Thursday, December 13, 2012

CBC will answer to Canadian Senate for dismantling RCI

Canadian Senator Hugh Segal issued a statement today on the unanimous vote in the Senate to have a special committee enquiry into the CBC decision to slash the RCI budget by 80 per cent. The statement said:

I am delighted that, in a non partisan way, the Senate voted to have the RCI matter go to a full review of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. My motion was amended by Senator Champagne to go to a full committee hearing rather than a one day appearance before bar of the Senate.

"That a ten percent cut to the CBC budget produced an 80 percent slash and burn of  Radio Canada International reflects an internal CBC management decision which needs to be better understood.  CBC management may well believe that if they let people go and dismantle transmitters, the problem will go away.

"The importance of Canada's voice to the rest of the world is not a detail of no consequence. The chance to call witnesses, pursue how other enlightened countries have expanded their short wave capacity, among other facts, will be a constructive step ahead in strengthening Canada's international voice.

Committee hearings on this matter may start as early as February 2013.


The Conservative Senator has taken exception to the disproportionate cuts to RCI by management at CBC and has been calling for answers ever since they were announced on April 4, 2012.

It's nice to see that he is getting support in the Senate without partisan politics getting in the way. Partisanship just makes it difficult to get to the bottom of this issue.

There's not been much objective analysis published, and it's disappointing how quickly the public discourse has descended to mostly acrimonious partisan politics. It's downright disheartening to see how easy it is for political pedants to throw out red herrings and completely derail a discussion.

Sure, it was Conservative MP James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, who signed a new order in council  in June that removed the obligation for the CBC to provide a shortwave service.

But according to an advocacy group for RCI, the service was also on the chopping block under previous governments, and was drastically cut back in 2001 under the then-Liberal government.

Unfortunately, Minister Moore has offered little in the way of enlightenment, which has only fueled the speculation by opponents of the current government of some sort of "secret agenda" at play.

Nor is there much insight to be gleaned from the orders in council themselves ... either the 2003 version or the newly-changed 2012 version.

Perhaps there is a secret agenda. Perhaps it is the government's ... but perhaps it's not. At any rate, why isn't anyone in the media at least asking that question?

Well, Senator Segal has been asking pointed questions and demanding answers. Shortwave and RCI fans are very fortunate that he has brought forth a reasonable and well-reasoned voice, and furthermore that he has made it heard above the rabble of partisan potshots.

An excellent article about Senator Segal's efforts to hold CBC management accountable for its draconian decisions at RCI was posted on the Puget Sound Radio website here.

As well, I spoke with Senator Segal by phone last month, and the interview was aired on Media Network Plus (on the November 3rd edition).  You can download the show here or listen the stand-alone interview here.

Keith and I are following the story closely and we'll be sharing our findings on future editions of Media Network Plus which is heard on the World Radio Network, SiriusXM, SkyDigital and great partner stations around the world.