Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Politics Suspected in Canadian Broadcaster's Rebranding

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Politics Suspected in Canadian Broadcaster's Rebranding

Article excerpt

When Canada's French-language radio and TV broadcaster announced it would rebrand itself, the plan swiftly met widespread condemnation, especially for dropping the word Canada from its name.

CORRECTION APPENDED

From its beginning almost 76 years ago, Canada's government- owned, French-language radio and television broadcaster has been closely linked to its on-air identification: "Ici Radio-Canada."

So closely that when it announced last week that it would rebrand itself with a highly abbreviated version of that phrase, the plan swiftly met widespread condemnation and mockery, especially from those angered over dropping the word Canada. The broadcaster's new marketing name will be "ICI," the French word for "here."

The reaction came from politicians among all parties in Parliament (with the exception of the separatist Parti Quebecois), in readers' comments on Web sites, from newspaper columnists and even from the union representing the network's employees. Le Devoir, a Montreal newspaper, began its article about the change with, "The unthinkable, the incredible, the inconceivable has happened."

An online post from "Infoman," a Radio-Canada satirical show, included a photo of a man playing solitaire on one of the broadcaster's computers. Its caption, designed to resemble the ICI logo, translates as "HERE we work hard!"

James Moore, the federal minister responsible for about $1 billion given to Radio-Canada and its English counterpart, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., each year, said the change took him by surprise and was not to his liking.

"Canada's public broadcaster's name is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -- in French, Societe Radio-Canada -- and I said to the President of C.B.C., Canadians will support a Canadian broadcaster if only they ensure the broadcaster is Canadian in content and name," Mr. Moore, the minister of Canadian heritage, told the House of Commons on Thursday.

Some online critics, particularly on English-language Web sites, suggested that Quebec separatism was a factor in the new name. Radio- Canada has employed people who later sought office for various political parties, and it has been associated with several prominent separatists. …

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