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Silencing Canada’s voice to the world

More details are emerging on the impacts of this spring’s CBC cuts, notably the gutting of Radio Canada International, Canada’s voice to the world. According to RCI staff in Montreal, the RCI budget is being cut by more than 80%, the newsroom will close and radio programming will cease on June 24.

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The Sackville, NB, facility that broadcasts RCI on shortwave will be closed and it is not yet clear what kind of online service will emerge from the severely curtailed service. CBC has also announced that Russian and Portuguese services are being eliminated.

“With these decisions we will cut off Chinese listeners from uncensored RCI news about Canada and the world,” says the RCI Action Committee, a group that defends the international service. “That’s because the Chinese authorities block the RCI website, and the majority of our Chinese listeners hear us on shortwave. We will also no longer offer the kind of radio programming one would expect from a member of the G8.”

RCI has been a way for Canadians to tell stories and represent the country around the world.

The RCI Action Committee is calling on the federal government to make RCI financially autonomous of the CBC, citing a 1996 KPMG report that pointed out that “independent funding is needed to avoid the difficulty it faces today with being caught up in a domestic vs. foreign competition for limited CBC resources. If the CBC management and Board have to choose between serving Calgary or China, Calgary will almost certainly win….”

CMG represents employees at the Sackville shortwave facility as well as RCI reporters in several Canadian cities. The Guild is working with our members at RCI affected by the cuts. Click here for more information on the cuts at CBC.

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