HAMILTON, ON, Dec. 15, 2015 /CNW/ - "The federal Liberal government needs to take a broad approach to funding infrastructure and step in now to restore the Local Programming Improvement Fund, cut this year by the CRTC, which pumped between 5 and 8 million dollars annually into CHCH television in Hamilton," say the presidents of two of Hamilton's largest community unions.
Friday last week, CHCH announced it was filing for bankruptcy, cutting local news programming from 80 hours to 17.5 hours, and laying off 129 full-time and 38 part-time staff (some of who have been rehired under a "re-structured" media company).
"This is a personal tragedy for each of these hard working journalists and production staff. It is also an enormous setback for a community already reeling from massive job losses at steel mills and other area employers," says Dave Murphy, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 7800 representing nearly 4,000 staff at Hamilton Health Sciences.
The loss of millions of dollars in federal programming assistance "it seems is the catalyst that pushed the station into bankruptcy," Murphy says.
With its sharp focus on local programming CHCH television plays a vital and unique role in the Hamilton Niagara area. CHCH is one of only a few local television stations remaining in Ontario.
CHCH television is "vital infrastructure that informs and strengthens our communities," says Dominic DiPasquale, president of CUPE 786, representing 1,700 staff at Hamilton's St. Joseph's Healthcare. "The cut to local news programming is an enormous loss to our community."
Murphy and DiPasquale called on the federal Liberal government to reverse the decision to cut the local programming fund and to not just commit to infrastructure in new buildings and roads, but also fund vital communications infrastructure like our community television stations.
SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)
For further information: Dave Murphy, President, CUPE 7800: 905-385-4555 (c); Dominic DiPasquale: President, CUPE 786: 905-531-9725 (c); Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications: 416-559-9300 (c)