The CRTC is imposing new spending and reporting requirements on CBC/Radio-Canada that the regulator says will promote the creation of more diverse content, while providing the public broadcaster with flexibility to fulfill its mandate across traditional and online platforms.
The five-year licence renewal, which comes into effect Sept. 1, 2022, follows a process that started in late 2019 and included a public hearing in January 2021. The commission received more than 10,000 individual comments during the proceeding.
The CRTC’s decision acknowledges how online platforms have changed the way Canadians consume audio and audiovisual content and for the first time allows the public broadcaster to meet its condition of licence via its streaming platforms, CBC Gem and ICI TOU.TV. CBC.ca and Radio-Canada.ca are not included.
The decision is a first in allowing a Canadian broadcaster to meet its Canadian content obligations on a platform outside linear TV and radio.
The public broadcaster’s new reporting framework imposes new requirements to ensure its programming “is relevant to and reflective of all Canadians of diverse backgrounds and Indigenous Peoples living in Canada.”
- The CRTC is imposing new spending requirements relating to Canadian programming, programs of national interest such as drama and documentaries, as well as Indigenous programming and programming by and for equity-seeking communities.
- Canadian and French-language content music requirements on radio stations are being maintained to ensure continued support for homegrown artists. The CRTC is adding a new content requirement for Indigenous music on all English- and French-language radio stations.
- The CRTC is maintaining CBC/Radio-Canada’s local programming requirements in non-metropolitan markets where Canadians have access to fewer sources of news and less reliable and affordable internet services.
- CBC/Radio-Canada must ensure that its programming is accessible to Canadians with disabilities on all platforms and services.
- CBC/Radio-Canada must submit an annual report on the number of employees occupying positions with a direct impact on the diversity of audio and audiovisual programming and on programming decision-making who are hired and who belong to the following groups: Indigenous Peoples, racialized Canadians, Canadians with disabilities, Canadians who identify as LGBTQ2, and women. The CBC/Radio-Canada must also report on the retention of these employees.
The CRTC will also require CBC/Radio-Canada to conduct regular surveys of all Canadians on how the public broadcaster is meeting their needs, in addition to formal consultations every two years with Indigenous Peoples, official-language minority communities, racialized persons, persons with disabilities and persons who identify as LGBTQ2.
“The CRTC is modernizing 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,” said CRTC Chair Ian Scott, in a statement. “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 official languages.”
“We’re pleased that the CRTC has, for the first time ever, recognized the significant contribution of our digital streaming services, CBC Gem and ICI TOU.TV, and CBC Listen and Radio-Canada OHdio, to the Canadian content ecosystem. CBC/Radio-Canada’s services as a multiplatform digital and linear media company will now be reflected in our regulatory obligations,” said Catherine Tait, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada. “We’re equally heartened that the Commission’s decision recognizes diversity and representation of contemporary Canada in our content as critical to the future of the national public broadcaster.”
The decision also specifically tackles the controversy around branded content and Tandem, CBC Media Solutions Group’s branded content service. The commission is setting out expectations that the CBC clearly distinguish branded content from news and information programming at all times, stipulating that no journalist or host be involved in the inception, creation, production, or dissemination of any advertising or branded content. The CRTC is also imposing an expectation to measure whether branded content is confusing to Canadians.
The decision additionally calls for the creation of an internal reporting system for journalists to provide relevant feedback regarding interpretation and implementation of its CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices (JSP). Any future review of the JSP, will include “a variety of equity-seeking communities to capture a wide spectrum of lived experiences to ensure that the JSP is not a barrier to open and honest reporting.”
New requirements will also help ensure both of the CBC’s Ombudsmen are sensitive to issues surrounding Indigenous Peoples, racialized Canadians and other equity-seeking communities.
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