What makes a perfectly sane and capable executive leave a thriving private broadcaster to take on one of the most thankless, high-profile jobs in Canadian broadcasting – one which has crushed the spirit of many who have gone before? Only Kirstine Layfield knows for sure; she’s the former SVP at Alliance Atlantis who became executive director of network programming at Canadian pubcaster CBC in February.
Layfield is facing a Herculean task. She recently told realscreen sister publication Playback that her goals for the CBC are to boost primetime ratings with smarter packaging and promotion, take part in a greater number of coproductions with international public broadcasters, add new international formats that can be produced locally, and bring on more best-of-the-world shows such as Coronation Street.
Layfield says oft-sluggish CBC execs will be expected to greenlight projects faster, and will be more direct and open when communicating what they want from producers – reversing the previous party line that Canadians would know CBC shows when they see them. For their part, producers better deliver – Layfield’s boss, CBC EVP of English TV Richard Stursberg, recently said he’s expecting non-fiction shows to draw 800,000-plus viewers on the net.
‘As a public broadcaster, we have an obligation to entertain and inform the Canadian public, and it’s going to have to be more of the Canadian public than have been watching lately,’ says Layfield. bc