An interesting piece in the Toronto Star laments the recent cuts to Radio Canada International. And the protest comes from an American—Thomas Witherspoon, who staffs Ears to our World. The non-profit sets up short wave band radio networks in developing areas.
“Sadly, many Canadians must not be aware of RCI, or of its valiant but unsung role in international relations,” Witherspoon writes. “Radio Canada International is an arm of the CBC that stretches across the world with international news and programming, offering a uniquely Canadian perspective on world events to millions of listeners, who await these broadcasts every day.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced cutbacks to RCI in early April. There will be less shortwave service and more web based streaming. The service’s Russian and Brazilian departments will close, with more focus on the core languages spoken by Canadian audiences: French, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.
If I could speak on behalf of the millions who listen to RCI in the dark of night, I’d say a mouthful. Here on the overly-lit, information-saturated North American continent, it’s easy to forget that an estimated 1.6 billion human beings – a full one quarter of us – still lack access to reliable power and to the Internet. In remote, impoverished, often war-torn regions, radio has become a familiar voice in the darkness. Without radio broadcasters such as RCI – and the light of information they can relay – the night can become very dark, indeed.
“Please, Canada, find a way to avoid severing your own tongue,” the commentary concludes. “The world is listening to you.”