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CBC President Hubert Lacroix with banners celebrating the 75th anniversary of Canada's public broadcaster. (Pawel Dwulit/Pawel Dwulit/The Canadian Press)
CBC President Hubert Lacroix with banners celebrating the 75th anniversary of Canada's public broadcaster. (Pawel Dwulit/Pawel Dwulit/The Canadian Press)

CBC's 75th-birthday celebrations cost at least $6.6-million Add to ...

The CBC spent at least $6.6-million to celebrate its 75th birthday, including $300,000 on a CD box set and $590,000 on corporate communications, although the overall budget for anniversary programming is still being kept secret, documents show.

The Crown corporation earmarked a budget of $1.5-million for the celebrations, to be shared between its English- and French-language services for matters such as advertising and various partnerships with federal agencies.

Additional funds came out of the CBC’s existing annual budgets, including $5-million on jubilee-related programming for a series of broadcasts on its French-language radio and television channels.

However, documents released under Access to Information did not include English-language production costs, and a spokesman said on Wednesday that the information is not publicly available at this time.

The CBC is under fire over its spending as budget cuts loom and the Conservative government is calling on the public broadcaster to be increasingly transparent about how it spends its $1.1-billion in federal funding. The Crown corporation is also facing growing outside scrutiny as rival news media organizations, led by members of the Quebecor group such as Sun Media, pore through its annual budgets.

Documents about the 75th anniversary budgets were initially released to Montreal newspaper La Presse, and later obtained by The Globe and Mail. While the documents provide a clear breakdown of certain promotional and communications costs, the CBC blanked out all specific financial information related to its programming, as allowed under the Access to Information Act.

The CBC said it organized a series of events, such as open doors at 30 locations across the country and partnerships with a number of federal museums, with its $1.5-million envelope.

“That was the budget that went above and beyond programming,” said CBC spokesman Angus MacKinnon. “As far as programming was concerned, all 75th anniversary programming came out of our normal programming budgets, over the course of the year and in many different forms.”

The CBC has worked on a number of television and radio specials to celebrate its 75th anniversary, including: Long Story Short, an hour-long look through the CBC archives hosted by Martin Short; Wayne & Shuster Legacy III, recounting the careers of the comedic duo; John A: Birth of a Country, a movie about Canada's first prime minister; and a live performance by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Cirque Eloize.

On the French-language side, the CBC has produced a CD box set including 75 songs that were performed on its radio and television shows over the decades. It also produced a series of special events, including a glitzy launch to its anniversary celebrations in Montreal.

The Crown corporation also organized a series of partnerships with public events, such as a fireworks competition in Gatineau, Que.

Other expenditures include:

- $117,000 on promotional items;

- $18,540 on commemorative coins and other items for employee recognition;

- $37,402 on banners;

- $48,000 for “internal activities” that were held on Nov. 2;

- $315,000 on television ads;

- $40,000 for a series of conferences by Bernard Derome, a long-time anchorman on Radio-Canada.

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