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.
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.
[…]Next week we are promised a blueprint of the new RCI. Today it’s hard to believe in that future.
I will be very interested to see the blueprint for RCI’s internet future. Frankly, it will need a strategy to delineate itself from the hundreds of thousands of well-established Internet media sources out there.
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.