Manitoba·Video

Ad-free CBC would be 'completely different,' says president

The president of CBC/Radio Canada said a proposal to increase government funding to the public broadcaster and do away with ads would transform the organization, especially its television programming.

Viewers may see more investigative journalism, Canadian films during prime time: Lacroix

CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix discusses a range of topics with host Janet Stewart, including what an ad-free CBC would look like to viewers. 10:05

The president of CBC/Radio Canada said a proposal to increase government funding to the public broadcaster and do away with ads would transform the organization, especially its television programming.

Hubert Lacroix was in Winnipeg Monday to deliver the president's award to CBC's missing and murdered Indigenous women project which is led out of the city.

Lacroix praised the group as being an example of what Canadians can expect to see more of from CBC.

"It was a great combination of investigative journalism, our desire to become more and more digital focused," said Lacroix.

He said CBC will become a "completely different broadcaster."

"Whether we like it or not, even though it's not the only driving force between the choices that we make in our programming schedules or the initiatives that we carry, there is a commercial lens through which we look at everything we do."

In a November proposal submitted as part of the government's public consultation about the future of Canada content in a digital world, Lacroix proposed increasing funding to CBC by about $400 million to allow the broadcaster to completely do away with ads.

He also proposed tying CBC/Radio-Canada funding to the five-year licence cycle to de-politicize funding to the Crown corporation which can see funding fluctuate year-to-year.

"We want to take the politics out of our funding," he said.

Lacroix said the new funding model would be similar to BBC. It would also result in CBC producing more BBC-style television.

CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix was in Winnipeg Monday to present an award to the team behind CBC's missing and murdered Indigenous women project. (CBC)

"If you're into the BBC, the ABC in Australia and you hear the sound of the broadcaster, if you hear our radio ... you know exactly from the sound of it that you're actually listening to CBC Radio."

Viewers tuning into an ad-free CBC could likely see more investigative and news programing during prime time.

While CBC may currently air a Canadian film late at night without commercials when ad revenues are thinner, if CBC goes ad-free, he said, the movies might air at times of the day where there are more viewers, "bringing families together to actually watch Canadian films in prime time."

The ad-free plan would cost Canadians more money per year, up from the currently $34 per person to $46.

"Yes, there's a cost to it," Lacroix admitted. "The vision is, 'Let's invest in culture, because culture is a good thing.'"

with files from Janet Stewart