Without Pierre Juneau, Canada’s broadcasting landscape would be vastly different. He is the architect of Canadian content and a champion of public broadcasting and Canadian ownership.
Pierre Juneau was born in the Montreal suburb of Verdun on October 17, 1922. In 1949, he joined the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) first as their Montreal distribution representative and then as their European agent in London. Upon his return to Canada in 1954, Juneau served as secretary to the board of directors and assistant to the president. In 1964, he became the director of French language production for the NFB. It was also during this time that Juneau became one of the founding members of the highly influential review Cité libre with Gérard Pelletier, Pierre Trudeau and others.
Juneau left the NFB in 1966 to become vice-chairman of the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG). In 1968, the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) replaced the BBG and Juneau was named its first chairman. He held this position until 1975. As CRTC chairman, Juneau is best remembered for promoting Canadian content regulations in radio, television and cable. These regulations, often referred to as Cancon, helped create a domestic market for Canadian music and television programs.
In the wake of the CRTC policy, in 1971, two supporters of Canadian music, Walt Grealis and Stan Klees, publishers of RPM, a weekly music trade publication, created the Gold Leaf Awards. A year later, at the suggestion of reader Hal Philips, they re-named the show the Juno Awards in honour of Juneau and the Roman goddess of the same name. In 1975, with the establishment of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), an agreement was made between CARAS and RPM to handle the event, working with all segments of the Canadian music industry.
In 1975, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Juneau Minister of Communications, which he later resigned after being defeated in a by-election. He went on to hold various deputy minister positions such as chairman of the National Capital Commission and deputy minister of Communications under the Trudeau government. He also served as Under Secretary of State during the Clark government. Juneau was appointed president of the CBC in 1982 for the usual seven-year mandate, which ended the same day Newsworld was launched in July 1989.
After retiring, Juneau created and chaired the World Radio and Television Council with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and occasionally acted as an UNESCO consultant, advising on public broadcasting policy. In that capacity, he travelled to various countries including Kazakhstan, Croatia, Malaysia and Brazil. He also served as president of a voluntary development organization called the Canadian Center for Study and Development (CECI) from 1990 to 1996.