04/02/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/02/2024 12:21

Radio-Canada: Championing French language and culture for 87 years

Photo: STAT, Le monde de Gabrielle Roy, la revue de l'année Au p'tit café et Premier trio.

This op-ed from Catherine Tait, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, was published by Le Lien Multimédia on March 20, 2024.

During Francophonie Month, francophones across the country have plenty of reason to celebrate. As an anglophone who has worked in the media industry for the past 40 years, I have nothing but admiration for your resolve, across generations, to create a diverse and thriving French culture in North America. This speaks not just to the strength of your determination, but also to that of our shared institutions, including CBC/Radio-Canada.

Still, the financial difficulties facing public and private French-language broadcasters illustrate the fragility of our cultural ecosystem in the face of fierce competition from foreign digital giants. In 2022, a study by the QuebecObservatoire de la culture et des communications reported that Quebec francophone artists accounted for a scant 5% of the music streamed by users in the province. The same decline has been observed in television. Indeed, the Radio-Canada investigative program Enquête recently revealed that connected TV apps from Canadian broadcasters are at a disadvantage compared to their foreign counterparts - and even unavailable for installation on some platforms.

Radio-Canada is the only media organization in Canada able to bring together francophones and francophiles across the country. I'm thinking of flagship programs like Bye bye, the most-watched French-language show of all time, or Tout le monde en parle, the Sunday evening talk show that's kept Quebecers glued to their TVs for the past 20 years. Add to this an audio offering whose listener base is continually on the rise. This is clear from the success of podcasts like Dérives, hosted by pharmacist and scientific communicator Olivier Bernard. Within just five weeks of the release of its third season in January 2024, the show was streamed one million times.1

We gather every generation around homegrown culture. STAT is the most popular French-language TV drama among young adult Quebecers.2ICI TOU.TV put Premier trio, its most popular show for youth, online last year. The show about a young female hockey player who is invited to join a men's team has become the most-watched original youth series since the launch of our platform in 2010.3 And MAJ, our youth news service, is also rising in popularity, with visits up 66% in the past year.4

We are an anchor for news and current affairs. Every day, Radio-Canada stations broadcast 38 morning and drive-home radio shows, more than half of which are produced in minority-language communities. This is in addition to the 13 television and 18 video newscasts aired daily across the country. Radio-Canada wouldn't be able to make these services available without the help of CBC. Our French and English networks share bureau space, equipment, resources and the same commitment to public service. They also regularly partner on content production.

Radio-Canada also showcases francophone talent across the country through independent productions like El Toro and Le monde de Gabrielle Roy in Manitoba, Eaux turbulentes in Northern Ontario and the soon-to-be-released Mont-Rouge in New Brunswick. These stories that attest to the richness of the Franco-Manitoban, Franco-Ontarian and Acadian cultures simply wouldn't exist without our public broadcaster.

As we celebrate the Francophonie here at home and around the world, let us be proud of our national public broadcaster, which has supported French culture in Canada these past 87 years.

Catherine Tait is the President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada.

1. Adobe Analytics (January 1 to February 29, 2024).
2. Numeris (PPM), fall 2023 (September 11 to December 10).
3. Adobe Analytics.
4. Adobe Analytics (September 2023 to February 2024, compared to the same period in 2022-23).