Lacroix committed to working with indie producers

CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Hubert Lacroix

CBC president Hubert Lacroix says he wants independent producers to help audiences “get closer to their Bobino.”

Bobino was a beloved character in a classic Quebec children’s program which ran from 1957 to 1985 and is the cornerstone of Lacroix’s five-year strategic plan for CBC/Radio-Canada’s future.

“We can’t be all things to all people. But we can mean something as special and relevant to each of you as Bobino meant to me,” Lacroix told 242 independent producers gathered to hear him speak as part of an event organized by the Quebec section of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television. “When I was a kid, in the early 60s, Bobino invited me into his world every day at 4 p.m. When he said ‘Hi, little kids!’ he was talking to me. I felt directly involved…Bobino managed to create a powerful emotional bond with me, and he kept it up day after day.”

While Lacroix told producers he wants CBC/Radio-Canada to mean something “very special and relevant to each and everyone of you in this room,” his plan – which includes doubling of investment in digital services to $70 million by 2015 — was short on details. Lacroix said his strategy doesn’t depend on getting more money from the government but does assume the Crown Corporation will continue to receive the same level of funds it’s now allocated.

Lacroix says he’s committed to working with independent producers but that they must keep production costs down and be innovative. To illustrate, he pointed to how producer Fabienne Larouche revamped her long-running soap Virginie into a sexier show, 30 Vies. According to Radio-Canada 30 Vies draws more than 250,000 more viewers daily than Virginie did.

In his speech Lacroix said his new plan would cause some “innovative disruption,” at CBC/Radio-Canada as the public broadcasters shuffles around money and departments, but wouldn’t specify if job cuts were coming.

Lacroix also said he wants to “respond to changing demographics,” and launch new multimedia stations and “hyper-local websites,” to support CBC TV and radio stations. Lacroix also said his collaboration with independent producers would become “more pronounced,” in the areas of regional programming, sports broadcasts, digital services and specialty channels.

While Zone 3′s Vincent Leduc is pleased that Lacroix is committed to working with independent producers, he thought the CBC president was a bit vague.” He sees us as essential, which is good, but we need to know how to respond concretely to this plan.”