Union questions mandate changes at RCI

Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage - May 25, 2007
Testimony of the union representing most RCI employees:
[Official translation from French - see original document page 5

Mr. Robert Fontaine (Former President, Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada): Mr. Chairman, honourable members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, my name is Robert Fontaine, and I am outgoing President of the Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada, which represents nearly 1,500 Radio Canada employees in Quebec and Moncton.

I would like to introduce the people here with me: Alex Levasseur,
the union's president elect, and Wojtek Gwiazda, our union's
delegate to Radio Canada International and spokesperson for
Radio Canada International's Action Committee…

The Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada would also like to make you aware of the fundamental changes that have been made on the sly at Radio Canada International. When the Broadcasting Act was amended in 1991, the CBC's obligation to provide international service was one of its conditions of licence. That amendment became law just after the virtual disappearance of Radio Canada International, which was ultimately saved thanks to Canadian parliamentarians. The future of the CBC's international service is still under threat. The Radio Canada International Action Committee sounded the alarm in 2002, and it was sounded again the following year in the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Until the Broadcasting Act has been amended to protect RCI's
mandate, which is to present the Canadian reality to foreign audiences, there will be nothing preventing the CBC from changing
its international service. In fact, that has already started. In 2005, the
CBC's board repealed all its policies requiring Radio Canada
International to present a program designed for a foreign audience.
Last fall, the resources and priorities of the international service were
amended mainly in order to serve newcomers to Canada.

That was a break with an information and public affairs tradition
that had made the reputation of Radio Canada International for more
than 60 years. On the RCI Web site, for example, instead of finding
new background items for foreign users, as used to be the case, you
now see links to other CBC news sites intended for Canadians. We
think that the erosion of the CBC's international service must stop
and that the original mandate of Radio Canada International must be

More questions about the mandate here.

The RCI Action Committee is an inter-union committee defending RCI's mandate as an international broadcaster. See details here.

If there are things you find are not clear, or explained enough, please don't hesitate to drop us a note at: rciaction@yahoo.ca
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