CBC disinformation campaign against efforts to protect international mandate of Radio Canada International

On February 16, a day after an open letter by 32 prominent Canadians was sent to the Prime Minister defending the international mandate of Radio Canada International (RCI), a senior advisor in the Government Relations department of CBC sent an email about RCI saying “no one is using it.”

In the email sent to at least one MP, Samuel Soucy writes: “Some of you might have seen the public letter sent by the RCI Action Committee to the PM, ministers and others. Unfortunately, the information provided by them is incorrect.” It then paints a rosy picture of the future of RCI “More visibility, more content, more languages. That’s what an improved RCI is about.” And ends with “Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to receive a briefing on this subject.”

A day later, Shaun Poulter, the Executive Director of Strategy, Public Affairs, and Government Relations at CBC sent an email to some of the signatories of the open letter whose email addresses were publicly available.

These signatories, including RCI Action Committee spokesperson, Wojtek Gwiazda, received the email because “I saw that you had added your name to a letter calling for a halt on CBC/Radio-Canada’s planned changes” to Radio Canada International.

The email sought to make sure signatories had “all the information you need about the service” because “There has been some confusion over what we’re doing…” The email copied the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister, and the Canadian Heritage Minister, the recipients of the February 15 open letter.

None of the CBC emails directly address the main argument put forth by the RCI Action Committee that CBC is in violation of its licence obligations under Article 46.2 of the Broadcasting Act and Order in Council 2012-0775, which oblige RCI to produce programming for international audiences.

Instead the emails state “we are not shifting the international mandate of RCI” (Soucy) or “we are not changing the mandate of RCI” (Poulter). However, in the Soucy email there is the admission “What we are doing is adapting the tremendous amount of great content already being produced by our reporters and modifying it for an international audience.”

The CBC emails present facts that are sometimes not comparable or that intentionally present a misleading impression.

Here’s one example: The emails suggest RCI production will increase because the new RCI will be using “more of the great content already produced by our journalists at CBC and Radio-Canada” (Poulter). What it doesn’t say is that instead of three host producers creating this content per language section, only one employee will be left, and only to translate and adapt CBC and Radio-Canada material. It’s not clear in the emails how one person can produce more content than three.

It is impossible for the Committee to know how many of these emails were sent out and to whom. We do not have the resources of a Government Relations Department.

But what is most troubling is that the Prime Minister and three of his ministers are remaining silent. They are letting CBC respond in their place to concerns about the future of Radio Canada International, when they should be telling the CBC to obey the Broadcasting Act and do it before March 31st.

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An overview of the new policy and RCI’s relationship with CBC here

An examination of why the new policy does not respect the mandate of RCI here

Links and advice on how you can help protect RCI’s international mandate here

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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: wojtekrciaction@gmail.com Read 108 articles by Admin RCI Action Committee Website
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