It’s hard to believe it’s so long: March 22, 1991 when our reality at RCI changed so radically. In December of 1990, our parent company the public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced that the international service would be eliminated unless the federal government paid for it (CBC actually had up until then budgeted about $20 million for the service). After months of lobbying, and weighing numerous scenarios, staff learned what would happen to Radio Canada International on March 22, 1991.
In a Monitoring Times article published in May of that year I began by describing the minutes before the staff meeting:
10:10 AM FRIDAY 22 MARCH 1991 – Two RCI journalists are asking where the meeting is. A production assistant asks if this is really the end of RCI. This morning two supervisors told staffers we’d probably find out at ten, but it’s already ten minutes past.
What we found out was we were losing half of the language services, half of our staff and about three quarters of RCI produced programming.
We were saved, but at a huge price.
It would be the first of three times, 1991, 1995, 1996 that RCI was scheduled to be eliminated.
So many years later, walls are being demolished, we lose colleagues one or two at a time, and the whole reason of our existence, our international mandate to tell the world about Canada, continues to be undermined.
But you know what, we’re not giving up the battle to protect the mandate, nor the autonomy of Radio Canada International, we just can’t.
Here’s how our domestic public broadcaster reported on the cuts: