Local CBC programming? Québec man sends donation… and a message.

Local CBC programming?  Québec man sends donation… and a message.

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A Québec man surprised Québec CBC officials when he sent a cheque to their offices to help finance a local radio show.  Guy Morisset, an engineer involved in his community, decided to take action in favour of maintaining La musique parle, which airs Saturday mornings on Ici Radio-Canada Première.

Guy Morisset's original letter to CBC's Québec office

Guy Morisset’s original letter to CBC’s Québec office

Even though CBC regularly receives letters from its listeners, the fact that M. Morisset also sent a cheque complicated things at CBC’s Québec offices.  M. Morisset received a response from M. Jean François Rioux, Québec regional director for CBC.  “For reasons of professional ethics,” the letter addressed to M. Morisset reads, “we are transmitting your letter as well as the attached cheque to Monsieur Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada.”

“It’s not a big amount,” admits M. Morisset.  He says he’s tired that people in Quebec City receive so much Montréal-centric news.  “It’s a bit crazy that here, in Quebec City, we’re told about traffic on the Pont Champlain or Boulevard Décarie when we’re listening to our public radio at the end of the day.  This already happens weekends – is the next step that this be the case all the time?”

Mostly, though, it’s coverage of Quebec City’s cultural events that M. Morisset wants to keep, which explains his preference for La musique parle, recorded in Quebec City.  M. Morisset believes that it’s partially CBC’s responsibility to make people here aware of their local culture.  “How are we supposed to grow our festivals and events here when CBC is reporting on the Montreal Symphony Orchestra?” he asks.  “Other (commercial) radio stations in Quebec City don’t spend as much time talking about less-known cultural events, only CBC does.  Without that, it’s one less chance for Quebec City’s people to know what’s going on close to home.”  M. Morisset hopes that his letter and donation will draw attention to the losses in local programming in Quebec City and elsewhere.

Official response to M. Morisset

Official response to M. Morisset

“I’m honestly extremely surprised and touched,” says Diane Martin, host of La musique parle, as she learned of the initiative this morning.  “I think it illustrates how important a window our show represents to culture.  (Quebec City’s) cultural actors are major, production is extremely important, and among other things the show’s goal is to allow the public to get in contact with this very high-quality cultural offer.  That a listener took this personal initiative – I can’t believe it – I’m very touched.  It shows that to many people, this is important.  Four hours of airtime devoted to Quebec City’s culture… I don’t think that’s asking for too much.”

Quebec City’s programming cutbacks follow the announced budget cuts from the federal government to CBC, costing 130M$ and cutting 657 jobs across the country.  This brings to 245M$ total budget cuts imposed to CBC since 2012.

Denis Blanchette, federal MP and the official opposition spokesperson for the Québec region, draws a parallel with a similar citizen initiative last January, when a Quebec City couple paid – out of pocket – for a shocking advertisement in Le Soleil daily newspaper decrying the deterioration of the Pont de Québec.  “Citizens are fed up, it’s out there,” says M. Blanchette.  “It’s too bad that citizens feel the need to do this.”  Regarding cuts to CBC, M. Blanchette thinks it’s time for deep discussion about the current direction of the government.  “We’re due for more than a simple accounting exercise – we must allow this public company to fulfill its mandate to promote diversity, and unfortunately, we have a government resorting to cuts.”  M. Blanchette adds that, on average, western countries annually spend 87$ per person on public broadcasting, but that with recent cuts, Canada has lowered its financing to 29$ per person.

As for M. Morisset, he hopes that other residents of the region will follow suit, and send a few dollars to CBC’s Québec offices to show their interest for local programming.

Life in Québec staff writer

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