|RCI ACTION COMMITTEE
Seven Days a Week - Defending Radio Canada International - Canada's Voice to the World
|RCI's 60th: Almost No Publicity and a New Mandate?
Montreal - 16 February 2005
Two weeks before the 60th anniversary celebrations of Radio Canada International (RCI) on February 25, there were still employees who didn’t know there was a staff party of present and former employees on the 24th.
Even on the RCI website you’ll have a hard time finding any mention of the fact that RCI has been around, and survived, for 60 years.
It is true that CBC/Radio-Canada, RCI’s domestic service, has been carrying promotional messages about two RCI contests to mark the 60th, but that’s about it.
This almost secret celebration of RCI comes as the service continues to be transformed and its mandate subtly changed. Anyone even vaguely familiar with RCI’s past knows that despite valiant efforts by its own employees, RCI has faced extinction three times in the 1990s, and is never safe from a sudden decision to shut it down, or at least to reduce services (see articles on the most recent cuts at the Ukrainian and Chinese services).
An outside observer only has to look at the program schedule for “Canada’s Voice to the World” to see a strange aberration of RCI’s mission. According to the liner notes, the service is no longer offering a “Canadian” point of view. The message from RCI’s Director Jean Larin is that RCI presents a “unique North American perspective” on world affairs.
RCI’s increasingly mangled mandate is reflected in the two 60th anniversary contests, as well. One contest’s theme is “Re-Discover the World” and the other is “Building the Future Now!”. “ Re-Discover Canada” and “Come visit and learn about Canada” might have been more appropriate.
In both contests, prizes are trips to other countries – not one, to Canada. It would almost seem that the service is targeting Canadian citizens who want to travel, rather than RCI’s foreign listeners who tune in to the station for Canadian news. (And yet broadcasting to Canadians abroad is no longer part of RCI's mandate.)
Throughout its history, RCI’s most important role has been presenting Canadian news to the world, something any traveler knows is in short supply in the world’s media. But even on this question there are concerns. Staff is being told RCI will decrease its news content in the near future. What will replace it, has yet to be defined clearly.
The service also clearly lacks enough resources to do everything it’s trying to do. With each RCI redeployment and facelift, it is the employees who have to take on even more tasks, in an already full day.
For those of us who have battled to save RCI over and over, the continued cutting of programming, the reduction of resources, and the bigger workloads, are creating an increasingly difficult situation at RCI. But, despite the obstacles, we will continue to serve our listeners who depend on us, because we can’t let them (you) down!
If you have comments, questions or suggestions on how we can protect RCI please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The RCI Action Committee is an inter-union committee that has fought to protect the mandate and programming of RCI, and for years has received generous support from listeners around the world to keep the service on the air.For more see About Us.
CBC has prepared an archive of radio and television reports from RCI's past. Details at RCI Archives.