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CBC Calling

Alright, I admit it. The CBC is a part of me. Like Obélix, I fell in the cauldron of elixir when I was young. I was brought up with the CBC. I remember Sunday mornings in our living room, my brother and I playing while my parents read. We all listened to Sunday classical music programming on CBC radio. And then there were television programs like Pépinot and Marie4poches… It seems so long ago! But it’s clear that the time for nostalgia has passed. We have changed, and the CBC too. The world of communications is a universe away from where it was even a decade ago.

The CBC, to me, is also a place where I worked on and off over the past 30 years, be it in Ottawa, St-Boniface or Montreal. In 1999 I was one of those who worked on the French television licence renewal. So much has happened since then. Issues that were only emerging then are now a part of our everyday lives.

Contrary to my introduction, we at the CCA are conscious that this is not the time for nostalgia. Several comments from CBC’s friends will argue that it should reverse to what it used to be or what it represented for them.   We want the CBC to evolve, yes, but we have trouble letting go of the good old days when foreign broadcast competition did not yet exist, and one could count radio and television stations on their fingers; when the Internet was new and only used by technological wizards. But one has to admit that despite the mandate given so many years ago, the manner in which the CBC serves the Canadian population has shifted. One thing is left unchanged, and that it is that the values of the CBC has incarnated since its creation have not changed, and ought not to.

It is on these deep-rooted values that the future of the CBC is being built. This future is going to play out across various planes; political, regulatory, economic and technological. What we want to present to you today is a quick overview of the issues facing our national public broadcaster.

Our featured member fits right into this theme: Hubert Lacroix has just had his mandate renewed for another five years and he describes the Corporation’s vision moving forward. I also interviewed Pierre Bélanger, professor of communications at Ottawa University, who was also involved in the CBC’s licence renewal in 1999 and who guided the public broadcaster’s first steps into the digital world.

Thousands of submissions were written over the course of the CBC’s recent license renewal, and we confirm within that much is still being said on this topic. Tamara Dolan, one of ours interns, has compiled excerpts from comments submitted to the CRTC over the course of this process. We close this special issue with opinions about the Corporation’s request to broadcast national commercials on its Radio 2 and Espace Musique stations, and as you will see, it has not been popular.