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Franco-Albertan Media

Mass media—newspapers, radio, TV, the Internet—is an intricate part of any social fabric. How Francophones view their communities and the world at large is influenced by telecommunications and technology and their impact on culture. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Alberta’s Francophone communities have been surrounded by popular culture that reflects a largely Anglophone perspective. However, successful efforts have been made to ensure that there is a French influence in media.

Girls with radio

In the 1920s and 1930s, English radio and therefore English culture found its way into Francophone households. Broadcasting was in English and content focused on Anglophone values. To resist the influence of English programming, Francophones lobbied for French and bilingual stations, but initially French broadcasting was limited. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) did not penetrate outside of Québec, and even then provided minimal bilingual broadcasting. It wasn’t until 1941, after over 15 years of strategic maneuvering and the formation of the Radio-Ouest organization, that French radio would find a suitable champion. In 1949, the Board of Governors of the CBC granted licenses for private radio stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and CHFA officially opened in Edmonton.

CHFA and other French stations came under fire from a variety of sources, primarily Anglophone. Protestant factions resented the new stations and saw them as a threat to Anglicization of the province. Many prominent Alberta politicians petitioned the CBC to pull the plug on bilingual and French Programming.

Advertisement for CHFA

Their efforts would prove unsuccessful: On April 1,1974, CHFA Edmonton radio was sold to Radio-Canada, and listeners from across the province could tune in for all-French broadcasting from the Société Radio-Canada.

French newspapers in the province have an even longer history. Fred Villeneuve published the first Franco-Albertan paper, L’Ouest Canadien, in 1898. While it only circulated for two years, it was the first in a long line of French publications that would culminate in the creation of La Survivance. Launched on November 16, 1928, La Survivance was the darling of the Association des Canadiens Français de l’Alberta (ACFA) and had edged out a rival publication L’Union. During the 1940s and 1950s, La Survivance would act as an advocate for French broadcasting.

In 1967, La Survivance became Le Franco-Albertain (and later simply Le Franco) and is still published weekly, carrying French language news and general interest stories across the province. Today, Franco-Albertans also have access to television stations that broadcast in French: TV5, TVA and the French-language news channel, RDI.

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