a media industry resource


This page looks at public sector broadcasting in Canada.

The organisation

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), dates back to the first third of last century when public broadcasting in the British Empire was modelled on the new British Broadcasting Commission (BBC). The CBC was founded in 1936, as the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, for the purpose of "fostering national spirit and interpreting national citizenship".


Marc Raboy's Missed Opportunities: The Story of Canada's Broadcasting Policy (Toronto: McGill-Queens Uni Press 1990) presents a picture of uncertain mission, bureaucratic capture, political interference and ongoing crisis at Canada's national broadcaster. Sounds familiar? There is a more detailed treatment in When Television Was Young: PrimeTime Canada 1952-67 (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1990) by Paul Rutherford, complemented by Ross Eaman's Channels of Influence: CBC Audience Research and the Canadian Public (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1994).

For the early days see Frank Peers' lucid The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting 1920-1951 (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1969), A History of the Canadian Radio League 1930-1936 (Ann Arbor: UMI 1964) by John O'Brien and The Struggle for National Broadcasting in Canada (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart 1965) by E. Austin Weir.

Knowlton Nash's The Microphone Wars: A History of Triumph & Betrayal at the CBC (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart 1995) and Wayne Skene's Fade to Black: A Requiem for the CBC (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre 1993) are conventional laments about public broadcasting in crisis, useful as points of reference for criticisms of the Australian ABC and SBS networks.

Other state networks

There are separate profiles on

  • ABC and SBS - Australia
  • BBC - United Kingdom
  • TVNZ & RNZ - New Zealand
  • MCS - Singapore
  • PBS - USA