Stursberg not escorted out, says Lacroix

CBC's president and CEO has 'complete confidence' in Stewart in the interim, looks ahead to new five-year plan.

Former CBC English language TV head Richard Stursberg was not marched out of pubcaster’s Toronto headquarters, CBC president and CEO Hubert Lacroix told network employees Wednesday.

Nor was his sudden departure the result of an abrupt decision from the top, or a specific incident: ‘We did not escort Richard (Stursberg) out of the building. It was, rather, the culmination of a very long reflection on the future of the Corporation, the culture it needs to adopt in order to change and adapt in an evolving media environment and our ability to agree to a long term plan based on a shared vision,’ Lacroix said in an internal note to staff.

Dealing with the fall-out from last week’s ouster of Stursberg, Lacroix defended his naming of Kirstine Stewart to fill on an interim basis a vacuum atop English language TV that could remain for up to nine months as a permanent replacement is sought.

‘She (Stewart) is not a caretaker. She is not a babysitter. This is not about waiting or slowing down. She is in charge, has full authority and has my complete confidence,’ Lacroix told employees.

The CBC head insisted the leadership change came about as the network launches a new five-year plan to 2015.

‘With the creation of a new strategic plan, this is a good time to review the leadership of CBC,’ Lacroix told network employees.

The pubcaster was morphing along with the rest of the broadcast industry, he added.

‘While we still rely on the conventional broadcasting model we have known, we will, increasingly, migrate to new models that have yet to become clear,’ he wrote.

‘Having a shared, compelling and visible set of principles that give shape to the public broadcasting brand will be a roadmap for future decisions,’ Lacroix added.

The CBC major domo also insisted he was not disowning the primetime schedule or ratings gains achieved during Stursberg’s tenure.

‘You should immediately know that there is nothing – and I mean nothing – in our current programming strategies that I don’t stand by: so, those out there who think this is in any way a repudiation of where we stand today will be disappointed big time,’ Lacroix argued.

He also poured water on speculation Stursberg’s ouster will be followed by fewer commercial series in CBC primetime, and more highbrow fare to distinguish the pubcaster from CTV and Global Television.

The CBC head instead reiterated support for the English language TV network’s drama/entertainment strategy that has been a source success in television over the last few years will continue to be a central plank of our future strategy.’

Lacroix also reaffirmed support for integrating CBC TV’s news-gathering operations, reflecting Canada’s regions, Radio One’s ‘unique role in the media landscape,’ and, in an apparent reference to Radio Two, ‘our commitment to a music strategy that serves Canada’s music lovers and musical artists will continue.’

In other words, no back-tracking at the CBC on Lacroix’s watch.

‘The point is, we are moving forward from the strong position we hold, not going back to the past,’ he argued.