TORONTO — Film and TV veteran Catherine Tait has been appointed for a five-year term as president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, making her the first women in the public broadcaster’s top job, Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly announced on Tuesday morning.
“I am honored to announce this significant milestone for our national broadcaster,” Joly said at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. “We benefit from [Tait’s] depth of experience as an entrepreneur, business leader, and lifelong champion for Canadian content.”
“CBC/Radio-Canada, along with public broadcasters around the world, are under significant competitive pressure,” Tait told the crowd. “In order for public broadcasters to survive and to flourish, we must flourish on the services, news, and programming that most connect with our public, not just as one audience, but as many audiences. This is, after all, the power of digital.”
After the Liberal Party, under Justin Trudeau, won the 2015 federal election, the Canadian government made a number of changes at the CBC, including a CAN$675 million boost over five years to the pubcaster’s funding, and an overhaul of the process by which its senior executive jobs and board of directors are appointed.
Tait, 60, who currently lives in New York, was most recently president of the independent film, TV, and digital company Duopoly. She founded digital content production company and distributor iThentic, and served as president and COO of Toronto-based Salter Street Films. Over the years, she worked for or advised many Canadian media and broadcast giants, including Telefilm, the Canada Media Fund, CHUM, eOne, and DHX Media.
Tait, who has also served as Canada’s cultural diplomat to France, will meet with outgoing CBC president Hubert Lacroix and other execs before providing details of any changes she plans to make in her new position.
“Her proven leadership skills, driven by a collaborative and visionary approach, in addition to her extensive international experience and strong connection to all regions of Canada, makes her the ideal candidate to lead the public broadcaster,” said Telefilm Canada acting chair G. Grant Machum in a statement. “I congratulate Catherine and look forward to continuing the partnership of our two organizations.”
“Catherine is the first head of CBC/Radio-Canada with deep experience in content production, which is a huge strength that she brings to the role,” said Scott Garvie, chair of the Canadian Media Producers Association and senior vice-president at Shaftesbury. “She has also shown throughout her career that she is not afraid to experiment and find new ways of reaching audiences. Her drive to innovate will help keep the public broadcaster relevant and connected to younger generations of Canadians.”
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of the country’s largest cultural institutions.