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Bumping of The National by an American reality show - response from CBC staff and board members

Jul 24, 2006

Various form responses from CBC staff and Board members to Friends' supporters who communicated concerns over the pre-emption of The National this summer by an American reality show.

On behalf of Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail of July 6, 2006, in which you express your disappointment with regard to CBC/Radio-Canada's decision to temporarily reschedule CBC News: The National.

As you may already know, the President and CEO does not directly participate in specific programming decisions, nor is he involved in the day-to-day operations of CBC/Radio-Canada's networks.  Rather, we rely on our Network Senior Managers and Vice-Presidents to make these programming decisions.

With this in mind, I am sorry that you disagree with the decision to postpone The National to 11:00 p.m., one day a week, for eight weeks this summer while simulcasting The One with ABC.  This change to the schedule will affect viewers in Ontario and Eastern Canada only.  As well, viewers with access to CBC Newsworld will be able to watch The National at its regularly scheduled time of 9:00 p.m. ET, and on Tuesdays for the duration of the broadcast of The One, at 10:00 p.m. ET on CBC Newsworld.  Please note that CBC News: The National will return to its regular timeslot in early September. 

Canadians turn to The National to gain an understanding of their world and their place in it.  It is our flagship newscast and reflects CBC's strong commitment to News and Current Affairs.  We recognize the importance of this program - and its timeslot - to many Canadians.  We want to assure you that we consider any decision to alter our regular programming very carefully.

CBC Television is working hard to bring Canadians the kind of entertainment they have told us they want: reality-type programming with strong human drama and entertainment. The format for The One is identical to BBC1's very successful Fame Academy, which has demonstrated substantial success overseas.  This summer's simulcast will provide a great platform for a
Canadian version of the show, which will be broadcast later in the year and, at the same time, will give us the opportunity to promote other Canadian properties included in CBC's Summer and Fall schedules.  We feel that a Canadian version of The One will be a strong fit for the network's plans to expand the number of Canadian factual entertainment shows in its schedule.

As well, CBC/Radio-Canada has a variety of audiences with different needs and expectations, in step with an evolving demographic.  Our programming choices are based on our research into audience needs and feedback, such as yours, as well as the requirements set out in our mandate.  While we certainly want to attract new audiences, we are very mindful that we must uphold our traditions of excellence in programming even as we innovate.

Again, we do thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing your opinion with us.  CBC welcomes all feedback about our programs; without it, we cannot remain sensitive to the needs and wants of our viewers and listeners.  I have forwarded your e-mail to Mr. Richard Stursberg, Executive Vice-President of CBC Television, for his information.

Sincerely,

Francine Létourneau
Chief of Staff
Office of the President and CEO

c.c. Richard Stursberg, Executive Vice-President, CBC Television



July 4, 2006

Thank you for your email to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regarding the program, "The One."

We are sorry that you disagree with the decision to reschedule The National to 11 p.m. one day a week for eight weeks this summer while simulcasting "The One" with ABC. This change to the schedule will affect viewers in Ontario and eastern Canada only. As well, viewers with access to CBC Newsworld will be able to watch The National at its regularly scheduled time of 9 p.m. ET.

Canadians turn to The National to gain an understanding of their world and their place in it.  It is our flagship newscast and reflects CBC's strong commitment to news and current affairs. We recognize the importance of this program - and its timeslot -  to many Canadians. However, there are occasions when CBC feels the need to pre-empt The National, including national and international live sporting events, elections, and breaking news, among other things. We want to assure you that we consider any decision to do so very carefully.

The format for "The One" is identical to BBC1's very successful "Fame Academy," which has demonstrated substantial success overseas. This summer's simulcast will provide a great platform for a Canadian version of the show which will be broadcast later in the year and, at the same time, give us the opportunity to promote other Canadian properties included in CBC's summer and fall schedules.

CBC is bringing Canadians the kind of entertainment they have told us they want: reality-type programming with strong human drama and entertainment. We feel that a Canadian version of The One will be a strong fit for CBC's plans to expand the number of Canadian factual entertainment shows in our schedule.

Again, we do thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing your opinion with us. CBC welcomes all feedback about our programs; without it, we cannot remain sensitive to the needs and wants of our viewers and listeners. We have included your comments in our weekly Audience Reaction report which is circulated weekly among all senior executives, producers and programmers at CBC, including the President and CEO.

Sincerely,

Sandy Kent
Communications Assistant
CBC/Radio-Canada Audience Relations



June 30, 2006

Thank you for writing about the change to the schedule of The National this summer. It is a controversial decision, for sure, and we have heard from many viewers like you.

To be exact, The National will be delayed for one hour on eight nights this summer. The delay will occur from Ontario east. Viewers in the west will not be affected.

As for the musical talent show "The One" which is causing the delay, this program was actually developed in Europe and many countries have shown their own national version. The British version was produced by and shown on the BBC. There is a version in Quebec called "Star Acadamie" which is a great success and is credited with giving many young musicians a good start in their province. I hope the English Canadian version which will start in the fall on CBC, will do the same for young artists across the country.

I know that many people are concerned that the re-scheduling of The National this summer means a permanent change in direction for CBC. The Board of Directors does not make decisions about temporary schedule changes like this one. However, we do have approval over long term program strategies. As an individual member of the Board, I am fully committed to a strong Canadian schedule for CBC television, with the National at its heart. I will do my best to make sure that does not change.

Sincerely,

Trina McQueen
Board of Directors
CBC/Radio-Canada



June 27, 2006

Thank you for taking the time to share your views with CBC Television.

Much has been made of the CBC's decision to temporarily pre-empt The National newscast for eight Tuesdays to make room for a U.S.-based simulcast of the music reality program The One.

And, it is important to note that CBC Television's prime time schedule is overwhelmingly Canadian. From 7 p.m. to midnight, almost every night, our schedule consists of Canadian comedies, dramas, documentaries, news, current affairs and sports. No private broadcaster can make the same claim. In fact, their prime time schedules are dominated by American programming.

The decision to add the U.S. simulcast of The One to our summer schedule will help build a platform for the Canadian version of the program that we will be airing in the fall. The show has already enjoyed incredible success in Québec, as Star Academie, and we felt that an English Canadian version would be an excellent vehicle for showcasing new Canadian talent.

By simulcasting the U.S. version this summer we will also generate some much-needed revenue for the CBC at a time of the year when the viewing of Canadian news and programming falls off.

Ultimately, the decision to air the U.S. simulcast of The One, and its Canadian offshoot, was borne of a strategy to fulfill the difficult, but not impossible, goal we have set for the network: to make CBC Television the most important and popular video platform for Canadian News, Current Affairs, Kids, and Entertainment programming.

The greatest cultural challenge English Canada faces is providing Canadians with homegrown programming that they actually want to watch. We are the only country in the industrialized world where its citizens prefer to watch another country's programming. Only the CBC can help to resolve this considerable cultural issue because only the CBC has the shelf space in its schedule to make Canadian programming available in deep prime time when the greatest number of Canadians are watching television. Private broadcasters cannot do this because their business model requires that they show U.S. programming in prime time. If they do not they cannot sustain their businesses.

We would like to reiterate that we are trying to build the best, most successful broadcaster of entertaining, informative and enlightening programming by, for and about Canadians. This is an enormous challenge. If we can achieve this we will have helped to resolve a significant cultural issue. Like every self-respecting country in the world we'll have made shows we ourselves will want to watch in large numbers.

Sincerely

Mazo Moler
Communications Officer
CBC National Audience Relations



June 28, 2006

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to acknowledge receipt and thank you for your recente-mail regarding the temporary rescheduling ofCBC News: The National.

The Board of Directors does notdirectly participate in specific programming decisions,nor are we involved in the day-to-day operations of CBC/Radio-Canada’s networks.   Rather, we rely on our Network Senior Managers and Vice-Presidents to make these programming decisions.  

We take this opportunity to provide you with the following information regarding the delayed programming of The National.

Canadians west of Ontario will not be affected at all.   

Canadians who live in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic,The Nationalwill only be pre-empted on eight Tuesday nights, from July 18 through September 5, and will air immediately following The One.   It will be televised on the main network as follows:

9:30 pm in Newfoundland
9:00 pm in the Maritimes
11:00 pm in Ontario and Quebec

The Nationalis also available on Newsworld without schedule change and can be viewed at 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm Eastern Time across the country.

We have nevertheless taken note of your comments, and once again thank you for sharing your concerns with the Board of Directors.

Guy Fournier
Chairman, Board of Directors
CBC/Radio-Canada

Related Documents:

July 1, 2006 - Bumping of The National by an American reality show - Friends' supporter response
A Friends' supporter refutes the form response by a CBC board member regarding the pre-emption of The National by an American reality show.

June 21, 2006
- CBC mandate lost in rush for ads and eyeballs
FRIENDS says the current senior management of CBC values ad revenue and audience rating points more than serving Canadians and this is having a huge impact on the kinds of programs CBC TV is presenting.

June 20, 2006 - CBC bumps The National for US reality TV Show
FRIENDS shocked and surprised by CBC's decision to bump The National from its usual time slot to make way for a simulcast American reality show.