Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (French: Société Radio-Canada), branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that serves as the national public broadcaster for both radio and television. The English- and French-language service units of the corporation are commonly known as CBC and Radio-Canada, respectively.
Although some local stations in Canada predate the CBC's founding, CBC is the oldest existing broadcasting network in Canada. The CBC was established on November 2, 1936. The CBC operates four terrestrial radio networks: The English-Language CBC Radio One and CBC Music, and the French-Language Ici Radio-Canada Première and Ici Musique. (International radio service Radio Canada International historically transmitted via shortwave radio, but since 2012 its content is only available as podcasts on its website.) The CBC also operates two terrestrial television networks, the English-Language CBC Television and the French-Language Ici Radio-Canada Télé, along with the satellite/cable networks CBC News Network, Ici RDI, Ici Explora, Documentary Channel (part ownership), and Ici ARTV. The CBC operates services for the Canadian Arctic under the names CBC North and Radio-Canada Nord. The CBC also operates digital services including CBC.ca/Ici.Radio-Canada.ca, CBC Radio 3, CBC Music/ICI.mu and Ici.TOU.TV, and owns 20.2% of satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM Canada, which carries several CBC-produced audio channels.
CBC/Radio-Canada offers programming in English, French and eight aboriginal languages on its domestic radio service, and in five languages on its web-based international radio service, Radio Canada International (RCI). However, budget cuts in the early 2010s have contributed to the corporation reducing its service via the airwaves, discontinuing RCI's shortwave broadcasts as well as terrestrial television broadcasts in all communities served by network-owned rebroadcast transmitters, including communities not subject to Canada's over-the-air digital television transition.
The CBC's federal funding is supplemented by revenue from commercial advertising on its television broadcasts. The radio service employed commercials from its inception to 1974, but since its primary radio networks have been commercial-free. In 2013, CBC's secondary radio networks, CBC Music and Ici Musique, introduced limited advertising of up to four minutes an hour, but this was discontinued in 2016.
In 1929, the Aird Commission on public broadcasting recommended the creation of a national radio broadcast network. A major concern was the growing influence of American radio broadcasting as U.S.-based networks began to expand into Canada. Meanwhile, Canadian National Railways was making a radio network to keep its passengers entertained and give it an advantage over its rival, CP. This, the CNR Radio, is the forerunner of the CBC. Graham Spry and Alan Plaunt lobbied intensely for the project on behalf of the Canadian Radio League. In 1932 the government of R. B. Bennett established the CBC's predecessor, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC).
The CRBC took over a network of radio stations formerly set up by a federal Crown corporation, the Canadian National Railway. The network was used to broadcast programming to riders aboard its passenger trains, with coverage primarily in central and eastern Canada. On November 2, 1936, the CRBC was reorganized under its present name. While the CRBC was a state-owned company, the CBC was a Crown corporation on the model of the British Broadcasting Corporation, which had been reformed from a private company into a statutory corporation in 1927. Leonard Brockington was the CBC's first chairman.
For the next few decades, the CBC was responsible for all broadcasting innovation in Canada. This was in part because, until 1958, it was not only a broadcaster, but the chief regulator of Canadian broadcasting. It used this dual role to snap up most of the clear-channel licences in Canada. It began a separate French-language radio network in 1937. It introduced FM radio to Canada in 1946, though a distinct FM service was not launched until 1960.
Television broadcasts from the CBC began on September 6, 1952, with the opening of a station in Montreal, Quebec (CBFT), and a station in Toronto, Ontario (CBLT) opening two days later. The CBC's first privately owned affiliate television station, CKSO in Sudbury, Ontario, launched in October 1953. (At the time, all private stations were expected to affiliate with the CBC, a condition that relaxed in 1960–61 with the launch of CTV.)
From 1944 to 1962, the CBC split its English-language radio network into two services known as the Trans-Canada Network and the Dominion Network. The latter, carrying lighter programs including American radio shows, was dissolved in 1962, while the former became known as CBC Radio. (In the late 1990s, CBC Radio was rebranded as CBC Radio One and CBC Stereo as CBC Radio Two. The latter was rebranded slightly in 2007 as CBC Radio 2.)
On July 1, 1958, CBC's television signal was extended from coast to coast. The first Canadian television show shot in colour was the CBC's own The Forest Rangers in 1963. Colour television broadcasts commenced on July 1, 1966, and full-colour service began in 1974. In 1978, CBC became the first broadcaster in the world to use an orbiting satellite for television service, linking Canada "from east to west to north". The mission of CBC is contribution to the "moral economy of the nation".
Starting in 1967 and continuing until the mid-1970s, the CBC provided limited television service to remote and northern communities. Transmitters were built in a few locations and carried a four-hour selection of black-and-white videotaped programs each day. The tapes were flown into communities to be shown, then transported to other communities, often by the "bicycle" method used in television syndication. Transportation delays ranged from one week for larger centres to almost a month for small communities.
Most of the FCP stations were fitted for the Anik satellite signal during 1973, carrying 12 hours of colour programming. Those serving the largest centres signed on with colour broadcasts on February 5, 1973, and most of the others were added before spring. Broadcasts were geared to either the Atlantic time zone (UTC−4 or −3) or the Pacific time zone (UTC−8 or −7) even though the audience resided in communities in time zones varying from UTC−5 to UTC−8; the reason for this was that the CBC originated its programs for the Atlantic time zone, and a key station in each time zone would record the broadcast for the appropriate delay of one, two or three hours; the programs were originated again for the Pacific zone. The northern stations picked up one of these two feeds, with the western NWT stations picking up the Pacific feed. Some in northern areas of the provinces were connected by microwave to their own provincial broadcast centre.
Some of these stations used non-CBC callsigns such as CFWH-TV in Whitehorse, CFYK in Yellowknife, CFFB in Frobisher Bay and CHAK in Inuvik, while some others used the standard CB_T callsign but with five letters (e.g. CBDHT).
Uplinks in the North were usually a temporary unit brought in from the south. A permanent uplink was established in Yellowknife, and later in Whitehorse and Iqaluit.
Television programs originating in the north without the help of the south began with one half-hour per week in the 1980s with Focus North and graduating to a daily half-hour newscast, Northbeat, in the late 1990s. Until then, there were occasional temporary uplinks for such things as territorial election returns coverage; Yukon had the first such coverage in 1985, though because it happened during the Stanley Cup playoffs, equipment was already spoken for, so CBC rented the equipment of CITV-TV Edmonton to use in Whitehorse that evening.
The original logo of the CBC, designed by École des Beaux Arts student Hortense Binette and used between 1940 and 1958, featured a map of Canada (and from 1940 to 1949, Newfoundland) and a thunderbolt design used to symbolize broadcasting.
In 1958, the CBC adopted a new logo for use at the end of network programs. Designed by scale model artist Jean-Paul Boileau, it consisted of the legends "CBC" and "Radio-Canada" overlaid on a map of Canada. For French programming, the "Radio-Canada" was placed on top.
The "Butterfly" logo was designed for the CBC by Hubert Tison in 1966 to mark the network's progressing transition from black-and-white to colour television, much in the manner of the NBC peacock logo. It was used at the beginning of programs broadcast in colour and was used until all CBC television programs had switched to colour. A sketch on the CBC Television program Wayne & Shuster once referred to this as the logo of the "Cosmic Butterfly Corporation."
The fourth logo, known internally as "the gem", was designed for the CBC by graphic artist Burton Kramer in December 1974, and it is the most widely recognised symbol of the corporation. The main on-air identification featured the logo kaleidoscopically morphing into its form while radiating outward from the centre of the screen on a blue background. This animated version, which went to air in December 1974, is also known colloquially as "The Exploding Pizza". The appearance of this logo marked the arrival of full-colour network television service. The large shape in the middle is the letter C, which stands for Canada; the radiating parts of the C symbolize broadcasting, and the blue circle the logo was placed in represented the world, so the entire logo, according to Kramer, represented the idea of "Canada broadcasting to the world". The original theme music for the 1974 CBC ident was a three-note woodwind orchestral fanfare accompanied by the voiceover "This is CBC" or "Ici Radio-Canada". This was later replaced by a different, and more familiar 11-note woodwind orchestral jingle, which was used until December 31, 1985.
The updated one-colour version of the gem/pizza logo, created by Hubert Tison and Robert Innes, was introduced on January 1, 1986, and with it was introduced a new series of computer graphic-generated television idents for CBC and Radio-Canada. These idents consisted of different background colours corresponding to the time of day behind a translucent CBC gem logo, accompanied by different arrangements of the CBC's new, synthesized five-note jingle. The logo was changed to one colour, generally dark blue on white, or white on dark blue, in 1986. Print ads and most television promos, however, have always used a single-colour version of this logo since 1974.
In 1992, CBC updated its logo design to make it simpler and more red (or white on a red background). The new logo design, created by Swiss-Canadian design firm Gottschalk + Ash, reduces the number of geometric sections in the logo to 13 instead of the previous logo's 25, and the "C" in the centre of the logo became a simple red circle. According to graphic designer Todd Falkowsky, the logo's red colour also represents Canada in a symbolic way. With the launch of the current design, new television idents were introduced in November that year, also using CGI. Since the early 2000s, it has also appeared in white (sometimes red) on a textured or coloured background. It is now CBC/Radio-Canada's longest-used logo, surpassing the original incarnation of the Gem logo and the CBC's 1940 logo.
...the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains;
As a crown corporation, the CBC operates at arm's length (autonomously) from the government in its day-to-day business. The corporation is governed by the Broadcasting Act of 1991, under a board of directors and is directly responsible to Parliament through the Department of Canadian Heritage. General management of the organization is in the hands of a president, who is appointed by the Governor General of Canada in Council, on the advice of the prime minister.
According to The Hill Times, a clause in Bill C-60, an omnibus budget implementation bill introduced by the government of Stephen Harper in 2013, "appears to contradict a longstanding arm's-length relationship between the independent CBC and any government in power." The clause allows the "prime minister's cabinet to approve salaries, working conditions and collective bargaining positions for the CBC."
In accordance with the Broadcasting Act, a board of directors is responsible for the management of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The board is made up of 12 members, including the chair and the president and CEO. A current list of directors is available from the Canadian Governor in Council here.
For the fiscal year 2006, the CBC received a total of $1.53 billion from all revenue sources, including government funding via taxpayers, subscription fees, advertising revenue, and other revenue (e.g., real estate). Expenditures for the year included $616 million for English television, $402 million for French television, $126 million for specialty channels, a total of $348 million for radio services in both languages, $88 million for management and technical costs, and $124 million for "amortization of property and equipment." Some of this spending was derived from amortization of funding from previous years.
Among its revenue sources for the year ending March 31, 2006, the CBC received $946 million in its annual funding from the federal government, as well as $60 million in "one-time" supplementary funding for programming. However, this supplementary funding has been repeated annually for a number of years. This combined total is just over a billion dollars annually and is a source of heated debate. To supplement this funding, the CBC's television networks and websites sell advertising, while cable/satellite-only services such as CBC News Network additionally collect subscriber fees, in line with their privately owned counterparts. CBC's radio services do not sell advertising except when required by law (for example, to political parties during federal elections).
CBC's funding differs from that of the public broadcasters of many European nations, which collect a licence fee, or those in the United States, such as PBS and NPR, which receive some public funding but rely to a large extent on voluntary contributions from individual viewers and listeners. A Nanos Research poll from August 2014 conducted for Asper Media (National Post, Financial Post) showed 41% of Canadians wanted funding increased, 46% wanted it maintained at current levels, and only 10% wanted to see it cut.
The network's defenders note that the CBC's mandate differs from private media's, particularly in its focus on Canadian content; that much of the public funding actually goes to the radio networks; and that the CBC is responsible for the full cost of most of its prime-time programming, while private networks can fill up most of their prime-time schedules with American series acquired for a fraction of their production cost. CBC supporters also point out that additional, long-term funding is required to provide better Canadian dramas and improved local programming to attract and sustain a strong viewership.
According to the Canadian Media Guild, the $115-million deficit reduction action plan cuts to CBC which started with the 2012 budget and were fully realized in 2014, amounted to "one of the biggest layoffs of content creators and journalists in Canadian history." The 2014 cuts combined with earlier ones totalled "3,600 jobs lost at CBC since 2008. The CMG asked the federal government to reverse the cuts and to repeal Clause 17 of omnibus budget bill C-60 " to remove government's interference in CBC's day-to-day operations."
In September 2015, the Canadian Media Guild announced that the CBC planned to sell all of its properties across Canada to gain a temporary increase in available funds. Media relations manager Alexandra Fortier denied this and stated that the corporation planned to sell only half of its assets.
In September 2015 Hubert Lacroix, president of CBC/Radio-Canada, spoke at the international public broadcasters' conference in Munich, Germany. He claimed for the first time that public broadcasters were "at risk of extinction." The Canadian Media Guild responded that Lacroix had "made a career of shredding" the CBC by cutting one quarter of its staff—approximately 2,000 jobs since 2010 under Lacroix's tenure. More than 600 jobs were cut in 2014 in order "to plug a $130-million budget shortfall." Isabelle Montpetit, president of Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC), observed that Lacroix was hand-picked by Stephen Harper for the job as president of the CBC. For the fiscal year 2015, the CBC received $1.036 billion from government funding and took 5% funding cuts from the previous year.
In 2015, the Liberal Party was returned to power. As part of its election platform, it promised to restore the $115 million of funding to the CBC that was cut by the Harper Government, over three years, and add $35 million, for a total extra funding of $150 million.
On November 28, 2016, the CBC issued a request for $400 million in additional funding, which it planned to use towards removing advertising from its television services, production and acquisition of Canadian content, and "additional funding of new investments to face consumer and technology disruption". The broadcaster argued that it had operated "[under] a business model and cultural policy framework that is profoundly broken", while other countries "[reaped] the benefits of strong, stable, well-funded public broadcasters."
CBC News is the largest broadcast newsgathering operation in Canada, providing services to CBC radio as well as CBC News Network, local supper-hour newscasts, CBC News Online, and Air Canada's in-flight entertainment. New CBC News services are also proving popular such as news alerts to mobile phones and PDAs. Desktop news alerts, e-mail alerts, and digital television alerts are also available.
CBC Radio has five separate services, three in English, known as CBC Radio One, CBC Music and CBC Radio 3, and two in French, known as Ici Radio-Canada Première and Ici Musique. CBC Radio One and Première focus on news and information programming, but they air some music programs, variety shows and comedy; in the past, they also aired some sports programming. CBC Radio One and Première used to broadcast primarily on the AM band, but many stations have moved over to FM. Over the years, a number of CBC radio transmitters with a majority of them on the AM band have either moved to FM or had shut down completely.
The CBC plans to phase out more CBC AM transmitters across Canada. This goal however remains to be seen in light of the CBC budget cutbacks.
Beginning in 1981, CBC radio launched the monthly magazine Radio Guide, which included CBC Radio program listings alongside feature content, such as profiles of musicians and writers and behind the scenes looks at CBC programs. The magazine was released both by subscription and as a newsstand title. In 1984, due to budgetary pressures at the CBC, the magazine began accepting paid advertising from outside clients; in 1985, due to further budget cuts, the magazine was discontinued as a standalone title, and instead became a supplement in Saturday Night. In 1988, the magazine was sold to Core Group Publishers of Vancouver, and continued in this format until 1997, when it was discontinued due to a declining subscriber base.
The CBC's long-range radio plan (LRRP) was developed by the (CRTC) in collaboration with the CBC to identify those FM frequencies that would likely be required to deliver the CBC's radio services to the maximum number of Canadians. The CBC is not subject to any conditions or expectations concerning its LRRP. The CBC noted that Première Chaîne (now Ici Radio-Canada Première) and CBC Radio One were available to about 99 percent of the Canadian population. The CBC stated that it plans to maintain its radio service but has no plans to grow the coverage area. It described the LRRP as a planning vehicle and indicated that it would no longer use it. Given reductions in public funding to the CBC and given that Première Chaîne and Radio One are available to the vast majority of Canadians, the commission considers that the CBC's plan to maintain current coverage and discontinue the LRRP is reasonable. Accordingly, the Commission accepts the CBC's proposal to discontinue the LRRP.
CBC Music and Ici musique, found exclusively on FM, air arts and cultural programming, with a focus on music. CBC Radio 3, found only online and on satellite radio, airs exclusively independent Canadian music.
CBC Radio also operated two shortwave services. One, Radio Nord Québec, broadcast domestically to Northern Quebec on a static frequency of 9625 kHz, and the other, Radio Canada International, provided broadcasts to the United States and around the world in eight languages. Both shortwave services were shut down in 2012 due to budget cuts; the Sackville transmitter site was dismantled in 2014.
Additionally, the Radio One stations in St. John's and Vancouver operated shortwave relay transmitters, broadcasting at 6160 kHz. Some have suggested that CBC/Radio-Canada create a new high-power shortwave digital radio service for more effective coverage of isolated areas.
In November 2004, the CBC, in partnership with Standard Broadcasting and Sirius Satellite Radio, applied to the (CRTC) for a licence to introduce satellite radio service to Canada. The CRTC approved the subscription radio application, as well as two others for satellite radio service, on June 16, 2005. Sirius Canada launched on December 1, 2005, with a number of CBC Radio channels, including the new services CBC Radio 3 and Bande à part.
In some areas, especially national or provincial parks, the CBC also operates an AM or FM transmitter rebroadcasting weather alerts from the Meteorological Service of Canada's Weatheradio Canada service.
The CBC operates two national broadcast television networks; CBC Television in English, and Ici Radio-Canada Télé in French. Like private broadcasters, both those networks sell advertising, but offer more Canadian-produced programming. All CBC television stations are owned and operated by the CBC itself and carry a common schedule, aside from local programming and other regional variation (such as the CBC North stations in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon carrying an additional newscast in the Inuktitut language and a weekly Cree program), and CBET-DT in Windsor amending its non-primetime schedule at various points due to program rights conflicts with Detroit stations).
Both CBC's English and French networks previously had a number of private affiliates owned by third-party owners. However, the majority of them have either been bought by the CBC and subsequently shut down during the transition to digital television, or have switched to other networks and program services. The only remaining privately owned affiliate of any CBC-owned network is Ici Radio-Canada Télé affiliate CKRT-DT in Rivière-du-Loup (which is part of a triplestick also containing private affiliates for Quebec's two private networks).
One of the most popular shows is the weekly Saturday night broadcast of NHL hockey games. In English, the program is known as Hockey Night in Canada, and in French, it was called La Soirée du hockey. Both shows began in 1952. The French edition was discontinued in 2004, though Radio-Canada stations outside of Quebec simulcast some Saturday night games produced by RDS until 2006. The network suffered considerable public embarrassment when it lost the rights to the show's theme music following a protracted lawsuit launched by the song's composer and publishers. In 2013, the exclusive national media rights to the NHL were acquired by Rogers Media, although Rogers would reach an agreement with the CBC to license the Hockey Night in Canada brand for use in its coverage of Saturday-night games, and broker a version of the broadcasts to CBC at no charge.
The CBC also wholly owns and operates three specialty television channels – the news channels CBC News Network and Ici RDI, and the French-language network Ici Explora. It also owns a managing interest in the Francophone arts service ARTV, and Documentary Channel.
Children's programming air under the commercial-free preschool programming block called CBC Kids.
The CBC has two main websites. One is in English, at CBC.ca, which was established in 1996; the other is in French. The website allows the CBC to produce sections which complement the various programs on television and radio. In 2012, the corporation launched CBC Music, an internet radio service which produces and distributes 40 music-related channels, including the existing audio streams of CBC Radio 2 and CBC Radio 3. Radio-Canada In October 2019, the CBC launched a successor to the CBC Music platform known as CBC Listen, which encompasses the CBC's radio, music, as well as podcast output.
In May 2012, as part of an initiative to improve its service in "underserved" markets, the CBC launched a CBC Hamilton news operation for Hamilton, Ontario. With the Hamilton area already within the broadcast range of CBC Radio and CBC Television's services in Toronto, the outlet focuses exclusively on digital content, including a section of the CBC News website oriented towards the market. CBC Hamilton reporters have occasionally filed reports for the CBC's television news output, in the event of major stories centred upon the city.
Established in 2002, the CBC/Radio Canada merchandising business operates retail locations and cbcshop.ca, its educational sales department CBC Learning sells CBC content and media to educational institutions, CBC Merchandising also licenses brands such as Hockey Night in Canada (whose branding is still owned by the CBC) and Coronation Street (as a Canadian licensee under arrangement from ITV Studios).
CBC Records is a Canadian record label which distributes CBC programming, including live concert performances and album transcripts of news and information programming such as the Massey Lectures, in album format. Music albums on the label, predominantly in the classical and jazz genres, are distributed across Canada in commercial record stores, while albums containing spoken word programming are predominantly distributed by the CBC's own retail merchandising operations.
CBC provides news, business, weather and sports information on Air Canada's inflight entertainment as Enroute Journal.
During the summer of 1981 there was a major disruption of CBC programming as the technicians union, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, went on strike. Local newscasts were cut back to the bare minimum. This had the effect of delaying the debut of The Journal, which had to wait until January 1982.
On August 15, 2005, 5,500 employees of the CBC (about 90%) were locked out by CBC CEO Robert Rabinovitch in a dispute over future hiring practices. At issue were the rules governing the hiring of contract workers in preference to full-time hires. The locked-out employees were members of the Canadian Media Guild, representing all production, journalistic and on-air personnel outside Quebec and Moncton, including several foreign correspondents. While CBC services continued during the lock-out, they were primarily made up of repeats, with news programming from the BBC and newswires. Major CBC programs such as The National and Royal Canadian Air Farce were not produced during the lock-out; some non-CBC-owned programs seen on the network, such as The Red Green Show, shifted to other studios. Meanwhile, the locked-out employees produced podcasts and websites such as CBCunplugged.com.
After a hiatus, talks re-opened. On September 23, Joe Fontana, the federal minister of labour, called Robert Rabinovitch and Arnold Amber (the president of the CBC branch of the Canadian Media Guild) to his office for talks aimed at ending the dispute.
Late in the evening of October 2, 2005, it was announced that the CBC management and staff had reached a tentative deal which resulted in the CBC returning to normal operations on October 11. Some speculated that the looming October 8 start date for the network's most important television property, Hockey Night in Canada, had acted as an additional incentive to resolve the dispute.
The CBC has been affected by a number of other labour disputes since the late 1990s:
While all labour disputes resulted in cut-back programming and numerous repeat airings, the 2005 lock-out may have been the most damaging to CBC. All local programming in the affected regions was cancelled and replaced by abbreviated national newscasts and national radio morning shows. BBC World (television) and World Service (radio) and Broadcast News feeds were used to provide the remainder of original news content, and the CBC website consisted mainly of rewritten wire copy. Some BBC staff protested against their material being used during the CBC lock-out. "The NUJ and BECTU will not tolerate their members' work being used against colleagues in Canada", said a joint statement by BBC unions. The CMG questioned whether, with its limited Canadian news content, the CBC was meeting its legal requirements under the Broadcasting Act and its CRTC licences.
Galaxie (which CBC owned at the time) supplied some music content for the radio networks. Tapes of aired or produced documentaries, interviews and entertainment programs were also aired widely. Selected television sports coverage, including that of the Canadian Football League, continued, but without commentary.
As before, French-language staff outside of Quebec were also affected by the 2005 lock-out, although with Quebec producing the bulk of the French networks' programming, those networks were not as visibly affected by the dispute apart from local programs.
In 2000, CBC and Power Broadcasting sold these channels to Barry Diller's USA Networks. Diller's company was later acquired by Vivendi Universal, which in turn was partially acquired by NBC to form NBC Universal. NBC Universal still owns the Trio brand, which no longer has any association with the CBC (and became an Internet-only broadband channel which was later folded into Bravo.) The channel was shut down and was replaced with the NBC Universal channel Sleuth, which later became Cloo.
However, the CBC continued to program NWI, with much of its programming simulcast on the domestic Newsworld service. In late 2004, as a result of a further change in NWI's ownership to the INdTV consortium (including Joel Hyatt and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore), NWI ceased airing CBC programming on August 1, 2005, when it became Current TV. Current later folded and became Al Jazeera America on August 20, 2013.
In U.S. border communities such as Bellingham and Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan and Burlington, Vermont, CBC radio and television stations can be received over-the-air and have a significant audience. Farther from the border, some American fans of the network have acquired Canadian IP addresses to stream its sports broadcasts. Some CBC programming is also rebroadcast on local public radio, such as New Hampshire Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. CBC television channels are available on cable systems located near the Canada–U.S. border. For example, CBET Windsor is available on cable systems in the Detroit, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, areas; much of the rest of the state of Michigan receives CBMT Montreal on cable. CBUT Vancouver is broadcast on Comcast in the Seattle, Washington, area. At night, the AM radio transmissions of both CBC and Radio-Canada services can be received over much of the northern portion of the United States, from stations such as CBW in Winnipeg, CBK in Saskatchewan and CJBC in Toronto.
On September 11, 2001, several American broadcasters without their own news operations, including C-SPAN, carried the CBC's coverage of the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In the days after September 11, C-SPAN carried CBC's nightly newscast, The National, anchored by Peter Mansbridge. The quality of this coverage was recognised specifically by the Canadian Journalism Foundation; editor-in-chief Tony Burman later accepted the Excellence in Journalism Award (2004), for "rigorous professional practice, accuracy, originality and public accountability", on behalf of the service.
C-SPAN has also carried CBC's coverage of major events affecting Canadians, including: Canadian federal elections, key proceedings in Parliament of Canada, Six days in September 2000 that marked the death and state funeral of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the power outage crisis in summer 2003, U.S. presidential elections (e.g. in 2004, C-SPAN picked up The National the day after the election for the view from Canadians), state visits and official visits of American presidents to Canada, and Barack Obama inauguration in 2009.
Several PBS stations also air some CBC programming. However, these programs are syndicated by independent distributors, and are not governed by the PBS "common carriage" policy.
Other American broadcast networks sometimes air CBC reports, especially for Canadian events of international significance. For example, in the early hours after the Swissair Flight 111 disaster, CNN aired CBC's live coverage of the event. Also in the late 1990s, CNN Headline News aired a few CBC reports of events that were not significant outside Canada.
Some CBC Radio One programs, such as Definitely Not the Opera, WireTap, Q, and As It Happens, also air on some stations associated with American Public Media or Public Radio International. Some of the CBC's radio networks are available to SiriusXM subscribers in the United States, including CBC Radio One (a special feed that exclusively contains CBC-produced content and no regional programs) and Première (a simulcast of its Montreal flagship CBF-FM), CBC Radio 3, and music-oriented services exclusive to SiriusXM.
CBC Television, Ici Radio-Canada Télé, CBC News Network and all other CBC channels can be received through cable and satellite TV channel providers across Canada, like through Bell Satellite TV, Telus Optik TV, Rogers Cable, Videotron, Cogeco, and other smaller TV providers. The CBC and Radio-Canada channel signals can also be obtained free of charge, over-the-air, through antenna receivers in Canada's largest markets or in some border states along the Canada-U.S. border; however, CBC is not obtainable as a "free-to-air" (FTA) channel on FTA satellites (signals are encrypted on the Anik space satellites and require a dedicated satellite receiver).
CBC Television was an early leader in broadcasting programming with closed captioning for the hearing impaired, airing its first captioned programming in 1981. Captioned programming in Canada began with the airing of Clown White in English-language and French-language versions on CBC Television and Radio-Canada, respectively. Most sources list that event as occurring in 1981, while others list the year as 1982.
In 1997, Henry Vlug, a deaf lawyer in Vancouver, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that an absence of captioning on some programming on CBC Television and Newsworld infringed on his rights as a person with a disability. A ruling in 2000 by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which later heard the case, sided with Vlug and found that an absence of captioning constituted discrimination on the basis of disability. The Tribunal ordered CBC Television and Newsworld to caption the entirety of their broadcast days, "including television shows, commercials, promos and unscheduled news flashes, from sign-on until sign-off."
The ruling recognized that "there will inevitably be glitches with respect to the delivery of captioning" but that "the rule should be full captioning." In a negotiated settlement to avoid appealing the ruling to the Federal Court of Canada, CBC agreed to commence 100% captioning on CBC Television and Newsworld beginning November 1, 2002. CBC Television and Newsworld are apparently the only broadcasters in the world required to caption the entire broadcast day. However, published evidence asserts that CBC is not providing the 100% captioning ordered by the Tribunal.
In 2004, Canadian retired Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, a hard-of-hearing person, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Radio-Canada concerning captioning, particularly the absence of real-time captioning on newscasts and other live programming. As part of the settlement process, Radio-Canada agreed to submit a report on the state of captioning, especially real-time captioning, on Radio-Canada and RDI. The report, which was the subject of some criticism, proposed an arrangement with Cité Collégiale, a college in Ottawa, to train more French-language real-time captioners.
English-language specialty networks owned or co-owned by CBC, including documentary, have the lower captioning requirements typical of larger Canadian broadcasters (90% of the broadcast day by the end of both networks' licence terms). ARTV, the French-language specialty network co-owned by CBC, has a minimum captioning requirement of 53%.
In November 2007, the CBC replaced its documentary Beyond the Red Wall: Persecution of Falun Gong, about persecution of Falun Gong members in China, at the last minute with a rerun episode regarding President Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. The broadcaster had said to the press that "the crisis in Pakistan was considered more urgent and much more newsworthy", but sources from within the network itself had stated that the Chinese government had called the Canadian Embassy and demanded repeatedly that the program be taken off the air. The documentary in question was to air on Tuesday, November 6, 2007, on CBC Newsworld, but was replaced. The documentary aired two weeks later on November 20, 2007, after editing.
On June 5, 2013, the CBC announced that it would be phasing out the Radio-Canada brand from its French-language broadcast properties, and unifying them under names prefixed with "Ici" ("this is" or literally "here"). For instance, the CBC planned to re-brand Télévision de Radio-Canada as "Ici Télé", Première Chaîne as "Ici Première", and move its French-language website from radio-Canada.ca to ici.ca. Radio-Canada vice-president Louis Lalande stated that the new name complemented its multi-platform operations, while also serving as an homage to the broadcaster's historic station identification slogan since the 1930s, "ici Radio-Canada" ("this is Radio-Canada").
The announcement was criticized by politicians (such as Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore), who felt that the new "Ici" brand was too confusing, and that the CBC was diminishing the value of the Radio-Canada name through its plans to downplay it. The re-branding was also criticized for being unnecessary spending, reportedly costing $400,000, in the midst of budget cuts at the CBC. On June 10, in response to the criticism, Hubert Lacroix apologized for the decision and announced that the new brands for its main radio and television networks would be revised to restore the Radio-Canada name alongside Ici, such as "Ici Radio-Canada Première".
The CBC also filed a trademark lawsuit against Sam Norouzi, founder of CFHD-DT, a new multicultural station in Montreal, seeking to have his own registration on the name "ICI" (as an abbreviation of "International Channel/Canal International") cancelled because it was too similar to its own "Ici"-related trademarks. Despite Norouzi's "ICI" trademark having been registered prior to the registration of CBC's own "Ici" trademarks, the corporation argued that Norouzi's application contained incorrect information surrounding his first use of the name in commerce, and also asserted the long-time use of "Ici Radio-Canada" as part of its imaging. Norouzi stated that he planned to fight the CBC in court.
In 2015, after allegations that CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi had harassed colleagues, Ghomeshi was placed on leave; his employment was terminated in October when the CBC indicated that they had "graphic evidence" that he had injured a female employee. The corporation commissioned an independent investigation. The resulting report by Janice Rubin, a partner at law firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP, discussed employee complaints about Ghomeshi that were not seriously considered by the CBC. Rubin concluded that CBC management had "failed to take adequate steps" when it became aware of Ghomeshi's "problematic behaviour."
Ghomeshi was charged by police on multiple counts of sexual assault but was found not guilty of all but one of these in March 2016. He was to be tried in June on the last remaining charge, relating to a complainant who had also worked at CBC; her name was later revealed to be Kathryn Borel. On May 11, 2016 however, the Crown withdrew the charge after Ghomeshi signed a peace bond (which does not include an admission of guilt) and apologized to Borel. Borel was critical of the CBC for its handling of her initial complaint about Ghomeshi's behaviour. "When I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him," she told the assembled media representatives.
The CBC apologized to Borel publicly on May 11 in a statement by the head of public affairs Chuck Thompson. "What Ms. Borel experienced in our workplace should never have happened and we sincerely apologize...," he stated. The corporation has also maintained that it had accepted Rubin's report and had "since made significant progress" on a revised policy of improved training and methods for handling bullying and harassment complaints.
In the May 11, 2016 Toronto Star article by Jacques Gallant cited above, public relations expert Martin Waxman spoke of a "damning indictment" of the CBC which included the following comment. "Yes, they did their inquiry, but if I were the CBC, I would think strongly about what is wrong with the culture and what they can do to repair it," he said. The Star also quoted employment lawyer Howard Levitt stating that "harassment has not been fully addressed at the CBC" in his estimation. Levitt called the Rubin report a "whitewash" and reiterated his suggestion that a federal commission should conduct a more detailed enquiry into workplace issues at the public broadcaster.
Tait came under fire for comparing Netflix to colonial imperialism in India and parts of Africa. Tait did not offer an apology and Heather Mallick defended her comparison. Tait's comments made American headlines with J.J. McCullough of The Washington Post suggesting that "the state-sponsored" corporation shielded her from criticism and the Canadian industry "was built in part as a bulwark against American influence". Canadian TV critic John Doyle, who has long criticized what he perceives as the low standards of Canadian programming, claimed that CBC had a problem of complacency rather than imperialism.
In the run-up to the 2015 Canadian federal election, the CBC issued cease and desist letters to the Broadbent Institute, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada accusing them of using copyrighted footage from CBC news programming in its campaign advertising without permission. The Liberals and NDP complied with the letters, pulling the ads in question, while the Broadbent Institute and the Conservatives persisted. Eventually, however, rather than go to court, the Broadbent Institute and the Conservatives agreed to remove the offending material, and as such, the CBC did not pursue them further for these alleged infractions in 2015.
In October 2019, two weeks prior to the 2019 Canadian federal election, the CBC sued the Conservative Party of Canada for using excerpts from its leaders' debates in campaign material. The CBC petitioned for an injunction against the party continuing to use the excerpts as well as seeking an acknowledgement from the Conservative Party and its executive director, Dustin Van Vugt, that the party had "engaged in the unauthorized use of copyright-protected material." Furthermore, the CBC indicated that the clips in question were "taken out of context and are edited and relied on to make partisan points for the benefit" of the Conservative Party. In response, the Conservative Party stated that 17 seconds of footage had been used and the video in question had been removed before the lawsuit was filed, and expressed "grave concern that this decision was made on the eve of an election that CBC is to be covering fairly and objectively". Intellectual property academic Michael Geist stated that the use of the footage was likely covered by fair dealing provisions. CBC President and CEO Catherine Tait contends that she does not believe that the use of journalistic material for partisan ads is covered by the "fair dealing" exemption of the Copyright Act.
On March 18, 2020, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, CBC News suspended all of its English-language local newscasts (excluding those carried by CBC North, which include an English-language newscast and a second in Inuktitut), replacing them in their time slots with simulcasts of CBC News Network. The CBC stated that this was done in order to pool its local resources to CBC News Network as a "core news offering". An employee memo suggested that a lack of staff at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre and "much stricter newsgathering protocols" were another factor in the decision. CBC News editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon similarly stated that the broadcaster had decided to consolidate news production because their outbreak had "place[d] incredible demands on our staff and our infrastructure", and not all jobs associated with television production were capable of being done remotely. These consolidations only affect news programming on CBC Television; CBC Radio and Ici Radio-Canada Télé have continued to carry local content.
The CBC's decision faced criticism for its lack of clear justification, and resulting reduction of local news coverage during a major news event—especially in markets where CBC's local newscasts are the only news programming specific to the region (such as Prince Edward Island, which resulted in criticism of the move by Premier Dennis King). The Canadian Media Guild stated that the decision "flies in the face of past experience which has proven time and again that in times of significant events, Canadians trust and rely on CBC news coverage, particularly for its widespread coverage of regional and local impact, something no other Canadian network can match." Montreal Gazette media writer Steve Faguy questioned whether this change was in compliance with the individual stations' CRTC licences, as all CBC stations are required to produce local newscasts daily, and a minimum amount of local programming per-week.
In an editorial for The Globe and Mail, former CTV News president Robert Hurst stated that it was unusual for a journalistic operation to cut back on its operations during a crisis, and suggested that decision was the culmination of "decades of CBC News mismanagement" and low ratings in comparison to competitors (such as CTV, Global, and Citytv) in most markets. The Toronto Star similarly wrote that the CBC had "decided to bail on local communities across the country".
On March 24, the CBC announced that it would introduce "an expanded 30-minute local news segment on CBC News Network" beginning March 25, and would "make every effort to have all of the dedicated local shows back up on the main network".
The CRTC ordered that in 28 "mandatory markets", full power over-the-air analogue television transmitters had to cease transmitting by August 31, 2011. Broadcasters could either continue serving those markets by transitioning analogue transmitters to digital or cease broadcasting over-the-air. Cable, IPTV, and satellite services are not involved or affected by this digital transition deadline.
While its fellow Canadian broadcasters converted most of their transmitters to digital by the Canadian digital television transition deadline of August 31, 2011, CBC converted only about half of the analogue transmitters in mandatory to digital (15 of 28 markets with CBC TV, and 14 of 28 markets with SRC). Due to financial difficulties reported by the corporation, the corporation published a plan whereby communities that receive analogue signals by re-broadcast transmitters in mandatory markets would lose their over-the-air (OTA) signals as of the deadline. Rebroadcast transmitters account for 23 of the 48 CBC and SRC transmitters in mandatory markets. Mandatory markets losing both CBC and SRC over-the-air signals include London, Ontario (metropolitan area population 457,000) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (metro area 257,000). In both of those markets, the corporation's television transmitters are the only ones that were not converted to digital.
On July 31, 2012, CBC shut down all of its approximately 620 analogue television transmitters, following an announcement of these plans on April 4, 2012. This reduced the total number of the corporation's television transmitters across the country to 27. According to the CBC, this would reduce the corporation's yearly costs by $10 million. No plans have been announced to use subchannels to maintain over-the-air signals for both CBC and SRC in markets where the corporation has one digital transmitter. In fact, in its CRTC application to shut down all of its analogue television transmitters, the CBC communicated its opposition to use of subchannels, citing, amongst other reasons, costs. CBC/R-C claims that only 1.7 percent of Canadian viewers actually lost access to CBC and Radio-Canada programming due to the very high penetration of cable and satellite. In some areas (particularly remote and rural regions), cable or satellite have long been essential for acceptable television.
Notable CBC alumni have included television and radio personalities, former Governors General of Canada Jeanne Sauvé, Adrienne Clarkson, and Michaëlle Jean, as well as former Quebec premier René Lévesque.