TORONTO, Jan. 13, 2016 /CNW/ - The CRTC's decision to sit on its hands until sometime in 2017 instead of ordering Rogers to resume the local news it promised to broadcast on its five ethnic television stations ignores the importance of local news to those communities, said Kelly Dobbs, the president of Unifor 723M, the union local representing OMNI workers in Toronto. The CRTC said today (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2016/2016-8.htm) that it will only deal with Rogers' May 2015 cancellation of all local news on its OMNI stations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto during the CRTC's routine renewal of the stations, expected to begin later this year and to end in mid-2017 - because it had no other way to hold Rogers to account for its broken promises over local news.
"In January 2015 the CRTC recognized that 8 in 10 Canadians consider local news important,1" Dobbs pointed out. "We agree - and that's why we asked the CRTC to at least call Rogers to a public hearing to review its promises to provide local news on the OMNI stations." Almost two thousand people supported Unifor 723M's request that the CRTC call Rogers to an immediate public hearing and hold it to account.
"Rogers cancelled the OMNI news last May and Unifor 723M asked the CRTC to investigate on June 5th" added Angelo Contarin, Unifor 723M's Vice-President. He also said that the CRTC's decision did not explain why it took seven months to decide to ignore Rogers' cancellation of local ethnic news until 2017, why the CRTC did not announce an immediate review of its ethnic broadcasting policy when the cuts were made, or how the loss of local ethnic television news serves the public interest in general and the interests of ethnic communities in particular. Contarin also asked why the CRTC transferred funding for a scheduled ethnic broadcasting review, to its current community-local TV review, as noted by Commissioner Raj Shoan in his minority opinion.
"It's clear to the members of our local that the CRTC has little, if any, interest in strengthening employment opportunities in Canadian broadcasting in general, or in ethnic television in particular," said Rinaldo Boni, 723M's Vice-President of OMNI's production unit. Canada's Broadcasting Act lists employment opportunities as one of Parliament's goals for Canadian broadcasters. Boni noted that the CRTC's January 2015 policy on local television recognized that local programming supports job creation2 - but ignored its own data showing that private television stations have shed more than 2,200 jobs since 2006. Rogers' May 2015 cancellations resulted in 110 layoffs at its OMNI stations, on top of several hundred other layoffs at the stations from 2012 to 2014.
Dobbs is asking the Honourable Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to consider how today's decision by the CRTC meets the new federal government's commitment to "economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity".3
1 Over-the-air transmission of television signals and local programming, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-24 (Ottawa, 29 January 2015), http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2015/2015-24.htm, para. 21.
2 Ibid., at para. 5.
3 Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Minister of Canadian Heritage Mandate Letter (13 November 2015), http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-canadian-heritage-mandate-letter.
SOURCE UNIFOR LOCAL 723M
Image with caption: "UNIFOR LOCAL 723M (CNW Group/UNIFOR LOCAL 723M)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160113_C9777_PHOTO_EN_44607.jpg
For further information:
Contact: Angelo Contarin, Vice-President, 416.347.5379 (mobile) / 1.866.841.4446 (landline), Rogers Unit Local 723m, Toronto, [email protected]