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RCI Vacates Shortwave and Satellite

An 80-percent budget cut is forcing the Web as RCI’s only delivery method

Radio Canada International’s famed transmitter farm in Sackville, New Brunswick will go dark as a result of the cuts. Credit-Verne Equinox via Wiki Commons.

An 80-percent budget cut is forcing Radio Canada International (RCI) to abandon shortwave and satellite radio broadcasting, leaving the Web as RCI’s only delivery method.

Known as the CBC International Service when it was launched in 1945, the publicly funded RCI originally was aimed at Europe. Its multi-language broadcasts were particularly important during the Cold War.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, RCI began to suffer a series of cutbacks to its stable of non-English language services. The latest cut of $10 million — out of a $12.3 million budget — takes effect June 26, 2012.

RCI’s famed Sackville, New Brunwick shortwave transmission farm, which is shared with international broadcasters such as Radio Japan and China Radio International, will be abandoned as part of the budget cuts. Opened in 1938, the Sackville site is home to a wide range of high-powered AM transmitters and large outdoor antennas. It has long been considered one of the best sites for reaching North American audiences via shortwave.

Besides ending shortwave and satellite broadcasting, RCI will lose its newsrooms and cease producing programming. Two-thirds of its 40-person staff is expected to be fired as well.

— James Careless