Characteristics of Broadcasting in Canada

"If other countries have too much history, we have too much geography"

Prime Minister William Lyon McKenzie King, 1936







The Order of Public Ownership of Broadcasting in Canada:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) grew out of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), a federally funded organization responsible for both regulation and broadcasting. Established by the first Broadcasting Act of Canada in 1932, the CRBC took over where the Canadian National Railway (CNR), a crown corporation, had left off.









Lorne Greene, pictured here as Pa Cartright on Ponderosa, got his start in radio as both a news reader and an actor for radio plays. To hear examples of plays he did for the CBC, click here and here. (Heart of Darkness and Dracula)








"It is coming, gentlemen... We should be prepared to keep the question of television before us." John Aird

The CBC Logo, 1958







The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the CRBC was renamed in 1936, worked to spread broadcasting across Canada. In this way, they contributed to the rates of diffusion (spread across space) of first radio and then television.


The first television broadcasts originating in Canada came from the CBC and their stations in Montreal and Toronto in 1952. They had a public monopoly until the first private TV station went on air from Sudbury, Ontario in 1953.










First Images of Canadian Television. First TV character: the puppet Mr. Chichimus. First human on air alone: Percy Saltzman, the weatherman.








Important Definitions

Media Diffusion: the spread of media across space. An example here would be the spread of newspapers from Halifax across Canada and the amount of time this took.


Media Penetration: how far media have spread within a given population. An example of this would be that 99+% of Canadian households have at least one television set.


Media Saturation: When spread of media is complete. For example, radio has reached complete saturation in Canada.








This Hour Has Seven Days Started Broadcasting in 1964.







The King of Kensington-A CBC Staple During the 1970s.







Broadcasting Today

Canadian broadcasting combines ideas of "public interest" and of the "market."











Two sectors: Public and Private

The CBC Logo in Classic 1970s Colours






Characteristics: Public Sector

1. Are publicly owned;

2. Are operated in the "public interest";

3. Are financed largely by tax monies (although advertising revenues do play a role on CBC television networks);

4. Public broadcasting in both radio and television are seen as modes of nation building;

5. Early vision was that publicly owned stations would be dominant component of broadcasting;

6. In Canada, "public broadcasting" usually refers to CBC networks, but also includes provincial educational networks such as TVOntario.









Characteristics: Private Sector

1. It refers to commercial broadcasting;

2. It is owned by private concerns;

3. It is operated for profit derived from sale of advertising;

4. It provides braodcasting largely aimed at delivering audiences to advertisers;

5. It must be licensed to operate;

6. It can include CITY-TV, MuchMusic, CTV stations, or CanWest Global Stations, among others.

Back to Top