Stop CBC from dismantling our transmitters to the world

See updates below – In the next few days the transmission lines that allow Canada to broadcast to the world will be taken down one by one. For more than 67 years Radio Canada International’s shortwave transmitters have guaranteed that Canada’s voice would be heard despite the Cold War, despite natural disasters, and Internet blocking. Now this efficient, cost effective communications tool will be dismantled by Canada’s public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada.

Those of us who understand how important this lifeline to the world is to world communication are sick to our stomachs at the rapidity with which the broadcaster wants to make the transmitters disappear. Shortwave broadcasts of Radio Canada International ended on June 24, 2012. Other countries’ use of our transmitters will end on October 31.

But CBC/Radio-Canada has already started the process of dismantling unused transmitters, and will start taking down still functioning transmission lines very shortly.

Why are they in such a hurry?

CBC/Radio-Canada has never understood the importance of international broadcasting, and is betting that Canadians will ignore the fact that a web-only service has limited impact while shortwave radio can reach more than 800 million radio receivers around the world.

The short sightedness of administrators obsessed with web page clicks fails to take into account that shortwave not only transmits radio broadcasts, but has been used for teletype and data transmission. Recent experiments reveal that with free software, shortwave signals could transmit texts where the Internet is not available. A tool that once again would get past Internet blocking, natural disasters, and wars.

The transmitters are there, they don’t cost much to maintain. Why do we want to cut ourselves off from being able to communicate with the world? Who should be making these decisions?

Please contact Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore and tell him to stop CBC/Radio-Canada from dismantling our transmitters.

And please send us any suggestions you may have


UPDATE: October 23, 2012 – Five transmission lines have already been taken down! Two are in the process of being dismantled. By next week almost all of the 28 lines will be dismantled. Only two will remain temporarily for the Quebec Northern Service.

UPDATE: later on October 23, 2012 – U.S. listener Thomas Witherspoon has started a petition to stop the dismantling of Sackville. See the post on our website, the petition is here

Radio New Zealand on RCI budget cut

We’ve been quiet for a while, re-grouping, dealing with the tough situation at Radio Canada International after our 80% budget cut. But we haven’t been totally quiet. Radio New Zealand has just (August 6) broadcast an interview by RNZ’s Bryan Crump with RCI Action Committee Spokesperson Wojtek Gwiazda:

Thanks to Thomas at The SWLing Post for this link.

If you want to know what you can do to help us please check out as well as our latest photo project here

One photo at a time, to restore radio at Radio Canada International

Please join us in this new project: “RCI – WE WILL NOT ‘REST IN PEACE’ PHOTO PROJECT – RCI, RIP ? NON !

You have been so generous with your time, in reading, and commenting and supporting us. We are now into our fourth (!) week without radio broadcasting. We’re not happy about this. We don’t think you are. Please take a few minutes to read the details here about our project, and then send us your photo.

Many thanks!

Video reflections, last day of radio, Radio Canada International

On the last day of radio programming at RCI on June 24, 2012, some of the newsreaders and host/producers ended their last broadcasts and then shared their reflections on Radio Canada International in this series of five videos.

It was an emotional day. All were professional, but clearly devoted to our international service and its tradition of 67 years of presenting Canada to the world.

For more information on how you can help us to restore radio at Radio Canada International and turn back the 80% budget cut please go here:

Last English Newscast – Radio Canada International – RCI

Last Chinese newscast – Radio Canada International – RCI

Last Arabic newscast – Radio Canada International – RCI

Last French Newscast – Radio Canada International – RCI

“El Castor Mensajero”

Last radio broadcast – Radio Canada International – RCI

Hear our first broadcast in 1945 – Radio Canada International

Canada’s international radio service started officially on February 25, 1945 with an address by Canada’s Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, followed by Justice Minister Louis St-Laurent (in French) and then by Howard B. Chase, chairman of the CBC board of governors:

With its shortwave towers in Sackville, New Brunswick, the CBC International Service (as it was called then) would provide Canadians and foreign listeners with news, information, and music from Canada. For more details and audio, please go to the archives of our national public radio and TV broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada here.

On June 24, 2012, more than 67 years after the first broadcast, Radio Canada International broadcast its last radio programmes, and went to a a web-only Internet service.

For what you can do to restore radio to Radio Canada International please read:

Fourth day no audio on RCI website

It’s really hard to know what to say. We’ve been working so hard these last few days at Radio Canada International, to hang on to our listeners with so few resources, even though many are not there, because of the end our our radio programming on shortwave on June 24, 2012.

And now, for four days we have no audio on our web-only non-radio website! What’s next?

What you can do: help us restore the budget of Radio Canada International which was cut by 80%, help us get back on shortwave radio, so that millions of listeners can be in touch with Canada once again.

Day 003? Day 004? Like a hamster trapped on a treadmill…

Is it Day 3? Or is it Day 4? Already, it’s becoming a blur.

Like a hamster trapped on a treadmill, with no beginning and no end. Like a factory worker on an assembly line constantly trying to make sure the bolt fits, as another bolt has to be attached. We charge ahead, determined to fill our quota. Determined to prove we’re professionals. Determined to do the best we can for the listeners we’ve left behind on radio, who might still be trying to hear us on our website. Are they? And what about those who no longer have access to our reports and interviews? Will they wait for us to come back? Will they give up on us?

There’s not much time to reflect these days at Radio Canada International. We all have been given quotas for the number of reports and interviews we’re to produce each week. One lone technician is with us, for just this week, to help us figure out how to record our interviews in newly re-designed booths so that there’s no need to have the services of the five technicians that used to work with us.

Meanwhile the “easy” work of finding a photo, copy-pasting a web-link, writing an introduction for the website, that was supposed to take only a few minutes takes a lot longer. For many colleagues this is their first time. It’s sometimes embarrassing. After years of being a radio professional. Of feeling like a professional. It’s grade one, all over again. And having to ask our webmasters, and other colleagues how to do the most basic things. They seem like mountains, but supposedly this is so easy.

With all these extra tasks, there’s less time to concentrate on researching the subjects we’re covering. Less time to talk to our interviewees. Not enough time to get in that last question, because another colleague is waiting outside the booth, desperate to start their interview.

We got a memo Wednesday. That was Day 3, right? And it says they’re going to move us. With just under 20 people, it’s a shame for all this space to go to waste after three-quarters of our colleagues were laid off.

Go to go. Have to work on another report.

What can you do to help us?

Is this how the end looks? One step at a time, Radio Canada International continues to be dismantled. This used to be where the technician sat, the controls in front of him, to record our telephone interviews. A new memo says we'll be moving soon. Guess we're taking up to much space, after all the layoffs.

Day 002 at the new (non-radio) Radio Canada International

There were more colleagues in the office today. Many of those who are being laid off came in to empty their desks. Some are here for the orientation sessions on how to find a job. Others are taking training to know how to fill in for us, with our new duties as web posters for our website.

Speaking of the website. Every time we looked at it today, it kept changing. The good news is that the links to all the archived programmes, and audio, are (finally!!) being restored after three days of chaos. That said, there’s still lots of work to be done.

Lots of language mixups on the new web site, and quite a few broken links on the archived site. By the way, if you’re trying to find the old site, on our new site, look for the button to the left of the LIVE RADIO (or other language equivalent) button. And of course, the live radio is not ours, it’s the live radio of our French radio at the national public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada. If you find it a bit weird that there’s so much publicity and links to both the English and French services of our national broadcaster, so do we.

And if you’re wondering why the news on the English and French pages of our website aren’t contextualized, you’ve probably realized if you clicked on the connect buttons, that you’re sent to our domestic national broadcaster for news. Since our newsroom is closed, and our journalists laid off, our administrators scrambled to give the impression that things are still fine, and running smoothly. They’re not.

We’re also finding that it’s hard to concentrate on the task of presenting well thought out reports and interviews. That’s because we no longer have technicians to record us in studio. Booths have been set up for us to do telephone interviews and record continuity. Even our phones have been set up for interviews, just in case. But that does take away from our main tasks.

And then there’s the website. It keeps on changing. And we’re now responsible for inputting texts, photos and audio onto the website. For some, this is their first experience. The days are stressful.

Only bright spot, seeing some of our colleagues who were laid off. But it’s a bit melancholy, they’re no longer really our colleagues. Such a waste. These people have decades of experience in explaining Canada to the world.

Another bright spot, the Washington Post has discovered us, thanks in part to that video of Marc Montgomery, host of “The LInk”. The video shows him tearfully saying goodbye to the listeners. You can see it here. This is the human part of what we do, real radio, talking to people.

So we survived Day 002 – but it’s still hard to walk by the Russian Section’s area. They’re not there. I’m wondering, will we water their plants?

VIDEO: TV report on the last day of radio on Radio Canada International

As the last radio newscasts and last radio programmes were broadcast, a journalist from our national public television broadcaster Raffy Boudjikanian interviewed a number of us to give viewers an understanding of what had happened to us: we stopped being a radio station after 67 years on the air.

What can you do to help us restore Radio Canada International? Please go here:

Day 001 at the new (non-radio) Radio Canada International

The silence at Radio Canada International this morning was deafening.

Everywhere you looked, empty desks, silent studios, and the knowledge that we are now embarking on a road so very different from what we’ve ever known in the past. We have weathered innumerable cuts of people, programmes, language sections, finances. And we’ve survived, sometimes it seemed impossible that we could even imagine that we could go on. But we did. Now powers above us have taken away our soul, the core meaning of what we do. They’ve taken us off radio, and turned us into an on-line service, a service without any of our previous programming, designed to confirm the public relations needs of those who said Radio Canada International was being “transformed” not “destroyed”.

What you can do to help us, click here

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