Executives from Radio-Canada and the Broccolini Real Estate Group, which owns the new building, just west of the existing tower, gave journalists a tour of the site Thursday.
Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette
The first thing you notice visiting the site of the new Maison de Radio-Canada is that it is significantly smaller than the current home of the public broadcaster, just west of the new building.The second thing is that the TV and radio studios are situated in a much more open setting, whereas many of those studios are in the basement of the existing 23-storey circular tower.Executives from Radio-Canada and the Broccolini Real Estate Group, which owns the new building, gave journalists a tour of the site Thursday.Broccolini is set to deliver the finished building to CBC/Radio-Canada in January 2020, and the broadcaster will spend the following four to six months moving its offices and studios.The smaller building — 400,000 square feet versus 1.3 million — will have no impact on the quality of programming, according to Radio-Canada executives.“The space we have right now is simply much too large,” said Michel Bissonnette, executive vice-president of French services. “It’s incredible the amount of square-footage that we’re not using.“And the other problem is the way the tower is structured. It’s like a doughnut hole. So there’s a hole at the middle of every floor and it serves absolutely no purpose. So with the new building we will be able to fit exactly the same number of employees.CBC/Radio-Canada will be paying rent of $20 million per year in the new facility for the next 30 years — the same amount it was paying to maintain the current building.Radio-Canada sold the current building and the western part of the property to Groupe Mach for $42 million in 2017.
CBC/Radio-Canada will be paying rent of $20 million per year in the new facility for the next 30 years — the same amount it was paying to maintain the current building.
Dave Sidaway /
Bissonnette said the broadcaster felt it was important to become a tenant rather than an owner.“Our business is content and news and (it’s important) to be closer to the product,” Bissonnette said. “We don’t want to be in the real estate business, and for us it was a way of having more money to produce content.”Executives have said it would have cost $170 million to renovate the current tower if they had decided to stay there.One of the odder aspects of life inside the current Radio-Canada tower is that there is surprisingly little communication and collaboration between the anglophone and francophone journalists. Bissonnette believes the structure of the new Maison will facilitate more dialogue between the two media solitudes.“In the older building there were a lot of people in the basement and there was no communication,” he said. “Here there are less floors but every floor is bigger. So it will be so much easier for the communication and the relationships between the people.“And we will use the same studios. So CBC people will be able to use Radio-Canada studios and vice versa.”The executives were also underlining the technology behind the new facility. Bissonnette said Radio-Canada will become the first major public broadcaster in the world entirely powered by Internet Protocol technology along its full production and distribution chain and on all platforms.In the winter of 2020, CBC News in Montreal will become the first team to test live broadcast using IP technology from its studio in the new building.There will be seven floors on the north side of the building and four floors on the south side, with an atrium in between. There will be 11 TV studios and 19 radio email@example.com/brendanshowbizRelated