News coverage of the battle to save RCI

Two news stories, one from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper link, and the other from the Canadian Press news agency link, are focusing on the fact that Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore changed the 2003 Order in Council regarding Radio Canada International programming. On June 7, 2012, the obligations for RCI to broadcast on shortwave and to consult with the Foreign Affairs ministry about geographic target areas and languages for broadcasts, were eliminated. This came two months after our national radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced the end of shortwave broadcasts and an 80% budget cut. And it came just days before we were planning to ask for a court injunction to stop the shutting down of the shortwave broadcasts.

The news coverage raises some interesting questions.

In the Ottawa Citizen, journalist Chris Cobb starts:

In apparent collaboration with the Conservative government, CBC is slashing 80 per cent of Radio Canada’s budget and busting the venerable Voice of Canada international shortwave service down to an Internet radio station.

The $10 million cut — from $12.3 million to $2.3 million — will shut out access to Radio Canada broadcasts for swaths of the world’s population — including China, where RCI’s Internet site is blocked, and to millions of people in India and South America — all major Canadian trading partners.

In other developing nations, access to the Internet is either limited or non-existent, with vast portions of the population relying solely on radio for national and international news and information.

That, coupled with Russian and U.S. surveys that show listening to Internet radio is one of the least favourite ways to access broadcasts in all parts of the world, has critics of the CBC furious.

CBC says it is simply transferring existing content from radio to the web, which veteran RCI host Wojtek Gwiazda said gives a false impression.

“As of June 25, most of the original content will disappear,” he said, “because we won’t have the people to do it.”

In the Canadian Press article by Mike Blachfield, there were comments from the office of the Minister and from CBC/Radio-Canada:

Moore’s office appeared to place the onus on the CBC for any federal rule changes that RCI supporters might find objectionable.

“These changes are the result of proposals the CBC submitted to us, and we accepted. The CBC has the money necessary to fulfil its mandate and we appreciate the CBC doing its part to contribute to balancing the budget,” spokesman James Maunder said in an emailed response to questions.

The CBC and Radio Canada continued Friday to defend the cuts to RCI as a necessary budget measure.

“Cost-cutting and efficiency measures were put in place in all the components and services of CBC/Radio-Canada. The transformation of RCI is one of these significant measures,” spokesman Marc Pichette said in an emailed response.

Pichette wouldn’t comment on the changes to the order in council.

The article also quotes Thomas Witherspoon:

Thomas Witherspoon, founder of an American non-profit organization called Ears to Our World, said it is shortsighted to cut RCI’s shortwave service because it represents a cost-effective way of showing Canada to the world.

Witherspoon, whose organization distributes shortwave radios to communities in the developing world, recently wrote an impassioned opinion piece defending RCI.

“Here on the overly-lit, information-saturated North American continent, it’s easy to forget that an estimated 1.6 billion human beings — a full one quarter of us — still lack access to reliable power and to the Internet,” he wrote.

The Ottawa Citizen’s Chris Cobb talked to Paul Dewar, the Foreign Affairs Critic of Canada’s Official Opposition Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP):

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar accused the CBC and the Conservative government of “taking Canada’s voice off the world stage.

“It is sneaky,” he said in an interview with the Citizen. “They are pretending they aren’t killing it, but they are. Our Commonwealth cousins and others in the G8 have made a commitment that the world should hear their voices. Why not Canada’s?

“How will we keep people in other countries informed about Canada and how will Canada’s voice be heard by the international community.”

Dewar says he’s hearing negative reaction to the RCI cuts from MPs in all parties, and the NDP has written to both Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Heritage Minister James Moore urging a reversal of the decision.

“We are appealing to them to find the money and put this essential service back where it belongs,’ added Dewar. “Canada needs its voice heard and we have to figure out a way to do it. It’s not a lot of money. Let’s find it. Let’s not leave RCI orphaned.

And the article also included this from RCI Action Committee spokesperson, Wojtek Gwiazda:

…Gwiazda said the real issue should not be money.

“It’s about who should be deciding on how strong or how weak Canada’s voice to the world should be, he said. “We’re arguing for financial autonomy because, over the past two decades, CBC/Radio-Canada has shown it does not understand our international mandate.”

Ottawa Citizen article by Chris Cobb link: here

Canadian Press article by Mike Blanchfield link: here

UPDATE – June 16, 2012 – 22:44 – There’s another article from Chris Cobb in today’s paper titled: Web-only presence for RCI a shortsighted decision, says American broadcast expert See link here:

The article starts off with:

If CBC carries through with its plan to reduce Radio Canada International from a shortwave radio service to an internet radio station, it will effectively be taking Canada out of international broadcasting, a U.S. broadcast specialist said Saturday.

“Just having a web page or internet presence isn’t enough,” Kim Andrew Elliott told the Citizen. “You can build a website but they will not necessarily come. It’s easy to get lost among the thousands of other internet sites.”

Later Cobb quotes Elliott on the advantages of shortwave:
“Shortwave is wonderful medium,” he said. “It can get through when the internet is blocked by a dictator, cyber war or a natural disaster like an earthquake — or extreme weather events that seem to be increasing.”

The journalist once again tried to get more information from the Canadian Heritage ministry which is responsible for Radio Canada International, and from the Foreign Affairs ministry, which until June 7, 2012 was supposed to be consulted on geographic target areas and broadcast languages:

A spokesman for the Department of Canadian Heritage confirmed the change had been made but refused to say why.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird contacted Saturday refused to say whether his department had been consulted on the issue.

This article by the Ottawa Citizen’s Chris Cobb can be read here:


For those of you both outside and inside Canada, the best thing is to get a hold of Members of Parliament, Conservative (government) MPs, as well as those of the opposition. You’ll find names and e-mail addresses here:

Why, Minister? Why have you done this?

We sent the following e-mail to Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore on Wednesday night.

From: RCI Action <>
To: “” <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:54:46 PM
Subject: Why did you change the Order in Council?

Hon. James Moore,
A little more than 24 hours ago we at the RCI Action Committee found out that on June 7, 2012, you changed the Order in Council that directs CBC/Radio-Canada in its obligations under the Broadcasting Act in dealing with Radio Canada International.
You have eliminated CBC’s obligation to provide programming on shortwave, depriving almost all Chinese listeners of uncensored news from Canada, since the website of RCI is blocked by the Chinese authorities. And you have made it impossible for most listeners in the world to stay abreast of what’s going on in Canada via radio, because most people do not have easy access to the Internet.
You have also abolished CBC’s obligation to consult with Foreign Affairs about the geographic target areas and languages we broadcast in. Letting it continue in the slashing of services to the Ukraine, Russia and Brazil.
And you have done this after two months of CBC being in contempt of the 2003 Order in Council. Just as we were preparing an injunction to stop the shutting down of shortwave transmissions.
You have cleared the way for the CBC’s destruction of a 67 year old institution. An institution that CBC/Radio-Canada has never understood. It does not understand international broadcasting, the importance of it, and the impact of the 80% cut you are letting them get away with.
It is ironic.
Chinese authorities block RCI’s website. They have not jammed the shortwave frequencies of Radio Canada International. So you’ve done it for them, by shutting down RCI’s Chinese radio programming.
Why have you done this?
Yours truly,
Wojtek Gwiazda
Spokesperson, RCI Action Committee



Help us find out what’s going on, and share your thoughts with Minister Moore and the rest of the government (Conservative Party) MPs.
You’ll find details on how to do this here:
More information on why this is such a setback:

Why has Canadian govt minister agreed to stop flow of news to China and Russia?

Why would a Canadian government minister decide to cut off uncensored news from Canada to China and Russia? That’s what we’re asking ourselves today.

We’ve just learned that last week the 2003 Order in Council that obliged Radio Canada International to broadcast on shortwave radio has been amended, and that obligation removed. As well, the obligation to consult with the Foreign Affairs ministry regarding geographic target areas and languages has been removed.

Both changes were made on the recommendation of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, and came into effect on June 7, 2012.

This is a major setback because we had been counting on the government to make our national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada respect its responsibilities under the Broadcasting Act which obliges it to have an international service. And its obligations in the 2003 Order in Council.

Ever since April 4, 2012, when CBC/Radio-Canada announced it was cutting Radio Canada International’s budget by 80% we have argued that the public broadcaster does not understand the concept of international broadcasting, the crucial role it plays, and the fact that most people in the world have limited or no access to the Internet.

We have also underlined that this is a part of a pattern that has continued since 1990 when CBC/Radio-Canada decided to shut us down completely. It was only because of the intervention of the Canadian government at the time that we were saved.


Both the 2003 and 2012 Orders in Council list the obligations of CBC/Radio-Canada under its licence requirement in running an international service. They direct RCI to provide programming to an international audience to increase awareness of Canada.

But in the 2003 version it obliged RCI

(ii) to provide that service through shortwave, as well as through other means of distribution, as appropriate

In the new 2012 version, this article now reads:

(ii) to provide that service through the Internet and, as appropriate, through other means of distribution

The 2003 version also obliged CBC/Radio-Canada to consult with the Foreign Affairs ministry regarding the areas we broadcast to and the languages we broadcast in. The entire article  (see below) has been removed in the new 2012 version.

(iv) to establish geographic target areas and languages of broadcast in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Link to the 2003 Order in Council here The link to the new 2012 Order in Council here

It is perhaps worth noting that the 2003 Order in Council was the first change regarding Radio Canada International since 1968.


What is most troubling is that these changes come two months after CBC/Radio-Canada announced its cut on April 4, 2012, and now appear to clear any parliamentary objections to the rules in place at the time of the announcement.

It appears our campaign to highlight CBC/Radio-Canada’s disregard of these articles led to the elimination of these obligations.

We continue to be convinced that it should be Parliament and not CBC/Radio-Canada which should decide on how strong, or how weak, Canada’s Voice to the World – Radio Canada International, should be. That is why we have been calling for financial autonomy for RCI.

At this point we have no idea how aware members of the government are of the consequences of these changes in the Order in Council that came into effect last week.

But it does suggest that at least one minister has agreed to clear the path for CBC/Radio-Canada’s gutting of Radio Canada International. We will no longer be a radio station, we will no longer be heard in China because our website is blocked by Chinese authorities, and we will turn our back on millions of listeners around the world who have little or no access to the Internet.


•  RCI’s budget has been cut by more than 80% – from $12.3 million to $2.3 million
•  RCI newsroom will be eliminated, all newscasts cut
•  RCI will no longer be a radio broadcaster, whether on shortwave or satellite, RCI’s shortwave transmitters shut down
•  Chinese audience will be cut off from uncensored news from RCI because only shortwave reaches the Chinese, the RCI website is blocked by China
• Important potential trading partners such as China, India, Russia, Brazil will be cut off from news from Canada, because the RCI website is blocked or the Internet is not as accessible as in North America
• Russian and Portuguese services will be eliminated
• For the language services that remain, English, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish, there will be some kind of website presence, still undefined, and far less effective than radio transmissions
• People in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America still have spotty Internet access, and depend on our broadcasts for Canadian news
• As Canadians we feel it’s essential Canada have a Voice to the World producing programming tailored for an audience not familiar with Canada
• RCI’s uniqueness is not that we broadcast in a number of languages, but that we explain Canada to the world in those languages
• Because of RCI’s contextualized programs for people with little or no information on Canada, trade, tourism, and immigration have been helped
• With the layoffs, Canada will lose people with decades of expertise at representing Canada around the world
• Canada’s Voice to the World has been a respected source of journalism for the past 67 years


Help us find out what’s going on, and share your thoughts with Minister Moore and the rest of the government (Conservative Party) MPs.
You’ll find details on how to do this here:

RCI listeners react to the budget cut

How successful has Radio Canada International been in providing a window to Canada to the world? Perhaps the best indication of that are the comments from our listeners. Here’s a sample:

The cut to the budget of RCI stuns and embarrasses me. What kind of insular country are we becoming that cares only about us selling oil and not about the rest of the world? Those responsible for this budget are the next generation of dinosaurs, and we all know where the last generation wound up. We need MORE of RCI, not less! (Donna C., Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask, Canada)

RCI is a national treasure – a global treasure, in fact.  It tells the story of Canada…to the world.  And it does it with a quality level that allows Canada to stand clear of America’s shadow.  Ottawa should wise up – Canada’s elected leaders should boost RCI’s funding, not cut it. (William P., Fallston MD, USA)

The demise of RCI is like Stephen Harper closing embassies worldwide, and Canada becoming lost in the shadow of its southern neighbour. (Peter A., Sapley, England)

The politicians will regret their action; when, so-called hackers shut down the internet system (You have already reported that it may happen.) I still say World War III will be fought on the internet. You and and I will not know when and where it happens. Country will not determine where it will originate, but normal computer life will cease (no electricity…no email….I hope your government officials will come to their senses. (Edward S., Albany GA, USA)

I feel ashamed that my country will no longer have a SW voice within a few months.  I’ve always relied on RCI to provide me with a link to home when I lived overseas, or when I’ve traveled abroad, and in remote areas of Canada.  Simply put, the internet is not available everywhere, and it’s not always reliable when it is… Heck, one less F-35 would keep RCI on the air for years!  Come on you bean counters.  Get your head out of the sand! (Walter S., Victoria, BC, Canada)

The announced decimation of your budget makes me queasy… RCI brings something wonderful to the world, within and without Canada. I have recommended RCI to friends in Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Cuba and elsewhere. You have enthusiastic followers all around the world… As I write this, my heart is filled with sadness. People will lose jobs, and that is to be lamented; but the larger picture is, people around the world will lose the beam of a lighthouse from Canada…Thanks for invigorating radio. Kudos to you. (Arthur F., Toronto, ON, Canada)

Rhetorical question, but is the CBC completely out of its mind? (Susan C., Kamloops, BC, Canada)

How can one shut down the most reliable source of information on Canada (and the unique one)? …I wish you a “non-closure” and to stay on air. Good luck! (Yuri D., Cyberspace-Russia)

I write this with Tears in my eyes.  For the better part of his 30 year career with the CBC, My father worked at RCI.  In this day and age, RCI represents more than just Canada’s voice to the world. RCI represents the last true vestige of real Journalism in Canada. RCI kept the values and Integrity that has made them such a good source for news around the world since 1945. Reporting Facts instead of opinion, Real News that Matters instead of Tabloid Junk to boost ratings. (Jeff Q., Montreal, QC, Canada)

Very sad News that Radio Canada International is going to end shortwave broadcasts.  I enjoyed them a lot because they were very good. (Marco C. Coquimbo, Chile)

There are many places where Canada can save money. Something as basic as shortwave radio service is ludicrous. The whole world will suffer the loss of RCI. (Stephen W., Cold Lake, AB, Canada)

Not to beat about the bush, reading and hearing about the so-called ‘Cuts’ in the broadcasting medium of Radio Canada International is the most distasteful and worst media situational issue I’ve ever heard barely a week ago.  Imagine bringing to a stoppage a program which has influenced positively on various life-styles and cultures around the world over coupled with making competent as well respectable figures in the field of journalism become jobless.  (Isaac A., Takoradi, Ghana)

I hear that RCI goes off the air on shortwave by the end of June. I am very sad that the Canadian government has decided to close you down. It takes years to build an audience, but only a short time to lose it. We don’t want to listen to you on computers; we just want to hear you on the radio! (listener, Maanshan City, China)

I was sorry to hear that the Canadian government has decided to end the shortwave transmissions of RCI by 2012. I have been listening to RCI since 1994. I remember that RCI had faced a similar scenario some years back but bounced back due to support from listeners and the public. Hope RCI will be able to bounce back again, with all the bang. (Dr. Avinash C. Al Ai, United Arab Emirates)

The loss of broadcast radio signals from a democracy like Canada means it will be considerably easier for oppressive governments to prevent penetration by the voices of freedom: Merely block Internet access to the web sites of RCI, VOA, and others. The day may come when the powers will regret shutting down their broadcast transmitter facilities. As an RCI listener since 1976, I have appreciated RCI’s journalistic integrity and high production values. Thank you to all RCI staff through the years for a job well done. (Brad Farrell—Cyberspace)

What a terrible news indeed! I don’t like the idea of shortwave stations going to internet only services. I hope Radio Canada will continue broadcasting.  It’s always so much better listen real radio receiver than via computer and Internet connection! And there is no internet connection available everywhere and no room for laptop computer when you are out of time. Small shortwave radio is so easy to carry with you and it doesn’t need Internet connection! (Sami. N., Joensuu, Finland)

Shortwave is the easiest method to reach mass people – and people can access easily. Shortwave may be less used in North America and Europe now but in other parts of the world its importance is very high. And more over shortwave can be accessed easily with cheap receivers. In countries like in Asia and Africa majority of the people don’t have computers or Internet.  I think closing Shortwave at all is a short sighted decision for the current time. SW is reasonable or legitimate for more years ahead. And when it becomes a web only radio station it may get lost into millions of websites relating to Canada. (Partha S. G., Silguri, India)

I was very disappointed to learn of the demise of RCI’s shortwave broadcasts.  I cannot afford to have Internet service at my home, so I can only access email and Internet at my public library, which is seven miles distant form my house.  Consequently, I will no longer be entertained and educated by RCI. (Jack F., Clinton, WI, USA)

I believe the best solution after reversing the decision is for the Canadian government to give RCI financial autonomy and take RCI’s budget away from CBC/Radio-Canada’s control.   It is obvious to me and also the many listeners to Radio Canada International , here in Great Britain , around the World and who listen to them between 2 and 3 am on the CBC overnight service,  that they have little understanding of what the World thinks’ and how positive reaction is vital for Canada’s interests. I await your reply and trust that you share my grave concern at the present situation. (Nick Sharpe, Staines, England)

I have been a listener of RCI for a long time and I still remember that your station is one of the few first stations I found on the air waves when I was started playing with my transistor. But it’s really, really shocking for me when I first heard that from June end onwards RCI will become silent on shortwave and just could not imagine how to face that situation … I know other than writing these few lines I cannot do anything to save RCI on SW and you are also helpless when your country’s top officials have decided the negative, but telling you from my heart that I SHALL MISS YOU BADLY. (Prithwiraj P., Jorhat, India)

I have very limited access to the Internet. I use Internet only for emailing purpose. If you stop broadcasting your programme on shortwave, then it will be very difficult for me and many other listener like me to get in touch with you regularly. So I request you please don’t stop broadcasting on shortwave. (Debanjan C., Kolkata, India)

Your unique programme makes be highly glad and happy. (Ashit K.D. M., Chittagong, Bangladesh)

I learnt the culture of Canada through broadcasting and I want to continue listening to your broadcasting. However, I learnt your broadcasting fully stopped the shortwave broadcasting this year. I am very regrettable. Shortwave broadcasting is very important which to know Canada. Has the shortwave broadcasting stop already been decided? I hope for your shortwave broadcasting to be continued. (Kenji H., Nirasaki, Japan)

Canadian Broadcast Corporation has won the prize of the biggest thoughtless blunder in the history of short wave radio, deciding to terminate the RCI program via SW and go digital!!!  Who is the bright mind that came to assume that everybody all over the word have, or will have, access to the internet? (Carlos G-P. Cape Town, South Africa)

I have been a regular listener to Radio Canada International for more than 30 years.  I started as a pupil in 1975 and remember RCI broadcasting in German on four frequencies…Your station contributed much to the free spread of information across borders into closed societies and to help people all over the world to get a better understanding of Canada. (Klaus N., Mulheim/Ruhr, Germany)

I am very sorry to learn that Radio Canada International will be closed.  It will be a great loss for information and culture, and for a lot of people like me that used to listen to your programs via shortwaves.  I will keep listening!  Hugs. (Anna T., Venice, Italy)

I am shocked about RCI [going] off air.  I pray for the health of all of you. (Shin H., Asakuchi, Japan)

Even though we (only a fraction of us) can still listen via the internet and through podcasts, it really is a slap in the face to all of RCI’s listeners out there. How will those shortwave listeners access RCI now?? As a Canadian living abroad, I am so disappointed that Canada is being silenced on the global stage. (Carmen P., Espoo, Finland)

I, too, am saddened by the upcoming closing of RCI.  I started listening to RCI back in 1966, when I was still in elementary school.  You cannot imagine the wonder I experienced hearing the voice of your country come through the shortwave radio I salvaged from the curb of the road.  RCI has always presented its news and current affairs programs as fair and impartial, and the world will be a poorer place after it shuts down. (John V., Downers Grove, IL., USA)

I wrote to say that the cuttings at Radio Canada International are a racist, cruel and unfair decision.  As Cuban and Latin-American I’ve been listening to RCI from 2005 and, in my opinion that broadcaster is the jewel of America, a window to the dispossessed, to the hungry to the ones who has no voice.” (Yasmany M-M, Cuba)

I feel angry about the end of the programs in short wave at Radio Canada International. I think is a mistake that could affect the international image of the country.  Canada could not afford loosing thousands of listeners that know something about Canada thanks to RCI.  Radio Canada is a touristic and information platform that could disappear do to wrong decisions. (Emilio S.D, Cybrspace-Spain)

The bad side of stopping the short wave broadcasting is that with a single touch is destroyed a long and traditional way of making radio.  The sadness is not that the shortwave is cut, the sad part is that we would not be able any more to listen to programs like Canada en las Américas, that uses radio formats effectively and interesting for the listeners. (Carlos G. R., Cyberspace-Colombia)

I think that the decision to close the radio station – is erroneous. The decision to close the Russian service is a blow to the culture; it is dictated by the unconscious in favor of the shadows of darkness. I wish and hope that we all have the courage to strength and wisdom to reconsider this bad decision, then our grandchildren will be a bright future. (Gennady G.N, Cyberspace-Russia)

When I heard that RCI will stop the mandarin broadcast to China at the end of June, it made me very sad, even depressed. I cannot understand the reasoning behind this decision.  As a person in the retirement age and living in the countryside, I am not exactly belong to the so called “young computer generation”. For me, the shortwave radio is the only way to know what happen in China, in Canada and in the world. Now you are burning this only bridge down! How sad. I hope it is not too late to reverse this decision!(A phone message from a listener in the province of Sichuan, China)

I hear that RCI goes off the air on shortwave by the end of June. I am very sad that the Canadian government has decided to close you down. It takes years to build an audience, but only a short time to lose it. We don’t want to listen to you on computers; we just want to hear you on the radio! (listener, Maanshan City, China)

Users in mainland China can only access your site by crossing the firewall. It is not easy to elders and those without computers in particular. RCI is bound to lose part of its audience once the shortwave programs are off the air… for people in developing countries where the freedom of the press is limited, shortwave is still a border-crossing and reliable access to get information. At this diversified information age, traditional media is facing challenges. But radio has its inherent advantages, such as the facility of production, supply and consumption, the low cost, little geographical restrictions…That is why radio has been used as a media tool until to today. (listener, Anhui, China)
As a fan of shortwave radio, I was shocked and feel regret about this decision! Although the webcast can better meet audience needs in modern days, do not forget the audience in remote and backward areas. They have no economic means and basic conditions to enjoy internet resources. Canada and other Western democratic countries are known to care more the vulnerable groups.  Your decision is clearly contrary to your principles! (An unsigned listener in China)

RCI is one the few foreign radios that are not jammed in China. RCI has contributed a lot in passing on Canadian cultures, traditions, and customs. RCI is an important window for us to know something about Canada. I am against cancelling the shortwave broadcast of RCI. (A listener nicknamed “poor and bad guy”, Cyberspace-China)

Why your short wave broadcasting was eliminated, and how we can listen to your program after? I always thought RCI’s program is more objective and truthful. Especially when concerning the news… If this window closed, we will loss an important channel to know Canada. In addition, I like RCI because I can listen to your program  more clearly than other short wave station, such as VOA, probably because the Chinese government does not interfered your signals too much.  (An unsigned listener from China)

To cut RCI shortwave, does it mean that the audience in China cannot listen to your program anymore? I started to listen to RCI Chinese when I was in high school, and fell in love with it almost immediately. I like your program, which contains very nice contents and no political bias. I think it helps me in the way I see the world. Now I am in the second year of university. I feel very sorry that your program has to be cut. Wish all of you good luck and I will support your program forever. (An unsigned listener from China)

Heartbreaking news! I hope they re-think about the cuts and realize that RCI has been playing a vital part in diverse Canadian culture with their radio programming. (Vandana V., Toronto, ON, Canada)

It breaks my heart to know that some of my favourite programs will be no more including yours [Masala Canada]. You have done amazing service to the South Asian people in Canada via your program. Hope there will be a way that we can have access to recordings of some of the programs you have so lovingly put together. (Amrit in Calgary, AB, Canada)

No one is going to turn on the computer just to listen the radio.  Please, don’t call a transformation what is just an expenses cut. (Ernesto P., Argentina)

Here in Chile Internet is a massive media, but people don’t use it to listen to the radio.  I hope the management will reconsider the cut.  Should I be condemned to listen to just the Chinese and religious broadcasters?” (Alberto S-R, Chile)

Sad news! It’s a pity that the Russian section will soon be closed. I have been listening to its broadcasts for 35 years. Your programs and your voices became part of my life. I can’t go on further. It’s painful. (Andrey K., Cyberspace-Russia)

I have been listening to RCI for 35 years, first in Polish but since 1991 when the Polish Section was closed, in Russian. It will be hard without you. Thank you for everything. (Jaroslaw J., Cyberspace-Poland)

How will this help CBC ‘pursue its mission of disseminating Canadian democratic values abroad’ I wonder? One of the finest principals of Short Wave broadcasting is its reception availability and Radio Canada is one of the best examples as it is – if it ain’t bust don’t fix it. I thought CBC was more realistic; shame. (Rog. P., Hinkley, England)

I would like to express my sadness on learning RCI and CBC Nord will no longer be heard on shortwave.  I’ve listened to your broadcasts off and on over the years since 1967, and I’ll keep listening and sending reception reports until RCI leaves shortwave. (Timm B., Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

Do whatever possible to keep on the air on shortwave. Many listeners in Italy and Europe still want to continue to tune in despite the internet and satellite TV. (Paolo S., Quarto d’Altino, Italy.)

The decision to terminate the broadcast in Portuguese is in contradiction to the official policy of strengthening the ties between Canada and Brazil. For some reason I am not surprised by the lack of consistency of this government. (Mary S., Toronto, ON, Canada)

I was shocked to hear that RCI is to close down in June. I have been a listener since 1962 and have many fond memories of listening to Canada. The closure of RCI will be a severe blow to Canada’s image abroad. (Christer B., Halmstad, Sweden)

Every minute ‘budget-cut’ word came along…disturbed our happiness. It’s a painful word, you know? If I lived somewhere in Canada or States, I thought to take a march to RCI Toronto with flag to raise budget to proceed the service of RCI (A. R. Vedaranam, India)

It is very difficult to find anything Canadian anywhere in terms of culture and content here in Europe.  This will merely add to this void. (Richard B., Uzech, France)

I have seen this happen before with other short wave broadcasters, it is very disturbing to say the least! Now with the pending loss of RCI and it is popular at that, this decision needs to be reviewed. Neither the Internet nor computer makes up for short wave radio as it is not radio. This loss is like losing a good friend! Please reconsider! (Rod W., Cyberspace)

How Canada will sustain its so preached openness, shutting down one of the most important sources of information about Canadian values and culture? It’s an important part of Canadian history being cut just letting go great and dedicated people. Indeed very sad. (Rogerio B. —Cyberspace)

What can you do to stop the cuts? Please go here:

Last month of RCI radio broadcasts, unless…

June 24, 2012, will be the last day of Radio Canada International’s radio programming unless we can convince Canada’s government that our national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada went too far when it cut our budget by 80% and decided we would no longer broadcast on shortwave or satellite, and be left with only a web presence on the Internet .

This decision to stop radio broadcasting fails to recognize that most people in the world do not have easy access to the Internet. It fails to recognize that there is very little access around the globe to contextualized Canadian news, news for those outside Canada. And since RCI’s mandate is to explain Canada to as much of the world as possible, CBC/Radio-Canada is making that harder for us.

That is why we are calling on Canada’s federal government to step in, stop the cut, and protect Radio Canada International’s international mandate.

Here’s where we need your help.

Please contact government (Conservative) Members of Parliament and tell them why access to Canadian news is important to you.

You’ll find the e-mail addresses for the MPs, and some more information on the impact of the cuts, announced April 4, 2012, here:

Govt must step in, stop cut, save Radio Canada International

We are asking Canada’s federal government to step in, stop the drastic cut to Radio Canada International’s budget, and to protect Canada’s Voice to the World by giving the service financial autonomy from CBC/Radio-Canada.

Why are we asking for such a drastic step?

On April 4, 2012, as part of its budget cuts CBC/Radio-Canada said it was “transforming” our international service to “focus on webcasting”; that RCI “will provide multilingual service broadcasting in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin”. [See “Transforming Radio Canada International (RCI)” here. ]

What it did not say is Canada’s Voice to the World will stop being a radio station, and our budget will be cut by 80%.

We are not being transformed. We are being destroyed.

More than 80% of our $12.3 million dollar budget will be cut. More than two thirds of staff will be fired (none of them bureaucrats, all radio production staff). Two language services Russian and Portuguese will be closed down (we wonder whether there was consultation with Foreign Affairs as is outlined by the 2003 Orders-in-Council). There will be no newscasts, the newsroom will be shut down. We will no longer be a radio station (all shortwave and satellite programming will end on June 24). And our only presence in the world, as Canada’s Voice to the World, will be on the Internet, with a website that has yet to be conceived.

With these decisions we will cut off Chinese listeners from uncensored RCI news about Canada and the World, that’s because the Chinese authorities block the RCI website, and the majority of our Chinese listeners hear us on shortwave. We will also no longer offer the kind of radio programming one would expect from a member of the G8.

We know that the government does not want to interfere in the programming or internal affairs of CBC/Radio-Canada, and normally we would not want any interference. But with this latest budget cut to RCI, we think CBC/Radio-Canada has crossed the line, both ignoring the spirit of the Broadcasting Act (its obligation to have an international service) and the letter of the law (the revised 2003 Orders-in-Council which obliges us to broadcast on shortwave).

This process of cutting the RCI budget to solve CBC/Radio-Canada budget problems started in December of 1990 when the Corporation tried to shut down RCI completely. RCI was saved only because of the intervention of the federal government of the time. But we lost half our budget, half of our languages services, and three quarters of RCI original programming.

This has to stop.

Radio Canada International must be given financial autonomy. CBC/Radio-Canada’s control of the RCI budget must end.

This problematic relationship between Radio Canada International and CBC/Radio-Canada, has been raised numerous times in the past, and is why we need to push for financial autonomy.

Two examples:

In October 1996, the Canadian component of KPMG, released a report on RCI commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada that recommended:

“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….”

In June of 2003, Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released its report “Our Cultural Sovereignty” wrote:

The RCI Action Committee told the Committee that the government’s support for an international service:

… must go further than just a general statement to “provide an international service”. 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. This despite the fact that all of RCI funding comes from the Canadian Heritage Department.

Clearly we have very little time to stop this cut, the broadcasting of our programs ends on June 24.

Again, please help us get Canada’s federal government to step in, stop the drastic cut to Radio Canada International’s budget, and to protect Canada’s Voice to the World by giving the service financial autonomy from CBC/Radio-Canada.

Please see for how to contact ministers, members of parliament and senators regarding the RCI budget cuts.

Here are a few of the key facts in point form:

•  RCI’s budget has been cut by more than 80% – from $12.3 million to $2.3 million

•  RCI newsroom will be eliminated, all newscasts cut

•  RCI will no longer be a radio broadcaster, whether on shortwave or satellite

•  Chinese audience will be cut off from uncensored news from RCI because only shortwave reaches the Chinese, the RCI website is blocked by China

• Important potential trading partners such as China, India, Russia, Brazil will be cut off from news from Canada, because the RCI website is blocked or the Internet not as accessible as in North America

• Russian and Portuguese services will be eliminated

• For the language services that remain, English, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish, there will be some kind of website presence, still undefined, and far less effective than radio transmissions

• People in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America still have spotty Internet access, and depend on our broadcasts for Canadian news

• As Canadians we feel it’s essential Canada have a Voice to the World producing programming tailored for an audience not familiar with Canada

• RCI’s uniqueness is not that we broadcast in a number of languages, but that we explain Canada to the world in those languages

• Because of RCI’s contextualized programs for people with little or no information on Canada, trade, tourism, and immigration has been helped

• With the layoffs, Canada will lose people with decades of expertise at representing Canada around the world

• Canada’s Voice to the World has been a respected source of journalism for the past 67 years

The ‘brutal gagging’ of RCI


Article by “Ears to Our World” founder Thomas Witherspoon in Toronto star:

“Even from the relative distance of the United States, it’s painful to witness the brutal gagging of the broadest-reaching voice of Canadian international diplomacy….”

Read entire article here.

Whole barracks hovering around small shortwave receiver for Canadian federal election

“It pains me to hear that RCI will be leaving SW in June.  Over the years I’ve counted on RCI to keep me connected with home, be it during my travels in Europe, Asia, and even the depths of the Amazon.  Most of those areas have no access to the internet.

I vividly recall during my time serving with the Canadian military in Europe, in the 1980s, the whole barracks hovering around my small portable SW receiver, and listening to the Canadian federal election report via RCI.

For the sake of a few dollars, RCI is going to be lost forever.  Don’t let it happen.

Sincerely,   Walt Salmaniw,

Victoria, BC, Canada”

[Admin editor: message used with permission]

Comment mettre un stop à ces compressions?

Comment pouvez-vous mettre un stop à ces compressions de 80 % de Radio Canada International?

Écrivez s’il vous plait au ministre canadien des Affaires extérieures, John Baird ainsi qu’au ministre des Finances, Jim  Flaherty et au ministre de Patrimoine Canada ( voir les adresses ci-dessous ). Si ces personnes sont aussi votre député à la  Chambre des Communes, mentionnez-le-leur également.

Demandez-leur: est-ce que CBC/Radio Canada devrait-elle être celle qui décide la force ou la faiblesse de la voix canadienne dans le monde?

Demandez-leur: êtes-vous à l’aise avec le fait que notre auditoire chinois international ne pourra plus obtenir une  information non censurée sur le Canada, la Chine et le monde?

Nous sommes d’avis qu’en raison d’une succession de compressions budgétaires à Radio Canada International depuis 1990 ( voir  blogue le gouvernement doit donner à RCI une autonomie financière et retirer des mains de Radio Canada le  contrôle budgétaire de RCI .

Si vous être d’accord avec nous, écrivez s’il-vous plait et donnez votre opinion aux ministres responsables canadiens.

Nous avons très peu de temps pour atteindre notre objectif. Nous comptons sur vous.

Quelques points que vous pouvez aussi ajouter dans vos lettres aux ministres responsables:

  • Le budget de RCI a été coupé de plus de 80 % – de $12,3 millions à 2,3 millions
  • Le service des nouvelles de RCI sera éliminé; tous les bulletins de nouvelles coupés
  • RCI ne sera plus un diffuseur d’émissions sur ondes courtes ou sur satellites
  • L’auditoire chinois sera coupé des nouvelles de RCI non censurées, car seules les ondes courtes peuvent atteindre les résidents de Chine, le site web de RCI étant comme d’autres bloqué par la  Chine
  • Les services russe et portugais seront éliminés
  • Des partenaires économiques potentiellement important tel que la Chine, l’Inde, le Brésil seront coupés du Canada, car le site  web de RCI y est bloqué ou l’internet n’y est pas aussi facilement accessible qu’en Amérique du Nord.
  • Pour les services restants, anglais, français, arabe, espagnol et mandarin, il n’y aura plus qu’une présence sur le web encore non défini et beaucoup moins efficace que les transmissions radio.
  • Les citoyens de plusieurs pays d’Asie, d’Afrique et de l’Amérique Latine n’ont qu’un accès limité à l’Internet et ils dépendent de nos diffusions radio pour obtenir les nouvelles du Canada.
  • Le caractère unique de RCI n’est que nous diffusons en plusieurs langues, mais que nous expliquons le Canada dans ces langues.
  • En raison de la mise en contexte de l’information du Canada par RCI pour des gens qui ont peu ou pas d’information sur notre pays, nous aidons à la promotion économique et touristique du Canada en plus d’aider dans le secteur de l’immigration.
  • Avec les compressions annoncées, le Canada va faire perdre au Canada des décennies d’expertises dans sa capacité de se faire voir et comprendre à l’étranger.
  • La voix du Canada dans le monde est une source d’information et de journalisme respectée depuis 67 ans.

Veuillez prendre en considération notre invitation à envoyer des courriers électroniques aux trois ministres responsables de  RCI au gouvernement canadien. Si vous êtes au Canada, vous pouvez envoyer par courrier postal vos lettres gratuitement, sans  timbre-poste aux ministres, députés et sénateurs.


Comité Action RCI
Les adresseses:

Ministre canadien des Affaires étrangères, John Baird
Adresse électronique:

Adresse postale:
Hon. John Baird
418N Centre Block
Chambre des Communes
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Ministre canadien des Finances, Him Flaherty
Adresse électronique :

Adresse postale:
Hon. Jim Flaherty
435-S Centre Block
Chambre des communes
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Ministre canadien du Patrimoine, James Moore
Adresse électronique:

Adresse postale:
Hon. James Moore
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor
Chambre des Communes
Gatineau, QC K1A 0M5

Vous trouverez l’adresse électronique et l’adresse postale de tous les députés du Parlement ici:

Vous trouverez l’adresse électronique et l’adresse postale de tous les Sénateurs ici:


Some keep jobs. Most don’t. RCI shutdown – almost!

Facing the reality of job cuts in any workplace is hard enough. When you’re an employee at Radio Canada International – it’s more than a job. It’s more than just a job loss.

Most of us have worked several decades for RCI. It may be an  under appreciated service in Canada. But in the last few weeks, since the April 4 announcement that we would be cut by 80% and stop being a radio station, listeners around the world have rallied to our cause to stop the cuts. They have also told us how much they appreciate what we do, and are astonished that our national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada would hit us with such a huge budget cut, much more then any other service under their control.

Strangely, even when we say an 80% per cent budget cut, it sounds sort of theoretical. When the letter is given to you that you no longer have a job, that your decades of service to Canada’s Voice to the World are redundant, well, that’s something else.

Today that happened to most of us.

About 15 permanent staff have been told they still have a job, 30 have been told they don’t. Three contractual webmasters will remain, but about 10 to 20 contractual employees (researchers, interviewers, hosts) will lose their jobs. Another 10 or 20 people who fill in for staff will have little or no work.

More importantly to us RCI has been almost made to disappear, no more radio programs, just a website, that is yet to be conceived, with little support. How much three employees in each of the five language services: English, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish can do, even with the best of intentions, remains to be seen.

Management is saying we’ll be putting up text, photos, audio, maybe even video. But details are scarce. In fact, that’s the most surprising thing of all. There’s little information on how the website will look or function, there’s no real lead up time to prepare it, we’ll all be busy doing are regular programming until June 24. Then the new website is supposed to be up and running and those of us left, will have to somehow magically make it work.

For those of us who have lost our jobs, the pain on our faces was all too evident. This was not just a job, this was a passion for an institution we believe in.

For those of us who remain, there is the pain of losing our experienced colleagues. There is also the concern about how we will manage.

Next week we are promised a blueprint of the new RCI. Today it’s hard to believe in that future.

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