Memo: CBC announces plans to restructure

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on Feb. 27 from Barbara Williams, executive vice president of English Services. Continue Reading Memo: CBC announces plans to restructure

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on Feb. 27 from Barbara Williams, executive vice president of English Services.

Today is an important day at CBC. With your help, we are starting down a new path. A path that builds on our many successes. I believe the time is right to rethink how we operate in order to continue to be successful into the future. While constant change is nothing new, keeping pace is not optional. What we are introducing today is a shift from a siloed traditional media operation to a truly audience-centric, content company.

At our core, we are a content company and our sole purpose is our public service mandate. We exist to serve all Canadians. As you know, currently, CBC is built on a traditional/platform-based model and while we do have an innovative spirit, it is sometimes encumbered by silos. We need to move to a more audience-centric approach where we are ultimately working together as one CBC. We’ve seen this shift in other traditional media companies.

I have spent a significant part of the past year travelling to locations across the country. I’ve seen first hand the vital role Local Services plays in communities. And the incredible power of our journalism on radio in all communities. I also came to realize that we are doing journalism in three different spaces, with three groups and three structures and that they are not always as connected as they could be. We can work better together by bringing our journalism under one division. One CBC.

The same is true for our content that exists primarily to entertain. Entertainment allows us to engage with audiences through emotion in narratives both scripted and unscripted, fictional or factual. Music, books, documentaries and podcasts are created to make us think and feel. And for many, sports is the ultimate emotional experience. They’re all about telling great stories with engaging characters and that’s what we do so well.

So with that backdrop, after much careful reflection and consultation with our President and senior executive team, we are proposing a new structure for the CBC to promote greater collaboration and creativity, improve the audience experience and operate more efficiently. A structure based on three pillars – Content, Audience and Business.

The first pillar, Content, will be structured under two new areas based on the thinking that we provide two fundamental experiences and services for audiences: our Journalistic Content and our Entertainment Content.

As part of this restructuring, we are creating two new leadership positions – the General Manager of News, Current Affairs & Local and the General Manager of Entertainment, Factual & Sports. I am delighted to tell you that two of our very best leaders, Susan Marjetti and Sally Catto, have agreed to take on these new roles.

Since becoming the Executive Director of Sports last July, Chris Wilson has proven to be a terrific leader and I am delighted he will now bring that expertise into Sally’s division.

The second pillar, Audience, is all about understanding our audience. Who they are, where they are, what they engage with, when and how. It means scheduling the content so that it is best available where audiences expect it. And then talking to that audience to help them discover the best of what we have to offer. The work of Marketing and Communications under Bonnie Brownlee, which will now include scheduling, coupled with Richard Kanee’s new Digital Strategy and Products group will enable us to do just that.

The third pillar, the business of running the Business, falls to Shannon Carvell who oversees Finance, Strategy & Administration which now includes Lisa Clarkson and her highly respected Business & Rights team. Donald Lizotte has oversight of our revenue streams leading Media Solutions. The individuals who work in these departments work tirelessly behind the scenes and we all benefit from their collective support and expertise.

To help us navigate the road ahead, in a new senior Transformation role, Soo Kim will lead a change leadership team that will work across our entire organization. The team will help us implement transformative changes to how we work so that we can be more responsive to whatever comes our way and create capacity to pursue our strategic goals. Working in tandem with Soo in support of the three pillars will be the Engagement and Inclusion group led by Nicky Davis as well as Monica Parenti’s People and Culture team.

To streamline, Media Operations will be decentralized, integrating its component functions into the most logically relevant departments: Digital Products will go to the expanded Digital Strategy and Products portfolio; News Production and Radio Operations moves over to Susan’s team; TV Production & Resources along with our Production Facilities business including the Glenn Gould operations will migrate to Sally’s division.

The Workflow Practice, Business Analysis and Content Management & Preservation teams will join Soo’s Transformation Office enabling them to build on and scale the impactful, cross-departmental work they have already been doing for us.

The Public Affairs portfolio will fold into my office under Chuck Thompson and he will also be my new Chief of Staff. Cristina Tonner is moving over to the Entertainment division as Sally Catto’s Chief of Staff. I want to thank Cristina for all of the great work she’s done with me since I came on board last May. Rounding out the EVP team is my stellar executive assistant, Maryse Dubé.

And in all of this change, after what can only be described as truly, remarkable careers at CBC, two of our most respected leaders are moving on. Jennifer McGuire is one of this country’s preeminent journalists, she has had a profound impact on CBC News and paved the way for so many young journalists along the way. And for nearly 40 years, there has been no greater champion for the regions than Fred Mattocks. Simply stated, Fred made a difference wherever he was and gave voice to those who weren’t at the table. I can’t possibly do justice to their collective contributions in this note. Their leadership, passion and unwavering commitment to the public broadcaster, and service to Canadians, has been nothing short of exemplary. And I know you join me in thanking Jen and Fred for everything they have done.

This is a lot to take in, I know. With that in mind, over the next few days and into next week, your leaders will be holding meetings and sharing their own notes to help you better understand how today’s news specifically affects you, your show, or your unit.

We’re embarking on a journey, albeit a never ending journey, but arguably one of the most exciting and important ones the CBC will ever take. CBC is a fantastic organization, a wonderful place to work and I genuinely believe what we are announcing today is the right path forward. One CBC will be stronger than many CBCs but it requires working together. This is up to all of us to make it work – a new structure alone won’t enact the change we are after.

Canadians expect nothing less from us.