Canadian govt. takes reins at troubled service

MONTREAL – Radio Canada Intl., the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s worldwide shortwave radio service, has been given a last-minute reprieve by the federal government, which has agreed to finance the service’s C$16 million ($12 million) annual budget.

The Canadian government will take over the financing and management of the service from the CBC and it now will be funded by several government departments, including Heritage, Foreign Affairs and Intl. Trade, the Canadian Intl. Development Agency, and National Defense.

On Dec. 6, CBC president Perrin Beatty announced the national pubcaster was cutting all funding of Radio Canada Intl. and that it would close its doors permanently on March 31. The political squabble over the fate of Radio Canada Intl. heated up this week when Heritage Minister Sheila Copps returned to Ottawa after a Latin America trip and personally intervened, asking Prime Minister Jean Chretien to step in and save the shortwave service.

It has been a traumatic year for Radio Canada Intl. The radio outlet had its funding cut last December, only to have the money restored just hours before it was to cease operations in March. Beatty said layoff notices issued to Radio Canada Intl. employees last week would be withdrawn.

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