A Creative Canada:Strengthening Canadian culture in a digital world
1Who we are and why we exist
CBC/Radio-Canada's mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians is even more relevant now, in a world of limitless global content, than it was when we were founded in the 1930s – at a time when Canada worried about a wave of American culture overwhelming our own unique identity.
Every incremental $1 to CBC/Radio-Canada = $2 to the economy
Our work supports job creation in the creative sector, contributing to stronger local economies. Every incremental dollar invested in CBC/Radio-Canada creates an economic multiplier of 2.11 in gross value added (GVA) to the Canadian economy.
This is who we are. And why we exist.
2Our 2020 transformation
Like other media organizations, CBC/Radio-Canada has faced unprecedented disruption in the communications and media industries. In 2014, we launched a five-year strategic plan, Strategy 2020: A Space for Us All. It was designed to transform the organization and put us on sound financial footing.
Canadian users in 2016
Canadian users in 2015
Canadian users in 2014
Today we are more digital than ever before because we are responding to what our audiences want.
We now reach over 16 million Canadian users each month through our own desktop, mobile and native apps. This is 2.5 million more than in 2015, and 4 million more than in 2014, when we launched Strategy 2020. We are closing in on our goal of 18 million monthly Canadian users by 2020.
This year, Radio-Canada launched Première PLUS, which was recognized for its ground-breaking approach to thematic discovery of digital audio content, giving users access to a world of original content, available anywhere, anytime. CBC Radio is the Canadian leader in podcasting, with its podcasts being downloaded 1.7 million times per week.
3Facing an uncertain future
CBC/Radio-Canada is at an important juncture. In 2015, after years of deep and destablizing funding cuts, the government started to reverse these cuts. This commitment is ensuring the transformation of the public broadcaster into the digital public space. It is ensuring we maintain our momentum on key initiatives like hiring new digital creators and preserving existing programs like the one-hour Indigenous radio program, Unreserved.
Netflix spent about U.S. $100 million to create two seasons of the critically acclaimed program House of Cards. This investment represents close to the entire annual budget for each of CBC and Radio-Canada’s non-news programming.
We need a new approach to supporting culture in Canada.
At the same time as our policy and funding mechanisms are breaking down, and financial support for the creation of Canadian content is declining, the competition for quality content around the globe is ever fiercer. Netflix and Amazon are no longer simply distributors sharing content. They are now major investors in programming worldwide.
This new approach to supporting culture must include:
- a cohesive, sustained and meaningful cultural investment strategy;
- greater support for public broadcasting to anchor a strong and vibrant cultural economy in Canada; and
- a consistent approach requiring new media entrants and conventional media to contribute to Canadian content.
We know this strategy can work. Britain has done much of this over the last 25 years, with remarkable results.
4When culture is a priority
The BBC lies at the heart of "Creative Britain," and public funding for Britain’s public broadcaster has increased significantly in the last 25 years, fuelling its success. Meanwhile, public funding for CBC/Radio-Canada has flat-lined – and declined in real dollars.
CBC/Radio-Canada per capita
BBC per capita
The BBC offers a compelling example of how a strong, stable, well-funded public broadcaster can serve the interests of domestic audiences and diverse communities, support the global ambitions of its creative and cultural sectors, and provide a strong foundation for Britain’s creative economy.
Through a combination of a cohesive culture strategy and sustained culture investment over many years, Creative Britain is now a crucial part of the British economy, British culture is stronger than ever and the BBC is a global symbol of quality.
5Realizing our full potential
We want to be ambitious for Canadians.
CBC/Radio-Canada wants to be able to deliver what Canadians want to see more of, and what we know they value in their public broadcaster: more non-news programming, more information to help them develop a better understanding of their world, more local programming, more investment and diversity in our radio programming, and more of the kind of nation-building events where Canadians come together to celebrate the achievements of our top creative talent.
Net total GDP gain
Total labour income impact
The economic upside of moving to an ad-free model would be a net total GDP gain of $488M, a total labour income impact of $355M and the creation of 7,200 new jobs.
An ad-free funding model
Beyond the creative benefits and better audience experience, working with noted media policy and economic analysts Nordicity, CBC/Radio-Canada fully explored the economic impact of an ad-free model for CBC/Radio-Canada, for the broadcast and creative sectors and for Canadians.
There is an important financial element to this model. It would provide stability for CBC/Radio-Canada and for our cultural ecosystem. At a time when the interest in and the excitement around Canadian culture at home and globally is as strong as it has ever been, it would strengthen the momentum we are creating through our transformation.
This summer's Tragically Hip concert, one of the most powerful shared Canadian experiences ever, lauded nationally and internationally, offers a compelling vision of what an ad-free public broadcaster provides Canadians.