The Island of Trust

Ten years ago, in March, I was on a warm sandy beach in Goa, writing the strategic plan for Knowledge Network. It wasn’t how I had planned to spend my few days of free time after a week-long workshop in Calcutta. Days before I’d left for India I received a call from Ron Burnett, then the Chair of the Board of Knowledge Network. He said the network had recently escaped privatization and the newly formed Board was now searching for a new direction that would “maintain and improve” the public service. Was I interested?

Well, for those of you who have been reading my columns for these many years, you know how the story has played out. Together with your help, we have created Canada’s most publicly supported public broadcaster. I like to think of Knowledge Network as ”PBS of the north with BBC of the west” – the donor-supported model of the American broadcaster merged with the programming ethos of the world-renowned BBC.

On my return from India I headed to Burnaby to meet the Board, strategic plan in hand. While it took only three days to write, I had been thinking about how public broadcasting could be transformed for years. I never doubted that my plan was a good one, but a plan is only as good as the people behind it, and mine could only fly if the members of the Board were behind it. They were – 100%. So, on this occasion, four individual Board directors who immeasurably contributed to our success need to be acknowledged: Ron Burnett, founding Chair of the Board of Knowledge, who opened the door to the community and to government – and hired me; founding director Beth Haddon, my former boss at TVOntario, who is to this day an indispensable fount of wisdom and advice; founding director Mitch Taylor, for bringing his no-nonsense sensibility to the business of running a complex operation; and Nini Baird, former founding co-chair and current Chair of the Board for her steady, guiding hand and boundless energy.

Ten years on, the digital revolution continues to accelerate, people’s viewing habits continue to evolve, and both valuable and worthless information propagate and replicate with abandon. Some things, however, endure. The charitable contributions of our Partners continue to allow us to present our programming free of commercial advertising; to serve as a platform for independent voices; to reflect diverse points of view; to challenge conventional wisdom. It is for these reasons and more that British Columbians embrace Knowledge Network as an island of trust.


Rudy Buttignol
President & CEO
Knowledge Network


Rudy Buttignol