RCI update – 10 April 2012

Radio Canada International management will be meeting this morning with the Arabic, French, and Spanish services to give more details about the more than 80% budget cut at RCI announced last Wednesday, April 4. This afternoon it will be the turn of the Chinese and English services.

Tomorrow, the RCI Action Committee and all RCI employees are meeting to discuss an action plan to stop the cuts. Once that’s over you’ll find suggestions on what you can do to help us on the top of this paage when you click the button WHAT YOU CAN DO – 2012 cuts

Stay tuned! And thanks for your continuing support!

Committee’s first media interview re 2012 cuts

Montreal radio station CKUT interviews Committee spokesperson Wojtek Gwiazda

Our first media interview about the RCI budget cuts with Montreal radio station CKUT this morning (April 8).

I talk to hosts Sheldon Harvey and Janice, of the station’s “International Radio Report”, had a lot of good questions. They were also shocked by the enormity of the RCI budget cut.

You can hear our conversation in the show’s archives: http://ckut.ca/cgi-bin/ckut-grid-new.pl?show=0%2C10%3A30&action=showaudio (once you’re there click on the April 8, 2012 audio file)

FB group of “International Radio Report” – http://www.facebook.com/groups/188158277887350/

Budget slashed 80%, shortwave and newsrooms cut

RCI Director Hélène Parent informs staff of the impact of the huge cut to RCI's budget and services, April 4, 2012.

Sad  day at Radio Canada International today (April 4, 2012) as Canada’s national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced the impact of budget cutbacks on RCI.

The main points:

Radio Canada International’s $12.2 million dollar budget will be slashed by 10 million, leaving only $2.2 million. [Revised April 5: $12.3 and $2.3 million]

Two thirds of staff will be eliminated, leaving maybe 16, 20 perhaps 25 people.

Newscasts and newsrooms will be eliminated.

Shortwave broadcasting will be dropped, our work will now be limited to the web site.

The Russian service and the Brazilian program eliminated.

It’s being billed as a “transformation” – I think we would use other words. More details soon.

Suggestions, comments, questions welcome at:


We are working on an action plan – should be able to provide details within a few days.

Thanks for your support!

Here’s the latest news and what you can do to help us: http://rciaction.org/blog/2012/05/04/govt-must-step-in-stop-cut-save-radio-canada-international/

Worry and concern at RCI

Today was a tough day. Tomorrow we expect to hear how we will be affected by last week’s federal budget cuts. We know that about 10 per cent of the budget of our national radio and television public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada will be cut over the next three years. We don’t yet know how those cuts will be made. And in particular, since we are part of the public broadcaster, we have no idea how it will affect Radio Canada International.

As you can imagine, there are concerns. In 1990, in a similar situation, CBC/Radio-Canada facing severe cuts, announced it would close RCI, and basically said, if the federal government wanted an international service, it could pay for it. For a while it looked like we would be closed down. The government of the day cobbled together some money. But we lost half of our language services, half of our staff, and three-quarters of RCI original programming.

What will happen this time? We don’t know. We’ll get at least some of the details tomorrow, at 1:30PM (Ottawa time) in a close circuit TV meeting with the president of CBC/Radio-Canada, Hubert Lacroix.

RCI jobs eliminated, immigration mandate set aside

Last week was tough for Radio Canada International employees as we finally found out the impact of the $500,000 budget reduction because of the station leaving Sirius Satellite Radio. RCI’s new director Helene Parent had warned employees back in February (See Update from the new RCI Director ) that because of the drop in revenues, cuts had to be made.

Last Monday, May 16, she individually spoke to each employee that was cut. Then the next day in a public meeting with employees she announced that seven (7) contractual positions, mostly researchers, would be eliminated. She explained that she did not cut back all the contractual positions that had been created by the Sirius increase in revenue, and the longer duration of programs. She announced she was keeping one position extra in each language section so that there was manpower to work on more web oriented content.

She also announced that as of June 27, the English and French daily programs, The Link and Tam Tam, would be reduced from two hour, to one hour programs. And that all the one hour language programs, would be reduced to half hour programs. Untouched would be the English and French weekend programs.

She was asked about how many RCI employees had taken a special retirement package, but preferred not to name the exact number, saying it wasn’t totally official yet. But it’s clear that at least four employees, and probably five in total took the package. A retirement package that offered a bit more money to eligible employees than normal. And it also eliminated those jobs permanently from RCI’s staff. What this means is that RCI has five fewer permanent staff positions. (This retirement package was offered across all of the domestic English and French networks.)

Two days later, on Thursday, May 19, Helene Parent held two meetings with staff to outline her vision of RCI until 2013. She first reminded everyone of the Order-in-Council that outlines RCI’s obligation to raise awareness of Canada abroad. She very quickly also said that the immigration mandate of talking to future immigrants abroad or to those already in Canada, would no longer have a central role in RCI programming.

As she did in the past, she emphasized the increasing importance of the Internet and the RCI website, while admitting that the present website has serious problems. She outlined a comprehensive list of ways RCI could interact with listeners and web users. And she suggested there should be more collaboration between RCI and the domestic English and French networks – CBC and Radio-Canada.

20 Yr Anniv of Massive Cut and Hosts/Staff Saying Goodbye

Twenty years ago today on March 25, 1991, hosts and staff, in English, French and seven other language services said goodbye to listeners as they signed off,  after a massive cut was announced on March 22, 1991.

Cut were numerous employees from the French and English services, as well as the entire staff of the Czech, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese (to Brazil), and Slovak sections.

It could have been worse – on December 5, 1990,  Gerard Veilleux, the president of our national public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced that as part of cuts across the network, he had decided to cut Radio Canada International, unless the government of Canada would pay for the service.

Protests by employees, listeners and supporters convinced the government to bring together some financing. But half the budget of RCI was cut, half the employees were let go, and three quarters of original RCI programming was eliminated.

Update from the new RCI Director

This morning, Helene Parent, RCI’s new director, called staff into her second staff meeting since becoming director December 22, 2010, to update the employees on the latest developments.

She reassured them that the financial situation of the French service of CBC/Radio-Canada (which has responsibility for RCI) was reasonably good, given the context of federal funding which is frozen and rising salaries and expenses.

She confirmed that RCI contract with Sirius Satellite Radio would come to an end on March 31, 2011. The loss of about $500,000 of revenue means that there will be cuts among contractual employees.

She also announced the retirement of Program Director Roger Tetrault at the end of February. Tetrault had been interim RCI director for two years until the arrival of Helene Parent, and was then put back to his former position of Program Director. The position had been abolished when he became interim director.

Tetrault has been with CBC/Radio-Canada (our domestic public broadcaster) for 42 years, and with Radio Canada International since 1982.

New RCI Director Meets Staff

RCI’s new Director Helene Parent held her first meeting with staff this morning. She told employees she had wanted to come to RCI, and looked forward to working with them. In her introductory statement Parent said that she would make time to talk to employees individually to hear suggestions and observations about the international service. She said she has great hopes for the future of RCI. She also added that there would be more cuts at the service.

Helen Parent has extensive experience in managing radio in the French service of our domestic radio- television service CBC/Radio-Canada, which is responsible for Radio Canada International.

Parent’s appointment as Director came suddenly on December 22, 2010. Roger Tetrault had been interim Director for the previous two years, after the departure of Jean Larin. Tetrault returns to his former position of Program Director. The position had been abolished when he became interim Director.

20th Anniversary of decision to cut RCI

Today, December 5th, is the 20th anniversary of the day Gerard Veilleux, the president of our domestic radio-television service CBC/Radio-Canada, announced Radio Canada International would only continue if the Canadian government paid for it.

This decision set off two decades of vulnerability, questioning, and changing of mandates that continues.

It also set off reaction through letters and faxes from Canada and around the world from listeners and from other broadcasters, and three successful campaigns to block RCI’s closure in 1991, 1995 and 1996.

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. People to contact

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