Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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Société Radio-Canada and Radio-Canada redirect here. For the French language television arm of the CBC, see Télévision de Radio-Canada.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Société Radio-Canada
The current logo of CBC
Type Broadcast radio network
Television network
Country Template:CAN
Availability    National; available on terrestrial and cable systems in American border communities; available internationally via shortwave, Internet and Sirius Satellite Radio
Owner Canadian Government</br>(Crown Corporation)
Key people Robert Rabinovitch, president
Richard Stursberg, Executive Vice President, English TV
Tony Burman, editor in chief, English news operations
Launch date November 2, 1936 (radio)
September 6, 1952 (television)
Past names Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a Canadian crown corporation, is the country’s national public radio and television broadcaster. In French, it is called la Société Radio-Canada (Radio-Canada or SRC). The umbrella corporate brand is CBC/Radio-Canada.

The CBC is the oldest broadcasting service in Canada, first established in its present form on November 2, 1936. Radio services include CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, La Première Chaîne, Espace musique and the international radio service Radio Canada International. Television operations include CBC Television, Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC Newsworld, le Réseau de l'information, Documentary Channel and CBC Country Canada. The CBC operates services for the Canadian Arctic under the names CBC North and Radio Nord Québec. The CBC also operates digital audio service Galaxie and two main websites, one in either official language; it owns 40% of satellite radio broadcaster Sirius Canada, which airs additional CBC services including CBC Radio 3 and Bande à part.

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, and is directly responsible to Parliament through the Department of Canadian Heritage.



File:Cbc edmonton.jpg
CBC's Edmonton headquarters.

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. 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 became a full Crown corporation and gained its present name.

For the next few decades, the CBC was responsible for all broadcasting innovation in Canada. It introduced FM radio to Canada in 1946. 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.)

From 1944 to 1962 the CBC operated two English-language AM radio 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 re-branded slightly in 2007 as CBC Radio 2.)

On July 1, 1958, CBC’s television signal was extended from coast to coast. Colour television broadcasts began 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.” Since the 1970s, the CBC has not maintained its dominance in broadcasting it formerly had, but it still plays an important role. Today, the CBC operates several radio, terrestrial television and cable television networks, in both English and French, as well as a number of Aboriginal languages in the North.

The CBC’s cultural influence, like that of many public broadcasters, has waned in recent decades. This is partly due to severe budget cuts by the Canadian federal government, which began in the late 1980s and levelled off in the late 1990s. It is also due to industry-wide fragmentation of TV audiences (the decline of network TV generally, due to the rise in specialty channel viewership, as well as the increase of non-TV entertainment options such as videogames, the Internet, etc.). Private networks in Canada face the same competition, but their viewership has declined less than that of CBC Television. In English Canada, the decline in CBC viewership can be partly attributed to the fact that private TV networks primarily rebroadcast American programming with substituted Canadian advertising. American shows are very popular among English Canadians and often attract much higher audiences than the made-in-Canada programming that is a CBC specialty.

Viewership on the CBC’s French TV network has also declined, mostly because of stiff competition from private French-language networks. Audience fragmentation is another issue – French Canadians prefer home-grown television programming; a vibrant Quebec star system is in place; and little American or foreign content airs on French-language networks, public or private. On the other hand, the CBC’s French-language radio channel is sometimes the top-rated network.

In the case of breaking news, including federal elections, the CBC may still hold a slight edge. For instance, after election night 2006, CBC Television took out full-page newspaper ads claiming that 2.2 million Canadians watched their coverage, more than any other broadcaster. However, in similar ads, CTV also claimed to be number one, stating there was a CBC audience of only 1.2 million. In both cases, the methodologies were not clear from the ads, such as whether simulcasts on one or both of the networks’ news channels (Newsworld for CBC, Newsnet for CTV) were counted.

Frontier Coverage Package

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. Larger communities underwent only a one-week transportation delay, while smaller communities waited up to a month to receive tapes.

The first FCP station was started in Yellowknife in 1967, the second in Whitehorse in 1968. Additional stations were added from 1969 to 1972. Most stations were fitted for the Anik satellite signal during 1973, carrying 12 hours of colour programming. 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.

Some of these stations used non-CBC callsigns such as CFWH-TV in Whitehorse, while some others used callsigns with a CBT- prefix. The CBT- stations now have different CB- callsigns, many beginning with CBE-.

It would be many years before TV programs originated in the north, starting 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.


Corporate structure and funding

CBC and Radio-Canada are often mistakenly considered two separate entities when they are a single legal entity established by the Broadcasting Act. Contributing to this confusion are the English and French corporate names, which are not direct translations of each other. Moreover, it is clear to the casual observer that the English and French operations differ significantly from each other in matters such as management, branding, programming, and bases of operations, owing largely to the cultural differences between English and French Canada. For example, English-language CBC anchors might attribute a news scoop to “Radio-Canada” as if it were a separate entity, while the corporation normally refuses to license English-language broadcast rights to American network series (e.g., Lost) but may license rights to the dubbed French version (e.g., Perdus). Nonetheless, some personalities, chiefly journalists and particularly in foreign news bureaus, appear on both English- and French-language networks.

While there have been attempts at corporate branding, including using “SRC” as the main French-language brand instead of “Radio-Canada,” most such efforts have failed. Moreover, the CBC has never attempted to impose the “CBC” brand on French Canada in the way the “BBC” brand has come to be used on Welsh, Gaelic, and other non-English broadcasts.

For the year ending March 31, 2006, the CBC received $946 million in its "permanent" 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, on a year-to-year basis, for a number of years. This totals just over a billion dollars annually, a source of heated debates. This differs from 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 contributions from individual viewers and listeners.

To supplement this funding, the CBC’s television networks and websites sell advertising, while cable/satellite-only services such as Newsworld 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).

For the fiscal year 2006, the CBC received a total of $1.53 billion from all revenue sources, including government funding, subscription fees, advertising revenue, and other revenue (e.g. real estate). Expenditures for the year included $616 million for English TV, $402 million for French TV, $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 "amortisation of property and equipment". Some of this spending was derived from amortisation of funding from previous years.<ref>CBC Annual Report 2005-2006</ref>

The CBC's critics frequently point to the billion-dollar figure to suggest that the corporation is wasting taxpayer dollars to provide a service that, in their view, is duplicated by private broadcasters, noting that the CBC's TV networks can also access advertising revenues – whereas private broadcast networks have been able to draw higher ratings using only ad revenue.

The network's defenders note that the CBC's mandate is in fact different than that of private media, including 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 primetime programming, while private networks can fill up most of their primetime schedules with American series acquired for a fraction of their production cost. CBC supporters also claim that additional, long-term funding is required to provide better Canadian dramas and improved local programming.

The $616 million budget for CBC Television is in fact smaller than, for example, the $656 million in revenues<ref>Combined revenues for Global, CH, and specialty channels such as TVtropolis. CanWest does not release publicly its expenditures for its TV operations, nor does it break out figures for individual channels.</ref> earned by private broadcaster CanWest Global for its various television operations in fiscal 2006, considered an "off" year for CanWest's Global and CH networks, which trailed rival CTV's ratings by a wide margin.<ref>CanWest fiscal 2006 year-end results (press release)</ref>



The CBC operates two national broadcast television networks – CBC Television in English, and la Télévision de Radio-Canada in French. Both sell advertising and are otherwise similar to privately-owned networks, but offer more Canadian-produced programming. Most CBC television stations, including those in the major cities, are owned and operated by the CBC itself and carry a common schedule, aside from local programming.

File:Mr Dressup.jpg
Ernie Coombs as/in Mr. Dressup, a popular children’s show that was a fixture on CBC for nearly 30 years.

Some stations that broadcast from smaller cities are private affiliates of the CBC, that is, stations which are owned by commercial broadcasters and air a predominantly CBC schedule. However, most affiliates of the English network opt out of some network programs to air local programming or more popular foreign programs acquired from other broadcasters. (Private affiliates of the French network, all of which are located in Quebec, rarely have the means to provide alternate programming.) Such private affiliates are becoming increasingly rare.

CBC television stations in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon tailor their programming mostly to the local native population, and broadcast in many native languages, such as Inuktitut, Gwichʼin, and Dene.

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 simulcasted some Saturday night games produced by RDS until 2006.

Ratings for CBC Television have declined in recent years. In Quebec, where the majority speaks French, la Télévision de Radio-Canada is popular and garners some of the highest ratings in the province.

Both terrestrial networks have also begun to roll out high-definition television feeds, with selected NHL and CFL games produced in HD for the English network.

Cable services

The CBC operates three specialty television channels – CBC Newsworld, an English-language news channel; RDI, a French-language news channel; and CBC Country Canada, a Category 1 digital service. It owns a managing interest in the Francophone arts service ARTV, and recently announced plans to buy the outstanding majority (82%) of Documentary Channel, pending CRTC approval.


Main article: CBC Radio

CBC Radio has four separate services, two in English, known as CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 2, and two in French, known as La Première Chaîne and Espace Musique. CBC Radio One and La Première Chaîne focus on news and information programming, but they air some music programs, variety shows, comedy, and sports programming. Historically, CBC Radio One has broadcast primarily on the AM band, but many stations have moved over to FM. CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique, found exclusively on FM, air arts and cultural programming, with a focus on music (mostly classical and jazz).

CBC Radio also operates two shortwave services. One, Radio Nord Quebec, broadcasts domestically to Northern Quebec on a static frequency of 9625 kHz, and the other, Radio Canada International, provides broadcasts to the United States and around the world in eight languages. Additionally, the Radio One stations in St. John’s and Vancouver operate 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 license 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.

CBC Radio is considered by many Canadians to be undergoing a "dumbing down" of the programing content. Sounds Like Canada, Go, and Freestyle are commonly cited in this argument.


The CBC has two main websites. One is in English, at, which was established in 1996[1]; the other is in French, at (or

Internet history

  • In 1993, CBC launched an experimental web service, followed by a small site supporting CBC Radio and a site supporting the CBC Halifax TV program Street Cents.
  • In 1995, CBC consolidated its English radio and TV sites into a single site.
  • In 1996, it began offering 24-hour live streaming of its radio services[2] using RealAudio.
  • In 1997, CBC launched CBC Kids[3] and covered its first federal election online.
  • In 1998, it launched an online news service.[4]
  • In 2000, the CBC launched a wireless service and CBC Radio 3, an Internet-exclusive broadband magazine. Radio 3 provides streaming audio devoted to youth culture and independent music and is operated by CBC Radio. As of 2005, production of the magazine was suspended, although the site continues in podcast format. Some of its programming still aired as a Saturday-evening show on CBC Radio Two until March 2007. Bande à part is the French equivalent and also airs content as a weekend program on Espace Musique. Both services launched as full channels on Sirius Canada in December 2005 and are also available to U.S. Sirius subscribers.


In 2003, CBC won an Online News Association award in the “service journalism” category for its coverage of the SARS epidemic. In 2004, was the only organization to win two awards from the Online News Association – one in the “specialty journalism” category for Canada Votes, its coverage of the 2004 Canadian federal election, and one in the “service journalism” category for ADR Database, a project from the CBC News investigative unit. was also a finalist in the “online commentary” category for “Words: Woes and Wonder,” a series of columns about the English language.

In 2004, CBC began offering RSS feeds, and in 2005, it launched a new online arts and entertainment magazine.

CBC/Radio-Canada also offers an extensive, free Archives service showcasing pivotal moments in Canadian history from the 1930s on. Over 8,000 online clips and interviews from news and information programs provide an in-depth look at Canada’s past.

In 2006, underwent another redesign after extensive study, with improvements to standards compliance.


In 2005, CBC began podcasting some of its programs as a pilot project, including CBC Radio One’s national science and technology program, Quirks and Quarks; CBC Radio 3’s Canadian Music Podcast; and limited podcasting of CBLA’s popular Metro Morning show.

In May 2006, CBC added several more podcasts, including Dispatches; best-of editions of Outfront, As It Happens, Ideas, The Current and Definitely Not the Opera; weekly podcasts from regional radio stations' and Editor’s Choice, a daily showcase of notable network programming.

Enroute Journal

CBC provides news, business, weather and sports information on Air Canada's inflight entertainment.<ref>enRoute Guide (January 2007)</ref>

Other ventures

Audio services

CBC/Radio-Canada offers a 24-hour, 45-channel digital audio service known as Galaxie. The service is available on digital cable and direct broadcast satellite television providers across Canada. Some cable companies, as well as direct broadcast satellite service provider StarChoice, carry only 20 of these 45 channels alongside MaxTrax, a competing 20-channel digital music service offered by Corus Entertainment.

CBC in other countries

Newsworld International

From 1994 to 2000, the CBC, in a venture with Power Broadcasting (former owner of CKWS–TV in Kingston, Ontario), jointly owned two networks:

  1. Newsworld International (NWI), an American cable channel that rebroadcast much of the programming of CBC Newsworld
  2. Trio, an arts and entertainment channel

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, as of the end of 2005, became an Internet-only broadband channel). 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 was renamed Current TV.

U.S. border audiences

In U.S. border communities such as Bellingham, Seattle, Detroit, and Buffalo, CBC radio and television stations can be received over-the-air and have a significant audience. Some CBC programming is also rebroadcast on local radio, such as New Hampshire Public Radio. CBC television channels are available on cable systems located near the Canadian border. For example, CBETWindsor is available on cable systems in the Toledo, Ohio area.

CBC television’s U.S. viewers appreciate CBC’s news programs including The National and The Fifth Estate; comedy programs including Royal Canadian Air Farce, The Red Green Show and This is Wonderland; and British programs Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and the 2005 series of Doctor Who, which aired on CBC before it did in the U.S. Hockey Night in Canada is widely preferred to American television’s NHL coverage in the border states and has a loyal following. CBC’s Olympic coverage is also well-received, as it provides an alternative to NBC’s coverage, which, some have alleged, focuses too much on American athletes. CBC’s Olympic coverage is also live, compared to NBC’s tape delay.

At night, the AM radio transmissions of both CBC and SRC services can be received over much of the northern portion of the United States, from stations such as CBE in Windsor, CBW in Winnipeg, CBK in Saskatchewan, and CJBC in Toronto.

Carriage of CBC News

On September 11, 2001, several American broadcasters without their own news operations, including C-SPAN, carried the CBC’s coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. 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 recognized 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:

Several PBS stations also air some CBC programming, especially The Red Green Show. However, these programs are syndicated by independent distributors and are not governed by the PBS “common carriage” policy.

CBC Radio

Some CBC Radio One programs, such as Definitely Not the Opera and As It Happens, also air on some stations associated with American Public Media.

With the launch of Sirius Canada in December of 2005, some of the CBC's radio networks (including Radio Canada International and Sirius-exclusive Radio Three and Bande à part channels) are available to Sirius subscribers in the United States.

Caribbean and Bermuda

Several Caribbean nations carry feeds of CBC TV:

Public versus private ownership

Controversies within the broadcast industry will often ensue when the CBC launches new services in areas where private broadcasters already do business or wish to do business. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which decides which new broadcast licenses will be granted, is, like the CBC, a government body. The head of the CBC and the commissioners of the CRTC are all selected by the Prime Minister, causing some private broadcasters to suspect favouritism for the CBC.

Many believe the CBC acts as a necessary left-wing counterbalance to what they perceive to be the big business right-wing bias of private networks, or that it preserves Canadian culture against the homogenizing influence of rebroadcast American programming. Canadians continue to poll in favour of maintaining public funding to the CBC, with 89% of those polled in a May 2004 survey supporting continued funding at or above current levels.<ref>Broadcasting Issues, Canada/US Relations and Canadian Public Opinion: An Ipsos-Reid Survey for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, May 2004</ref> As it was initially conceived, the CBC ensures that Canadian stations act as more than just affiliates broadcasting foreign content. The Canadian government attempts to balance funding inequities between private and public networks by providing large subsidies for private production of Canadian content.

For instance, the CBC was given the first license for an all-news specialty service, CBC Newsworld. As with other specialty services, that decision automatically precluded any other new service, with a similar format of news and analysis, from launching. When the privately owned headline news service CTV Newsnet launched in 1997, it was restricted by condition of licence to using a constant 15-minute news cycle. Critics of the CBC contend CRTC favouritism is shown by the fact that CBC Newsworld has not faced equal threats of sanctions over its airing of programs outside the “all-news” format, such as the BBC version of Antiques Roadshow. In fact, Roadshow, which may be classified as a documentary series, does technically fall within Newsworld’s permitted range, while comedy series such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce were removed from the Newsworld schedule in 1997 after complaints from private broadcasters, despite both programs’ focus on current events.

The CBC had directly intervened in every application by CTV to change the restrictions on Newsnet up to the final decision by the CRTC, which largely removed the restrictions in 2005. However, the CBC is not unique in this, as it is common for broadcasters to intervene against one another in licensing decisions. The Canadian market is relatively small and some broadcasters feel it cannot support the free-market approach of the U.S. They argue it is better to favour a specific broadcaster in certain areas, so at least one Canadian channel will be able to prosper.

Other allegations of favouritism have centred on, for instance, the awarding of prized radio frequencies (i.e. for CBLA-FM in Toronto). By the same token, though, not all of the CBC’s applications are automatically approved; at one point the CBC asked for use of a similarly prized Montreal frequency in order to begin a third French radio network, but was denied in favour of a private broadcaster. Many groups that receive favourable decisions by the CRTC have been accused at some point of having secured favouritism from the commission.

Closed captioning

CBC Television was an early leader in broadcasting programming with closed captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, airing its first captioned programming in 1981.<ref></ref> Canadian programming that was also captioned in Canada began with the airing of Clown White in English- and French-language versions on CBC Television and Radio-Canada, respectively. (Most sources list that event as occurring in 1981,<ref></ref> while others list the year as 1982<ref></ref>).

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.<ref></ref> 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 “[t]he 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.<ref>[</ref> 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.<ref></ref>

In 2004, retired Canadian 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.<ref></ref> The report, which was the subject of some criticism, proposed an arrangement with Cité Collégiale, a community college in Ottawa, to train more French-language real-time captioners<ref></ref><ref></ref>

English-language specialty networks owned or co-owned by CBC, including Country Canada and the Documentary Channel, have the lower captioning requirements typical of larger Canadian broadcasters (90% of the broadcast day by the end of both networks’ licence terms<ref></ref><ref></ref>). ARTV, the French-language specialty network co-owned by CBC, has a maximum captioning requirement of 53%.<ref></ref>


In June 2006, Canadian police arrested a group of Muslim-Canadian citizens whom they accused of plotting an elaborate terrorist attack against the country. The plan allegedly called for a violent takeover of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto, among other actions.

In September 2006, Chairman Guy Fournier resigned following harsh comments on Lebanon concerning bestiality and comments made in May about the “joy of bowel movements.”<ref>[5]</ref>

Accusations of bias

Critics, often led by private media, sometimes accuse the network of cultural elitism, liberal bias, or bias in favour of the Liberal or New Democratic Parties of Canada. The CBC is also sometimes thought to have an unfair economic advantage in the Canadian television marketplace because it competes with private broadcasters for advertising dollars while receiving government funding. Think tanks such as the Fraser Institute have frequently criticized this arrangement, and say it results in journalism that favours the political party willing to allocate it the most funds.

Numerous members of the Canadian Alliance Party complained of biased CBC reporting against their party in the 2000 Canadian federal election. One website, CBC Watch, has been exclusively dedicated to criticism of the public broadcaster. Organizations such as Canadian Free Press are consistently critical of CBC. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is often critical of the CBC, but rarely over matters of bias.


As the oldest currently operating Canadian broadcaster, and still the largest in terms of national availability of its various networks, the nickname “Mother Corp” and variants thereof are sometimes used in reference to the CBC.<ref></ref>

A popular satirical nickname for the CBC, commonly used in the pages of Frank, is “the Corpse”.

There is an urban legend that a CBC announcer once referred to the network on the air as the “Canadian Broadcorping Castration,” which also sometimes remains in use as a satirical nickname. Quotations of the supposed spoonerism are wildly variable in detail on what was said, when it was said or even who the announcer was, but there is no evidence to confirm its existence. (Although a few recordings do exist of an announcer speaking this phrase, none has ever been confirmed as authentic.)

Many people, including Conservative Party candidate Joe Spina, referred to it as “the “Communist Broadcasting Corporation”” for the supposed left-wing bias in its news coverage. Conversely, some have referred to the CBC as the “Corporate Broadcasting Corporation” for an alleged free market bias, though the CBC is, in part, publicly funded.<ref></ref>

The CBC was also jokingly called BBC Canada during the 2005 lockout due to the large amount of British content then aired in place of the regular schedule.

Labour problems

During the Summer of 1981 there was a major disruption of CBC programming as the union went on strike. Local newscasts were cut back to the bare minimum. This had the effect of delaying the debut of the 10 p.m. news hour of The National and The Journal, which had to wait until January 1982.

On 15 August 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 lockout, they were comprised primarily 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 lockout. Meanwhile, the locked-out employees produced podcasts and websites such as, which many credited with swaying public opinion to the union’s side.

After a hiatus, talks re-opened. In addition, the Canadian public was becoming irritated with the loss of quality of their publicly funded service. On September 23, 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 struck by a number of other labour disputes since the late 1990s:

  • A similar dispute, again involving all technicians outside Quebec and Moncton, occurred in late 2001 and concluded by the end of the year.
  • In spring 2002, on-air staff in Quebec and Moncton (again, on both English and French networks) were locked out by local management, leaving, among other things, NHL playoff games without commentary on French television.

While all labour disputes resulted in cut-back programming and numerous repeat airings, the 2005 lockout 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 was comprised mainly of rewritten wire copy. Some BBC staff protested against their material being used during the CBC lockout. “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 supplied some music content for the radio networks. Tapes of previously 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 lockout, 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.


Unions represented at CBC/Radio-Canada include[6]:

  • Canadian Media Guild (CMG) represents on-air, production, technical, administrative and support staff outside of Quebec and Moncton
  • Association of Professionals and Supervisors (APS)
  • American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM)
  • Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (performers; ACTRA)
  • International Alliance of Theatrical, Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada (stagehands; IATSE)
  • Writers Guild of Canada (WGC)
  • Association des réalisateurs (AR)
  • Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (SCRC)
  • Société des auteurs de la radio, de la télévision et du cinéma (SARTeC)
  • Syndicat Canadien de la fonction publique, Conseil des sections locales, Groupe des employé(e)s de bureau et professionnel(le)s (SCFP)
  • Société professionnelle des auteurs-compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ)
  • Syndicat des technicien(ne)s et des artisan(e)s du réseau français (STARF)
  • Union des artistes (UDA)

CBC Bureaus

CBC has reporters stationed in the following cities. Main cities are listed in bold, with the notation (M).


CBC also uses satellite bureaus, with reporters who fly in when a story occurs outside of the bureaus. In the late 1990s, the CBC and other media outlets cut back their overseas operations.



See also: List of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation personalities

Widely known CBC alumni


See also


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External links

es:Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fr:Radio-Canada gl:CBC io:CBC id:CBC it:Canadian Broadcasting Corporation nl:Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ja:カナダ放送協会 simple:Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fi:CBC zh:加拿大廣播公司