CanWest plans breach Broadcasting Act: Union - "CRTC should step up to the plate"

    OTTAWA, Nov. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - CanWest will be in breach of its broadcast
licences if it moves ahead with plans to centralize its Global television
operations without CRTC approval, says Canada's largest media union.
    The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada today filed a
detailed complaint to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission outlining a series of breaches of both CanWest's licences and the
Broadcasting Act, if CanWest's centralization plans go forward.
    "We are calling on the CRTC to expedite a public inquiry into CanWest's
plans to centralize its broadcasting operations. These plans not only hurt
both communities and approximately 200 broadcasting employees facing layoff,
but are in breach of principles central to the Canadian broadcasting system
and clear commitments CanWest has made to the CRTC," says Peter Murdoch,
Vice-President, Media for CEP. "It is incumbent on the CRTC to step up to the
plate as the public regulator and call CanWest to account."
    Murdoch says CanWest is slowly eroding local news across the country
through centralization at both its broadcast and print divisions. Having just
announced it would be laying off 200 people at its television stations,
CanWest is now also cutting editorial jobs in a number of its newspaper
newsrooms across the country.
    "These cutbacks by CanWest at its newspapers and broadcasting stations
are the result of high levels of media ownership concentration promoted by the
CRTC, actions which federal inquiries and parliamentary committees have been
warning about for decades. Sadly, the Harper government is not only
unconcerned but appears to condone the control of our media by foreign
    Murdoch says that it is not without significance that CanWest is reducing
its newsroom workforce at the same time that it is trying to cement a deal
with a large American investment house to buy Alliance Atlantis.
    "The CRTC needs to tell CanWest clearly and directly that it can't buy a
new property by ignoring the commitments it has made to Canadians and the CRTC
in the past about its existing licences. If the CRTC doesn't act, then it is
moving away from being an independent agency that serves all Canadians and the
public interest, and closer to becoming an arm of the stock exchange."

    CEP represents employees at CanWest broadcasting and newspaper properties
across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Peter Murdoch, (905) 516-5720

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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