MONTREAL — Jim Byrd, who has been head of English TV at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) for the past five years, announced Monday that he will be leaving Jan. 1.
A spokesman for the Canuck pubcaster said Byrd, vice president of English Television Networks at CBC, is leaving for personal reasons. Byrd will be replaced by Harold Redekopp, who is vice president of English Radio at CBC. The vice president of English Television Networks oversees the main network and the all-news specialty channel Newsworld.
There appears to be little controversy surrounding Byrd’s departure. During his tenure in the senior CBC position, which began in November 1993, Byrd helped implement the CBC’s goal of making its primetime schedule 100% Canadian and he managed to do it in spite of major-league budget cuts by the federal government during that period.
Late last week, the CBC was notified that its funding was going to be further cut back as a result of changes to the rules governing the Canadian Television Fund. In the past, almost half of the C$200 million ($129 million) fund was specifically earmarked for independent producers with shows pre-sold to the CBC, but federal heritage minister Sheila Copps announced last week that the special treatment of the CBC is set to be eliminated next year. The change will likely reduce the amount of Canadian programming at the pubcaster, but officials at CBC denied that Byrd’s decision to resign had any connection to the change to the Canadian Television Fund.
“I have done what I set out to do and am very proud of the results,” Byrd said. “But I think that it is time for someone else to take the reins to carry out the plan that we have been working on over the past year. I am looking forward to helping out, but also to moving on to new challenges.”
Prior to his stint as head of English Television at CBC, he was regional director for the CBC’s operations in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland.
“The corporation is indebted to Jim Byrd,” said CBC president Perrin Beatty. “Over the past five years Jim has successfully managed the implementation of unprecedented cuts, while at the same time Canadianizing the primetime schedule, opening our doors to working with more and more independent producers, delivering our best ever Olympic Games (in Nagano, Japan), and negotiating an outstanding agreement in partnership with Netstar to cover the next five Olympic Games.”
Redekopp, who takes over from Byrd, has been with CBC since 1973. In 1990, he was named vice president, regional broadcasting (radio and television) and he was named vice-president of English Radio in 1992. Alex Frame has been appointed vice-president of English Radio at CBC.
Both Redekopp and Frame assume their new positions Jan. 1.