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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

CBC redirects here, as this is the most common use of the abbreviation. For other uses, see CBC (disambiguation).
Logotype for CBC/Radio-Canada

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known by the abbreviation CBC, is Canada's government-owned radio and television network. In French, it is called la Société Radio-Canada (Radio-Canada or SRC).



The CBC's predecessor, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, was established in 1932 by the government of R.B. Bennett after an intense lobbying campaign by Graham Spry and Alan Plaunt of the Canadian Radio League which had been set up in 1930 to campaign for the implementation of recommendations by the Aird Commission on public broadcasting. A major concern was the growing influence of American radio broadcasting as US based networks began to expand into Canada.

The CRBC took over a network of radio stations formerly set up by the federal Crown corporation Canadian National Railways, which were 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. On July 1, 1958, CBC TV was linked from coast to coast. Colour television broadcasts began on July 1, 1966, with full colour service being achieved 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 dominated broadcasting in Canada like it formerly did, but 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.

Unlike the public broadcasters of many European nations, the CBC's television networks (not radio services) sell advertising and do not collect a licence fee. However, the CBC does receive under a billion dollars annually in federal funding, which has led to controversy in recent years. Critics, often led by private media, accuse the network of cultural elitism and a strong liberal bias that rarely reflects the viewing needs of the Canadian public. Indeed, as private networks have expanded, their viewership often exceeds the CBC's. Private networks often broadcast American programs with higher production values to attract larger audiences than Canadian content can provide. Others counter the CBC acts as a necessary counterbalance to what they perceive to be the obvious conservative bias of private networks. Canadians continue to poll in favour of maintaining funding to the CBC. Many still believe that the CBC is an essential Canadian institution whose function is to preserve Canadian culture against American. 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.

In Quebec, where the majority speaks French, the television service of Radio-Canada (the French division of the CBC) is popular and gets some of the highest ratings in the province. The language barrier, in addition to other cultural differences, keeps viewers from tuning to American channels in as large a number as the rest of English-speaking Canada.
This logo, nicknamed the "exploding pizza" or the "exploding pineapple", was designed for the CBC by graphic artist in , and it is the most widely recognized symbol of the corporation. The "C" in the middle stands for , and the radiating parts of the "C" symbolize broadcasting. The logo was officially changed to one colour in , and simplified to the version currently used in .
This logo, nicknamed the "exploding pizza" or the "exploding pineapple", was designed for the CBC by graphic artist Burton Kramer in 1974, and it is the most widely recognized symbol of the corporation. The "C" in the middle stands for Canada, and the radiating parts of the "C" symbolize broadcasting. The logo was officially changed to one colour in 1986, and simplified to the version currently used in 1992.


CBC Television

See: List of programs broadcast by CBC

The CBC operates two national broadcast television networks—one in English and one in French. Both sell advertising, and are otherwise similar to the privately-owned networks, but still rely more heavily on Canadian-produced programming than the others.

Most CBC television stations, including those in the major cities, are owned and operated by the CBC itself. CBC O&O stations deviate very little from the main network schedule, although there are some regional differences from time to time.

Most CBC stations identify themselves on-air by the CBC (or Société Radio-Canada (SRC)) brand rather than by their over-the-air call letters.

Unlike most Canadian TV broadcasters which remain on-air 24 hours a day, since CBC O&O stations do not broadcast informercials, they actually sign off the airwaves during the early morning hours (typically 1 AM to 6 AM).

Some stations that broadcast from smaller cities are private affiliates of the CBC, that is, stations which are owned by commercial broadcasters but air a predominantly CBC schedule. Such stations generally follow the CBC schedule, although they may opt out of some CBC programming in order to air locally-produced programs, syndicated series or programs purchased from other broadcasters (especially CH) which do not have a broadcast outlet in the same market. In these cases, the CBC programming being displaced may be broadcast at a different time than the network, or may not be broadcast on the station at all. Private affiliates generally opt out of CBC's afternoon schedule, Thursday night arts programming, ZeD and Canada Now. Private affiliates carry the 10 p.m. broadcast of The National as a core part of the CBC schedule, but generally omit the 11 p.m. repeat.

Private CBC affiliates are not as common as they were in the past, as many such stations have been purchased either by the CBC itself or by CHUM Limited, becoming NewNet stations.

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.

The CBC's French arm, Société Radio-Canada (SRC), has stations or repeaters in every province and territory, and is the only francophone network in Canada which broadcasts nationally on terrestrial channels. (TVA and TQS maintain terrestrial broadcasts only in Quebec, although TVA is available across Canada on cable.)

SRC has some private affiliates in Quebec. However, with few sources for non-SRC programming, these affiliates do not deviate from the SRC network schedule as much as the English network's private affiliates do. All SRC service outside of Quebec, however, is provided by the network itself.

One of the most popular shows on the television networks of both CBC and Radio-Canada is the weekly Saturday night broadcast of a NHL hockey game. In English, the program is known as "Hockey Night in Canada", and in French, it is called "La soirée du hockey". Both shows have been televised since 1952. The French edition was discontinued in 2004.

Other CBC television 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. Through a joint venture with the National Film Board, CBC runs another digital specialty station, the Documentary Channel.

Closed captioning

CBC Television and CBC Newsworld are the only broadcasters in Canada (and very likely the only broadcasters worldwide) required to caption 100% of their programming. On those networks, only outside commercials do not need to be captioned, though a bare majority of them are aired with captions. All shows, bumpers, billboards, promos, and other internal programming must be captioned. The requirement stems from a human-rights complaint filed by deaf lawyer Henry Vlug that was settled in 2002.



  • 1966: "Television is CBC"
  • 1977: "Bringing Canadians Together"
  • 1988: "Best on the Box"
  • 1996: "Television to Call Our Own"
  • 2002: "Canada's Own"


  • « Ici Radio-Canada » (tr. "This is Radio-Canada" or, literally, "Here is Radio-Canada")
  • « Vous allez voir » (tr. "You are going to see")

CBC Radio

CBC Radio has four separate services: two in English, known as CBC Radio One and CBC Radio Two, and two in French, known as La Première Chaîne and Espace Musique. All CBC radio services are commercial-free.

CBC Radio One and La Première Chaîne focus on news and information programming, but air some music programs, variety shows, comedy, and sports programming as well.

Historically, CBC Radio One has broadcast primarily on the AM band, but almost all stations have moved over to the FM band. CBC Radio Two and Espace Musique, which are found exclusively on FM, air arts and cultural programming, with a primary focus on music, mostly classical.

CBC Radio also operates two shortwave services. One, a domestic service, broadcasts 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.

Two CBC Radio One stations, CBN in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, and CBU in Vancouver, British Columbia, also operate shortwave relay transmitters, which use the call signs of CKZN and CKZU respectively. Both transmitters broadcast 1 kW ERP signals on a frequency of 6160 kHz, and are barely audible in their intended target areas due to increased terrestrial noise from electrical and electronic systems.

There is a proposal on the Internet for a high power shortwave DRM CBC/Radio-Canada Radio service, using two 50-kW SW transmitters to cover about 95% of Canada's total surface area. However, the CBC-SRC's ongoing implementation of terrestrial HDTV & DAB transmission services will make this overdue service improvement economically impossible for the next several years.

Other ventures

CBC Radio Three is a broadband online magazine only available on the Internet (the magazine is being shelved as the CBC re-designs the arts & culture portals on its website), providing streaming audio devoted to youth culture and independent music. It is operated through the CBC's New Media division. Despite its name, it is not a radio network, although some of its content airs as a Saturday evening program on Radio Two. Bandeapart is the French equivalent, and also airs content as a weekend program on Espace musique.

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.

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

The CBC has also announced a partnership with Standard Broadcasting and Sirius Satellite Radio, with the intent of introducing satellite radio service to Canada. Its application and two others for satellite radio service are currently before the CRTC. If the application is approved, CBC Radio Three and Bandeapart will become full-time stations on that service.

CBC Transmission has extensive experience in the design, installation and maintenance of broadcast transmission facilities and is able to provide a full menu of service offerings to the private sector.

The company has also been experimenting with podcasting of some of their radio programming. It's been a move that's been praised by some tech pundits as unusually ambitious for a public broadcaster.

CBC in the United States

Cable networks

From 1994 to 2000, the CBC, in a joint venture with Power Broadcasting (former owner of CKWS-TV in Kingston, Ontario), also owned Newsworld International, an American cable channel which rebroadcast much of the programming of CBC Newsworld, and 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 acquired by NBC to form NBC Universal. NBC Universal continues to own Trio, which no longer has any association with the CBC.

NBC Universal sold Newsworld International to Joel Hyatt and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore in late 2004. Throughout these changes of ownership, the CBC continued to provide most of Newsworld International's content during this time, including live CBC Newsworld coverage of major events affecting Canadians and Americans. However, Newsworld International's new owners INdTV are re-launching the network as Current on August 1, 2005, and terminating CBC's programming and services.

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 terrorist 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.

C-SPAN has also carried CBC's coverage of major events affecting Canadians. Among them:

Several PBS stations also air some CBC programming, especially The Red Green Show, although no CBC programming currently airs on the full network schedule. Some CBC Radio One programs, most notably As It Happens, also air on some stations associated with American Public Media.

Border audiences

In U.S. border communities such as Bellingham, Detroit, and Buffalo, CBC radio and television stations can be received over-the-air and have a significant audience.

In northwest Washington State, CBC O&O station CBUT is transmitted to almost one million Comcast cable subscribers in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia, and Everett.

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 and This is Wonderland, and British soap operas Coronation Street and Emmerdale.


Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal
Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal

Entertainers who got their "starts" on the CBC

See also

External links and references

Last updated: 10-15-2005 16:37:41
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