Good morning, Madam Chair and committee members.
My name is François Côté, and I am the secretary general of the Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada. With me this morning is Simon Forgues, who is our development and communications officer.
First, we would like to thank you for inviting us to appear. We are with you this morning to show you that more than 20 years after the Internet entered our lives, radio is still the local medium par excellence, especially in communities like ours. However, even though our radio stations play a major role in preserving our language and culture and enhancing the social and economic vitality of our communities, they are going through a difficult time right now, and that is very worrisome. The same is true of our colleagues at the newspapers, as you have heard.
At the ARC, three of our radio stations no longer have paid staff. Five have only one half-time employee, and four others have only one employee. Under the circumstances, it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to carry out the mandate they were given.
How many times have we heard that our French-language community media are perfect indicators of francophone linguistic vitality in Canada? It is often said that if there are French-language radio stations and newspapers like ours in our communities, then they must be alive and well.
Ladies and gentlemen, these indicators of linguistic vitality are increasingly fragile, basically because of a lack of financial resources. At the rate things are going, soon we won't be able to talk about our radio stations and newspapers as proof that French is alive and well in Canada if nothing is done to help them.
Nearly half of our members are in a precarious situation. Many have posted deficits in recent years, largely because of the lack of stable funding and the decrease in federal advertising.