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CBC's Board of Directors
Can Play a Crucial Role in Future of RCI


Please note that the meeting of the Board of Directors has been held, and CBC and RCI administrators have made some decisions, which were announced on Friday, October 5, 2001. Details We have no other details about the meeting than this.


The basis of the existence of Radio Canada International rests on one sentence in the Broadcasting Act of 1991 which says as a condition of its licence our national broadcaster, the CBC/Radio-Canada, shall  “provide an international service in accordance with such directions as the Governor in Council may issue”.

The explanation of what that means in practice is outlined in the CBC Corporate Policy of 1980 and the Program Policy of 1994. See
http://rciaction.org/RCIMandateCBCPolicy

The new CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices of 2001 which just came out. In its first two paragraphs emphasises that “Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our society…” It highlights the fact “the Corporation enjoys administrative and programming independence from political and governmental direction.” [Editor note: this is now in the preamble at
http://cbc.radio-canada.ca/docs/policies/journalistic/preamble.shtml ]

It also clearly highlights where the autonomy lies, as well as who should protect that autonomy and mandate:

The autonomy of the Corporation is assured through the authority conferred by Parliament upon its Board of Directors. The directors act as Parliament’s “trustees” to define and to guard the public interest and to ensure the Corporation’s mandate is fulfilled.”

And what is the mandate of the Corporation as it pertains to Radio Canada International?

This same document outlines RCI’s obligation “to provide a program service designed to attract an international audience with the purpose of further developing international awareness of Canada and the Canadian identity” in “daily shortwave broadcasts”. This obligation is found in CP 14, the CBC Corporate Policy that came into effect on May 13, 1980.

Fourteen years later, on July 6, 1994, CBC’s Program Policy P.P. 18 refined RCI’s responsibilities. It specifically expanded the obligation to “attract an international audience,” to mean “RCI programming must be adapted to target audience interests and knowledge.”

This refinement was omitted from the 2001 Journalistic Standards and Practices text, although other parts of the Corporate Policy of 1994 were included in sections that did not deal with RCI.

The cuts of news and current affairs programming in June of this year, (See
What’s Going On?) are already damaging our reputation. The planned integration of RCI resources into the CBC structure will make it even harder for us to do our job.

Terms such as “efficiency” or “enhancement of programs” are being used by CBC executives at the domestic service to hide a very drastic cut to our capacity to do our job of bringing topical news from Canada to our listeners, as mandated by the Program Policy of 1994: “The emphasis within information programming must be on topicality in order to reach the interested audience for shortwave.”

Again, this text does not appear in the 2001 Journalistic Standards, even though it is still in force.

How are we “efficient” when we cut the number of daily newscasts in English and French from eight (8) a day in October 2000, to two or three (2 or 3) in October 2001? How are we more efficient in being “topical”, when our language services have no news from Canada from Friday afternoon till Monday morning? How are we more “attractive” to an audience, if our English and French live programming is cut in half on weekdays?

How efficient are we?

We are so effective in using our budget and doing our job, that even the respected consulting firm KPMG advised the CBC in 1996 to avoid the integration of RCI into the CBC.
Please see:
http://rciaction.org/KPMG960929

Do you think all this is troublesome? Tell us and tell others. See
http://rciaction.org/contact for e-mail and other addresses.

CBC's Board of Directors can be reached at::
commho@ottawa.cbc.ca