Questions raised over CBC’s future post-BCE/CTV combo

Former CBC president Robert Rabinovitch on Thursday raised a question over the future of the public broadcaster that the current CBC leadership agrees requires immediate attention.
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Former CBC president Robert Rabinovitch on Thursday raised a question over the future of the public broadcaster that the current CBC leadership agrees requires immediate attention.

“I really doubt that the CBC is going to be able to compete in the future,” Rabinovitch on Thursday told Cartt.ca, the web news site, as part of a wide-ranging interview.

The former CBC topper said the public broadcaster will be hard-pressed to maintain its current ratings revival if BCE completes its acquisition of CTV and possibly snags key TV sport properties, including Hockey Night in Canada, away from the CBC.

“I think we’re at a point right now where we may have to ask ourselves the question about where is public broadcasting and why do we still have the public broadcaster?” Rabinovitch told Cartt.ca.

Kirstine Stewart, interim executive vice president of English TV at the CBC, now standing in for recently-departed Rabinovitch protégé Richard Stursberg, agreed the public broadcaster needs a better foundation on which to build for the future.

“The changes in the media landscape are indeed monumental and throw every subject up for discussion, and highlight the need in Canada for a strong public broadcaster representing the interests of Canadians more than ever moving forward,” Stewart told Playback Daily.

To underline the challenge ahead of it, the CBC is currently weighing whether to submit a bid to the IOC for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games after being vastly out-bid by CTVglobmedia and Rogers Communications for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics.

CTV and Rogers are expected to partner up again on a joint bid for the Sochi and Rio de Janeiro Games.

CTV and Rogers have also been building out their respective niche sport channels, including TSN and Rogers Sportsnet, to accommodate more TV sport properties.

As a measure of competition for TV hockey properties, HBO Canada on Thursday said it will be the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, a four-episodes collaboration between the NHL and HBO Sports.

Asked whether the CBC would be able to retain Hockey Night in Canada, which has been on air since 1952, after CTV lands in the hands of phone giant BCE, Rabinovitch responded: “Toast.”