The CBC has been given permission by the CRTC to introduce advertising on some of its radio networks, breaking a four-decade tradition of commercial-free service. Previously concentrating on classical music and jazz, during 2007 and 2008, CBC Radio 2 transitioned towards a new “adult music” format with a variety of genres, with Classical generally restricted to midday hours on weekdays. 2.1 million people tune into CBC Radio Two weekly, and it is the second biggest radio service in Canada.
The change, contained in a license renewal decision, will also apply to its French-language equivalent, Espace Musique. Advertising will also be limited to four minutes every hour.
As well, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said the CBC will need to seek permission to continue airing commercials on those two specific networks after three years.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting called the decision a “serious blow” to public broadcasting and warned that it will pave the way for advertising on the main radio network, Radio One and Radio-Canada.
“What it really means is the CRTC and the CBC have conspired to end almost 40 years of almost proudly non-commercial public radio in Canada,” group spokesman Ian Morrison told The Chronicle Herald/The Canadian Press.
Opponents of the move also included commercial radio stations, which will now have one more competitor for advertising dollars.
In its release, the CRTC said it had not complied with CBC’s request for unlimited advertising on the networks and had tried to keep the ad intrusions to a minimum — a maximum of two blocks each hour adding up to a total of four minutes.
RBR-TVBR observation: In the end, it’s really not that much different than the time underwriting announcements take on public radio stations here in the US each hour. As federal funding is cut, the restrictions on sponsorship need to be relaxed a bit as well to keep these stations and networks viable.