Stursberg out as CBC’s English-lingo topper

Canadian pubcaster tight-lipped about exec's decision

Richard Stursberg, head of Canuck pubcaster CBC’s English-language services since 2004, ankled Friday.

No reason was given by either side for the exec’s decision. CBC Television manager Kirstine Stewart will step in on an interim basis.

A controversial figure inside and outside the org, Stursberg played tough guy during the lockout of CBC workers in 2005 over pay, and oversaw the gutting of arts programming and massive change to flagship news show “The National” and CBC’s news operations.

During his tenure, CBC viewership rose overall thanks to new shows like “Dragon’s Den” and “Battle of the Blades.”

But, as many pundits have noted, its aud share has dropped compared with that of commercial broadcasters CTV and Global.

News of Stursberg’s departure almost completely overshadowed the CBC’s announcement that it will not be able to meet the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s Aug. 31, 2011 deadline to convert from analog to digital over-the-air TV signals.

Only 15 of the 27 transmitters CBC needs to make the switchover nationally will be active in time.

CRTC rules require broadcasters to convert signals in markets designated as mandatory by the deadline or cease airing them. CBC has applied for permission to continue broadcasting analog signals in eight English and four French markets until new transmitters are built.

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