Statement made on 05 May 2009 by Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool:
Honourable senators, today I would like to talk about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's treatment of Acadia.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Société nationale de l'Acadie released a study conducted by Marie-Linda Lord, who holds the Chair in Acadian Studies at the Université de Moncton. The report focused on how much air time news and views from the Atlantic provinces get on Radio-Canada's evening Téléjournal and its English-language equivalent, The National, on CBC.
The study compared English and French television news programs broadcast from January 18 to February 14, 2009. Professor Lord and her assistant, Dominique Martel, analyzed the presence of the Atlantic provinces with respect to both the number and origin of reports aired, texts read, interviews conducted and experts consulted on both the Téléjournal and The National.
Honourable senators, the people of the Atlantic provinces represent 7 per cent of Canada's population, so they should be entitled to about that much coverage on our national broadcaster's evening news programs. But that does not happen in either English or French.
Anglophones in the Atlantic provinces do get better treatment: 4 per cent of the CBC's total news coverage and 6 per cent of its interviewees hail from Atlantic provinces. In contrast, Radio-Canada allocates just 1.4 per cent of its total news time and 0.7 per cent of its interview time to the Atlantic provinces. Furthermore, Radio-Canada pays a lot of attention to Quebec, especially to Montreal, in its Téléjournal, while the CBC does a better job of fulfilling its mandate as a national broadcaster by reflecting our country's regional diversity.
Honourable senators, I cannot think of a better summary of the study than its title: One Nation, Two National News Broadcasts: Quebec in French, Canada in English. This is a sad thing for francophones in minority language communities. Nothing has changed since the SNA conducted a similar study two years ago on how much air time RDI news broadcasts spent talking about Acadia. There is every reason to believe that Radio-Canada plans to pay less and less attention to Acadia now that it has announced the elimination of Téléjournal midi Acadie and two radio programs, 3-60 and Tam-Tam Acadie.
I know that, to some extent, the recent budget cuts are the result of Radio-Canada's revenue shortfall. However, those cuts also reflect Radio-Canada's chronic indifference towards the regions outside Quebec. Our national broadcaster must address that indifference once and for all, in order to respect its mandate and continue to earn our esteem.