Rio 2016: Risky Business

As Canada’s Olympic Network, we’re excited and proud to be sharing the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Canadians. Faced with multiple security risks associated with travelling to Rio de Janeiro – everything from pickpockets to the Zika virus to large-scale security threats – we are heading over with specific plans and strategies to keep our employees safe while they do their jobs on the ground.

So who better to explain how to allow for “business as usual” when you’re surrounded by potential risks than Benoit Suire and Harris Silver, two high-risk deployment managers for our media lines (French and English, respectively). As far as risk management goes, they have been there and done that. Both come to their roles at the public broadcaster with extensive military experience: Benoit in the French Ministry of Defence, where he also spent time in West Africa, Afghanistan and other deployments; and Harris in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as with the UN.

What goes into security planning in preparation for Olympic Games?

Harris Silver : We’ve been working on the security aspect of the Games for well over a year. It all starts with a risk assessment of the location and tasks to be done (for example news gathering, sports coverage, programming, etc). We then try to determine the hazards and the probability of them occurring; and, of course, the impact if they do occur.  We then put in mitigation measures to bring the total risk to a level that is tolerable for the Corporation and the individuals who are deploying.

Benoit Suire : First and foremost, it’s a team effort that involves developing a synergy and expertise within a larger context – that of the Olympic Games. We want to create a consistency between the opposing realities of Canada and Brazil. We want to ensure that our news crews can serve the Canadian public from Rio as well as they would from anywhere in Canada.

It’s also important to develop a relationship with our hosts. My past experience has proved that direct contact, and even immersion when possible, with locals is a long and important tradition that shouldn’t be overlooked. More often than not, it benefits everyone when it comes to risk assessment and adapting our behaviour accordingly to make sure we act appropriately and respectfully. After all, we are their guests.

What are the main security risks and recommendations?

Benoit Suire : The risks in Rio are numerous: petty crime, theft, assault, prostitution, and fraud are the more significant, not to mention health risks associated to the possible exposure to the Zika virus.

Unfortunately, the economic realities of Brazil right now have boosted crime and the Olympic Games provide criminals with an opportunity to diversify their income.

As simple security precautions, we are asking people to: travel in groups, inform colleagues of their whereabouts, use the Olympic shuttles for transportation, and that sort of thing. We obviously have a robust set of recommendations and procedures that we share with anyone who is going to be over there on the ground.

How do you prepare the teams that are being deployed to Rio?

Benoit Suire : All of our employees are briefed and trained before departure to ensure that we are all on the same page. We realize that sometimes the security restrictions that we impose can seem cumbersome, but we do not make them needlessly.

Harris Silver : What we try to do, in terms of both training and approach, is to educate our teams on the risks they are taking and how to reduce the levels of risk to a level they are comfortable accepting. This allows them to go out and effectively get the great stories that they do and still come back to do it again.

Benoit Suire

Thank you to Harris and Benoit for taking the time to share with us. As the games quickly approach, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our employees who continue to work tirelessly. Your dedication is inspiring and we remind you to stay safe!  remind you that we are here for any of your security concerns. For those of you travelling to the games, we will have regular updates and any breaking information on our internal site as well as a crisis line, should it be needed. If you are following the games from home, follow us on any of our social media accounts for up-to-the-minute coverage of all things Rio 2016.

-Jennifer Bradbury, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications
-Christena Morrell, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications

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#Startupfest : How to pitch like a pro

For the last three years, CBC Montreal has been challenging young aspiring business owners to impress them at Startupfest. CBC Montreal set up a Media Pitch Tent at the Festival and gave start-ups a chance to hone their product pitches by practicing them on seasoned journalists.

Media Pitch Competition

The entrepreneurs battled it out for the chance to be crowned the winners of the Media Pitch Prize. This title, while amazing in it’s own right, also came with the bonus of being featured on CBC’s platforms. As an emerging Canadian company, national media exposure can be a really big break. Oh and did I mention that there was one other challenge? The pitch could be no longer than one minute.

“Pitching to local media is very different than pitching to an investor and the start-ups know that,” said Debbie Hynes, Regional Communications Manager, CBC Montreal. “After their pitch, they get practical advice and feedback on how to better tell this story. That’s invaluable for them.”

This year it was Bhaskar Goswami who blew the judges away, pitching a website called daana that connects people to free wellness classes happening near them. The site lists classes like meditation, chanting, yoga and self-defense. After attending a class, people receive an email asking if they’d like to give some money to daana to pay the teachers of future classes.

Past recipients of the Media Pitch Prize include GymBirds and Tailor 2 Go.

-Sarah Lue, Social Media Advisor, Enterprise Communications

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Stepping up our game for #Rio2016

What do Canada’s athletes have in common with technology staff at CBC/Radio-Canada?

“We step up our game at each Olympic Games,” says Lorraine St-Germain, Senior Director of Telecommunications, Technology Solutions with the Media Technology and Infrastructure Services (MTIS) group (she’s shown in the photo below with Michel Béland and Mathieu Rochon).

111 blogSince pioneering the use of remote server technology at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, we have earned a reputation among international broadcasters for being truly innovative with our production technology at the Olympics.

The Internet Protocol (IP) technology we will use this summer is a perfect example of that innovation. It will transport our live audio and video feeds (in real time) and our data traffic from Rio 2016 to our studios in Toronto and Montreal. The plan is for those primary feeds sent on a diverse, software-defined wide-area network (WAN) using IP connectivity, to interconnect seamlessly with our studio equipment back in Canada, where they will be packaged for presentation and broadcast as our Olympic Games coverage on television, radio and the web.

IP technology is already well-established in the IT world. Now, the growing convergence of broadcast production technology and IT offers us the opportunity to replace our legacy, purpose-built broadcast production equipment with a more flexible, scalable and cost-effective alternative – one that supports real-time audio and video feeds and non-real-time data traffic – based on IP technology.

Our new IP-based network is a team effort. It was designed by:


Michel Béland (senior project manager, Telecommunications)
Mathieu Rochon (master maintenance technician, Production Solutions)
Brian Johnston (supervising engineer, Infrastructure Solutions)
Rob Bunn (technical producer, Media Operations and Technology)

Michel is focused on transporting signals from point A to points B and C, and making sure the network doesn’t go down. By his own account, he is always looking one or two Olympics ahead. Brian works closely with local studios in Toronto and Montreal to serve their production and digital programming needs. Rob helps everyone else do their job and stay on track. As a representative of the Olympics Resource Group, he also brings the latter’s production needs to the table. Mathieu designs the remote installations for radio, TV and digital broadcasts overseas and works to ensure our global workflow for production at Rio 2016 operates smoothly. As the others laughingly agree, Mathieu also fixes their overly “crazy” ideas to ensure that our plans stay on track for success. It’s clear from their banter that they enjoy working together.

So after all the months of planning, what’s their biggest hope for Rio 2016?

Rob: ”Once we get into Day One, I hope that Mathieu and Michel are the most bored employees at the Olympics. And I’m confident this will be the case.”

Brian: ”That we have leeway to experiment and test on the signals in Rio. The better we execute on the Games we’re doing – the more we get right – the more we get to test for the next Olympics.”

In other words, that we step up our game, as usual. Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes coverage and interviews as we get closer to Rio!

– Elizabeth Forster, Senior Advisor, Client Services, Enterprise Communications

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Photo Roundup: Canoe Kayak Canada names Olympic & Paralympic teams at Maison Radio-Canada

On Monday, June 27th at Maison Radio-Canada in Montreal, Canoe Kayak Canada named eleven athletes to represent Canada in paddling events at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Here are some photos from the event!

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Opportunity: Journalism internships available with Radio-Canada for First Nations youth

A new kind of partnership with First Nations organizations and communities is about to take root at Radio-Canada. I use the word “partnership” because the entire initiative is the product of an ongoing collaborative relationship between the public broadcaster and First Nations.

Luc Simard, Radio-Canada’s Director of Diversity and Community Relations, has been working for over two years on setting up these one-year paid journalism internships for First Nations candidates. Luc was inspired by a similar program launched a few years ago by CBC – a program that has yielded some impressive results. A prime example is the CBC News/Aboriginal portal, which I encourage you to visit if you haven’t done so already.

I might as well say it straight away: Luc and I had a fascinating conversation. Right off the bat, he told me: “This initiative is definitely a win-win situation.” In other words, the one-year internships in four Quebec regional newsrooms (Sept-Îles, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières and Quebec City) will be just as beneficial for Radio-Canada as they are for our Aboriginal partners, who include the First Nations Education Council and the member media organizations of the Société de communication Atikamekw-Montagnais. The interns will be supervised jointly by their Radio-Canada colleagues and the Aboriginal organizations – something that’s never been done before.

Naturally, the goal of the internships is to recruit First Nations journalists and bring them on board Radio-Canada News and Current Affairs; but the collaboration works both ways. The interns will be able to move back and forth between the public broadcaster and the Aboriginal media outlets they came from. This flexible arrangement was a key requirement for the First Nations, as it will allow the interns to share their newfound knowledge and experience. “It’s important to remember that although half of Quebec Aboriginals live in the city, they like to stay in close touch with their roots and their community – the place where their parents and grandparents lived,” Luc said.

For its part, Radio-Canada has everything to gain from this new form of inclusive partnership: not only will the interns allow the public broadcaster to provide more accurate, culturally sensitive coverage of First Nations realities, including noteworthy initiatives taking place in native communities, but they will also bring an Aboriginal perspective to general news reporting. “I’d be very interested in seeing how an Aboriginal reporter tackles environmental or public policy issues,” Luc says.

I, too, look forward to seeing the tangible results of these internships starting this fall. In the meantime, interested First Nations candidates can submit their résumés and cover letters through our corporate website. The deadline is July 15, 2016.

– Jacinthe Lacombe-Cliche, Senior Writer, Enterprise Communications

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