds were used to provide the remainder of original news content, and the CBC website consisted mainly of rewritten wire copy. Some BBC staff protested against their material being used during the CBC lockout. "The NUJ and BECTU will not tolerate their members’ work being used against colleagues in Canada", said a joint statement by BBC unions. The CMG questioned whether, with its limited Canadian news content, the CBC was meeting its legal requirements under the Broadcasting Act and its CRTC licences.
Galaxie (which CBC owned at the time) supplied some music content for the radio networks. Tapes of previously aired or produced documentaries, interviews and entertainment programs were also aired widely. Selected television sports coverage, including that of the Canadian Football League, continued, but without commentary.
As before, French-language staff outside of Quebec were also affected by the 2005 lockout, although with Quebec producing the bulk of the French networks’ programming, those networks were not as visibly affected by the dispute apart from local programs.
Since the 1970s, the CBC has not maintained the dominance in broadcasting it formerly had,[according to whom?] but it still plays an important role. The CBC’s cultural influence, like that of many public broadcasters, has waned in recent decades. This is partly due to severe budget cuts by the Canadian federal government, which began in the late 1980s and levelled off in the late 1990s. It is also due to industry-wide fragmentation of television audiences (the decline of network television generally, due to the rise in specialty channel viewership, as well as the increase of non-television entertainment options such as video games, the Internet, etc.). Private networks in Canada face the same competition, but their viewership is declining more slowly than CBC Television’s.
In English-speaking Canada, the decline in CBC viewership can be partly attributed to popularity of private television networks' rebroadcast of American programming with substituted Canadian advertising. American programs appear to attract higher audiences than do much of the made-in-Canada programming that is a CBC specialty.
Viewership on the CBC’s French television network has also declined, mostly because of stiff competition from private French-language networks. Audience fragmentation is another issue. However, in contrast to the anglophone audience, French Canadians prefer home-grown television programming, a vibrant Quebec star system is in place, and little American or foreign content airs on French-language networks, public or private. And the CBC’s French-language radio channel is sometimes the top-rated network.
In the case of breaking news, including federal elections, CBC Television may obtain the largest number of viewers. For instance, after election night 2006, CBC Television took out full-page newspaper ads claiming that 2.2 million Canadians watched their coverage, more than any other broadcaster. However, in similar ads, CTV also claimed to be number one, stating there was a CBC audience of only 1.2 million. In both cases, the methodologies were not clear from the ads, such as time periods and whether simulcasts on one or both of the networks’ news channels (Newsworld for CBC, Newsnet for CTV) were counted.
The CBC was the only television network broadcasting in Canada until the creation of ITO, a short-lived predecessor of today’s CTV, in 1960; even then, large parts of Canada did not receive CTV service until the late 1960s or early 1970s. The CBC also had the only national radio network. Its cultural impact was therefore significant since many Canadians had little or no choice for their information and entertainment other than from these two powerful media outlets.
Even after the introduction of commercial television and radio, the CBC has remained one of the main elements in Canadian popular culture through its obligation to produce Canadian television and radio programming. The CBC has made programs for mass audiences and for smaller audiences interested in drama, performance arts, documentaries, current affairs, entertainment and sport.
The 1950s saw the CBC providing hands-on training and employment for actors, writers, and directors in the developing field of its television dramatic services, and later saw much of the talent heading south to seek fame and fortune in New York and Hollywood.
Competition from private broadcasters like CTV, Global, and other broadcast television stations and specialty channels has lessened the CBC’s reach, but nevertheless it remains a major influence on Canadian popular culture. According to the corporation’s research, 92% of Canadians consider the CBC an essential service.
- Newsworld International (NWI), an American cable channel that rebroadcast much of the programming of CBC Newsworld (now known as CBC News Network).
- Trio, an arts and entertainment channel.
In 2000, CBC and Power Broadcasting sold these channels to Barry Diller’s USA Networks. Diller’s company was later acquired by Vivendi Universal, which in turn was partially acquired by NBC to form NBC Universal. NBC Universal still owns the Trio brand, which no longer has any association with the CBC (and, as of the end of 2005, became an Internet-only broadband channel).
However, the CBC continued to program NWI, with much of its programming simulcast on the domestic Newsworld service. In late 2004, as a result of a further change in NWI’s ownership to the INdTV consortium (including Joel Hyatt and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore), NWI ceased airing CBC programming on August 1, 2005, when it was renamed Current TV.
U.S. border audiences
In U.S. border communities such as Bellingham, Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit and Burlington, CBC radio and television stations can be received over-the-air and have a significant audience. Some CBC programming is also rebroadcast on local public radio, such as New Hampshire Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. CBC television channels are available on cable systems located near the Canadian border. For example, CBET Windsor is available on cable systems in the Detroit, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, areas; much of the rest of the state of Michigan receives CBMT Montreal on cable. CBUT is broadcast on Comcast in the Seattle, Washington, area. At night, the AM radio transmissions of both CBC and SRC services can be received over much of the northern portion of the United States, from stations such as CBW in Winnipeg and CBK in Saskatchewan.
Carriage of CBC News
On September 11, 2001, several American broadcasters without their own news operations, including C-SPAN, carried the CBC’s coverage of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In the days after September 11, C-SPAN carried CBC’s nightly newscast, The National, anchored by Peter Mansbridge. The quality of this coverage was recognized specifically by the Canadian Journalism Foundation; editor-in-chief Tony Burman later accepted the Excellence in Journalism Award (2004), for "rigorous professional practice, accuracy, originality and public accountability", on behalf of the service.
C-SPAN has also carried CBC’s coverage of major events affecting Canadians, including: Canadian federal elections, key proceedings in Canadian Parliament, Six days in September 2000 that marked the death and state funeral of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the power outage crisis in summer 2003, U.S. presidential elections (e.g. in 2004, C-SPAN picked up The National the day after the election for the view from Canadians), state visits and official visits of American presidents to Canada, and Barack Obama inauguration in 2009.
Several PBS stations also air some CBC programming. However, these programs are syndicated by independent distributors, and are not governed by the PBS "common carriage" policy.
Other American broadcast networks sometimes air CBC reports, especially for Canadian events of international significance. For example, in the early hours after the Swissair Flight 111 disaster, CNN aired CBC’s live coverage of the event. Also in the late 1990s, CNN Headline News aired a few CBC reports of events that were not significant outside Canada.
Some CBC Radio One programs, such as Definitely Not the Opera, WireTap, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, and As It Happens, also air on some stations associated with American Public Media or Public Radio International. With the launch of Sirius Canada in December 2005, some of the CBC’s radio networks (including Radio Canada International and Sirius-exclusive Radio Three and Bande à part channels) are available to Sirius subscribers in the United States.
Caribbean and Bermuda
Several Caribbean nations carry feeds of CBC TV:
- Bahamas, on the CoralWave (Cable Bahamas) television system in the Northern Bahamas (Channel 8).
- Barbados, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation Multi-Choice TV Cable system (Channel 703).
- Bermuda, on the CableVision digital cable service.
- Grenada, carried on Columbus Communications owned cable system Flow Grenada.
- Jamaica, distributed in areas served by Flow Jamaica.
- Trinidad and Tobago, on the Columbus Communications Trinidad Ltd. (CCTL) television system.
Availability of CBC Channels and Programming
The CBC channel, Radio-Canada, CBC Newsworld and all other CBC channels can be received through cable and satellite TV channel providers across Canada, like through Bell Expressvu, Rogers Cable, Videotron, Cogeco, and other smaller TV providers. The CBC & SRC channel signals can also be obtained free of charge, over-the-air, through antenna receivers in Canada or in border states along the Canada-U.S. border, however CBC is not obtainable as a "free-to-air" (FTA) channel on FTA satellites (signals are encrypted on the Anik space satellites).
Allegations of liberal bias
In 2009, CBC President Hubert Lacroix commissioned a study to determine whether its news was biased, and if so, to what extent. He said: "Our job — and we take it seriously — is to ensure that the information that we put out is fair and unbiased in everything that we do". The study, the methodology of which was not specified, was due to report results in the fall of 2010.
In April 2010, the Conservatives accused pollster Frank Graves of giving partisan advice to the Liberal Party of Canada, noting his donations to the party since 2003. Graves directed a number of public opinion research projects on behalf of the CBC as well as other media organizations, and also appeared on a number of CBC television programs relating to politics. An investigation conducted by the CBC ombudsman found no evidence to support these allegations, stating that personal donor history is not relevant to one's objectivity as a pollster.
In March 2011, Macleans Magazine, the National Post, and the Toronto Sun ran articles surrounding the alleged liberal bias of CBC's "Vote Compass", an online tool where users were asked 30 questions to which they could answer "agree", "strongly agree", "disagree", "strongly disagree", or "neither agree nor disagree". Queens University Professor Kathy Brock used the questionnaire several times, alternating between answering all of the questions as "agree", "strongly agree", "disagree", "strongly disagree", and "neither agree nor disagree". On each result, the survey pointed towards the Liberal Party of Canada.
CBC Television was an early leader in broadcasting programming with closed captioning for the hearing impaired, airing its first captioned programming in 1981. Captioned programming in Canada began with the airing of Clown White in English-language and French-language versions on CBC Television and Radio-Canada, respectively. Most sources list that event as occurring in 1981, while others list the year as 1982.
In 1997, Henry Vlug, a deaf lawyer in Vancouver, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that an absence of captioning on some programming on CBC Television and Newsworld infringed on his rights as a person with a disability. A ruling in 2000 by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which later heard the case, sided with Vlug and found that an absence of captioning constituted discrimination on the basis of disability. The Tribunal ordered CBC Television and Newsworld to caption the entirety of their broadcast days, "including television shows, commercials, promos and unscheduled news flashes, from sign-on until sign-off."
The ruling recognized that "there will inevitably be glitches with respect to the delivery of captioning" but that "the rule should be full captioning." In a negotiated settlement to avoid appealing the ruling to the Federal Court of Canada, CBC agreed to commence 100% captioning on CBC Television and Newsworld beginning November 1, 2002. CBC Television and Newsworld are apparently the only broadcasters in the world required to caption the entire broadcast day. However, published evidence asserts that CBC is not providing the 100% captioning ordered by the Tribunal.
In 2004, retired Canadian Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, a hard-of-hearing person, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Radio-Canada concerning captioning, particularly the absence of real-time captioning on newscasts and other live programming. As part of the settlement process, Radio-Canada agreed to submit a report on the state of captioning, especially real-time captioning, on Radio-Canada and RDI. The report, which was the subject of some criticism, proposed an arrangement with Cité Collégiale, a college in Ottawa, to train more French-language real-time captioners.
English-language specialty networks owned or co-owned by CBC, including documentary, have the lower captioning requirements typical of larger Canadian broadcasters (90% of the broadcast day by the end of both networks’ licence terms). ARTV, the French-language specialty network co-owned by CBC, has a maximum captioning requirement of 53%.
Beyond the Red Wall
In November 2007, the CBC replaced their documentary Beyond the Red Wall: Persecution of Falun Gong, about persecution of Falun Gong members in China, at the last minute with a rerun episode regarding President Pervez Musharaf in Pakistan. Originally, the broadcaster had said to the press that "the crisis in Pakistan was considered more urgent and much more newsworthy", but sources from within the network itself had stated that the Chinese government had called the Canadian Embassy and demanded repeatedly that the program be taken off the air. The documentary in question was to air on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 on CBC Newsworld, but was replaced. The documentary aired two weeks later on November 20, 2007, after editing.
On June 5, 2013, it was announced that the CBC would be re-branding all of its French-language media outlets and services under names prefixed with "Ici" (here); such as "Ici Télé" for Télévision de Radio-Canada and "Ici Première" for Première Chaîne. Radio-Canada vice president Louis Lalande stated that the new name complimented its multi-platform operations, while also serving as an homage to the broadcaster's historic station identification slogan "ici Radio-Canada" ("this is Radio-Canada"). As part of the changes, Radio-Canada was also to be phased out as a public-facing brand in favour of Ici (for instance, CBC planned to move its French-language website to ici.ca from radio-canada.ca).
The decision was met with controversy from critics and politicians (such as Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore), who felt that the new "Ici" brand was too confusing, and that the CBC was diminishing the value of the Radio-Canada name through its plans to downplay it. The re-branding was also criticized for being unnecessary spending, reportedly costing $400,000, in the midst of budget cuts at the CBC. On June 10, in response to the criticism, Hubert Lacroix formally apologized for the decision and announced that the new brands for its main radio and television networks would be revised to restore the Radio-Canada name alongside Ici, such as "Ici Radio-Canada Première".
The CBC also filed a trademark lawsuit against Sam Norouzi, founder of CFHD-DT, a new multicultural station in Montreal, seeking to have his own registration on the name "ICI" (as an abbreviation of "International Channel/Canal International") expunged because it was too similar to its own Ici-related trademarks. Despite Norouzi's "ICI" trademark having been registered prior to the registration of Radio-Canada's own "Ici" trademarks, Radio-Canada argued that Norouzi's application contained incorrect information surrounding his first use of the name in commerce, and also asserted the long-time use of "Ici Radio-Canada" as part of its imaging.
Issues covered extensively by the CBC
Temporary foreign worker program (TFWP)
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In April 2013 the CBC started reporting on issues surrounding the hiring of temporary foreign workers. This started when it was claimed that the Royal Bank of Canada was indirectly hiring temporary foreign workers to replace 45 Canadian Inormation Technology workers. The CBC also reported that a Chinese company which owns a mine in British Columbia is attempting to import workers from China. According to another source one of the requirements of the job was the ability to speak Mandarin.
In May 2013 this story developed into a political battle between the Canadian government and the opposition NDP party, when Prime Minister Steven Harper was questioned during Question Period at the House of Commons about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which the CBC had reported was said to be abused by some employers who were bringing in temporary foreign workers to areas where qualified local workers were collecting Employment Insurance benefits. During Question Period Mr. Harper said that the government had already addressed this issue more than a year ago, and that changes had been made to both the EI Program and the TFWP to address these issues. He also claimed that the NDP did not cooperate at the time in the introduction of the changes and that NDP MPs requested more foreign workers in their own ridings. The CBC continued extended coverage of issues local to specific provinces, such as Saskatchewan where it was found that 65 per cent of recent newly created jobs were held by temporary foreign workers, and Nova Scotia where over one thousand employers requested foreign workers.
Over-the-air digital television transition
The CRTC ordered that in 28 "mandatory markets", full power over-the-air analogue television transmitters had to cease transmitting by August 31, 2011. Broadcasters could either continue serving those markets by transitioning analogue transmitters to digital or cease broadcasting over-the-air. Cable, IPTV, and satellite services are not involved or affected by this digital transition deadline.
While its fellow Canadian broadcasters converted most of their transmitters to digital by the Canadian digital television transition deadline of August 31, 2011, CBC converted only about half of the analogue transmitters in mandatory to digital (15 of 28 markets with CBC TV, and 14 of 28 markets with SRC). Due to financial difficulties reported by the corporation, the corporation published a plan whereby communities that receive analogue signals by re-broadcast transmitters in mandatory markets would lose their over-the-air (OTA) signals as of the deadline. Rebroadcast transmitters account for 23 of the 48 CBC and SRC transmitters in mandatory markets. Mandatory markets losing both CBC and SRC over-the-air signals include London, Ontario (metropolitan area population 457,000) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (metro area 257,000). In both of those markets, the corporation's television transmitters are the only ones that were not converted to digital.
On July 31, 2012, CBC shut down all of its approximately 620 analogue television transmitters, following an announcement of these plans on April 4, 2012. This reduced the total number of the corporation's television transmitters across the country to 27. According to the CBC, this would reduce the corporation's yearly costs by $10 million. No plans have been announced to use subchannels to maintain over-the-air signals for both CBC and SRC in markets where the corporation has one digital transmitter. In fact, in its CRTC application to shut down all of its analogue television transmitters, the CBC communicated its opposition to use of subchannels, citing, amongst other reasons, costs. However, few Canadians actually lost access to CBC and Radio-Canada programming due to the very high penetration of cable and satellite, which in some areas (particularly remote and rural regions) is all but essential for acceptable television.
Notable CBC alumni have included television and radio personalities, former Governors General of Canada Jeanne Sauvé, Adrienne Clarkson, and Michaëlle Jean, as well as former Quebec premier René Lévesque.
- Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission
- CBC Museum
- Concentration of media ownership
- Media in Canada
- Public Francophone Radios
- Radio Television Hong Kong
- Réseau de l'information
Notes and references
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