|RCI ACTION COMMITTEE
Defending Radio Canada International - Canada's Voice to the World
| News release via Canada NewsWire, Montreal
Attention News Editors:
RCI Action Commitee -
RCI Employees Call for Moratorium on No News Weekends
MONTREAL, May 9 /CNW/ - Faced with contradictory explanations from the management of Radio Canada International and the CBC, employees at Canada's international radio voice have called for a moratorium on wide ranging program cuts which are scheduled for the beginning of June.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the RCI Action Committee said the cuts, which were described by management as fiscal responsibility, would cripple the station, its credibility and would result in the loss of audiences around the world.
"They have the money for this year," said Committee spokesman Wojtek Gwiazda, "so why are they insisting on making the cuts now?"
The Committee says management has been vague in explaining what cuts are planned and what amount of money is involved. What is known is that the international service which is mandated to tell the world about what's going on in Canada, will stop producing newscasts over the weekend, will shorten the broadcast day during the week, and cutback services in a number of languages.
"You can forget about knowing what's going on the weekend in Canada," says Gwiazda, "our offices will be empty from Friday night until Monday morning."
Although no permanent staff will be laid off, numerous temporary or part time production and technical staff who work throughout the week, will not be kept, thereby drastically cutting the already enfeebled station.
The employees are particularly surprised by the decision, since CBC and Canadian Heritage, which funds the shortwave service, signed an agreement at the end of March to maintain the service as is.
Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, who as a cabinet minister, must keep an arms length distance from CBC decisions, did however suggest her own concern in a radio interview broadcast on RCI programs last week: "You want to make sure you're not going to be supplanted by domestic programming."
In the past few years the shortwave service has gone through a calmer period of financial stability which has been assured by funding from Canadian Heritage. CBC, by law, is mandated to administer the service, but the day to day management is handled by RCI staff.
Ten years ago the service was drastically cut back, losing a third of its budget, half its staff and eliminating three quarters of its original programming. Almost every year until 1996, the service had to battle to stay alive, until Copps and the then Minister of External Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, assured independent government funding for the service.
/For further information: Wojtek Gwiazda, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.geocities.com/rciaction/ -30- CNW 15:00e 09-MAY-01