Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Canada (CBC)

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (known in French as Société Radio-Canada), which operates under the brand CBC/Radio-Canada, is the public service broadcaster in Canada. It has two main units, an English-language one known as CBC and a French-language service known as Radio-Canada.

CBC is the oldest broadcasting network in Canada with a history dating back to 1936.

Today, CBC operates four terrestrial radio networks, two English-language ones and two in French. It also has an international radio service, Radio Canada International (RCI), which since 2012 has made its audio content available only online, in the form of podcasts. The CBC also runs two television services, CBC Television in English and Ici Radio-Canada Télé in French. The company also runs a few satellite and cable networks. Besides English and French, the CBC also airs in eight aboriginal languages.

Media assets

English-Television: CBC Television; Radio: CBC Radio One, CBC Music, CBC Radio 3; French-Television: Ici Radio-Canada Télé; Radio: Ici Radio-Canada Première, Ici Musique; InternationalRadio Canada International (RCI); Satellite-cable: CBC News Network, Ici RDI, Ici Explora, Documentary Channel, Ici ARTV

State Media Matrix Typology: Independent State-Funded (ISF)

Ownership and governance

CBC was established as a Crown corporation, a form of direct ownership by the Sovereign of Canada (the Queen Elizabeth II of the UK) that shields the company from government intervention. The corporation was created through the Broadcasting Act of 1991. The corporation’s highest authority is the Board of Directors with 12 members (including the corporation’s chairperson and CEO) who are appointed by the Governor General of Canada in Council on advice by the Prime Minister. In June 2023, Catherine Tait, President and CEO of CBC was reappointed in the position for another 18 months.

Although CBC is responsible to Parliament and the Prime Minister can make suggestions for the board membership, the system of appointment by the Governor General, the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian Monarch, was created to ensure the government doesn’t have room to make pressures on the broadcaster’s editorial coverage.

Source of funding and budget

In the financial year 2021/2022, the CBC operated with an annual budget of CA$ 1.9bn. The largest part of that amount, some CA$ 1.2bn, accounting for 65% of the total, came from a government allocation. The remainder was self-generated income, part of it generated through ad sales, according to the company’s latest annual report. The government subsidy decreased by more than 10% year on year in the fiscal year 2021/2022.

Editorial independence

There are no editorial rules imposed on CBC by the government. On the contrary, the Canadian government is known for having taken in recent years a leading role in supporting media freedom worldwide.

The Broadcasting Act guarantees the editorial independence of CBC. Moreover, the broadcaster has in place dozens of policies and rulebooks on a variety of topics that not only ensure the editorial autonomy of the station but also its accountability as journalists follow a set of reporting rules that ensure an objective, diverse, impartial and fair editorial coverage.

CBC has an Ombudsman office whose mission is to monitor and oversee the editorial performance of the broadcaster. The Ombudsman of the Corporation reports directly, through the CEO, to the CBC’s Board. People appointed to the Ombudsman position are independent of the CBC’s program staff and management.

Among other things, the Ombudsman prepares a mid-year update report and an annual report for the Board. These documents summarize the complaints received by the company and the manner in which they were handled.

CBC also has a Human Resources and Governance Committee whose main mission is to assess the annual performance and effectiveness of the Board and the Chairperson, the Board committees, and individual directors. The goal is to monitor the performance of the Board and to make recommendations for improvement.

August 2023