Tag Archives: RCI Cuts

RCI Action: Stop CBC from dismantling our transmitters to the world

A few of RCI Sackville’s curtain antennas–soon to be dismantled

October 31st is quickly approaching and the CBC has requested that the remaining employees at Radio Canada Internationals Sackville transmission site begin dismantling antennas and transmitters that are not currently being used for their remaining three broadcaster clients (NHK, KBS and the Voice of Vietnam) and the CBC North Quebec Service. To be clear, once this transmission infrastructure is dismantled, there will be no going back.

RCI Action posted a plea on their website with a request to contact Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore james.moore@parl.gc.ca and tell him to stop CBC/Radio-Canada from dismantling the Sackville transmitters:

(Source: RCI Action)

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.

[…]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 james.moore@parl.gc.ca and tell him to stop CBC/Radio-Canada from dismantling our transmitters.

And please send us any suggestions you may have rciaction@yahoo.ca

Thanks!

The above is a clip for RCI Action’s post, read the full message on RCI Action’s website. Please, if you feel strongly about the value of RCI’s Sackville site, contact Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore james.moore@parl.gc.ca and tell him to stop this process.

Spread the radio love

RNZ interviews RCI’s Wojtek Gwiazda: Shutting off the shortwave

Radio New Zealand’s Bryan Crump, host of  Nights, interviewed RCI Action Committee spokesperson, Wojtek Gwiazda today. It’s an excellent and insightful interview.

Thank you, Mike, for the tip!

You can download the audio from the show here, or simply use the embedded player below:

From RNZ:

Wojtek Gwiazda is host and producer of Masala Canada at Radio Canada International, and spokesperson of the RCI Action Committee. Wojtek is still fighting to try and retain the ability to broadcast in shortwave with the very recent shut-down of the shortwave transmitters of Radio Canada International.

Spread the radio love

RCI’s “radio silence”

This well-written, comprehensive take on RCI’s closures does an excellent job of addressing radio’s continued relevance in our current socio-political climate. It even includes a brief quote from yours truly.  Thanks, Rich, for bringing this to my attention.

(Source: rabble.ca by Garth Mullis)

Across the Indian sub-continent and Asia, shortwave radio sets scan up and down familiar frequencies, seeking a signal from Canada that had come to be known as “an old friend.” Internet-blocked Chinese activists search the dial for Canadian news of a Hong Kong demonstration. But an ocean of low static is all that emanates from the Sackville, New Brunswick transmitter. Canada’s once robust international radio voice has fallen silent, victim of the latest round of budget cuts.

Recently, choked with emotion, Mark Montgomery closed out the final transmission of Radio Canada International (RCI) after 67 years of shortwave radio programming to the world. Then, dead air. Radio station shuttered and budget slashed by 80 per cent, RCI is now reduced to an anemic web presence and a skeleton staff.

Like vinyl records, newspapers and incandescent light, the death of shortwave radio has long been heralded. But the global millions who listened regularity to RCI may disagree. So do I.

As a nearly blind child, my world was pretty small. But once I found shortwave radio, the world bloomed out of my orange foam headset. My dad slung a long wire up over a high branch in a neighbour’s tree. That antenna connected me to something bigger; fracturing the lonely alienation of the 1980s.

[…]Unlike the Internet, which is easily disrupted by dictators, hackers, wars or natural disasters, shortwave cannot really be jammed and does not require the massive infrastructure of fiber optic networks, servers and miles of phone or cable lines. Unlike reading this story on-line, listening to radio does not leave an electronic record. A profile of one’s interests cannot be generated by authorities. Though, Canadians surely would never have cause to worry about this.

I am not a cyber-luddite. Podcasting has given birth to a radio renaissance and an explosion of voices. Just listen to Memory Palace, 99% invisible or Transom to see how the format is being innovated. Yet, I would never want to see Vancouver’s Co-op Radio or CBC Radio One reduced to an on-line only presence. I want to live in a broad community, not a pod of one.

Radio waves easily cross the digital divide. About a third of the world has no access to phones or electricity, never mind Internet. But battery-powered and hand-cranked shortwave radios are ubiquitous over the developing world, and they won’t be hearing from Canada any more.

Shortwave is also a good backup when other forms of communication go down. It can be used to communicate internally in case of natural disasters (this was done during Hurricane Katrina) and can even transmit Internet content.

[…]Of 18 western countries, Canada is 16th in terms of expenditure per capita on public broadcasting, narrowly beating out New Zealand and the U.S., but RCI punched above its weight.

“Please, Canada, find a way to avoid severing your own tongue. The world is listening to you,” pleads U.S. citizen and founding director of U.S. NGO Ears to Our World, Thomas Witherspoon.

In the ’80s, 20 million Chinese listeners learned English from a series of RCI broadcasts running for months in advance of regular programming to the Middle Kingdom. But China is now more a market for Canadian petro-exports than radio.

Last weekend, Hong Kong erupted in pro-democracy protests. But on the Chinese mainland, the state was able to censor most reportage by blocking Internet content, through deep packet analysis, or simply by a flood of propaganda from government bloggers and tweeters. Previously, millions tuned into RCI’s “Voice of Canada” and would have heard such news. But RCI’s web-site is blocked in China.

International shortwave radio is old school for sure. At fractions of a cent per listener, it’s also cheap and accessible. It allows activists overseas to hear what their own governments are up to. Radio is part of the global conversation. The RCI Action Committee is an employee effort with union support campaigning to save the service.

Radio silence is a ham-fisted decision.

End of transmission.
Garth Mullins is a writer, long time social justice activist and three-chord propagandist living in East Vancouver. You can follow him @garthmullins on Twitter.

Read the full article here.

Spread the radio love

Toronto Sun: Killing RCI was shortsighted

(Source: Toronto Sun)

BY  ,QMI AGENCY

The chipping away at Canada continues apace.

Radio Canada International’s shortwave service was, quite literally, Canada’s voice to the world for nearly 70 years — through wars, through triumphs and disasters, through it all. It has been part of our history. And, now, it’s gone.

…[T]he service became a means by which we could subtly promote democracy, and the Canadian way of life, in far-flung corners of the world. In places like China, Russia and North Korea — where the Internet can be censored, but shortwave can’t be — RCI was heard by many. In post-Communist Eastern Europe, shortwave radio receivers are still the way in which many receive news from the outside world.

I know this from experience. When I was an election observer in Bosnia in 1996, billeted with a Serbian family, I was glued to my tiny shortwave radio at night. I’d listen to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the news from back home, and I was always pretty grateful that RCI existed.

Our allies — the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Australia — have all expanded their national shortwave service.

In Canada, meanwhile, we’ve killed it.

The Harper regime, which has taken a chainsaw to the CBC in recent months, is ultimately to blame for this short-sighted decision. They will say that government needs to tighten its belt, and they’re mostly right about that.

But getting rid of RCI’s shortwave service is pennywise and pound foolish. In all, keeping RCI on-air would have cost about 35 cents a year, per Canadian. In comparative terms, it’s as much as it cost taxpayers to rent a couple of panda bears from China for zoos in Toronto and Calgary. Or, it’s a fifth of the cost of building gazebos in Tony Clement’s riding and fake lakes for the G8/G20 summit.

Meanwhile, KPMG did a study on RCI, and found it was the most efficient — that is, cost-effective — broadcaster of its type in the world.

Why should you care? Does it matter? It matters. Billion-dollar fighter jets and super jails, before a pittance for a radio station that promoted democracy and decency around the world? The idiots who came up with this outrageous decision should all be fired.

Perhaps you didn’t notice the death of RCI because you have access to lots of media here in Canada, or because you don’t ever need to tune in to shortwave radio. But to people around the world — to our men and women in uniform — the death of RCI won’t go unnoticed.[…]

Read the full Op Ed piece in the Toronto Sun

Spread the radio love

Final episode of the final Maple Leaf Mailbag now online

On Facebook, Wojtek Gwiazda kindly shared the following message from Terry Haig (who has been subbing for Ian Jones on the MLMB):

Dear Friends,
I am distraught that the final edition of the MLMB did not go out properly this past weekend because of technical glitches. The show can be heard on line by clicking on the search button on the RCI website and writing in “Maple Leaf Mailbag.” Then hit “programs” and click “listen.”

My apologies that we could not spend our final hour together as planned. Once again, I thank you all for your undying love, support, insight, graciousness and generosity. You are wonderful and magical.

I shall never forget you. Be well, everyone. Au Revoir and peace!
Terry H.

———————————————————
To hear the programme just click here:
http://www.rcinet.ca/english/archives/program/the-maple-leaf-mailbag/home/

I should note that, the Maple Leaf Mailbag was one of my favorite RCI shows to catch on shortwave. It was informal, quirky, interactive and always fun. It also had a very strong international listenership. Terry has been an excellent sub, but admittedly, I’ve really missed hearing my good friend Ian Jones on the show.

Spread the radio love

Video of Marc Montgomery’s farewell speech to The Link listeners

(Source: YouTube)

Radio Canada International journalist Marc Montgomery broke down in tears during his farewell speech to listeners as RCI ended its 67-year history of shortwave broadcasts yesterday. June 22, 2012, was the last day of The Link, RCI’s flagship English language daily radio show, which Marc hosted from its very inception in October 2006.

Spread the radio love

CBC News: RCI looking for Sackville transmitter site buyers

The vast, open Sackville site will most likely become a wind farm.

Just posted by CBC News:  a breaking news item which focuses on the closure of the Sackville RCI transmitter site and reveals the fact that site owners are now looking for buyers.

During my recent visit to the Sackville site, I spoke with their Transmission Operations Technologist, Marcel Cantin; we both agreed that the most likely future of the transmitter site is to become a wind farm, much like one visible from the site in neighboring Nova Scotia. Evidently, the province has been talking with farmers whose property borders the Sackville site in hopes to procure more land for wind farm development. The Sackville site’s 280+ acres would represent a great portion of the land they wish to procure. The only obstacle I see to this not becoming a reality would be local opposition–and they may have good cause. The two main arguments against wind farms are the noise they produce (not really a problem where RCI is/was located) and the fact that they can harm migrating bird populations. The site is very close to the Sackville Waterfowl Park, a local bird sanctuary which is home or host to innumerable varieties of water birds, and which I also had the good fortune to visit when in Sackville. Opposition in this regard may be substantiated.

(Source: CBC News)

After decades of service, the transmission towers outside of Sackville, N.B are no longer broadcasting Radio Canada International to the world.

The international broadcasting service ended its shortwave transmission Sunday night.

“I find myself, on behalf of all of us, saying goodbye to 67 years of radio,” said host Marc Montgomery, breaking down on air.

[…]”There’s no denying the importance of the internet. There’s also no denying that it can be and is regularly blocked by authoritarian regimes. Shortwave broadcasts on the other hand, almost always get through to people hungry for information,” said Montgomery.

Martin Marcotte, director of CBC Transmission, said he’s now looking to sell the New Brunswick towers and land.

He said he’s focussing (sic) on selling the site to other shortwave broadcasters or wind farm companies.

“It will be fairly costly to dismantle and as a last resort we would dismantle the facility, return it to bare land as it was when we first acquired that site,” said Marcotte.

As for broadcasters, the only one of which I am aware who has both the funds and ambitions to purchase such a transmissions site, is China Radio International.

Of course, I would hope that a broad-sighted private purchaser or even non-profit could keep the site running much as it has been, recognizing its vital relevance to Canadian international relations and to the developing world generally–especially in light of the recent addition to the site of a remote operation system.

Too bad, the Canadian government couldn’t recognize this in time.

Spread the radio love