CBC to return as broadcaster of the Juno Awards

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CBC to return as broadcaster of the Juno Awards

After a 16-year absence, the Juno Awards are headed back to CBC next year.

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) said Wednesday the Junos will be broadcast on CBC for at least six years, starting next March when the award show travels to Vancouver.  

CTV has been broadcasting the show since 2002.

Allan Reid, president and CEO of the Junos and CARAS, said the move marks the next chapter for the awards, which fete the best in Canadian music.

"The switch happened because of a conversation we had a few months back about being more than just an awards show," he said. "Having seen what the CBC did with the Tragically Hip concert last summer, there was a real excitement about coming to CBC and taking CARAS, which is more than just the Juno Awards, and showing sort of the full range of what we do as an organization."

There are no concrete plans about what the partnership will look like just yet, but Reid said the idea is to be able to showcase Juno- and Canadian music-related programming "365 days of the year." That includes highlighting some of the less popular genres the awards celebrate, like classical, jazz and roots music.

"It's so broad what we do, but people just see the big pop acts on the broadcast," he said. "I feel like a kid in the candy store actually coming in here and saying, 'OK, what can we do for jazz? Classical? Indigenous?'"

Reid said they are leaving CTV on good terms; he said the broadcaster did not drop the awards show and that the parties discussed renewing the show's contract before CARAS decided to go with CBC.

Bringing them back

It's a return home: CBC was the original broadcaster of the show, first in 1973 on the CBC Radio program The Entertainers, before CBC took it to television in 1975. CBC broadcast every show throughout the late 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s before CTV took over.

 

During the CBC reign, the show was hosted by CBC personalities like Rick Mercer and the cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. And the Juno Award itself is named after the former president of the CBC, Pierre Juneau, who brought in Canadian content (Cancon) regulations for radio and television.

Mark Steinmetz, the senior director of CBC Music, reached out to Reid with a pitch to bring the Junos back. He argued being on CBC would help amplify the show's presence year-round.

"It's hard just to drop in an awards show one night and expect everyone to start watching it," Steinmetz said. "The brand itself is great, and it will engage the audience that it engages, but I think we can bring more people to the awards show [with] more of a lead-up, more of a 365 … approach to it."

Are awards shows still relevant?

That's a challenge given the glut of awards shows with bigger names and more prominence than the Junos. But Reid argues the show is still relevant because of the different genres the Junos recognize and the up-and-coming "discovery" artists they celebrate.

He admits there's still work to be done — this year's crop of nominees was criticized for its lack of female nominees, particularly in the technical categories. And after the Junos broadcast earlier this month in Ottawa, co-host Russell Peters was blasted for "off-script remarks" he made about young women and Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

"We have to be careful in who we hire, but again ... Russell's hosted the show, this is his third time. And he's done a great job for us," Reid said. "We just have to make sure we're better prepared."

The 2018 awards are set for March 25 at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.