Tag Archives: Sackville New Brunswick

The Toronto Star publishes my thoughts on the cuts to Radio Canada International

As many of you know, I find the downsizing of major shortwave broadcasters around the world deeply concerning, especially since so much of the world still relies on the medium as a source of news and information, and for some the only source of potentially life-saving information.

The recent cuts to RCI, however, were particularly painful. In one stroke of a pen, many people lost their jobs, and RCI’s already-skimpy budget was reduced to virtually nil. What’s more, their only international transmitting station–in Sackville, New Brunswick–is slated to be shut down, meaning there is no intention to continue the service, ever.

The Toronto Star has kindly published my thoughts on the matter.  You can read the full article here.


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RCI Cuts: pink slips – no clear strategy for Internet

(Source: RCI Action)

April 25, 2012:

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.

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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.

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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

[email protected]

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


Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird  E-mail: [email protected]

Mailing address:

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


Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:  E-mail: [email protected]

Mailing address:

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


Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore E-mail: [email protected]

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:


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


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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

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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.”


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

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RCI’s Sackville towers to be featured in film

(Source: CBC)

A Moncton artist is now working against the clock to film the Radio-Canada International shortwave towers in her latest film project.

Budget cuts at CBC announced last week mean the towers, near Sackville, N.B., will soon be shut down, but it’s not known exactly what will happen to the towers themselves.

Amanda Dawn Christie said she remembers coming and going from Moncton and the towers signifying that she was almost home.

“Whenever I would drive in, I would just be filled with this exhilaration and I don’t know if it’s the high voltage. Like, some people get headaches and nauseous; I would get exhilarated,” she said. “So I don’t know if it was my interest or if it was the high voltage, but I definitely had this sense of ‘wow.'”

She said she’s heard similar stories as she’s started interviewing people for her feature film.

Christie’s been studying the towers for years.

She even created a sculpture on the marsh near the towers — a kitchen sink designed to catch radio waves — a phenomenon often reported by locals.

Now she’s collecting stories of people who call the towers their landmark, or a tightrope school because of the wires, or the connection to Africa or the Arctic.

Christie said she’s particularly fond of the sight at dawn and dusk.

“The sky’s kind of pink and blue, and the lights are on but you can still see all the towers and the wires. It’s very magical,” she said. “If you don’t know what it is, you’re filled with wonder. And the thing is, if you do know what it is, you’re still filled with wonder.”

Instead of the shortwave towers, RCI will broadcast internationally online.

In truth, even when RCI’s Sackville, NB site is decommissioned, I doubt the towers will be brought down immediately. It’s actually quite an engineering feat to dismantle these. I would hope RCI offers other broadcasters the opportunity to dismantle and use them. VOA (or the IBB) had success doing this at their Greenville, NC transmission site (Site A).

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