Broadcaster Magazine

CBC Licence Renewal Day One

Armed with some 8,000 submitted comments from the public, and a comprehensive two-week agenda, the country’s broadcast regulator opened proceedings this morning into its review of the application by CBC/Radio-Canada for renewal of its licences for its radio and television services.

In notes prepared for his opening remarks, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission  Chair Jean-Pierre Blais described three main phases or topics for the regulatory proceeding: accountability, availability and reflection.

Blais restated key components of the CBC broadcast mandate, including its role as a “predominantly and distinctively Canadian” service that should “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions.”

The CBC should also “actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression” and reflect “the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, Blais remarked, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities,” while contributing to a “shared national consciousness and identity.”

Although the Commission exempted digital media from the requirement to hold a licence, Blais noted that the CRTC will discuss the services the Corporation is providing to Canadians.

He described the accountability sessions as looking at CBC’s mandated responsibility toward Canadians, including news services; the role of the Ombudsmen; the processing of public complaints and comments; and the reports submitted by the Corporation.

Availability will address CBC’s radio and television services across the country, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and the impact of the transition to digital.

In its reflection phase, the CRTC will look at the CBC’s programming of French-language radio and conventional and specialty services, and then review its English-language services, the quality of the French- and English-language services, the representation of official-language minority communities, and regional reflection.