The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (known in French as (la Société) Radio-Canada or SRC), is the government owned national broadcaster in Canada which operates radio, television, and digital streaming services. It was originally a national network of radio stations founded in 1936. It was founded as the successor of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission founded in 1932 which was, in turn, the federally-mandated replacement for the Canadian National Railways radio network, established in 1923. Indirectly, this makes the CBC the second-oldest broadcast network in the world, after The BBC. The first CBC television broadcasts began in September, 1952, with CBFT in Montreal inaugurating the first TV broadcasts in Canada and CBLT in Toronto following soon after.
RadioEnglish-language CBC radio is split into two channels. CBC Radio One provides a mix of local and national programming, mostly news and public affairs, but with some music and comedy programming as well. In the northern territories (the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon) as well as parts of northern Quebec, the Radio One schedule also includes programming in indigenous languages for the local First Nations communities. CBC Music (formerly CBC Radio 2) was once mostly classical music and opera, and now runs chiefly adult alternative music with classical relegated to a mid-morning block; most programming is national. Neither network runs advertisements except during federal elections when it's legally required to run candidate ads. However, budget considerations have prompted the CBC to get permission for advertising on Radio 2 on a tentative basis in the fall of 2013.
French-language SRC radio also has two channels. Ici Radio-Canada Première (formerly Première Chaîne) is the French equivalent of CBC Radio One, and has a similar broadcasting focus. Ici Musique (formerly Espace musique) is the French equivalent of CBC Music, and until 2004, had a similar format to its English counterpart, with the name La chaîne culturelle. Radio-Canada decided to move most of the high-brow cultural programs to Première Chaîne, while the then-rebranded Espace musique started focusing on classical, jazz, folk, and world music. This rebranding was controversial, but proved popular.
There is also RCI, Radio Canada International, based in Montreal, which is the CBC's international arm. Once one of the world's most prolific shortwave broadcasters, it went online-only in 2012 and is now a shell of its former self, employing a skeleton staff, no longer airing separate news content, and broadcasting in only five languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese. RCI's primary transmitter site in Sackville, New Brunswick, was also used by other shortwave broadcasters to relay their programs to North America; this also ended in 2012 with the dismantling of the Sackville transmitter. CBC also formerly offered a shortwave radio service for listeners in northern Quebec and Nunavut, which broadcast programming in English, French, and indigenous languages; this service continues on a series of low-powered FM transmitters in northern Quebec communities.
Some national programs produced by CBC Radio One include:
- As It Happens: Evening news magazine where the hosts call the subjects for interviews. (also syndicated to NPR stations, mainly in the Upper Midwest)
- Because News: A comedy Panel Game show where comedians guess the news events of the week.
- The Cost of Living: A weekly magazine show about various aspects of economics.
- Cross Country Checkup: A national call-in show focusing on politics.
- The Current: Morning current affairs magazine.
- Day 6: A more lighthearted news program.
- The Debaters: A game show where pairs of comedians debate subjects with the aim of both being as persuasive and funny as possible.
- The House: National political affairs.
- Ideas: Intellectual documentaries and lectures.
- Laugh Out Loud: A stand-up comedy show where audio recordings of various comedians' performances are featured.
- My Playlist: Various popular musicians play various songs by artists they consider major influences.
- Podcast Playlist: Various podcasts are featured with clips played.
- q: An interview-based arts show hosted by musician and journalist Tom Power (also syndicated to NPR)
- Quirks and Quarks: National science program.
- Spark: A weekly show focusing on technology and its relationship with culture
- The Sunday Edition: The Sunday morning current affairs and culture show.
- Tapestry: A documentary series focusing on religious, spiritual and philosophical subjects.
- Under the Influence: A documentary series about various aspects of marketing and its affect on society.
- Unreserved: A arts and current affairs program focusing on Indigenous (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) culture.
- Vinyl Tap: Classic rock show hosted by Canadian rock legend, Randy Bachman (of The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive.)
- White Coat, Black Art: A documentary series hosted by Dr. Brian Goldman about various medical matters.
- The World at Six/The World This Weekend: The main evening news show.
Radio One has certain quotas of locally-produced content during the morning rush hour, lunch hour, and evening rush hour. This usually takes the form of a local morning show, a province-wide afternoon call-in show, a local or province-wide afternoon show, a weekend regional morning show, and a Saturday afternoon regional arts program (depending on population). A full list of how the programs are distributed is here on The Other Wiki.
Radio One used to have at least one Radio Drama running as well until budget cuts forced the corporation to end the practice. These included:
- Afghanada: Essentially Canada's Tour of Duty, about Canada soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
- Backbencher: The misadventures of a rookie backbencher Member of Parliament serving in Canada's federal parliament in Ottawa.
- Canadia: 2056: A satire on the War on Terror and Canada's role therein, set on the starship Canadia, the only Canadian contribution to an American interstellar invasion fleet. The ship specialize in toilet repair.
- Monsoon House: A series starring Russell Peters about the misadventures of an Indo-Canadian family and their small book publishing business.
- Trust Inc.: The trials of a Toronto based public relations firm.
With the coming of the Internet age, CBC also began launching digital services. One of the earliest, launched in the year 2000, was CBC Radio 3 which was devoted entirely to Canadian indie music. Unlike Radio One and Radio Two, Radio 3 did not broadcast on terrestrial radio waves, but as a live streaming feed online and, as of 2005, on satellite radio. Radio 3 served as a Voice with an Internet Connection for new Canadian indie rock, (anti-)folk, and alternative hip hop, a launching pad for Canadian artists to get their music heard on a national and international broadcast service. Dedicating a non-standard broadcasting space to new music allowed the CBC to keep their terrestrial stations more focused on their traditional programming, though given that the CBC is a national radio and television service, an Unpleasable Fanbase is all but inevitable. In more recent years, the brand was merged into the overall CBC Music brand and integrated into the CBC's on-demand music streaming service, CBC Listen. Its french couterpart being Radio-Canada O Hdio.
CBC began producing podcast versions of its radio programming for listeners and later expanded to original podcast-only programs branded "CBC Original Podcasts". These programs typically feature subject matter that might not have had wide popular appeal to be given radio airtime, or had more violent or disturbing subject matter. In addition, these podcasts have also been broadcast on regular radio as summer replacement programming during July and August, especially on The Current.
Recent podcast-only programs include:
- Campus: Stories and interviews from first-year university students about their experiences, dreams, and fears.
- The Dose: A companion podcast to White Coat, Black Art where Dr. Brian Goldman interviews experts in depth on particular subjects.
- Frontburner: A general long-form (about 20 minutes) news podcast devoted to various current events.
- Inappropriate Questions: An examination of various insensitive questions people have thoughtlessly asked others ("What are you?, "Why don't you drink?" etc.) and the social attitudes behind them.
- Other People's Problems: real (consensually) recorded therapy sessions by a psychologist trying to demystify mental health.
- Party Lines: A political affairs podcast, originally produced during the 2019 Federal Canadian election.
- Someone Knows Something: a Type 1 True Crime podcast about unsolved cases.
- Uncover: Escaping NXIVM: an investigative podcast about the self-help group NXIVM which has been alleged to be a cult that abuses its members.
In addition, CBC also offers a video streaming service, CBC Gem, which includes not only most of CBC TV's material as well as live streaming of most of their broadcasts, but also foreign series such as Thunderbirds Are Go and Das Boot (2018). Access is free with commercials, but has ad-free paid access available with access to all broadcasts and CBC News Network. A French variant, Ici Tou.tv, include the same categories of material as its English counterpart, including live broadcasts of Ici Radio-Canada Télé but not Ici RDI, the company's french news channel. It also had a paid tier known as Extra, which give ad-free access as well as additional contents from other broadcasters such as Bell Media.
CBC's television arm has five main channels: CBC Television, Ici Radio-Canada Télé, CBC News Network (formerly CBC Newsworld), Ici RDI, Documentary channel, Ici ARTV (formerly ARTV), Ici Explora (formerly Explora), TV5 Québec Canada and Unis TV. The latter nine are cable channels. The first two French-language channels were formerly known as Télévision de Radio-Canada and Réseau de l'Information respectively — the CBC initially tried to rename Télévision de Radio-Canada as "Ici Télé" in 2013, but strong backlash from critics and politicians eventually led them to use the current name instead. The usage of "ici" is meant to refer to its longtime identification cue "ici Radio-Canada", which would be kinda like CBC renaming itself "This Is CBC".
CBC Television is a traditional TV channel, except that it runs predominantly Canadian programming, with a few British Series added in. Ici Radio-Canada Télé is similar, but broadcasts in the French language. In terms of programming layout, it resembles a cross between one of the American "Big Three" networks and PBS with commercials. CBC also offers a CBC North television service for viewers in the northern territories, which features CBC English network programming along with newscasts in English ("Northbeat") and indigenous languages (it carries no French content; the French-language service is available only on pay TV or on community-owned rebroadcasters in the northern territories).
CBC News Network (originally known as CBC Newsworld) is a 24-hour news network, similar to CNN or BBC World News. Its French equivalent is Ici RDI. There's also Documentary channel, a CBC, the National Film Board of Canada and four indie producers joint venture, which shows just documentaries, obviously. From the other French channels, they're Ici ARTV, a channel cetered on art and culture, while Ici Explora, another channel, is centered on science and world discoveries. Then, there TV5 Québec Canada, which is the Canadian version of TV5Monde, which CBC also own stakes of, and its sister channel, Unis TV, which center on general French content from around the country. The latter two are also co-owned with provincial public broadcasters Télé-Québec and TFO (the latter serves Ontario, with its English-language counterpart being TVO).
Bold, one of CBC's previous digital TV channel, was not too different from CBC Television. It was originally Country Canada, a rural-oriented joint venture between the CBC and fellow Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment. CBC bought Corus's share in 2002 and added "CBC" to the name. The rural elements of the channel were largely dropped before the name change. It was then sold to Blue Ant Media, who rename the channel, Cottage Life, based off the magazine. The CBC also previously owned Newsworld International and Trio, which were both seen on US cable systems; Newsworld International was later sold to Al Gore to create Current TV in 2005, which was then sold to Al Jazeera in 2013, while Trio was sold to NBCUniversal in 2000 to relaunch as Sleuth in 2006, which later rebranded as Cloo in 2011. Both networks eventually folded their channel spaces in 2016 and 2017, after low viewership and losing carriage from cable providers.
The CBC also provides funding for Canadian television shows, and was once one of the main sources of such funding. However, its budget has suffered in recent years and other networks have stepped up in their place. Unfortunately, this resulted in losing the income of its major sports show, Hockey Night in Canada, when the exclusive National Hockey League Canadian broadcast rights were acquired by Rogers Communications for $4.9 Billion, effective at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. The deal allows CBC television to broadcast the show for free, until at least 2023, but Rogers maintains editorial control and all advertising revenue. To a degree, that turned out to be a fortuitous situation for CBC considering when the popular but controversial sports commentator, Don Cherry, finally went too far with comments widely condemned as xenophobic bigotry against immigrants, it was Rogers' call to finally fire him and thus they had to take the heat for doing so.
It also has a bad habit of cutting funding on shows just as they get popular. Between this behavior and recent attempts to introduce "hip" programming on CBC radio, there is some not entirely serious speculation about someone in upper management or the government trying to kill the CBC. Nevertheless, over the years, the station has been responsible for a large number of landmark and notable Canadian series, including Beachcombers, Front Page Challenge, the earliest forms of the Degrassi franchise, and several comedy shows like Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and the aforementioned biggest show on the network, the extremely long-running Hockey Night in Canada.
In addition, the TV network had remarkable vision in children's programming and enticed masters like American Robert Homme to bring his public broadcasting show, The Friendly Giant, to the CBC in 1958 which became a Canadian classic for decades. Furthermore, it did the same inviting Fred Rogers to redevelop his discontinued Children's Corner TV show on Philadelphia TV into MisteRogers, which proved a precursor for the iconic Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which he eventually took back to the USA when his work visa ran out. As it happened, Canadian children were not left out with that master's departure considering his understudy, Ernie Coombs, decided to stay and develop his own series, Mr. Dressup, which became a beloved landmark of Canadian television in its own right. Furthermore, when Sesame Street exploded on the airwaves, the CBC would broadcast their own version for decades with custom made spots for Canadian kids, until CBC created their own unfortunately short-lived version, Sesame Park.
The flagship newscast for CBC Television is The National, which has been running in some form since 1954, with Lloyd Robertson (who defected to CTV News) and Knowlton Nash as the most well-known anchors before Peter Mansbridge began his long run at the anchor desk in the late 1980s. Beginning in 1982, it was paired with The Journal, a current-affairs program hosted by Barbara Frum. After Frum's death from chronic leukemia in 1992, the CBC attempted to revamp their news offerings by integrating them into a single show, which wasn't a bad idea in concept. However, major issues arose with the new CBC Prime Time News. One of the biggest ones was that at the time, the news division was separate from the current-affairs divisionnote , which was why The Journal had been separate prior to this; as a result, there was visible on-air tension between Peter Mansbridge and Pamela Wallin, brought in from CTV as co-anchor. Not only that, the new program was not placed in the 10PM slot where the National/Journal combo had done well against mostly dramas. It had been moved to 9PM— smack dab against many popular American imports, causing ratings to crater. (Indeed, a separate newscast over on CBC Newsworld that had taken the National name got better ratings!) By 1995, Wallin was out and the old format was back in, albeit mostly under the National name, and in 2001 a revamp reintegrated the long-form features back into the main program. After Mansbridge's retirement in 2017 from the anchor desk, another revamp occurred, with a new set of younger anchors and multiple broadcast locations (Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver), and a goal of not just being a news bulletin.
CBC Television enjoys a significant audience in the border regions of the United States to the point where it's offered on American cable systems, due in part to its emphasis on Canadian shows as opposed to the American-dominated lineups of its competition. Until the advent of digital encryption in the early 1990s, viewers anywhere on earth with satellite dishes could enjoy CBC Television as well: the network operated two national feeds via the Anik communications satellite, an Eastern feed originating from St. John's, NL, and a Western originating from Vancouver, both of which carried CBC North programming (it was up to individual affiliates elsewhere to insert local programming such as newscasts as well as station IDs, commercials, etc.; if they failed to do so, their viewers would receive CBC North programming instead).
In the past, many CBC-owned television stations served as regional superstations, operating dozens of relay transmitters serving medium and small markets as well as small towns and hamlets. However, its over the air coverage was significantly reduced during Canada's transition to digital television, as the CBC chose to simply shut down its analog rebroadcasters (leaving only the full-powered transmitters, primarily in major markets) instead of switch them to digital. Unfortunately, this also led to the end of CBC's over-the-air presence in London and Saskatoon, as the stations were technically semi-satellites of CBC's Toronto and Regina stations with local advertising. Over-the-air CBC service also disappeared in the entirety of the northern territories except for CBC North's flagship in Yellowknife, NWT, and for community-owned rebroadcasters in some remote communities. In Canada, however, pay TV usage is common (and required for usable TV reception in many areas), so it didn't have as much of an impact. In fact, viewers with cable and satellite subscriptions often receive a wide variety of CBC and Radio-Canada affiliates from across the nation.
Not to be confused with the Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting Corporation, a TV station in Nagoya, Japan, that shares the same initials, or with the Capital Broadcast Center, a TV station in Egypt that also shares the same initials.
Show that have aired on CBC
- 18 to Life
- Ace Lightning
- Alias Grace (coproduced with Netflix)
- Anne with an E
- Animal Mechanicals
- Beat Bugs
- Being Erica
- Belle and Sebastian (French network)
- Bo on the Go!
- The Border
- Candy Candy (French network)
- The Carol Burnett Show
- Clifford the Big Red Dog (2000 series)
- Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
- Da Vinci's Inquest
- Degrassi Junior High
- Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist
- Dragon Tales
- Dragon's Den
- Family Feud
- Fortunate Son
- The Friendly Giant
- Get Set For Life
- The Golden Girls (first run and syndication; both English and French networks)
- The Great British Bake Off (aired under the title The Great British Baking Show)
- Also produces the Canadian version, The Great Canadian Baking Show.
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps (French network)
- Hockey Night in Canada
- The Hour
- Jeopardy! (2008-2012)
- Kerokko Demetan (French network, as Demetan la petite grenouille)
- The Kids in the Hall
- Kim's Convenience
- The Legend of Zelda
- Little Bear
- Little Mosque on the Prairie
- Made in Canada
- The Magic School Bus
- Molly of Denali
- Mr. D
- Mr. Dressup
- Mr. Meaty
- Murdoch Mysteries (from season 6 onward)
- My Goldfish is Evil
- The Mysterious Cities of Gold (French network)
- 19-2 (French version, The English version airs on Bravo Canada and on CTV)
- The Noddy Shop (ran simultaneously on TVOntario at the same time it aired on CBC)
- People Watching
- PJ Masks
- The Raccoons
- Republic of Doyle
- The Red Green Show (seasons 7-15)
- The Rick Mercer Report
- Road to Avonlea
- Rolie Polie Olie
- Royal Canadian Air Farce
- Sally the Witch (French network, under the title Minifee)
- Schitt's Creek
- Seeing Things
- The Super Mario Bros Super Show!
- Talk About
- Theodore Tugboat
- This Hour Has 22 Minutes
- This Is Wonderland
- True and the Rainbow Kingdom
- Wheel of Fortune (2008-2012)
- X Company