Veteran broadcast exec Alain Gourd passes away

Gourd's career spanned more than 40 years, as he established himself as an industry leader and authority on broadcast policy and governance.

Veteran broadcasting executive Alain Gourd, 66, has died.

“Alain was devoted to the wellbeing of the Quebec audiovisual industry. He worked tirelessly and selflessly as Chairman of the Quebec Film and Television Council Board since October 2008. If the QFTC has become a key player in Quebec’s audiovisual ecosystem in a short time, it is largely due to Alain; to his ability to navigate through troubled waters; to his extraordinary wisdom and his sound judgement,” said QFTC Film Commissioner Hans Fraikin in a statement Monday.

Gourd’s career in the broadcasting and audiovisual industries spanned more than 40 years, as he established himself as an industry leader and authority on broadcast policy and governance.

After being called to the Quebec Bar in 1971, Gourd briefly practiced law privately before joining the family broadcasting business.

He was appointed president and CEO of Quebec radio and TV station group Radio-Nord in 1973.

In 1981, he became president and CEO of Radiomutuel, which later merged with Telemedia to create the Radiomedia network, a French-language Canadian news and talk radio network serving most of Quebec, owned by Corus Entertainment. Gourd at that time was also named VP of Corporation Civitas.

In 1982, Gourd moved over to the public sector in the Federal Department of Communications, where he worked successively worked with several ministers, including Marcel Masse, Flora MacDonald and Perrin Beatty in developing Canadian cultural policy.

He became Deputy Minister of Public Affairs at the Federal-Provincial Relations Office in 1992.

Between 1992 and 1994, he worked as associate secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Clerk with the Privy Council Office for the Government of Canada.

Gourd returned to the private sector in 1994, when he was named president and CEO of Cancom (Canadian Satellite Communications), a satellite and broadcast communications service originally owned by a consortium of several Canadian broadcasting companies.

He later moved over to Bell Satellite Services at president and CEO, and from 1999 to 2001 was chairman and CEO of Bell ExpressVu and president and CEO of BCE Media.

Gourd retired in February 2004 as EVP, corporate at Bell Globemedia, based in Ottawa.

“Over the course of his career, Alain has made an immense contribution to broadcasting in Canada. His expertise has been invaluable to our company and his wise counsel has guided us over many regulatory hurdles since joining BGM in 2001,” said then-BGM president and CEO, and CEO of CTV Ivan Fecan at the time.

In 2006, Gourd was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

He was recently involved in the Symposium on the Promotion of Canadian Films and Television Programs, spearheaded by Telefilm Canada, the CRTC and the Canada Media Fund, and launched in October at the IIC Canada conference in Ottawa this year.

“His expertise, commitment and vast knowledge of the audiovisual environment will forever be a part of our memories. Passion, innovation, daring: these three words truly convey the spirit of this greatly talented man,” said Telefilm Canada in a statement late Monday.

Industry execs also took to Twitter to express their condolences following news of Gourd’s passing.

“We lost an exceptional, wise, kind leader in our industries this week. Alain Gourd. Smart, helpful, cared about Canada,” wrote industry vet Jay Switzer on Monday.

And Quebec director Claude Fournier tweeted, “Quelle tristesse d’apprendre la mort d’Alain Gourd. Cet homme intelligent, affable, a toujours travaillé dans l’ombre pour notre cinema.”

“Alain was a great man and a true gentleman. A man who savoured every moment of life and who gave without asking for anything in return. He incarnated altruism and personified ‘Carpe Diem.’ He was a survivor, a fighter. He fought terminal colon-rectal cancer for many years, only to be beaten by a tiny bacteria that turned to pneumonia,” said Fraikin.

Alain Gourd is survived by his wife, Jacinthe Théberge, four children and eight grandchildren.

A public funeral will be held on Monday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. at St-Joseph’s Cathedral in Gatineau.