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Realizing the full benefits of a public broadcaster: Our vision

We want to be ambitious for Canadians.

Public broadcasting has the potential to fuel our cultural ecosystem, deliver on Canada’s cultural policy goals and make Canada a cultural powerhouse.

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.

We want to listen to and collaborate closely with Canada’s artistic and creative communities to help define a future for CBC/Radio-Canada that fully leverages our value within our cultural ecosystem. We will ask our creators what they want in CBC/Radio-Canada going forward to support them in producing great Canadian content and strengthening the impact of our collective work for the benefit of Canadians.

We will place deep audience understanding at the centre of our decisions, allowing us to take greater risks and push boundaries.

And we will listen to Canadians to produce Canadian content that resonates with them and reflects our country’s diversity. We have a vision for how we can do this by using data more effectively, in our product development, decision-making, journalism and performance measurement. Unlike TV and radio, digital platforms allow us to gather real time data on individual user behaviours, insights that will help us convert our connections with millions of Canadians into deeper and more meaningful engagement with Canadian content. This capability will inform and validate our creative output. We will place deep audience understanding at the centre of our decisions, allowing us to take greater risks and push boundaries. We will develop our products, services and content informed by how our audience reacts to them. Our news content will always be driven by independent editorial decision-making and adherence to our world class Journalistic Standards and Practices and not simply “chasing clicks.” But by incorporating this data capability as an additional input to our creative process and programming, we can ensure that we are delivering our distinctive public service in a way that is most relevant to each Canadian.

But to do this we need to be able to invest in the critical areas that will define our future. And we need stable, long-term, sustainable funding.

We put forward below a vision for our future that will establish a strong foundation for Canadian culture, and our artists and creators to unlock the full potential of culture for the benefit of all Canadians.

Our Vision

Four Priority Areas

We have started our transformation with our Strategy 2020 plan. We have made significant progress in the right areas but we need to significantly deepen and intensify our efforts in the critical areas that will define our future. Our focus will be on four priority areas that will guide our work and our investments:

  1. Digital innovation
  2. Contributing to a shared national consciousness and identity
  3. Creating quality Canadian content
  4. Promoting Canada to the world

Strength in these areas is how we will become even more relevant for Canadians. It is how we will anchor Canada’s cultural ecosystem to deliver on a modern cultural policy framework.

Digital Innovation

CBC/Radio-Canada will continue to transform into an innovative, digital organization.

This includes investing more in our digital infrastructure and digital content to meet the needs of Canadians with more tools at our disposal. One example is Hamilton. Residents wanted a local CBC presence but there were no radio frequencies available. So we created our first-ever fully online local station serving the community in a new way. Similarly, our ground-breaking accessibility services, makes our content available to the four million Canadians living with disabilities that restrict their access to our content. And, we’re creating a more personalized and interactive user experience, with products designed for rapid continuous iteration on multiple platforms and adaptable to emerging media formats.

We need to do more of this. Our plans are exciting and ambitious: we will have a strong Canadian owned and operated multiplatform service that prioritizes Canadian content, artists, creators and independent producers in a world of abundant choice and enables rich contribution, participation and engagement with our audiences. We will continue to expand our reach by sharing our digital content on third-party platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, where audiences can now watch programs like The National or Téléjournal (Ottawa-Gatineau) live each evening.

We will create a range of digital content that meets the needs of Canada’s diverse populations and work with an ever-broadening range of independent creators to ensure a plurality of voices. An example of this is the CBC Creator Network where Canadian YouTube creators are collaborating with CBC to develop and amplify their content and brand.

We will grow the innovation economy. Our vast audience and data sets and our digital platform can be used for rapid testing, insight gathering and deployment of new content and features, generated both internally and in partnership with independent and diverse creators, start-ups and educational institutions. Canadians will see more examples like Radio-Canada’s Première PLUS, a digital radio destination that offers all partners and creators a unique broadcast space.

Contributing to Shared National Consciousness and Identity

We will continue to be the catalyst and facilitator of relevant conversations in Canada. We are committed to being a “gatherer”, bringing Canadians together around community issues and local cultural experiences, and to being at the heart of Canadian conversations.

We will continue to be the catalyst and facilitator of relevant conversations in Canada.

There are fewer and fewer institutions of social cohesion in this country. Across the world, individual communities of interest increasingly share their time and views with others whose views are similar. In this environment, Canadians risk becoming increasingly isolated from broader conversations that shape our sense of who we are. We can’t take social cohesion and a shared national consciousness for granted – we must work at it every day.

CBC/Radio-Canada will continue to be an enabler of social cohesion, giving Canadians unparalleled access to information and programming that reflects a diversity of voices and perspectives.

We will also create and showcase more local and national events; cover more issues of national interest; and provide the virtual meeting place for Canadians to listen to one another, to be heard, and to reflect on our society.

Creating Quality Canadian Content

In the future, content will be found in either short digitally produced and distributed form or longer-form audio and audio-visual content that meets the standard of premium content being set by the world's best. Its distribution will be multi-platform and in many forms, and it will be enhanced via virtual reality or a significantly more intense audio-visual experience. Initiatives like Radio-Canada’s La route des 20 and ibook Charlebois, par-delà Lindberg are already moving in that direction.

CBC/Radio-Canada will create, produce and partner with Canadian cultural entrepreneurs to offer more quality Canadian content than ever before, in both official languages and a spectrum of Indigenous languages and in a range of content and formats that can be shared with the world. We will shine a brighter spotlight on our great Canadian music talent. We will invest in our future audiences, creating more programming for young Canadians – children, teenagers and young adults – who are more diverse than any previous generation in our country.

Projects like Radio-Canada’s “Prochaine Génération” are shaping the form, content and platforms for the news and current affairs programming of tomorrow. The Espaces autochtones digital portal provides a unique window to a broad audience on the realities of Indigenous communities in Canada and a platform to hear from, and engage with, Indigenous people.

The stronger the CBC/Radio-Canada platform and brand, the more content can be amplified to audiences across demographics and borders. We are well positioned to support content creators across the country, supporting innovation and risk taking. In fact, it has become the trademark of Radio-Canada to challenge expectations, shake up genres and create surprises – even social phenomena – with prime-time drama series, most recently, District 31 and Unité 9. This was also true for CBC’s newest hit, Kim's Convenience, with its uniquely Canadian take on the immigrant experience and our prime time and commercial free broadcast of Secret Path. Lastly, we did this with our International Emmy® nominated short documentary series Interrupt this Program, about the role of the arts as a tool for social change in different countries, and with CBC’s Oscar® shortlisted Frame 394 – an original short digital documentary about the police shooting of a black man in the U.S.

We’re committed to supporting Canadian film too, as seen in our newly announced Breaking Barriers Film Fund, where we are striving to make a meaningful difference by supporting underrepresented creators directly and investing in their feature films. We’ve created a new funding model that will offer vital support to writers and directors who have historically been at a disadvantage in accessing financing: women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities. We will ensure their films are promoted to a much broader audience in Canada through distribution on CBC’s multi-platforms.

As part of the value we bring, we are able to make our audience insights available to creators to inform and validate their creative decisions. This, in turn, can help to create more Canadian content that reflects more diverse voices.

Promoting Canada to the World

Canadians are incredibly proud of this country and its strong global brand. At a time when the world is increasingly interested in Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada is poised to champion the promotion of world-class Canadian content and cultural entrepreneurs to the world.

Working with independent producers and with other cultural organizations in Canada – from our screen-based partners like Telefilm, the CMF and the National Film Board (NFB), to our museums, galleries and performing arts organizations – we will combine our strengths to promote Canadian content. We want to develop a collective approach to leverage the power of our culture and creative sectors to grow our global culture brand.

The international marketplace for content is more crowded than ever. We can do more to help promote Canada and Canadian creativity on the global stage. Indeed, we are currently involved in discussions and partnerships with other public broadcasters like Australia’s ABC and France Télévision to create a global digital Business to Business (B2B) marketplace that will allow us to reach each other’s' content and distribution platforms. We have already shown, with our successful public broadcaster's global conference in Montreal this September, that we can play a leadership role within this community. We are a natural bridge between Canadian producers and creators and an international network of broadcasters who share a set of values around quality, distinctiveness and public service.

With over 10,000 hours of francophone and anglophone TV and radio programs distributed every year to hundreds of clients and partners nationally and internationally, we are well established in the distribution marketplace. Around the world, documentary is known as “Canada’s art form,” just one example of the international respect for one of the genre’s we do so well. Under the brand of CBC/Radio-Canada, and in partnership with other content distributors, we will drive efforts to ensure our creators are showcased to audiences around the world. We will do this with both content and original formats, such as our initiative with Warner Brothers to create original Canadian formats that can be exported worldwide.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s digital platform and our partnership strategies already enable us to reach audiences around the world. Eighteen CBC Radio programs, including Piya Chattopadhyay's new show, Out in the Open, which tackles the tough issues of our time, are distributed widely to public radio across the U.S. With additional flexibility, including additional global digital rights and resources to market outside of Canada, we can deliver on the government’s ambition to bring the best of Canadian content to the global stage.

An Ad-Free Funding Model

CBC/Radio-Canada needs to build its future on a strong and stable foundation.

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.

The idea of an ad-free public broadcaster in Canada has long been discussed and debated; indeed, in February 2008, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recommended that CBC/Radio-Canada negotiate with government a transition to an ad-free business model. More recently, it has been a focal point in the cultural consultations.

The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration

This summer's Tragically Hip concert, uninterrupted and shared for Canadians everywhere, lauded nationally and internationally, offers a compelling vision of what is possible.

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.

But beyond the financial benefits of this model, it would allow us to put even more emphasis on our public service mandate, provide a more distinct and engaging offering for Canadians, and become a stronger and more valued partner to communities, individual artists and creators, universities, culture organizations, and the sector’s commercial players.

Our focus would be more firmly on the needs of citizens, creators and our industry partners without the constant preoccupation of monetizing each of our initiatives.

It would create greater opportunities to find and nurture new talent. It would create more room for distinct Canadian programming, made by Canadians, featuring Canadians and telling the stories Canadian creators want to tell.

We would focus less on commercial return and more on cultural impact, exploring more ways to help Canadian content and creators thrive and grow. We would be able to commission programming that takes risks and has the time to find an audience without being overly driven by the need to deliver immediate success.

We would focus less on commercial return and more on cultural impact, exploring more ways to help Canadian content and creators thrive and grow.

We would tackle stronger and more distinctive content, including the kind of complex story-telling that is difficult within a format that includes advertising interruptions. It would increase our creative appeal to Canadian directors, writers and producers.

This is the kind of viewing experience that Canadians have come to expect with premium content and that has driven the high engagement we have seen in ad-free services like Netflix.

For our Canadian audience, in an age of information overload, where content and marketing can become intertwined, we also see great value in the opportunity to create an advertising free environment for our journalism and strengthen the public trust in our independence and impartiality.

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, with important and thought-provoking results.

The Economic Impact of an Ad-Free CBC/Radio Canada

Economic Upside

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.

The gains are as a result of CBC/Radio-Canada’s strong support of Canadian production talent. CBC/Radio Canada’s spending benefits independent producers and other Canadian third-party suppliers, and also creates a ripple effect of spending throughout the economy.

Impact on CBC/Radio-Canada and the Sector

In terms of costs, the ad-elimination model would yield a net loss in advertising revenue of $253M to CBC/Radio-Canada. However two-thirds of this revenue would migrate to other Canadian media, including private TV and digital, for a net gain to them of $158M.

Elimination of advertising revenue

Elimination of advertising revenue

The Nordicity study revealed that nearly two thirds of CBC/Radio-Canada ad revenue ($158M) would migrate to other Canadian media.

Replacement Funding

In order to exit advertising, CBC/Radio-Canada would require $318M in replacement funding. This figure takes into account the lost advertising revenue ($253M), the cost to produce and procure additional Canadian content ($105M) which is required to replace the advertising programming and the cost savings associated with the reduced cost of sales ($40M)

Lost conventional and speciality television and digital advertising $253M
Costs to produce or procure additional Canadian content to replace the advertising programming $105M
Less the cost savings associated with the reduced cost of sales ($40M)
Total net required replacement funding $318M*

* Does not include one-time costs associated with transition out of advertising sales

FUNDING A BETTER FUTURE

The Investment

CBC/Radio-Canada’s vision involves a new approach to funding Canada’s public broadcaster, one that we believe is crucial to growing our creative economy. This includes an investment in our priority areas along with replacement funding to move away from advertising as a source of revenue. In total, we propose an increase in our government funding of $12 per person to bring our funding to $46 per Canadian from the current amount of $34. This amount is consistent with the 2008 recommendation of $40 per person by the Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage, adjusted for inflation.

$211M

IN GROSS VALUE IS ADDED TO THE CANADIAN ECONOMY FOR EVERY $100M INVESTED IN CBC/RADIO-CANADA

While this would represent a meaningful investment in our future, it is important to remember that for every incremental increase of $100M in CBC/Radio-Canada funding, $211M in gross value (GVA) is added to the Canadian economy through the economic activity it generates. This investment would yield benefits for public broadcasting, for the broadcast and media sectors in Canada, for the cultural and creative sectors, and for the Canadian economy.

Funding Proposal $ Per Person $ Millions
Government Funding Today 34 1,215
Add: Replacement of Advertising Revenue 9 318
Add: Additional Funding of New Investments to Face Consumer and Technology Disruption 3 100
Total Proposed Government Funding $46 $1,633M

Assumptions :

  1. Ongoing inflation adjustment mechanism
  2. Excludes subscriber and other self generated revenue
  3. $46 per person equals the 2008 Government of Canada Study recommendation of $40 per person, which when adjusted for in ation in today’s dollars is $46
  4. Replacement of Advertising revenue is estimated as 2014-15 Ad Revenue of $253M + cost of replacement programming of $105M less the reduction in cost of sales of $40M

A National Celebration

The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip

Canadians wanted to be part of the final concert by the iconic Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip. Although the show was held in Kingston, 11.7 million Canadians joined in the celebration in bars, parks and public places, both here and abroad. In addition to the 150 public gatherings, the event was broadcast commercial-free on TV, radio, the web and our apps.

11.7 million Canadians joined in the celebration

Follow the daily dramas of a team of detectives in a Montreal police division

District 31

District 31

The only daily drama series on Canadian French-language television, District 31 became an overnight success when it first hit the airwaves in September 2016. District 31 is the neighbourhood police station whose team of detectives are tasked with investigating the broad spectrum of crimes that can occur in a big city like Montreal: from kidnappings, break-ins, murders, and domestic violence, to sexual assault, gang wars, drug trafficking, terrorist sympathies, and financial fraud.

District 31 has averaged one million viewers from Monday to Thursday since it premiered on September 12, 2016 (Numeris, confirmed data for the week of October 10–16, 2016)

Immerse yourself in the world of women’s prison

Unité 9

Unité 9

Each week, over two million viewers follow Marie Lamontagne, a mother of two, jailed for the attempted murder of her father and assigned to Cell Block 9 of the Lietteville federal penitentiary for women. When it premiered in 2012, Unité 9 boldly took us into the lives of women behind bars – long before Orange Is the New Black became a hit on Netflix!

Won four Gémeaux awards in 2016. Averaged two million viewers each week, for a 46% audience share (Numeris, 2015–2016 season)

Based on the award-winning play by Ins Choi

Kim's Convenience

Kim's Convenience

The funny, heartfelt story of The Kims, a Korean-Canadian family, running a convenience store in downtown Toronto. Mr. and Mrs. Kim (‘Appa’ and ‘Umma’) immigrated to Toronto in the 80’s to set up shop near Regent Park and had two kids, Jung and Janet who are now young adults. However, when Jung was 16, he and Appa had a major falling out involving a physical fight, stolen money and Jung leaving home. Father and son have been estranged since.​

"It has bite. It’s funny and true, but not a reality we typically see reflected on television." – Toronto Star’s Tony Wong