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CBC News The National is the CBC's flagship national television newscast. It reports on major Canadianmarker and international news stories, airing on CBC Television weeknights and Sundays at 10:00 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. NT). On Saturdays, a 30-minute edition generally airs at 6:00 p.m. ET during the season of Hockey Night in Canada (or if other live CBC Sports broadcasts are scheduled for that evening), and 6:00 local (7:00 AT, 7:30 NT) otherwise. Since the fall of 2007, The National has aired in HDTV, the first Canadian national newscast to do so.

The program is also aired on CBC News Network; on weekdays, the initial version that airs live to Atlantic Canadamarker on the main network is simulcast on CBC NN at 9:00 p.m., with several repeat broadcasts overnight. Until August 2005, The National was also seen in the United States on the defunct Newsworld International channel; the program continues to air occasionally on C-SPAN when that network wants to provide coverage of a major Canadian news story, or a Canadian angle for a world or American event. The newscast was officially known as CBC News: The National for several years. It is now officially known as CBC News The National but is billed as simply The National.

The National and other CBC newscasts, including its "supper hour" local newscasts, are streamed on the CBC website.


The National originally ran a news headlines segment for 20 to 25 minutes without commercial interruption, a format that has been relaxed or reinstated at various points over the years. Subsequent segments would consist of documentaries or other feature reports, either in the form of a separate program (The Journal or The Magazine) or more recently as additional segments of the main program.

Presently the opening segment generally runs 15 to 20 minutes, followed by additional segments of varying length featuring additional stories or features, although long-form documentaries or feature reports are not common under the program's current format.

Peter Mansbridge, as chief correspondent for CBC News, anchors the newscast on weekdays, but commonly takes Fridays off. There is currently no permanent weekend anchor, with that role being filled by a rotation of CBC journalists including Amanda Lang, Wendy Mesley and Diana Swain.

Weekday airings on CBC Television O&Os currently end at 10:55 with the anchor handing over to 10-minute local news bulletins. On CBC News Network, the weekday editions continue to run a full hour, with the final segment being extended to include an additional story and the national weather forecast. At this time it is not clear which version is aired by the main network's private affiliates, most of which have already been running 11:00 p.m. local newscasts.


The National originated as The National News in 1954. Since 1952, there had been a five minute national news bulletin on the fledgling CBC Television service - each bulletin would be read by a succession of readers which, ultimately, CBC management realised resulted in a disjoined broadcast. Program director Mavor Moore decided to choose a single newsreader for the program in order to create continuity and hired veteran radio newsman Larry Henderson to anchor the broadcast which soon expanded to nightly thirteen minute program airing at 11 pm. Henderson, who had hoped to become Canada's answer to Edward R. Murrow, had spent several years travelling the world with his Headliners radio broadcast. He proved a temperamental newsreader who would occasionally swear on the air, respond in anger to cues to speed up his reading, and once walked off the set when a filmed segment was not ready on cue.

Henderson left the broadcast in 1959 and was succeeded by Earl Cameron, who had been presenter of the National News Bulletin on CBC's main radio service, the Trans-Canada Network, since 1944. Changes in the philosophy of CBC News led to Cameron, a professional announcer rather than a journalist, being replaced by journalist Stanley Burke in 1966.

Though journalists were now reading the news, union regulations required a journalist acting as news anchor to leave the journalists' union and join the announcers' union and thus prohibited the anchor from doing anything other than reading a script written by others. Burke anchored the show from 1966 until 1969 when he resigned in order to launch a public campaign on the Biafran civil war. Burke was replaced by Warren Davis, at which point the show was rebranded The National and the program was broadcast in color. From 1970, the program was anchored by Lloyd Robertson until he was hired away by rival CTV in 1976, largely as a result of Robertson's frustration at not being able to participate in the writing of the newscast due to union rules.

Peter Kent hosted the show for two years and, because he had worked as a senior correspondent with CBC News Magazine and The National, he was allowed to report and write and anchor The National and CBC News Specials before leaving to return to work as a foreign correspondent. In 1978, Knowlton Nash—who had been Kent's boss—became the newscast's new anchor. During Nash's tenure, the CBC was able to win "formal" concessions from its unions allowing working journalists to read the news, allowing Nash to assume the title of "Chief Correspondent" for CBC News. This allowed him to participate in the writing of the show's script as well as act as a news editor with influence over the stories selected for the newscast and other questions of editorial judgement. Nash stepped down as chief anchor in 1988 and was replaced by Peter Mansbridge.

On 11 January 1982, The National was relaunched in the 10:00 PM timeslot with a modernized design and format. The Journal, a program that covered news stories in greater depth using interviews and documentaries, followed it at 10:22 PM.

One of the hosts of The Journal from the beginning was Barbara Frum, who quickly became a symbol of CBC News as she was not afraid to tackle the toughest and most controversial of issues. Frum died suddenly in March 1992. Her final interview was with Canadian author Mordecai Richler, which took place just days before her death.

That same year, the CBC, which was undergoing major changes, replaced The National and The Journal with Prime Time News, an integrated package which aired at 9:00 p.m. with two hosts, Mansbridge and Pamela Wallin. However, the show fared poorly in the ratings, and returned to the 10 p.m. time slot in 1994. During this time, the title The National was appropriated for a separate newscast on CBC Newsworld, hosted by Alison Smith.

In 1995, the main-network program reverted to the name The National, hosted by Peter Mansbridge, and was followed by The National Magazine, hosted by Hana Gartner. This later became simply The Magazine, and was hosted by Brian Stewart. The Magazine continued as a pseudo-separate program until fall 2000, when it was removed, seemingly on a temporary basis, to make room for additional Mansbridge-anchored coverage of the then-ongoing federal election under the moniker "Behind the Ballot". However, The Magazine did not return after the election, and Mansbridge continued to host the full hour. In early 2001, this integrated format was formally introduced as part of a revamp of the program; for a time, the latter part of the hour was often titled Documentary, on nights when such were featured; on other occasions, feature reports and/or panel discussions would be featured instead. The program acquired a new look and format in the eventful fall of that year with the CBC's latest corporate redesign.

Beginning in the late 1990s, in an effort to provide an alternative to the now-dominant 11:00 p.m. CTV National News, CBC owned-and-operated stations would repeat the news headline portion of The National at 11:00 p.m. This practice ended in October 2006, when repeats of The Hour began airing in that timeslot. Private affiliates of the CBC did not broadcast the 11 p.m. airing.

On 9 January 2006, The National adopted a new look as part of a major rebranding for CBC News, stemming mainly from an extensive study by the CBC into how to make news programming more relevant, particularly in the face of stiff competition from CTV National News and Global National. The rebranding was originally scheduled for September 2005 but was postponed due to the lengthy lockout that had just concluded at that time. The primary colour of CBC News shifted from blue to red, not unlike BBC News.

The CBC in summer 2006 briefly and controversially aired The National at 11 p.m. on Tuesday nights in the Eastern Time Zone, in order to simulcast the American airing of The One: Making a Music Star. The One received very low ratings on both ABC and CBC, and after two weeks The National returned to airing at 10 p.m. five nights a week as of 31 July 2006.

In May 2007, The National launched a redesigned website featuring the latest broadcast and recent documentaries, as well as an extensive online archive that opens the floor for comments from the viewers. There is also a behind the scenes blog and video bios on many of the reporters.

The CBC announced a strategic revamp of The National in December 2008, under which the network's weekend newscasts Saturday Report and CBC News: Sunday Night will also be renamed The National in 2009. In September 2009 The National switched to a seven night a week format. In line with the scheduling of CBC's former Saturday Report, the program continues to air at 6 p.m. on Saturdays, rather than the 10 p.m. timeslot in which it airs on all other days, because of Hockey Night in Canada.



The show opening during this period, known as "the Bloops", featured the title of the program in a "space-age" font in green on the bottom of the screen, superimposed over a wide shot of the set. Sometimes the program title appeared in the center of the screen, with a black background. Accompanied by synthesized beeps that resembled an old computer, different letters rapidly cycled from left to right until they spelled "The National".

An announcer, usually Allan McFee, would intone "The National, with," followed by the name of the anchor, followed by a cut to a shot of the anchor beside a screen. The anchor of the program would then summarize the top stories as different slides appeared for each of them on the screen.


An internal study was conducted in July 1979 on whether to move The National to the 10 p.m. slot. This study group was composed of Bill Morgan, Mark Starowicz, and Vince Carlin.

11 January 1982, the CBC relaunched The National with a radically different format and presentation style that looked very hi-tech for its time. The intro started with a map of the world superimposed on a cube which began to rotate, splitting into smaller cubes as it did. The final rotation revealed the title of the show in shiny chrome lettering using the font Stop. The synthesized opening music featured a fanfare played by The Canadian Brass, called The National.

During the mid-1980s, Quantel Paintbox was used to create many of the graphics for the stories.


In 1991, CBC updated the presentation of The National with more modern computer graphics. The logo used all upper-case letters in the typeface Times New Roman.


Between 1992 and 1995, the main network's newscast was called Prime Time News; the name The National was retained on CBC Newsworld.


The logo used the font Palatino in upper-case for the words "The National", and Frutiger in upper-case for the words "CBC News" underneath.


A new opening and look for the show appeared that retained the style of the 1995 opening but used somewhat more sophisticated and modern computer animation.


logo used the typeface Microgramma, centred on two lines, with the CBC News logo underneath in Frutiger. It was short-lived, lasting only a few months.


In the fall of 2001 the presentation of The National was updated along with the corporate redesign of the entire network to have one consistent branding. The New York design firm Razorfish designed the look of this and other network programs. The logo used the typeface Frutiger in upper case.

In late 2004 or early 2005, several graphics were modified, featuring more blue, less beige, and a slightly modified logo (with bolder type for "The National"). These changes were only implemented in selected sequences, sometimes leading to confusion - i.e. the older set of graphics was used at the start of the newscast's opening, and the new set was used at the end of the open.

The opening sequence started with the CBC News ID which flowed into the main graphic sequence, followed by Mansbridge or the fill-in anchor saying "Tonight ..." followed by a verbal listing of the main headlines and accompanying video and graphics. The title sequence would then continue, and cut to an aerial view of Toronto (new shot every Monday which then ran the entire week) and a Lisa Dalbello announcing up and under the theme saying "The National; from the Canadian Broadcasting Centremarker, here is Peter Mansbridge."


In early 2006, the entire news division - including The National and CBC Newsworld - received another update, including a new theme song and new title sequences, featuring the colours red, black, and white. From 2008 to the 2009 rebranding, Tony Daniels introduced the show and the host.


After more than two years in the making, The National underwent sweeping changes on 26 October 2009. Host Peter Mansbridge began delivering all segments of the news standing up.

The set was redesigned and the colour blue was mixed into the previous channel's colours of red and white. A press release originally stated that the 2006 theme music would remain intact, however, new music cues by Eggplant Collective were created.


Other personalities who have anchored The National as weekend or substitute anchors include George McLean, Alison Smith, Wendy Mesley, Diana Swain, Carole MacNeil, Mark Kelley, Brian Stewart, Ian Hanomansing and Heather Hiscox. In 1974, Jan Tennant became the first woman to anchor the programme.



The National is the recipient of numerous awards including Geminis and foreign awards.


  1. - Video
  2. Biography
  3. CNW Telbec | CBC TELEVISION | CBC Television values The National and all its CBC news programming
  4. "CBC to retune its TV news division", The Globe and Mail, December 5, 2008.

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