CBC/Radio-Canada’s licence renewal hearing for its English and French-language radio and television services gets underway before the CRTC Monday morning.
The virtual hearing, set to start at 10 a.m. ET, promises to touch on some of the public broadcaster’s more controversial moves of late, including its Tandem branded content and podcast initiative above the objections of dozens of current and former employees.
In addition to ensuring the broadcaster continues to carry out its mandate to provide programming reflective of all Canadians, diversity promises to play a prominent role in the hearing. The CRTC has already indicated it’s “dissatisfied” after requesting additional information from the CBC related to the diversity of those working in key production roles on in-house English- and French-language programming. Following the CBC’s failure to provide any of the requested information, citing confidentiality concerns and the voluntary nature of employee disclosure, the commission has indicated it intends to further question the corporation on the issue.
The public broadcaster’s commitment to local news, which has also risen as a pandemic issue after a move to substitute local newscasts with CBC News Network programming during the first wave of COVID-19, is also certain to be raised.
CBC watchdog FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, which is slated to appear as an intervenor on Jan. 18, has already indicated it intends to call for minimum news spending levels to “fill the void” in small and medium markets under-served by private broadcasters.
“After starving CBC news with smaller budgets since 2014, management is now proposing to reduce total CBC/SRC news spending on its conventional platforms by 42%, or by $87 million, by 2022-23. With private publishers and broadcasters closing their doors in alarming numbers, FRIENDS will argue that CBC has a duty to step in…,” stated FRIENDS in a release.
FRIENDS says it also plans to raise concerns around accountability, specifically failure by the public broadcaster to disclose full details of its digital plan.
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