Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

CBC redirects here, as this is the most common use of the abbreviation in English. 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 service. In French, it is called la Société Radio-Canada (Radio-Canada or SRC). The CBC is the oldest currently-operating broadcasting service in the country, first established in its present form on November 2, 1936. As a Crown corporation, the CBC operates at arm's length (autonomously) from the government in its day-to-day business. The corporation is governed by the Broadcasting Act (, 1991, and is directly responsible to Parliament through the Department of Canadian Heritage. The CBC runs four domestic radio networks, two in each official language, one international radio service in eight languages, one digital audio service, two terrestrial television networks, one in each language, three domestic cable television services, and a symphony orchestra.



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 can be controversial. Critics, often led by private media, sometimes accuse the network of cultural elitism, liberal bias, or bias in favour of the current governing party. The CBC is also sometimes thought to have an unfair advantage in the Canadian television marketplace, because it competes with private broadcasters for advertising dollars, while simultaneously receiving the subsidy of a government grant.

The CBC’s cultural influence, like that of many public broadcasters, has waned in recent decades. This is partly due to severe budget cuts by the Canadian federal government, which began in the late 1980s and levelled off in the late 1990s. It is also due to industry-wide fragmentation of TV audiences (the decline of network TV generally, due to the rise in specialty channel viewership, as well as the increase of non-TV entertainment options such as videogames, the Internet, etc.). Private networks in Canada face the same competition, but their viewership has declined less than that of CBC TV, because Canadian private TV networks primarily rebroadcast American programming with Canadian advertising inserted in it. American shows are very popular among Canadians, and often attract much higher audiences than made-in-Canada programming.

Many believe the CBC acts as a necessary counterbalance to what they perceive to be the conservative bias of private networks, or that it preserves Canadian culture against the homogenizing influence of rebroadcast American programming. Canadians continue to poll in favour of maintaining funding to the CBC. 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.
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This is the original logo of the CBC, used between 1940 and 1958. It features a map of Canada, as well as a lightning bolt design used to symbolize broadcasting.
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The CBC used this logo between 1958 and 1966. It consists simply of the legends "CBC" and "Radio-Canada" overlaid on a map of Canada. The version shown here was used by Radio-Canada, while the CBC used a version with the legends transposed.
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This logo was designed for the CBC by Hubert Tison in 1966 to mark the CBC's progressing transition from black-and-white to colour television. It was used until all CBC TV programs had successfully switched to colour, at which point the CBC adopted the logo below.
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 offer more 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. Unlike most Canadian TV broadcasters which remain on-air 24 hours a day, since CBC O&O stations do not broadcast informercials, most actually sign off the airwaves during the early morning hours (typically 1 AM to 6 AM).

Most CBC stations identify themselves on-air by the CBC or SRC brand rather than by their call letters.

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. Two private CBC affiliates in Western Canada, CHBC and CKRD, will join CH in 2005 or 2006. When a private CBC affiliate reaffiliates with another network, the CBC normally adds a retransmitter of its nearest O&O station to ensure that CBC service is continued.

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. 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 many 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's radio services do not sell advertising except when required by law, for instance, to political parties during federal elections.

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 difficult to receieve in their intended target areas due to increased terrestrial noise from modern electrical and electronic systems.

Some have suggested ( that CBC/Radio-Canada create a new high power shortwave digital radio service for more effective coverage of isolated areas. Such an undertaking, which would require significant international consensus to allocate the required space in the already-crowded HF band, and depend on the adoption of relatively complicated digital signal processors, is made more unlikely by CBC/SRC near-term plans for new ATSC televsion and digital AM radio transmitters.

The web site of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is

In 1993, CBC launched an experimental web service, followed by a small site supporting CBC Radio, and a site supporting the CBC Halifax TV program Street Cents. CBC consolidated its radio and TV sites into a single site in 1995. In 1996, it began offering 24-hour live streaming of its radio services ( using RealAudio. In 1997, CBC launched a site for kids (, and covered its first federal election online. In 1998, it launched an online news service ( In 2000, it launched a wireless service, and CBC Radio 3, 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), which provided streaming audio devoted to youth culture and independent music. Radio 3 is operated by CBC Radio. 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. In 2004, CBC began offering RSS feeds, and in 2005, it launched a new online arts and entertainment magazine ( Also in 2005, CBC began offering podcasting of the CBC Radio science program Quirks and Quarks, and of the CBC Radio technology column Nerd (, by Tod Maffin. It's been a move that's been praised by some tech pundits as unusually ambitious for a public broadcaster.

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.

Today, the CBC's website is the largest in the world dedicated to the Canadian viewpoint. It includes over 350,000 pages of news, analysis, commentary and indepth background information on issues affecting Canadians, plus plus on-demand streaming media, mobile and e-mail news delivery, detailed CBC on-air program information, digital archives, and more.

In 2003, it won an Online News Association ( award in the “service journalism” category for its coverage of the SARS epidemic. In 2004, was the only organization to win two awards from the Online News Association: one in the "specialty journalism" category for Canada Votes (, its coverage of the 2004 Canadian federal election, and one in the “service journalism” category for ADR Database, a tri-medial project from the CBC News investigative unit. was also a finalist in the “online commentary” category for Blair Shewchuk’s “Words: Woes and Wonder,” ( a series of columns about the English language.

Other ventures

Audio services

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. Some cable companies, as well as direct broadcast satellite service provider Star Choice, carry only 20 of these 45 channels, together with a separate 20-channel digital music service offered by Corus Entertainment, known as Max Trax.

In November, 2004, the CBC, in partnership with Standard Broadcasting and Sirius Satellite Radio, applied to the CRTC for a license to introduce satellite radio service to Canada. The CRTC approved the subscription radio application, as well as two others for satellite radio service, on June 16, 2005. CBC Radio Three and Bandeapart are expected to become full-time stations on that service.

Technical services

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.

CBC's presence 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, 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 TV on August 1, 2005, and terminating CBC's programming and services. INdTV did, however, meet with producers of the CBC program ZeD, which is similar in format to Current's proposed programming.

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, such as Definitely Not the Opera and 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. Such a phenomenon can also take place within Great Lakes communities such as Ashtabula, Ohio, which receives programming from CBC's London, Ontario transmitter, based upon prevailing atmospheric conditions over Lake Erie.

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 programs Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and Doctor Who.


Due to CBC's alleged liberal bias, it has been frequently subjected to harsh criticism, both by U.S. pundits, conservative talk-show hosts and even Canadians themselves. For example, in a Janurary 2005 documentary aired by CBC exploring the conservative bias in the U.S. media, Fox News and Bill O'Reilly were singled out for their ultra-conservative stance, from 9/11 to the 2003 War In Iraq. This evoked an effusive and vehement response from both Bill O'Reilly himself and the American public. Defenders of the CBC mocked O'Reilly with his ignorant claim that the CBC was using their "monopoly" of Canadian broadcasting to smear him when in fact the CBC is one of at least three major domestic television networks in Canada and often not the highest rated one.


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

io:CBC ja:カナダ放送協会 zh:加拿大廣播公司


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