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CBC/Radio-Canada’s broadcast licence renewed in ‘landmark’ regulatory decision

Canadian public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada has hailed a “landmark” regulatory decision that it said will enable it to evolve in a digital landscape, serve a broader swathe of the population and create more diverse content.

Catherine Tait

On Wednesday, the country’s TV regulator, the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), renewed the English- and French-language pubcaster’s broadcasting licence for a new five-year term, set to come into effect on September 1, 2022.

Included in the licence renewal was a new rule that permits the broadcaster to include programme expenditures from its digital services (including streaming platforms CBC Gem and ICI Tou.TV) toward its regulatory requirements.

As with all public broadcasters, CBC has certain regulatory obligations and quotas to meet. Previously, the organisation has only been able to meet these requirements on its linear services. In recent years, it has argued that the rule fails to address the fact that audiences are increasingly finding content on its online services.

The new regulation will essentially grant CBC more flexibility over whether it wishes to place various programming on its linear or digital services.

“We’re pleased that the CRTC has, for the first time ever, recognised the significant contribution of our digital streaming services CBC Gem and ICI Tou.TV… to the Canadian content ecosystem,” said CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Catherine Tait.

“CBC/Radio-Canada’s services as a multiplatform digital and linear media company will now be reflected in our regulatory obligations.”

The CRTC also introduced new obligations to support producers from “equity-deserving groups.”

Under the incoming regulations, a certain percentage of CBC/Radio-Canada’s spending on independent production will be dedicated to Indigenous producers and producers located in official language minority communities (OLMCs).

Additionally, the CRTC introduced an overall spending requirement related to independent producers and production companies from Indigenous peoples, OLMCs, racialised peoples, LGBTQ2+ and people with disabilities.

“We’re equally heartened that the [CRTC]’s decision recognises diversity and representation of contemporary Canada in our content as critical to the future of the national public broadcaster,” said Tait.

CRTC chair and CEO Ian Scott added: “The CRTC is modernising its approach to ensure that the CBC/Radio-Canada’s programming can adapt to and reflect the evolving preferences of Canadians, including equity-seeking and official language minority communities and Indigenous Peoples.

“We are giving the CBC/Radio-Canada more flexibility, while ensuring it is accountable and representative of our various geographic and cultural realities in both [English and French].”


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