These are tough times in journalism, even for our neighbors to the North.
In April, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced it was dramatically cutting the budget of its international broadcasting service, Radio Canada International, and would stop RCI’s shortwave service on June 24, according to reports in the Montreal Gazette. Dozens of RCI employees received pink slips, and RCI programs will now only be available via Internet broadcast.
The move sparked demonstrations in front of the Radio-Canada-CBC building in Montreal last week, and some Canadian Twitter users have been writing that they are “speechlessly dismayed,” and calling the move “inexcusable.”
Some of the most moving sentiment came from Marc Montgomery, host of the English-language program the Link, during his final broadcast on Friday:
Through sobs, Montgomery thanked users for listening for the 67 years the service has been on the air.
“Goodbye to you, my radio friends, with whom we’ve shared so many stories. It’s a privilege I’ve been thankful for every single day.”
He also touched on an interesting point: Many authoritarian regimes, including China, block certain Internet sites, but shortwave service continues to penetrate. Montgomery said shortwave listening continues to be important for people who don’t have Internet access.
“China, North Korea and Cuba remain convinced of the strategic value of shortwave,” Montgomery said.
Overall, shortwave radio bands have become less popular worldwide, and major broadcasters have been dropping their shortwave services over the past few years.
According to the Montreal Gazette report, “The CBC has said it decided to transform RCI ‘consistent with currently shifting media consumption behaviours, as well as strategies adopted by other public broadcasters.’ The BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and RFI have reduced their shortwave services in some markets, the CBC points out.”
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