News Canada

CBC French service drops 'Canada' in new brand

By David Akin, Postmedia Network

(ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency file photo)

(ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency file photo)

OTTAWA — Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC, is re-branding itself and dropping all reference to Canada in its new name.

Instead of calling itself Radio-Canada for French language TV, radio and digital programming, it will call itself "ICI" — the French word for "here."

The design and selection of the new Canada-free name cost taxpayers $400,000, a CBC spokesman said.

Federal politicians of all stripes said the name change was a waste of time.

Stephane Dion, the Montreal MP and former leader of the Liberals, thought a reporter was joking when he was told Radio-Canada would be called "ICI."

"(Heritage Minister James) Moore said he would not change the name," an incredulous Dion said.

Indeed, Moore told the House of Commons on March 27, his government would not change the legal name of Radio-Canada and Wednesday told reporters that was still the case. Moore said it appears the CBC's board of directors has simply decided to change its own branding for its French-language services, something that did not require his approval.

Still, Moore had a warning for CBC president Hubert Lacroix and his board of directors.

"There are enough people in this country who have raised concerns about it very quickly today as a consequence of this announcement that I think the CBC, for sure, has some explaining to do."

The CBC receives a taxpayer-funded subsidy of more than $1 billion a year for its English- and French-language programming.

"Canadians will pay for a Canadian public broadcaster as long as they understand there is a Canadian presence in both official languages across the country," Moore said. "Canadians will only tolerate these changes if the CBC can explain how they are not in any way backing away from what taxpayers expect from the CBC which is to be a Canadian broadcaster in mandate and brand."

NDP MP Pierre Nantel, otherwise a fierce defender of the CBC, said they got this one wrong.

"This is a weird call," said Nantel. "I'm quite disappointed. To me, the branding was (already) amazing. Radio-Canada is a symbol for everyone."

Guylaine Bergeron, CBC's director of communications and branding said the new brand of "ICI" is "rooted in history and spirit of the people, (and) sticks to the personality of the public broadcaster."

CBC said the cost of promoting the new name and brand will be incorporated into its ongoing advertising budget.

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