OTTAWA – July 2015 – On 20 July 2015, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications published its comprehensive report, Time for Change: The CBC/Radio-Canada in the Twenty-first Century.
Tasked in December 2013 with “an Order of Reference to examine the challenges facing the CBC/Radio Canada in the changing broadcasting and communications environment”, the Standing Senate Committee held over 40 hearings, site visits and fact-finding missions, resulting in this report.
As part of the extensive review, Nordicity partner Dustin Chodorowicz and manager Stephen Hignell were called upon as expert witnesses by the Standing Senate Committee to provide broadcast expert witness testimony. Nordicity’s report for CBC/Radio-Canada, "Analysis of Government Support for Public Broadcasting and Other Culture in Canada", which included an comparison of 18 international public service broadcasting regimes, was also cited. The report culminates in a list of 22 recommendations to support the future of CBC/Radio-Canada, the Government of Canada, “as the CBC’s mandate, governance, funding and programming are modernized to reflect our current media environment”.
The recommendations included:
Recommendation 1: The 1991 Broadcasting Act be modernized to reflect the current environment.
Recommendation 2: CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate be amended to include increases in the presentation of Canadian history and Canadian film.
Recommendation 3: CBC/Radio-Canada ensure that its programming reflects all regions of Canada.
Recommendation 4: CBC/Radio-Canada’s Board of Directors appoint and manage the president and CEO.
Recommendation 5: CBC/Radio-Canada appear before and report annually to the appropriate committees of both Houses of Parliament.
Recommendation 6: CBC/Radio-Canada be more transparent in its operations, specifically with regard to the disclosure of financial information, procurement and contracts, and salaries; and it must make such disclosures easily accessible to the public.
Recommendation 7: The Corporation’s content be archived (CBC/Radio-Canada Library) to enable easy access by Canadians.
Recommendation 8: CBC/Radio-Canada divest itself of its current real estate holdings and lease facilities and office space required for its operations.
Recommendation 9: To the extent possible for efficiency and to minimize the CBC/Radio-Canada’s administrative burden, the Corporation’s management and administrative functions be consolidated to the current head office located in the National Capital Region, while ensuring the maintenance of an operational presence in each region of Canada for all anglophones and francophones on the English and French networks, and on other platforms. (The regions are: Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the North.)
Recommendation 10: As a public broadcaster, the CBC/Radio-Canada must be mindful of its use of public funds, and review all non-executive salaries and compensation to ensure they are in line with those for comparable positions with private broadcasters.
Recommendation 11: The Board of Directors of the CBC/Radio-Canada conduct a thorough review of all internal policies to reverse the trend of implementing effective policy only after serious incidents have occurred, and to ensure that such policies reflect a modern professional workplace.
Recommendation 12: The Board of Directors of the CBC/Radio Canada implement stringent restrictions on the external activities, including outside paid-employment, of all senior staff and on-air talent to prevent any possible conflicts of interest.
Recommendation 13: The Board of Directors of the CBC/Radio-Canada appoint an ombudsman for each of its official language services, provided that he or she is not a current or recent employee (within the previous 2 years) of the Corporation.
Recommendation 14: Both CBC/Radio-Canada Ombudsmen report to the Corporation’s Board of Directors to ensure accountability at all levels of the Corporation, including the Senior Executive Team.
Recommendation 15: CBC/Radio-Canada, in consultation with the Government of Canada, explore alternative funding models and additional ways to generate revenue to minimize the Corporation’s dependence on government appropriations.
Recommendation 16: CBC/Radio-Canada examine the costs and the benefits of commercial advertising on both the English and French services.
Recommendation 17: A portion of the CBC/Radio-Canada’s funding be reallocated to an external “superfund” to help finance the creation of Canadian content, such as Canadian history and nature documentaries and high-quality comedy and drama, which could then be broadcast on CBC/Radio-Canada.
Recommendation 18: CBC/Radio-Canada focus on showing high-quality programs that are unlikely to be offered by commercial broadcasters.
Recommendation 19: CBC/Radio-Canada invest in and offer services in those areas where the Canadian public’s needs are underserved by the private sector. As a public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada needs to use its resources to complement what is offered to Canadians through other sources.
Recommendation 20: CBC/Radio-Canada review how resources are allocated within the organization with respect to the amounts and proportion of total spending going to various programming genres.
Recommendation 21: CBC/Radio-Canada discontinue all in-house production of non-news and current affairs programming, and instead emphasize the broadcasting of performances by Canadian artists and cultural events, such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, the Edmonton Opera, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
Recommendation 22: CBC/Radio-Canada air more amateur sporting events such as Canadian Interuniversity women’s and men’s sports, minor league sports, etc.
Source: Senate of Canada, Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Time for Change: The CBC/Radio-Canada in the Twenty-first Century (July 2015). http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/412/trcm/rep/rep14jul15-e.pdf
For further information, contact Stephen Hignell, Nordicity: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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