What can you do?

The administrators of RCI and our domestic service CBC/Radio-Canada make the decisions, but they are also responsible to Canadians through Parliament and the ruling Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

We need for these administrators, politicians and the media in Canada and in your country to know that the cuts to RCI programming are unacceptable, that their policy changes should be scrapped, and that RCI’s international mandate to be Canada’s Voice to the World must be restored and protected by legislation.

In 2012 – we need your help more then ever after the 80% budget cut, and the abolition of radio broadcasting as of June 24, 2012. More info here: http://rciaction.org/blog/what-you-can-do/

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:


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.

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.

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