Friday, June 22, 2012

Budget Cuts Radio Canada International (RCI) - Solidarity Rally for RCI

MONTREAL, June 20, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - More than a hundred people demonstrated in front of the Radio-Canada-CBC building in Montreal today at noon in solidarity with the RCI Action Committee, a union-supported lobby of Radio Canada International employees. At the rally the Committee called on the federal government to stop the budget cuts at the international service, and to give RCI financial autonomy from Radio-Canada-CBC. 

On April 4, 2012, Radio-Canada-CBC announced RCI's budget would be cut by 80%, dropping from $12.3 million to $2.3 million. The newsroom will be closed down. RCI, Canada's Voice to the World for the past 67 years, will stop being a radio broadcaster both on shortwave and by satellite on June 24. This decision was retroactively approved by Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore on June 7, when he changed the 2003 Order in Council and removed Radio-Canada-CBC's obligation to provide RCI's programming on shortwave, and to consult the ministry of Foreign Affairs about geographic target areas and broadcast languages. 

Listeners cut off from Canada
In ending RCI's role as a radio broadcaster and limiting its presence to the Internet, millions of listeners will be cut off from uncensored news from Canada. This is because of limited access to the Internet, or as in the case of Chinese listeners, because the RCI website is blocked by Chinese authorities. In the case of China, however, the shortwave radio broadcasts are not jammed by the authorities. Minister Moore's decision now effectively does that for them. Many of Canada's important economic partners such as India, Russia and Brazil will also lose access to Canadian news because the services have been closed, or in the case of India, access to the Internet is limited. In addition, the Minister's decision to eliminate the need for consultations with Foreign Affairs opens the door to more slashing of the service such as those to Ukraine, Russia and Brazil

Enormous loss of expertise
RCI Action Committee spokesperson Wojtek Gwiazda, a host and producer at Radio Canada International, says the federal government must step in and stop the drastic cuts to Radio Canada International, "We think it should be Canada's Parliament and not Radio-Canada-CBC that decides the strength or weakness of RCI. Even if we know the government does not want to get involved in the internal functioning of the Radio-Canada-CBC, we feel that the Corporation failed to meet its obligations under the Broadcasting Act." 

For SCRC president Alex Levasseur, "Canada's voice to the world is unique not because it broadcasts in different languages, but because it explains Canada to the rest of the world in these different languages. Our contextualized programming for people who may know little about Canada helps trade, tourism and immigration. And RCI's tradition of journalistic integrity has received worldwide respect and appreciation for 67 years." 

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The SCRC represents almost 1800 members in Quebec and Moncton, and is affiliated with the Fédération nationale des communications of the CSN. 

(Source : Canada Newswire)

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