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Ms. Heather Conway
205 Wellington St. West
Dear Ms. Conway,
On behalf of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and our 364,000 supporters across Canada, I’m writing to request that CBC immediately cease the destruction of hard copy archival materials. This box contains messages from 19,000 people who are gravely concerned about the potential for Canada’s cherished cultural history to be lost. You may have received digital copies of these letters by email.
Terry Pedwell reported on this matter in the April 19 edition of the Toronto Star. The article quotes Chuck Thompson, head of Public Affairs for CBC English Services, confirming that hard-copy materials will indeed be destroyed once digitized, and it also mentioned concerns about the durability of digital files. Thompson is quoted as saying that the destruction will be complete by June 30th, meaning it is already well underway.
FRIENDS is the largest organization in Canada working to advance and defend public broadcasting, and I want you to know that we strongly support CBC’s digitization drive. We welcome any measures that increase the public’s ability to access publicly-owned content.
However, we share widely-held concerns about destroying hard-copy materials. Nobody knows if these digital files will prove durable. If files are corrupted and no hard-copy backup exists, a piece of Canada’s culture and history will be lost forever.
Quality is also a concern. For this reason, the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives recommends that
original carriers should be preserved in useable condition for as long as is feasible. This also applies to all digitized materials, since the technology and methods of signal extraction and analogue-digital-transfer are still subject to further development, and original carriers – and packaging – often provide ancillary information.1
Additionally, we are concerned about the potential for tampering, which is far easier in the digital realm than in hard-copy.
We understand that public broadcasters in Britain, the United States, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Germany have all invested in safe repositories for hard-copy materials. We see no reason why CBC cannot take equal care to preserve this cherished public property.
We asked our supporters to show their support for our campaign to stop the destruction of the CBC archive, and within one week, 19,000 people took action.
Members of your management team contacted us after the petition was launched, but they did not answer simple questions about whether hard copies would be retained. Furthermore, they have not yet clarified whether the English-language archive is being treated differently to the French-language archive.
Canadians are looking for leadership on this issue, and it is our hope that you will provide that leadership.
Please stop the destruction of hard copy materials at once. We know that it is expensive to preserve this material, but not preserving it is not an option. This weighty box shows that 19,000 people agree.
I look forward to your reply.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting