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RCI Weekend Newscasts to Return,
Integration into the Domestic Service Continues



On Friday afternoon, October 5, 2001, employees at Radio Canada International were called to a meeting with RCI director Denis Doucet, and CBC/Radio-Canada Vice President Sylvain Lafrance. (Our domestic radio and television service, CBC/Radio-Canada is responsible for administering RCI.)

Lafrance said  that CBC and RCI administrators have decided to bring back newscasts on the weekend. (All RCI newscasts in seven languages were eliminated at the beginning of June.) Details on how this would be achieved were not given.

According to Lafrance, before bringing back the newscasts, the administrators wanted to be sure there was financing. Now that’s assured, the newscasts will return as soon as the end of October.

Programming in Arabic and Russian will be increased because of the events of September 11th. 

Lafrance also announced that the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors re-confirmed that RCI is part of the domestic service’s mandate: that, it is part of the public broadcaster’s mandate to have an international radio service. (Canada’s Broadcasting Act of 1991 obliges CBC to maintain an international service as part of its licence requirements.)

Lafrance said that the idea of an international radio service is “even more modern” than it ever was. “It’s a beautiful idea.”

Lafrance went on to say that the Board of Directors had accepted the idea of RCI’s integration into the domestic service.

He also reiterated the four principles he had already outlined  when he spoke to employees in June, 2001:

> Optimal integration of RCI into CBC/Radio-Canada.

> Putting RCI at the centre of the international strategy of the domestic service.

> RCI “branding” should clearly be identified. (It’s unclear whether this meant an RCI identity, or with the identity of the domestic service.)

> RCI will have to look at the different ways (shortwave, internet etc) that the programs are “distributed”.

As far as integrating RCI into the domestic service, Lafrance said all support services that are not directly part of putting programs together would be integrated into the domestic service as of December. Whether and how this will affect our technicians, and our master control which coordinates all of our broadcasts was not clear.

In fact many questions remain unanswered.

How will the newscasts be brought back? How many of our freelancers and temporary staff in all language services will be re-hired? How and if, the integration of English, French and other services will be done is not clear either.

What remains unchanged, is the cancellation of English and French morning shows to Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and the elimination of the evening broadcast to India. The drop in weekday newscasts in English and French from about eight a day in October of last year, to two a day as of this month will remain.

The Ukrainian program will still only broadcast half an hour, as opposed to the one hour program before the June 2001 cuts.

It’s still too early to make any conclusions.

Total integration may have been avoided, but the status quo will not remain, and RCI will not restore the programming cut in June.

Here is the internal memo released on Friday, on CBC stationary:


NEW AND ENHANCED PROGRAMMING
AT RADIO CANADA INTERNATIONAL (RCI)


I am pleased to announce some important programming decisions concerning the CBC international radio service.

First, we are increasing the number of weekly hours dedicated to programs broadcast in Arabic and Russian to ensure better coverage of the current international crisis. We feel that there is a need to temporarily increase our services, especially to the Middle East and neighboring areas, given the likelihood that major events will be taking place in this part of the world, at least in the short term.

We have also decided to resume production and broadcast of original newscasts on weekends, which had been stopped last summer because of budget constraints. In this respect, the reorganization currently going on will free up sufficient resources to allow us to successfully put these activities back into operation without jeopardizing other RCI activities.

All this is part of the new RCI fall program schedule which will go on air in stages starting October 13, with the broadcast of theme programs now in preparation. Broadcast of additional Arabic and Russian programs will start October 20, while original weekend newscasts will resume by the end of the month.

These decisions illustrate the importance of RCI in CBC operations. We firmly believe in the future of our international radio service, and we are determined to continue strengthening its program content because RCI is an integral part of the CBC's public service mandate.

In accordance with the Corporation's determination to better integrate all of its components, we announce that RCI support and distribution services will henceforth be part of CBC's existing services. We expect this integration to be completed by December 2001; RCI will thus be relieved of responsibilities that were in fact duplication of functions which can be carried out by other components.


Sylvain Lafrance  
Vice-President, French Radio
Responsible for RCI

If you have any comments you'd like to share with us at the RCI Action Committee, please write us at:
rciaction@yahoo.ca

For other addresses please see Contacts.