John Bertrand: Putting CBC at the heart of a creative Canada
It’s a great time to talk about what Canadian culture can be
In articulating our vision for the future of Canadian culture, our intention was to be bold; to be innovative; to be clear and strong.
Here's the starting point:
Canada can become a global cultural powerhouse, fueling innovation and growing our creative economy. We can create a modern cultural policy for a digital world that reflects who we are as Canadians and what we want to be.
And we believe that your public broadcaster should be at the heart of a creative Canada and a comprehensive cultural strategy.
Several months ago, as part of the Federal Government's public consultation, CBC/Radio-Canada shared its vision to strengthen Canadian culture in a digital environment where technology and how we consume content is changing faster and faster every day.
We had carefully studied what had happened in Britain and the pivotal role the BBC had played in helping to develop a "Creative Britain." It was a strategy that not only raised the profile of British culture but also created tremendous growth in the creative economy.
Canada can do the same. That's why our first recommendation is for Canada to develop a cohesive cultural investment strategy that engages all of the country's creators and creative industries.
While the BBC receives six times the funding of CBC/Radio-Canada, we believe we can still play an equally important role in the success of Canada's cultural strategy.
Removing advertising from all of our platforms would help ensure we could do that. So would an investment in Canadian content.
Right now, each Canadian pays $36 a year to support CBC/Radio-Canada. An increase of $12 per person would allow us to remove advertising, complete our digital transformation and strengthen Canada's creative economy.
These changes would allow our focus to be on creating more content driven by cultural rather than commercial priorities. It allows for more complex story telling without commercial interruptions.
We could also partner more closely with Canada's creators and cultural institutions. We would ensure the world hears more about Canada.
We've crunched the numbers. This plan would lead to the creation of an additional 7,200 jobs in the creative sector. It would generate an estimated $488 million in gross domestic product. It would free up $158 million in advertising some of which would migrate to other Canadian media.
Right now, CBC/Radio Canada invests almost $700 million a year to create Canadian content. We're the only media company that airs close to 90 per cent Canadian content in prime time on television – when most Canadians are watching.
Looking at television alone, we support more than 10,000 jobs in the Canadian economy. And that's on top of the 7,200 Canadians we currently employ.
We are more digital than ever before, reaching 16 million users each month while approaching our goal of 18 million by 2020.
As part of a comprehensive strategy, we can do even more to strengthen Canadian culture.
It's a great time to talk about what Canadian culture can be.