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Recent cuts to CBC Cape Breton are a major blow to the region

Rally to show community support for important local voice

by Robert Devet

A rally in support of CBC Cape Breton will be held this Friday to tell the Harper Government and CBC management that the community can not tolerate further job cuts.
A rally in support of CBC Cape Breton will be held this Friday to tell the Harper Government and CBC management that the community can not tolerate further job cuts.

K'JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX – Eliminating the positions of an award-winning reporter and a technician in the CBC Sydney newsroom is a huge blow to the town and the region.

"Back in the nineties there were about 100 people who worked for the Cape Breton CBC, now we are down to 12," says Rankin MacSween, president of New Dawn Enterprises Limited, a large volunteer-driven community business organization.

MacSween is one of the local supporters of public broadcasting who are organizing a rally this Friday in support of CBC Cape Breton.

"We're a community that is at this interesting point in its history, at that turn in the road. It is really important, as that process unfolds, to be able to talk to one another and listen," says MacSween. "CBC is able to offer us that opportunity."

CBC Cape Breton offers four and a half hours of local radio programming each weekday.

MacSween does not argue that local stories would not be covered without a local CBC presence. There are probably more radio stations in Cape Breton at this time than ever before.

"But the CBC, more than the others, is able to really embrace the notion of conversation, because it is positioned to go deeper and spend more time," MacSween tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

CBC/Radio-Canada's problems are the result of federal budget cuts amounting to $115-million over three years, a $30-million funding freeze, and losses in advertising revenues. Nation-wide 650 jobs will be cut.

Cuts to the CBC budget are hardly a new phenomenon. And fear of additional job losses is never absent.

MacSween, who didn't see the last round of Sydney job cuts coming, describes the rally as a way to tell politicians and CBC management how important CBC Cape Breton is to the region.

"Good grief, we don't have much left here, and whatever little is left is precious," MacSween says.

"There is a lot of talk and a lot of energy around the rally. There is this clear consensus that we have to come together, and help others understand CBC's value to us."

The rally to support CBC Cape Breton will be held at noon, on Friday May 30th, on the boardwalk behind the Civic Centre. In the event of rain, it will move into the adjacent Round Room .

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert


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