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CBC must stop destruction of a vital part of Canada’s broadcast history

On behalf of the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation

TORONTO, ON (April 18, 2018) — The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has quietly launched a systematic process that will destroy a vital component of Canada’s cultural and broadcast heritage.

And the Canadian public knows virtually nothing about it.

At the beginning of April, CBC’s English Services began destroying original radio and television programming. Almost a million acetate transcriptions, audio and video tapes and other legacy master-recordings – that’s eight decades of this country’s English-language radio and television history – are being destroyed after digitization.

This flies in the face of internationally accepted standards and best practices of audiovisual preservation that call for retention of programming originals due to the unknown characteristics of digitization such as long-term stability and vulnerability to electromagnetic interference. Radio-Canada intends to preserve its master recordings after making digital copies but CBC has opted only to rely on digital copies. Such inequitable treatment of cultural treasures is not acceptable.

The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF), which has been fighting to preserve this country’s radio and television legacy since 2001, requested delay of the destruction to finalize plans for alternative custody and preservation of these unique, publicly-owned cultural assets.

CBC has declined to alter its corporate timetable.

“It is truly disturbing,” said Kealy Wilkinson, CBMF’s Executive Director, “that at a time when Canada is finally committed to sustain and support indigenous cultures, it has become the first developed nation to systematically destroy master recordings of its largest audiovisual heritage collection, our English-language radio and television artefacts.”

Canadian arts and cultural advocates, including ACTRA, Actra Fraternal Benefits Society (AFBS) and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, are calling on the CBC to stop destruction of these valuable archives and work with the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation and the Department of Canadian Heritage to permanently protect this irreplaceable record of Canada’s twentieth-century history.

The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF) is a not-for-profit charitable foundation working in the public interest to preserve and provide public access to Canada’s history, culture and broadcasting heritage.

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Media contact: Kealy Wilkinson, Executive Director, Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation, Email: cbmf0fmcr@gmail.com, Phone: 416-367-4772.


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