Former CBC, NFB head Pierre Juneau passes away

Pierre Juneau (pictured), former head of the National Film Board of Canada and the CBC, and the first chair of the CRTC, has passed away at the age of 89.
February 22, 2012

Pierre Juneau (pictured), a pioneer of Canadian content as the former head of the National Film Board of Canada and the CBC, and the first chair of the CRTC, died Tuesday, age 89.

His death was met with an immediate outpouring of messages of thanks from a Canadian radio and TV industry very much made and fashioned by Juneau’s hand.

“Pierre Juneau made a crucial contribution to the NFB in general and to French production in particular. Under his stewardship, French-language film-making thrived, affording great filmmakers opportunities for creation and innovation,” Tom Perlmutter, NFB chair and the government film commissioner, said in a statement on news of the passing of the cultural nationalist and champion of Canadian TV.

Juneau joined the NFB in 1949 as a Montreal district representative, and moved up to be the film board’s director of French-language production.

He was also appointed as head of the newly-created CRTC in 1968 by prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, where he set about to enforce the 1968 Broadcasting Act by in the early 70s mandating the first minimum standards for Cancon, or Canadian-content programming, on Canadian radio and TV services.

“[Juneau] played a seminal role in the promotion of Canadian culture during his many years of public service,” acting CRTC chair Leonard Katz said Tuesday in his own statement.

“We are especially indebted to the leadership he provided to the CRTC as its first chairman from 1968 to 1975,” he added.

Juneau went on to become the chairman of CBC/Radio-Canada from 1982 to 1989. During his term, he spearheaded the creation of CBC Newsworld, the 24-hour English-language news channel, now called the CBC News Network.

“Pierre Juneau was a passionate defender of public broadcasting and a fervent promoter of Canadian content,” current CBC president Hubert Lacroix said in a statement. “He was instrumental to shaping policy that allowed Canadians to build their own industry and their own content. We still feel his influence today.”

Writers Guild of Canada exec director Maureen Parker added: “Pierre Juneau believed in the importance of Canadian culture, and he brought that belief to life in policies that reshaped media in this country. He worked to make certain that Canadian artists have a voice in their own country. ┬áHe made it possible for Canadians to choose Canadian content in their entertainment.”

Juneau was inducted into the Playback Hall of Fame last year. Due to health issues, he ultimately could not attend the ceremony, but sent a message that was shared.

“He was really moved by this award and said, ‘why are they giving me an award for something I had to do?’” said Juneau’s longtime colleague at the Board of Broadcast Governors, Frank Delaney, accepting the award on Juneau’s behalf.

Juneau received the Order of Canada in 1975 and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada, among his many honors.

with files from Etan Vlessing

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.