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OTTAWA – By January 28, Canadian Francophonie organizations will march in front of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for the renewal of CBC / Radio-Canada’s licenses. And like the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities (FCFA) of Canada, all are asking the public broadcaster to do more to reflect their realities.
“We are going to repeat what we have always said and that Radio-Canada does not seem to want to understand: they do not reflect our communities in any way! », Launches the president of the organization spokesperson for francophones in minority communities, Jean Johnson.
The FCFA will close the CRTC’s appearances on January 28 in order to express its expectations with a view to renewing CBC / Radio-Canada’s radio and TV licenses.
“What we recommend is to create a production center outside Quebec that will offer content from all of the Canadian Francophonie in Montreal so that our communities are reflected in national programs. The teams are there, there are competent people who are doing an excellent job… We need to see each other and recognize each other on the air, ”insists the president of the FCFA, without however saying where this production center should be. installed.
The organization wants a minimum quota of 15% outside Quebec in the national content of Radio-Canada.
“Compared to our population base, that doesn’t seem excessive to us. Radio-Canada must present the reality of our communities so that we stop seeing people be surprised, again and again, that there are Francophones in Alberta, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and elsewhere… When Justin Trudeau and Mélanie Joly [ministre des Langues officielles] talk about strengthening the place of French, we think that the public broadcaster has a role to play. “
Mr. Johnson also appealed to CBC: “We want to establish a citizen dialogue and CBC is well placed to do so. They must have French-Canadian content so that the English-speaking majority will know us, ”he says, convinced that the audience’s interest will be there.
AFO calls for a change in governance
The president of the FCFA deplores that this coverage only exists in times of crisis, as during the 2018 crisis in Ontario. An opinion shared by the Assembly of the Francophonie in Ontario (AFO), which will appear next Tuesday.
“We appreciated the work done during the resistance, but we would not like us to talk only about us to portray a Canada hostile to Francophones,” regrets Carol Jolin.
AFO conducted a survey of its members, to which 270 people responded. Result: the work of regional stations is acclaimed, but the shoe pinches at the national level, especially in terms of news.
“There is too much content from Quebec, and more particularly from Montreal. We saw it all the more during COVID-19. We asked that the Ontario government’s press briefings be broadcast, even delayed or directly on regional channels, but Radio-Canada missed the opportunity to fulfill its mandate, ”deplores the president of AFO.
To respond to these criticisms, the Franco-Ontarians’ spokesperson organization proposes a change in governance with the creation of autonomous entities across the country, divided between the Atlantic, Quebec, the Center and the West.
“Each would be responsible for its budget and its programming and this would make it possible to better represent the communities”, thinks Mr. Jolin, who specifies that in Ottawa, this would mean dividing the Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau office.
A role against linguistic insecurity
Despite its national mandate, the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) is also keeping an eye on more local branches, among the ten recommendations it will present on January 20.
“Currently, there is a lot of turnover and it’s hard for journalists to forge links and fully understand the reality of communities. We therefore want to see representation from our communities when hiring and ensure that we have long-term journalists in our regions, ”asks Sue Duguay.
For the organization that has made this issue a priority, the fight against linguistic insecurity also applies.
“We want to see each other and get along. We understand that there are standards in relation to French, but having different accents does not prevent it. “
For the president of the FJCF, this will help to interest young people who, she recognizes, easily turn to American productions.
“We are aware that French-speaking youth consume a lot of media products from the United States which have colossal means. But I think that is precisely the reason why we must devote resources to offering accessible youth content in French. “
The president of the FJCF sees as proof the success of Radio-Canada’s journalistic content laboratory, Rad, which, on social networks, deals with current affairs and social issues, mainly for 18-34 year olds.
“It’s a great example of success, but again there is progress to be made to have people from across the country and a diversity of accents. “
Support the digital shift
Rad represents the digital shift that CBC / Radio-Canada wants to make, which, before the CRTC, pleads for more flexibility in order to adapt to new media realities. A desire that the FCFA is ready to support, under conditions.
“We don’t want to give them a blank check. It must be regulated, with clear objectives and accountability so as not to find ourselves in the same situation of having to fight again, in 2021, with Montreal so that our communities are reflected. “
The president of AFO follows his example.
“Radio-Canada’s digital content is excellent, especially during the pandemic. The problem is that internet access is not the same everywhere in Ontario. We saw it for the government’s press briefings. Some did not have access to it because radio and TV were their only reliable means of obtaining information. “
Joined by ONFR +, CBC / Radio-Canada had not responded to our interview request at the time of this article’s publication.