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CBC's English-language chief leaving for Twitter job

An illustration picture shows the logo of the Website Twitter on an Ipad, in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Regis
An illustration picture shows the logo of the Website Twitter on an Ipad, in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Regis

TORONTO (Reuters) - The head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp's English-language service is leaving the public broadcaster to join micro-blogging company Twitter, the CBC said on Monday.

Kirstine Stewart, the CBC's executive vice-president of English services, will leave immediately and a recruitment process for her replacement has been launched.

Stewart, an avid Twitter user herself, said she was named managing director of Twitter Canada and will remain in Toronto to open Twitter's first offices in the country.

"It is a fact of life in a competitive, creative business that when you have great people, others will try to entice them away with big opportunities," CBC Chief Executive Hubert Lacroix said in a statement announcing the departure.

CBC has struggled to maintain its programming, particularly in television, since the federal government slashed its funding by 10 percent last year.

While the CBC does get some revenue from commercial advertising, it relies heavily on government funding to produce its English- and French-language television, radio and online content.

Twitter has hired Stewart, one of the most influential executives in Canadian media, at a time when it is aggressively courting the traditional media industry as part of its growth strategy.

The San Francisco-based social media company, which makes money by selling advertising, has sought deals with television producers and marketers to encourage TV viewers to discuss programming and ads on Twitter. That, in turn, could help drive up ratings for broadcasters.

Many popular TV programs, for instance, display "hashtags" that tell users how to chat with other viewers on Twitter while they simultaneously watch the show.

"It's a very symbiotic partnership that Twitter can have with broadcasters," Stewart said by telephone on Monday. "I'm looking forward to starting our office and looking for those partnerships, those opportunities. Twitter's unique position is in that conversation around content."

The company, which is widely expected to hold a public stock offering within the next two years, will make just shy of $600 million in revenue this year, according an estimate by research firm eMarketer.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Gerry Shih in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Galloway and Carol Bishopric)

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