Union concerned about impacts of growing media crisis

    TORONTO, Jan. 14 /CNW/ - Reports today about financial losses at Canwest
Global Communications should provoke real concern about the overall crisis in
Canada's media companies and the potential impacts on Canadians' daily
newspapers, and TV and radio stations.
    "On a day when Nortel has filed for bankruptcy protection, Canadians have
good reason to fear that their daily newspapers and radio and TV stations may
also disappear if things continue on this path," points out CWA Canada
director Arnold Amber.
    Canwest reported a net loss of $33 million for the first quarter of the
fiscal year and said that it "may not be able to comply with its existing
quarterly total financial leverage ratio covenants in fiscal 2009." This
follows on the heels of a reduction to Canwest's credit rating by Moody's on
    There has been much talk about the state of the North American auto
industry, but there is very little discussion about the serious pressure on
Canada's news media. In addition to Canwest, there have been significant cuts
to operations over the last year at CTVGlobemedia, Quebecor and Torstar, among
others. The pressure comes from two key sources:

      -  a drop in advertising revenues for traditional media (newspapers,
         TV, radio) caused by the economic downturn and competition from the
      -  enormous debt loads, especially at Canwest, due to a frenzy of media
         mergers over the last decade.

    "Given the importance of information to the functioning of our society,
we should not take this particular crisis lightly," Amber argues. "We need to
start considering new ways to finance the gathering and reporting of news in
this country or else our sources of quality information could dry up."

    CWA Canada represents employees at three major newspaper chains, Canwest,
Quebecor/Sun, and Irving, as well as at public and private broadcasters and
news agencies in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Arnold Amber, director, CWA Canada: (416)
399-2632 (cell), www.cwa-scacanada.org

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