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Study says RCI should not be integrated
into the domestic service, the CBC

In October 1996, the Canadian component of KPMG, a accounting, tax and professional firm, released a report on RCI commissioned by the domestic radio and television service, CBC. The report came out at a time when RCI’s financial future was unsure. The report made numerous suggestions, some of them unworkable, or unlikely, even in the minds of the authors of the report. But they had some very clear recommendations about the future financing of RCI. And there was absolutely no ambiguity in their opposition to the integration of RCI into the CBC.

Here are some excerpts from the report:

Radio Canada International
Operational Review

Prepared for: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
Toronto, October 29, 1996

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with the participation of the Department of Canadian Heritage, commissioned KPMG to conduct an operational review of Radio Canada International (RCI)…

In carrying out our work, we reviewed the existing costs and cost structure both in relation to their historical levels and benchmarked against equivalent players from other countries. The objective was to determine whether, from a stright-forward efficiency and effectiveness perspective, RCI is operating in an appropriate manner…

In terms of efficiency, we believe that in its own right and benchmarked against other similar organizations, RCI is an efficient operator…

In a nutshell, we found that RCI is minimally funded compared to other broadcasters, and is an efficient operator, carrying out significant activity with the resources at hand….RCI is shown to be a very low-cost programmer…

With respect to the minimum level of funding necessary to maintain RCI, given its current mandate, we suggest that the figure is in a range of approximately $16 million to $16.5 million, roughly the same as its 1996/1997 budget…

If RCI is relatively efficient and if external sources of revenue are not the answer to its financial difficulty, what next? We believe the answer is for Canada to determine if it wants to have an international broadcaster and if so, with what mandate…

Given our findings, the realities and perceptions about RCI’s role in Canada, we believe the choices faced by the CBC (and the government) are clear and involve fundamental public policy decisions: either commit to funding it appropriately, reduce its mandate significantly, or close it…

[Some of KPMG’s recommendations:]

If RCI is continued in the long term (whatever its mandate and funding level), independent funding is needed to avoid the difficulty it faces today with being caught up in a domestic vs. foreign competition for limited CBC resources. If the CBC management and Board have to choose between serving Calgary or China, Calgary will almost certainly win….

While RCI and the CBC should cooperate as much as possible (and there is significant cooperation today), we do not recommend integrating RCI into one of the CBC radio services. The focus of RCI is necessarily foreign and, in our view, would be diminished if it were not a separate entity with its own direction…

If a decision is made to continue RCI with its current mandate, it should have a long-term funding arrangement (3-5 years). The financial stability provided by such funding would allow the organization to engage in planning for the long run, reduce employee stress, allow RCI to shape future financial goals and have the ability to seize unforeseen opportunities which may arise.