English services integrated at CBC

The net's English-language services are being integrated into the bailiwick of Richard Stursberg.

The net has moved forward on plans to integrate its English-language services, bringing its radio, TV and online interests under a single umbrella held by a newly promoted Richard Stursberg, whose new title is EVP of English Services.

Outgoing president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch announced the changes yesterday, billing the reorganized broadcaster as an ‘integrated provider of content’ in a letter to staff. ‘Canadians are increasingly consuming their information and entertainment programming on the technological platform of their choice. . . CBC/Radio-Canada needs to continue to adapt to this new reality.’

The changes have been underway for some time, following the integration of the French-language services in 2005. The shuffle on the English side follows the departure of CBC Radio boss Jane Chalmers, who retired earlier this month. Jennifer McGuire has been promoted to the new position of executive director of radio, reporting to Stursberg. The changes follow consultations with French services boss Sylvain Lafrance and Hubert Lacroix, who will replace Rabinovitch when his term is up at the end of the year.

‘In certain respects, we were already more integrated than the French,’ says Stursberg, referring to news, regional offices and back-office support services such as HR and IT. For the CBC rank and file, he says, ‘it’s not going to change anything right now. But it allows us to cope better with the evolution of media’ – by allowing, for instance, the three sides of CBC to work together more easily on shows, news stories or other projects.

Radio will ‘continue to be its usual, successful, brilliant self,’ Stursberg added, though others are concerned that the oldest and least commercial branch of the CBC may come under the influence of its sometimes troubled sister, television.

The management changes threaten to ‘downgrade the independence’ of CBC Radio, according to Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, noting that the radio side is now without its own VP.

Stursberg is ‘not seen as a radio guy, and now he’s in charge of their lives,’ says Lise Lareau, head of the Canadian Media Guild, which represents some 5,500 employees at the network. ‘People are scratching their heads and wondering what it means.’

From Playback Daily