About 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
Website: http://rciaction.org/blog
Admin RCI Action Committee Website has written 108 articles so far, you can find them below.

February 2010 – Walls come down. What next?

How much more are we going to be reduced?

We really don’t know. But when you see those walls coming down to make room for others, it just underlines our precarious situation.

From year to year we lose staff, reduce services, newscasts, we’ve even stopped sending out program schedules to our listeners as of the autumn of 2009.

FLASHBACK: We lose half the programs/staff

Monitoring Times May 1991It’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:


What …

This blog is still in its first testing stages, so apologies and thanks for your patience. And if possible, if you find errors, bad links etc, please drop us a line at rciaction@yahoo.ca Thanks.

FLASHBACK: “Repositioning” – more bad news

On February 2, 2004 we had another “briefing meeting” about what was about to happen at RCI. Here’s a portion of what I wrote back then on the RCI Action Committee web site:

The briefing meeting is over. We’ve been told about the “repositioning”, feels more like shuffling the chairs on the Titanic. A number of people are dazed, feeling betrayed. One colleague from the Ukrainian service is crying. It was a bit surreal, watching a slide show of which sections continued, which would get programming chopped. When RCI Director Jean Larin and CBC/Radio-Canada Vice President Sylvain Lafrance ask for questions there’s a stunned silence. Finally a journalist steps up to the microphone, and starts questioning the wisdom of cutting one of the Chinese broadcasts. Only a few people go up to the microphone. It’s not easy. Particularly, when Lafrance calls one questioner, paranoid.

Later people privately compare notes, as management meets employees sector by sector. What’s becoming clear, is that a lot of things have not been worked out, and a lot of questions are being left unanswered. One colleague bitterly concludes we’re being “repositioned” out of existence.

For more of an idea of what it felt like as these changes were happening in 2004, have a look at a few excerpts of a short weblog at that time here.

FLASHBACK: Bad decision reversed

From the beginning of June till mid October 2001, the RCI newsroom was empty on weekends…….no journalist and no announcer producer was permitted to work at keeping the world up to date on Canadian news on the weekend. All RCI produced newscasts, and all live programming were cut as part of the “Redeployment Plan that continues to be implemented.

Newscasts returned on the weekend of October 13/14, 2001, but the integration continues, Details Also check out our FLASHBACK on RCI’s international mandate here and how it’s been affected by the “redeployment” and “integration” of RCI.

Parliamentary Committee highlights our position

The 2003 report highlighted the following from the RCI Action Committee submission:

“The Broadcasting Act must outline RCI’s mandate to “attract an international audience” and develop “international awareness of Canada” [the CBC's Corporate Policy No. 14]. It must specifically oblige RCI to prepare such programming in both official languages, English and French. There should be sufficient guidelines in the Act to ensure most regions of the world are covered, and to ensure RCI broadcasts in major foreign languages, and any others deemed important or useful. Without necessarily enumerating each region and language, these directives must be strong enough to prevent anyone but Parliament from being able to change the mandate of RCI. At the moment, there is very little that prevents the CBC from cutting services back radically.”
See entire submission here. See report here.

FLASHBACK: Union on RCI mandate at Parl Cttee

On May 25, 2007, the union representing most of RCI’s employees (Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada) called on parliament’s Canadian Heritage committee to protect RCI’s mandate saying “there will be nothing preventing the CBC from changing its international service” unless “the Broadcasting Act has been amended to protect RCI’s Mandate.” See testimony parliamentary committee here.

Why were two key corporate policies eliminated in 2005?

Being Canada’s Voice to the World and explaining Canada to the world, is at the heart of what Radio Canada International (RCI) is all about, and so it’s more than a little surprising to see how that mandate is being dismantled.

For example, CBC/Radio-Canada, Canada’s national public broadcaster is obliged to maintain the international service. And for years RCI’s mandate was defined within the Corporate and Program Policies of CBC/Radio-Canada.

In 2005, these policies (No 14 and 18) were eliminated.

CBC Corporate Policy No. 14  (Effective: May 13, 1980) clearly outlined RCI’s mandate: “Radio Canada International is directed by the CBC to provide a program service designed to attract an international audience with the purpose of further developing international awareness of Canada and the Canadian identity by distributing, through shortwave and other means, programs which reflect the realities and quality of Canadian life and culture….”

CBC Program Policy No. 18  (Effective: July 6, 1994) reinforced the international mandate: RCI’s program personnel, in carrying out the various elements of this objective, must consider the following:…. 2. To “attract an international audience,” RCI programming must be adapted to target audience interests and knowledge. The emphasis within information programming must be on topicality in order to reach the interested audience for shorwtwave…”

The abolition of these corporate policies and the integration of RCI into the domestic national service suggests how CBC/Radio-Canada interprets, and is changing, the main mandate of RCI to be Canada’s Voice to the World. This despite its obligations under Canada’s Broadcasting Act to provide an international service.

Details here of how the mandate continues to change.

Details of Corporate policies 14 and 18 here.

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