May 12, 2014
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

TORONTO – CBC budget cuts in April that will cost more than 600 employees their jobs left the weekly Mass in French relatively unscathed.

Le Jour du Seigneur, the Radio-Canada broadcast of the Mass, is guaranteed through the 2014-15 television season. However, Masses to be broadcast will now originate in Quebec City. In recent years, the broadcast originated in a variety of parishes in Ottawa and Montreal.

Three Quebec City parishes have been nominated to play host to the broadcasts. Radio-Canada will make the final selection.

"Radio-Canada can no longer afford the high cost of moving its production from one church to another every week," said Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau director Marco Dube in an email.

Mass broadcasts are one of the oldest programs on Radio Canada, the French-language arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Le Jour du Seigneur has been on the air continuously from 1953 and still commands an audience of 110,000 from coast to coast, including 100,000 inside Quebec.

The original broadcasts came from Montreal's Grand Séminaire. In the 1960s Le Jour du Seigneur began to move around, broadcasting from parish churches, monasteries and TV studios.

Beginning in 1971 the program sought to show the breadth of the francophone Catholic community from Vancouver to Fredericton.

As budgets have tightened, the travelling has become restricted. Word from Radio Canada that it wanted to find a single parish to host the broadcasts wasn't a surprise, said Pierre Murray of the Communications et Societe agency of the Quebec bishops.

"Since they have less money, we have to find a less expensive way to produce the program," Murray said.

Radio Canada is the ideal method of getting the French-language Mass out to people who can't get to a francophone parish, said Murray.

"As long as Radio Canada will pay for the production costs, nothing will change," he said. "In the actual deal, the bishops pay close to nothing and they have the largest exposure they could dream of."