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Pierre Juneau dies at 89

Canadian regulator championed local production

Pierre Juneau, who brought in key regulations supporting homegrown TV and music production in Canada, died on Tuesday. He was 89.

The Montreal-born Juneau began his career at the National Film Board of Canada, where he played a significant role in the development of French-language production at the publicly funded film studio. While at the NFB from 1949-66, he held a number of management posts in the distribution and production sectors, including developing co-productions with France and Italy.

When a separate French-language production unit was set up at the NFB in 1964, he was named the first head of the studio.

In 1960, he co-founded Quebec’s first film festival, the Montreal International Film Festival.

In 1966, Juneau left the NFB and was named vice chairman of the Bureau of Broadcast Governors. Two years later that body became the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, the country’s broadcast regulator. He became the first-ever chairman of the CRTC in 1968 and it was during his tenure as CRTC topper that the regulator created the first-ever Canadian-content regulations for both television and radio. These rules are considered by many to be significant factors in the subsequent development of a healthy TV and music industries in the Great White North. The rules stipulated that the TV networks had to air 60% Canadian fare, and radio stations had to air 30% Canadian music.

In recognition of his defining role in the music world in Canada, the Canadian music awards were named the Juno Awards in his honor. He also received a Juno Award as Canadian music industry man of the year in 1971.

An old friend of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Juneau ankled the CRTC in 1975 to take the position as Minister of Communications in Trudeau’s government. But he had to resign from the cabinet after he lost a by-election.

Juneau became president of pubcaster CBC in 1982 and, while head of the network, he helped create the country’s first all-news network, Newsworld. But while heading CBC, he had to grapple with major budget cuts brought in by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government.

“He was a great defender of Canadian content, a great defender of the public service and a great defender of the political independence of CBC vis-a-vis the government,” said Sylvain Lafrance, the former senior VP of French-language services at CBC, in an interview with the Radio-Canada website.

During his years as president of the CBC, he pushed to bring the Canadian content on the network up to 95%. He retired from CBC just as Newsworld was going to air.

Following his time at CBC, he founded the World Radio and Television Council, a UNESCO-supported non-government organization.

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