RCI listener comments carry common theme

On RCI’s Listener Letters and the RCI Action committee‘s website, you can read listener reactions to the looming RCI cuts.

To their credit, I’ve noticed that RCI programs (like The Link with Marc Montgomery) are continuing “business as usual.” I’ve noticed no degradation of their content or quality.

RCI Action Committee: What you can do

(Source: RCI Action)

How can you help?

How can you help stop this drastic cut of 80% of Radio Canada International’s budget?

Please write to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore.  (See addresses below.) If they are your Member of Parliament, please mention that as well.

Ask whether CBC/Radio-Canada should be deciding how strong or weak Canada’s Voice to the World should be?

Whether they feel comfortable with the fact our Chinese audience will now be cut off from RCI’s uncensored news about Canada and the World.

We feel because of the continuing cuts to RCI since 1990 (See: http://rciaction.org/blog), the government should give RCI financial autonomy and take RCI’s budget away from CBC/Radio-Canada’s control.

If you agree with us, please make your point of view heard.

We have very little time to achieve our goal. We’re counting on you.

Some points you might want to bring up with the ministers or your Member of Parliament:

  • 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 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
  • As Canadians we feel it’s essential Canada have a Voice to the World producing programming tailored for an audience not familiar with Canada
  • Canada’s Voice to the World has been a respected source of journalism for the past 67 years

Please consider sending an e-mail to the three ministers, even if you live outside Canada. If you are in Canada, you can send letters free to the ministers, MPs and Senators.

Thank you,

RCI Action Committee

rciaction@yahoo.ca

http://twitter.com/rci_action   http://rciaction.org/blog

Addresses:

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird  E-mail: john.baird@parl.gc.ca

Mailing address:

Hon. John Baird
418N Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

—————————-

Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:  E-mail: jim.flaherty@parl.gc.ca

Mailing address:

Hon. Jim Flaherty
435-S Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

—————————

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore E-mail: james.moore@parl.gc.ca

Mailing address:

Hon. James Moore
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor
House of Commons
Gatineau, QC K1A 0M5

——————————-

You’ll find e-mail and mailing addresses of all Members of Parliament here:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E

You’ll find e-mail and mailing addresses for all Senators here:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/SenatorsMembers/Senate/SenatorsBiography/ISenator.asp?Language=E

The Gazette: CBC cuts gut cherished international service

More attention to the cuts at RCI from The Gazette of Montreal. This article features quotes from my friend, Sheldon Harvey of the CIDX and the International Radio Report:

(Source: The Gazette)

MONTREAL – Lost amid the auditor-general’s report last week on the F-35 fighter planes and Canada raising the retirement age to 67, was news of the impending demise of Radio Canada International – the CBC’s international service, for many a lifeline to Canadian culture and politics, from as far away as Hanoi or Rio de Janeiro.

While CBC, like other crown corporations and government departments, has to cut 10 per cent of its overall budget as a result of federal cutbacks, RCI, which is administered by the CBC but has long been its poor cousin, was told more than 80 per cent of its budget would be slashed, or $10 million of $12.3 million.

[…]“Upsetting,” “absolutely dreadful,” “shocking.” Those were the words listeners from Bulgaria to Missouri used to describe the end of RCI’s shortwave broadcasts after more than six decades on the air.

[…]Sheldon Harvey, the president of the Canadian International DX Club, and a longtime shortwave enthusiast, said the international service, over the decades, has gained a stellar reputation, ranked just behind the BBC World Service – despite its relatively tiny budget – for its balanced, neutral perspective.

It was never a propaganda tool, like the Voice of America, he said.

“They have table scraps thrown at them, yet are able to put together such high-quality broadcasts for people around the world,” Harvey said. “To see that tossed aside is really sad.”

[T]he idea that listeners in other countries can all go online is farcical, Harvey said. Only 22 per cent of the population in the developing world has access to the Internet, whereas anyone with a wind-up or solar-powered radio can receive shortwave transmissions. What’s more, governments can block the Internet – as they have in Iran, China and parts of the Arab world – all part of today’s Iron Curtain. But as was seen during the Cold War, it’s almost impossible to block shortwave frequencies. If the Soviet Union jammed some frequencies, broadcasters could simply switch to others, Harvey said, and the cat and mouse game continued.

Up till now, RCI also has served to introduce people to Canada during peacetime, whether as potential visitors, trading partners or immigrants, Harvey said. Shutting down its broadcasts is like closing down embassies and trade missions. “It’s waiting for people to come to us, as opposed to knocking on their doors … I don’t think the government realizes how much of the world they are cutting off by doing this.”

[…]“CBC’s mandate is to inform Canadians. But it’s important to have a broader perspective here. … If you believe this country has something to say, you can’t support these cuts.”

Read the full article at The Gazette.  We are actively posting news about the RCI cuts here on the SLWing Post and we also welcome your comments.

You will find the latest news by following our tag: RCI Cuts

The Gazette: Tributes to RCI pour in from around the world

A sampling of messages to The Gazette in response to the cuts to Radio Canada International (RCI):

(Source: MontrealGazette.com)

“This is absolutely dreadful. RCI has been one of the best shortwave radio stations and a much-needed voice of solid, objective reporting. I’ve been a loyal listener from the mid-1990s and I am really saddened by this news. I understand that the times are difficult and that cuts need to be made, but this is an incredibly short-sighted decision. The staff and RCI’s international listeners deserve better. Surely a plan can be devised that would keep RCI going.”

Nenad Knezevic, Belgrade, Serbia

“I’m at a loss for words. I’ve been listening to RCI on shortwave since the glory days of the 1970s. This is the loss of a great friend to me. I’ve enjoyed countless English broadcasts of RCI. I feel a huge emptiness upon losing Radio Canada International on shortwave!”

Charles Ermatinger, St. Louis

“What upsetting news! I listen to the Link at night — so insightful and enlightening! Why couldn’t the CBC have made cuts to the television instead? The Internet has usurped the role of the television, but radio is radio!!! I love the immediacy of radio! I will miss your voice most of all, Marc!”

elise db, Ottawa

“Shocking news, I didn’t really expect that the only reliable source of information about this beautiful country is going to be shut down. … Hope you’ll change your decision and continue to broadcast, even only in English.”

Georgi Bancov, Troyan, Bulgaria

“There are places on Earth that just do not have Internet access yet. Many remote locations, in poorer countries. SW radio is their only means to get by. I guess we’re just abandoning them, to stay current with costs and technology. Very sad. BTW, the broadcast from (the Sackville) towers can be heard everywhere on Earth.”

DM, New Brunswick.

“It seems very short-sighted to cease Canadian broadcasting to the world. The astronomical expense of the Olympics are always sold to host countries’ citizens as providing many intangible benefits … well surely the international broadcasts which promote and explain Canada, its systems, policies, culture, innovations and Canadian analysis of international events etc. is valuable to the government and the country. From what I’ve seen on radio discussions boards there will be no more broadcasts and most people laid off for the sake of $10 million … peanuts, methinks.”

BigC-Canuck

Read the full page of comments at The Gazette. We are actively posting news about the RCI cuts here on the SLWing Post and we also welcome your comments.

You will find the latest news by following our tag: RCI Cuts

Censorship in Djibouti: International broadcasters, take note

I just caught wind of a now all-too-familiar story in international broadcasting–this time, via Reporters Without Borders.

While I encourage you to read the full press release below, the summarized story is that Reporters Without Borders has launched a mirror web site for La Voix de Djibouti, an independent news source in Djibouti. Why? Because the regime in power in Djibouti, in an effort to stifle the free press, have decided to block the primary website of La Voix de Djibouti.

The article states (we add the boldface):

A Europe-based exile radio station that supports the opposition Renewal and Development Movement (MRD), La Voix de Djibouti, began by broadcasting on the short wave and then switched to being a web radio, but the authorities have blocked access to its website from within Djibouti.

The decision to move off of shortwave has, in essence, severely limited their freedom of the press and their listeners’/subscribers’ access to information. Reporters Without Borders is addressing this censorship by actively creating mirror sites of La Voix de Djibouti that are hosted outside of the blocked domains.

This is admirable, and we strongly support their worthy efforts in creating mirror sites.  However, this solution is, at best, full of holes:

  1. How do those who wish to follow the news find each new mirror site after it has been blocked?  And presuming they can do so, how long will this take to figure out?
  2. Will the website reader be tracked by the government and/or punished for attempting to circumvent imposed blocking? (Hint: Most regimes now have tools to do this: read this and this.) Has anyone considered these consequences to any individual  caught for circumventing a blocked site?
  3. What if the regime decides to simply turn off the internet? Can they do this?  Sure they can…and frustratingly, they may.

As we’ve stated here many times before, the Internet is a wonderful information resource and it is proliferating across the planet. But with the Internet, as with FM radio, cable TV and terrestrial TV, repressive regimes can and do hold the power button, as well as the ability to control the content, or even take it over.

Shortwave radio is comparatively immune to this, and moreover, is untraceable. When we eliminate the infrastructure that supports shortwave broadcasting (as is happening at RCI Sackville) we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Poor child.

Full article as follows:

(Source: Reporters Without Borders)

4 April 2012–Reporters Without Borders has today launched a mirror site of radio La Voix de Djibouti’s website, http://lavoixdedjibouti.com, in order to help circumvent the government’s censorship and allow the population to have access to a news sources to which it is being denied.

The media freedom organization invites Internet users to go to http://lavoixdedjibouti.rsf.org in order to access an exact copy of the original site.

“As this is a country without media freedom, where only government propaganda is tolerated, we think it is crucial to help the population to gain access to other news sources,” Reporters Without Borders said. “While it is true that the level of Internet use is still low in Djibouti, it is not negligible, and use of social networks in particular is growing. The population will now be able to read critical news bulletins online.”

A Europe-based exile radio station that supports the opposition Renewal and Development Movement (MRD), La Voix de Djibouti began by broadcasting on the short wave and then switched to being a web radio but the authorities have blocked access to its website from within Djibouti.

So that independent news websites that are targeted by cyber-attacks and government blocking can continue posting information online, Reporters Without Borders has started mirroring sites. The first sites to be mirrored were those of the Chechen magazine Dosh and the Sri Lankan online newspaper Lanka-e News. The organization has also been urging Internet users all over the world to create more mirrors of these sites in a chain of solidarity.

Mirror sites can be used to circumvent blocking by governments. Although the government of Djibouti is blocking access to La Voix de Djibouti’s site, http://lavoixdedjibouti.com, by blocking the site domain name or the hosting server’s IP address, Internet users can still access the Reporters Without Borders mirror site, http://lavoixdedjibouti.rsf.org, because it is hosted on another server with another domain name.

The mirror site will be regularly and automatically updated with all the new content posted on the original site. If the mirror is itself later also blocked, the creation of further mirror sites together with a regularly updated list of these mirrors will continue to render the blocking ineffective in what is known as a Streisand effect.

Reporters Without Borders urges Internet users who want to help combat censorship and have the ability to host a site on a web server to follow suit. Send the URL of the mirror site you have created to wefightcensorship [at] rsf.org. The next mirroring operations launched by Reporters Without Borders will be reported on the @RSF_RWB and @RSFNet Twitter accounts with the #RSFmirror hashtag.

CKUT’s International Radio Report sheds light on RCI cuts

The International Radio Report with Wojtek (left), Janice (center) and Sheldon (right). Photo: RCI Action

Sunday, concerned as I am about the deep cuts to RCI’s (Radio Canada International’s) vital radio programming, I listened to CKUT‘s International Radio Report with much interest.  Hosts (and good friends) Sheldon and Janice were joined by Wojtek Gwiazda, RCI Action Committee spokesperson, as their on-air guest. RCI Action is a coalition that has worked to restore RCI funding since cuts in 1991; Wojtek explains some of their history in the interview.

Most importantly, the interview provides insight into the internal reaction to the program cuts and changes. Wojtek makes many excellent points, including the fact that since RCI’s English and French news rooms are being eliminated, Canada will effectively have no international voice, no means to offer their opinion of world events. He also notes that, even though the US has the VOA, and UK has the BBC World Service, these countries also have periodicals such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, so forth, all of which carry their voices abroad.  Canada, sadly, has no such international news presence. Indeed, I’m aware that The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, has very limited international exposure).

If, like me, you’re interested in the recent developments at RCI–or in reductions to radio’s international presence generally–this show is a must-listen.

Click here to download this episode of the International Radio Report. Click here for an audio archive of past shows.

Note that Wojtek Gwiazda, besides his role with RCI Action, also hosts a show on RCI called Masala Canada. On Saturday, he posted the following message “off mic” for his listeners:

Saturday, April 7, 2012 – 13:34

Why the silence? And a budget cut.

I wanted to take a moment to explain why I’ve been so silent on this site in the last few days.

Some of you may have heard by now that this past Wednesday, Canada’s national radio and television public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada announced the impact of federal government cutbacks to the financing of the broadcaster.

Many services will be affected, many people will lose their jobs.

At Radio Canada International – the effects are quite devastating.

Our budget of $12.3 million will be reduced to $2.3 million.

At least, two-thirds of our staff will be laid off.

We will no longer broadcast on shortwave. The only presence we’ll have is on the Internet, on our website.

The RCI newsroom will be closed, there will be no newscasts.

Our Russian service will be closed, the Brazilian program eliminated.

What will be left is a presence on our website in English, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish. What kind of presence this will be, is yet to be determined.

And yes, that means, that as with everything else that’s being eliminated, the last edition of MASALA CANADA will be on June 23rd.

So far that is all that we know.

I can tell you that there is a union supported lobby group, the RCI Action Committee, which is actively lobbying to stop the cuts. Whether it will be successful, is unknown.

I’ll give you updates when I can.

All the best,

Wojtek

 

The Link talks about the cuts at RCI

In this interview with Levon Sevunts, producer for RCI’s The Link, we get a little more insight into the impact of these cuts at Radio Canada International.

One notable quote from the audio interview: Sevunts states rather bluntly, “RCI is getting out of radio altogether.”

RCI’s last day of broadcasting will be June 26th, 2012.

(Source: The Link)

RCI will bear the brunt of the 10 per cent funding cut to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced in the last federal budget. RCI is going off the air. The international service will no longer be heard on shortwave or satellite broadcasts. A budget cut of more than 80% at RCI will mean only limited service will be offered on the Internet in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic. Russian and Portuguese services will be dropped. A total of 650 jobs will be lost at the CBC over the next three years and there will be changes in programming. To generate additional revenue, CBC plans to introduce advertising on its CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique channels. CBC TV will also shut down 620 analog transmitters and cut its in-house documentary unit. Marc Montgomery discusses the changes with The Link’s producer, Levon Sevunts.