“Anglophone Canadians also have their own culture,” says CBC/Radio-Canada CEO Catherine Tait

“Anglophone Canadians also have their own culture,” says CBC/Radio-Canada CEO Catherine Tait
“Anglophone Canadians also have their own culture,” says CBC/Radio-Canada CEO Catherine Tait

English Canada also has its stories to tell, assured the big boss of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait, in her demonstration aimed at reassuring federal elected officials that no merger between the French and English services is in the cards. boxes despite a “reconciliation plan” between the two services.

“English-speaking Canadians have enormous loyalty to our content! We talk about our communities, we talk about our indigenous realities, the Far North, we talk about the realities of the west of the country, we talk about all that kind of thing,” said M.me Tait Tuesday, before the members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

The CEO of the public broadcaster was stung by a question from Conservative MP Jacques Gourde, who asked whether CBC had “Americanized” itself, among other comments that called into question public support for television from the English network. His party proposes to dissolve the English-speaking network CBC, but to maintain its French-speaking counterpart Radio-Canada – an operation “almost impossible”, according to Mme Tait.

She promised that “the editorial independence of CBC and Radio-Canada remains a fundamental principle” of the state corporation. “I swear to you that the strength of Radio-Canada, the importance of Radio-Canada for the French fact and the French language remains at the heart of all our reflections.”

The public broadcaster is currently considering a “brother” between its French-speaking and English-speaking branches, reported The Press last week. CBC/Radio-Canada responded that this “did not necessarily” mean combining the two programs.

Speculation on the merger

Catherine Tait and her senior vice-president, Marco Dubé, gave a little more detail on the purpose of this “reconciliation”, while trying to reassure elected officials that it is in no way a question of of a merger project.

It is rather a question of “organizing [les] resources, continue the digital transition in a world where […] audiences are going to the digital giants,” said Mr. Dubé. All to “prepare the options, the ideas, for the next CEO”, indicated Mr.me Tait, whose functions are due to end in January 2025.

“These are not things that we are going to decide today,” she added.

She presented the example of different software used by journalists of each language in newsrooms. “Could CBC and Radio-Canada have the same platform to broadcast [leurs reportages sur leurs sites Internet respectifs] ? This is the kind of rapprochement we are talking about. »

Bloc Québécois MP Martin Champoux multiplied questions in the House about a rapprochement plan between the French-speaking and English-speaking divisions which “looks more like a rescue plan for the CBC at the back of Radio-Canada,” according to him. .

“The Bloc Québécois […] adopts approximately the same position as the Conservatives, according to which we should completely separate CBC and Radio-Canada and, while we are at it, completely defund CBC,” replied the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, on Monday. She reiterated Tuesday that “Francophone programming and content will never be paired with CBC.”

Finished the cuts

Furthermore, the head of CBC/Radio-Canada announced to elected officials that the financial situation of the institution has improved thanks to an increase in its public funding of $42 million, the elimination of 205 vacant positions and the layoff of 141 employees.

“And we can say that there was a little more on the CBC side than on Radio-Canada,” said the senior vice-president of the public broadcaster, Marco Dubé, echoing criticism according to which equal cuts would have greater consequences for the French service.

These 346 eliminated positions should put an end to job losses at the public broadcaster in the short term, she said, since the anticipated deficit of $125 million for 2024-2025 has melted to a shortfall of approximately $20 million. Last December, the public broadcaster instead planned to cut 800 positions.

Last January, Catherine Tait had difficulty justifying to elected officials the fact that the “incentive remuneration” of her executives could remain intact despite the significant cuts then announced. She was invited again before a parliamentary committee to explore this issue further. However, the amounts of these bonuses for last year must be determined in June, she said on Tuesday. She was therefore not yet in a position to say whether she herself would be able to receive a bonus.

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