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CBC Digital Archives

Past, Present and Future

What's the lifespan of a radio broadcast or a television show after it leaves the air? A day? An hour? A second? To most people, radio and TV programming is instant and disposable. A program comes, a program goes, another takes its place.

Not so in CBC Archives. Here, more than seven decades of CBC radio and television history lives on - in millions of discs, films, tapes, photographs, paper records and electronic databases.

And what a collection. It's hard to imagine anything more valuable as a programming resource or cultural artifact. From live news and documentaries, to state funerals, sports championships and kids TV, the sum of this content is a rich, irreplaceable record of Canada's national heritage. And with each day's broadcasts, the story grows.

Enter the archives staff. It's their job to catalogue, preserve and make this material available for reuse or rebroadcast - to programmers inside the CBC and to broadcasters, filmmakers and other institutions across Canada and around the world.

It wasn't always this way. In the CBC's early years archives were not a priority, as few people thought the items would have long-term value. Then slowly, that began to change. People realized the material's worth. New technologies made production cheaper and storage easier. Computer systems made it possible to track, manage and provide ready-access to the collection.

Today, CBC Archives have come into their own. And Canadians are that much richer for it. Take your own virtual visit of CBC Archives: