Entertainment

CBC urged to preserve master recordings of radio and TV programming after making digital copies

The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF) is urging CBC to stop destroying original radio and television programming after making digital copies, arguing these master recordings are irreplaceable.

A CBC spokesperson says the digitization is being done 'to protect and preserve our archives'

CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson says 'The digitisation of our archives is part of a responsible, proactive and content-conscious approach to public broadcasting.' (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF) is urging CBC to stop destroying original radio and television programming after making digital copies, arguing these master recordings are irreplaceable.

The Toronto charitable foundation said in a release Wednesday that CBC's English Services began destroying original radio and TV programming at the beginning of April.

The foundation said this flies in the face of internationally accepted standards and best practices of audiovisual preservation due to the unknown characteristics of digitization, such as long-term stability and vulnerability to electromagnetic interference.

The foundation said CBC declined a request to delay the digitization in order to arrange for alternative custody of these master recordings. 

In a statement, CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said, "We are investing in the digitisation of our audio and video media to protect and preserve our archives, to make them easier for our production teams to access and for Canadians to rediscover."

"The digitisation of our archives is part of a responsible, proactive and content-conscious approach to public broadcasting. Among peer broadcasters, CBC is recognized as an industry leader in archival preservation."

Over the next five to eight years, CBC will accelerate its ongoing work to digitize its media archives, he said. Just over 20 per cent of CBC's audio and video collections have already been digitized, with another 1.1 million hours to be archived by 2022.

"All told, our archives represent up to 80 years of Canadian history," Thompson said.

The foundation said CBC's French-language counterpart, Radio-Canada, intends to preserve its master recordings after making digital copies.

"Such inequitable treatment of cultural treasures is not acceptable," CBMF said.

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