Canadian pubcaster CBC/Radio-Canada has named Catherine Tait as its new president and CEO.
Tait (pictured), who becomes the first woman to hold the position, is replacing outgoing president Hubert Lacroix.
Lacroix will remain in the role until Tait begins in July.
A 30-year veteran of the Canadian film and TV industry, Tait is one of Canada’s digital/interactive-prodco pioneers, co-founding digital content company iThentic in 2006 and movie-channel company Hollywood Suite in 2010 with the late Jay Switzer and three other partners.
She also previously served as the president and COO of Salter Street Films from 1997 until the company was sold to Alliance Atlantis in 2001.
Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly made the official announcement today (April 3) in Ottawa. Joly said that Tait takes over a challenging role at a time of “great change in our media and broadcast sector” but that she’s excited by the “energy, vision and leadership” that Tait will bring to the pubcaster.
For her part, Tait said she is looking forward to the challenge.
“In this extraordinary climate of change, CBC/Radio-Canada, along with public broadcasters around the world are under significant competitive pressure. In order of public broadcasters to survive and to flourish, we must focus on the services, news and programming that most connect with our public,” said Tait.
“Only through collaboration can we strengthen Canada’s position on the world stage. As a producer myself, I know how hard it is to create great content that connects with an audience. To provide national and local news with integrity each and every day, and to link the country through radio and online, in an immediate and tactile fashion are harder still and equally important.”
On the content front, Tait pointed to Murdoch Mysteries and Anne, saying the pubcaster needs “more of these hits” but also that content reflective of Canada’s population must remain core to the pubcaster’s mandate.
“We also need to reach deep into our shared culture, for Indigenous peoples to tell their own stories, to tell the stories of the many struggles and triumphs of new Canadians, of women and of the LGBTQ community. By being inclusive storytellers we enrich our collective experience as Canadians and as citizens. The key is that Canadians tune in because they want to. Because they want to share what they see and hear on CBC/Radio-Canada with others.”
Tait’s appointment has been met with optimism from the screen industry. In a statement, CMPA chair and SVP at Shaftesbury Scott Garvie said Tait is the first head of the pubcaster with “deep experience in content production.” He added, “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.”
Meanwhile, Telefilm’s acting chair G. Grant Machum said in a release that Tait’s “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.”
The government also announced today the appointment of four additional board of director members. Michael Goldboom has been appointed chair, joining new board members Suzanne Guèvremont, Guillaume Aniorté and Sandra B. Singh.
In June 2017, Canadian Heritage created an independent committee to recommend candidates for the pubcaster’s board of directors with a goal to achieving gender parity and ensuring Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are represented in positions of leadership.
Outgoing leader Lacroix, who has served in the role since 2008, was set to step down at the end of 2017, but agreed to stay on when a replacement was not found in time.
Lacroix has been an active proponent for the modernizing the Canadian broadcaster. He encouraged the organization to build a more digital operation with a five-year strategic plan that aimed to grow its online reach from 8.7 million to 18 million by 2020, a goal that has already been met.
From Playback Daily, with files from Jeromy Lloyd