For the record: Committee request for explanations from CRTC

On January 25, 2021, the Committee sent a request for explanations from Canada’s broadcasting regulatory body the CRTC concerning the lack of questions by CRTC commissioners when two separate witnesses testified that RCI’s administrator, CBC/Radio-Canada, had violated Article 46 (2) of the Broadcasting Act.

The Committee request for answers also highlighted the CRTC’s decision not to allow the Committee to address the same violation.

Here is the text our request for explanations:

Secretary General Doucet,

We would respectfully request that you explain the following puzzling situation:

Last week, two different interveners, former Radio Canada International (RCI) Executive Director, Andrew Simon, and union president Pierre Tousignant told commissioners that the CBC was violating the Broadcasting Act.

After both presentations none of the commissioners asked about the violations, even though these directly address the issue of the licence obligations of the CBC/Radio-Canada during these licence renewal hearings.

In the second presentation on Friday by the union president Pierre Tousignant, there were a number of topics to be dealt with, so on one level one could perhaps understand there was not enough time to deal with the issue.

However, the presentation of Andrew Simon on Wednesday, almost entirely dealt with the issue of the CBC’s violation of the Broadcasting Act. Yet there was not one question raised by the commissioners. Not even a question about which part of the Broadcasting Act was violated.

More puzzling, and almost disturbing, is the fact that the Chairperson basically shut down the possibility of discussion by saying (paragraphs 8578):

THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your intervention. And you may know that we did have a discussion and some discussion last week about the current status of the service with executives from CBC Radio-Canada.

First of all, why would the Chairperson or the other commissioners not ask any questions, even if there were discussions, since the violation of the Broadcasting Act was at the centre of Andrew Simon’s presentation?

Second, the only mentions of RCI we could find during the previous week were two passing remarks by CBC President Catherine Tait:

Paragraph 528 on January 11, in the context of CBC’s presence internationally:

And of course we have RCI that has a very special role and we’re excited about some of the new things we’re doing with that particular service.

Paragrah 4062 on January 14 in response to a question on third-language programming

MS. TAIT: With respect to third-language programming, you know, CBC/Radio-Canada, it’s not determined in its mandate, with the exception of ICI, Radio-Canada International. And I think you heard from Luce earlier this week on what that service does, but really, most of that activity of third-language programming is left to the multicultural, multiethnic broadcasters.

Is this what Chairperson Ian Scott meant by discussion?

If these discussions “about the current status of the service with executives from CBC Radio-Canada” are not part of the public record of the hearings, what kind of discussions were they?

As you can imagine this issue is especially important to us, as we outlined in the urgent request to testify which we sent to you in an email on December 29, 2020, which we’ve been informed, will be “added to the public record of the proceeding.”

Despite the urgency of this issue, and the fact we only learned of this violation on December 3, we were refused an appearance by the CRTC’s Executive Director, Scott Shortliffe because our “request was sent very late in the process.” And yet, when others raised this issue at the hearings, the commissioners did not address it.

We count on the CRTC to act on this matter before the end of the CBC hearings this week.

Yours truly,

Wojtek Gwiazda

Spokesperson, RCI Action Committee


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Article by Admin RCI Action Committee Website

Wojtek Gwiazda has been the spokesperson for the RCI Action Committee since 1991. The Committee is supported and funded by the union that represents almost all RCI employees: the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Radio-Canada (STTRC formerly SCRC). E-mail: Read 111 articles by Admin RCI Action Committee Website
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