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The Globe and Mail

CBC tenders for PR help amid funding cuts

People walk into the CBC building in Toronto on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.


The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is looking for a public-relations company to help it get its news programs and in-house celebrities in front of more viewers and "break through the cluttered media environment."

The CBC filed a tender for a two-year contract, with an option for a third, to provide it with public relations and marketing assistance. The CBC wouldn't say how much it plans to spend on the services, which it has used in the past to help draw attention to its people and programs. Veritas Communications is under contract, but the broadcaster must return to the market whenever a term expires.

"The purpose of this request for proposals is to identify and secure a long-term agreement with a best-in-class publicity service provider," the broadcaster wrote. "The successful agency will have the experience, expertise and creative talent to produce events and outreach that break through the cluttered media environment to message and position all of our content within the CBC and CBC News brand."

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The CBC said this applies to all genres including news, unscripted, scripted, CBC Music, documentary and sports.

"This may include publicity services for red carpet events, event flow, event planning and execution, public engagement promotion, event list management, drafting remarks (speakers notes or presentation content, expertise in planning and ideation, strategic business innovation and other support for the CBC publicity team," the RFP's summary states (the full version is not available to the public).

The company that wins the contract must do at least $5-million a year in billings, have been in business for at least five years, be able to provide a list of references and have a physical presence in Toronto.

The broadcaster is in the midst of hundreds of job cuts as it works to trim $115-million from its billion-dollar annual operating budget in the wake of federal cuts. It's also struggling to keep Saturday-night viewers, with Hockey Night In Canada running reruns thanks to the National Hockey League lockout.

The broadcaster's executives – along with some competitors who feel the broadcaster is using public funding to compete with them unfairly – appeared before Canada's broadcast regulator last month for a licence renewal hearing. President Hubert Lacroix said the broadcaster needs to find new ways to get its content in front of Canadians despite the funding cuts.

"The environment in which we are working, the pace of change is incredibly fast. It is constantly accelerating," he told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. "But this is not something that is going to stop … what you will then see in 2015, 2016 and 2017 is our adjustment to the environment of that time, trying to constantly keep CBC/Radio-Canada, as a public broadcaster, a modern, an efficient and a very active broadcaster in the lives of Canadian citizens."

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