CBC hires former Corus exec Barbara Williams as English-language boss

TORONTO — The CBC is turning to former Corus executive Barbara Williams to lead its English-language TV, radio, and online services.

CBC/Radio-Canada president Catherine Tait says Williams takes the reins as executive vice-president on May 1.

The industry veteran assumes the role following the resignation of CBC executive Heather Conway, who announced last November that she was stepping down after five years.

In October, Williams announced her retirement from Corus, where she was executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

In that role, she oversaw content on Global Television and specialty channels including History, HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada, as well as digital, radio and the children’s media company Nelvana.

Before that, Williams served as president of Shaw Media, overseeing all aspects of the company’s business before it was acquired by Corus in April 2016.

“I have asked Barbara to take on this role because of her vast experience as a network executive and her keen understanding of Canada’s ever-changing media landscape,” Tait said Wednesday in a statement.

“This is an important time for the public broadcaster as we look to spark an even deeper connection with audiences here and around the world. Given her track record in building content strategies that consistently result in audience growth, Barbara will help us do just that.”

In the same release, Williams said she was excited to be joining the public broadcaster.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of strong, dynamic Canadian content, and in the critical role the public broadcaster plays in providing timely and trustworthy news. It has the power to connect people and shift perspectives. I’m looking forward to working with the team at CBC to bring even more compelling Canadian stories to our audiences.”

Williams’ industry experience runs deep.

Her time at Shaw included a stint as senior vice-president of content, when she handled U.S. acquisition deals as well as the creation of Canadian original productions including “Big Brother Canada,” “Vikings,” “Rookie Blue” and “Top Chef Canada.”

Williams has also served in top positions at Canwest Broadcasting and Alliance Atlantis.

The Canadian Press

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