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Unifor Local 830M’s Position on Multi-Ethnic News:
There are 8 applications to the CRTC for a national, multilingual, multi-ethnic television service offering news and information. The licensed broadcaster will receive mandatory distribution on basic service and 9-1-H fees.
The Executive Board of Unifor Local 830M, and the National union will be making a submission on behalf of members, asking the CRTC to consider:
Local News Matters
The successful applicant should agree to specific conditions of license that will require them to produce at least 30 minutes of original, local, daily, news, in-house in each of the six languages identified in their proposals.
No Contracting Out
Many of the proposals submitted would allow the licensee to contract out the production of News to a third party, like what Rogers is currently doing with Fairchild Broadcasting producing Chinese news for OMNI Regional. Unifor strongly opposes this policy because it reduces the diversity of voices and creates an editorial monopoly for Fairchild, weakening journalistic integrity and independence.
Unifor believes the successful applicant must commit to a fair employment policy as a condition of license that commits them to using sufficient in-house TV Journalists (reporters, anchors, camera ops, videographers, editors, writers, associate producers) to produce high quality daily local news.
This policy should contain the approximate size of the editorial and production staff, including structure of permanent, temporary, freelance or contractors, with a compensation package equivalent to the current collective agreements in place for OMNI staff in Vancouver and Toronto.
Transparency & Accountability a Must
With so much public funding for a successful applicant, there must be transparent use of 9-1- H funds and editorial independence from whichever media enterprise is part of the applicants’ ownership group. This editorial oversight must be separate from existing “advisory councils” and should include a majority of members who are not employees of the licensee or any related company.
Specific Conditions of License Needed
We know from experience with Rogers broadcasting and the CRTC application of policies, only strict and enforceable conditions of license can achieve the goals of the Broadcasting Act and the Commission’s Ethnic Broadcasting Policy to the benefit of Canada’s multi-cultural communities.
Promises, policies, expectations and aspirations are not enforceable once a license has been granted. Only specific conditions of license can ensure the public interest, as required by the broadcasting act, is upheld. Canadians deserve certainty, and enforceable conditions ensuring that large vertically integrated Companies will live up to their commitments in exchange for use of public airwaves.
More than 100 media workers and staff from across Canada gathered recently to discuss the challenges facing the industry due to the digital revolution and strategies to ensure the survival of their industry.
“The members in this sector have really stepped up to fight for the future of this industry,” Unifor Media Director Howard law said.
In his keynote address, St. John’s MP Seamus O’Regan, a member of the Heritage Committee, said that while Canadians say local news is important to them, few understand the crisis in the industry as digital ad dollars flow to Google and Facebook.
“We need to fund journalism in this country, we have to,” O’Regan told Media Council, held in St. John’s Newfoundland from June 21 to 25.
Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President, paid tribute to the council for its effective work in fighting for the future of the industry, saying the federal government’s recent Heritage Committee report contained many of the recommendations put forward by Unifor.
“This council and our members have worked very hard to get the message out about the needs of the media industry,” Doherty said.
Ed Greenspon, whose Shattered Mirror report in January outlined the funding crisis facing journalism today, told delegates that Canadians worry that the media’s watchdog role will be eroded without government support.
Newly elected Media Council Chair Jake Moore from Local 79-M, said the work of the council is vital to the strength of Canada’s democracy by keeping voters informed. “Our members tell our stories as Canadians,” Moore said.
Delegates committed to meet with MPs, especially from the governing Liberals, over the summer break in anticipation of a report from the Heritage Ministry on Canadian Content in the digital age in the fall.
We now have a closed Facebook group for union employees at 180 W 2nd!!!
That means when anyone posts in this group – it stays in the group. Only Group members can post, or see the posts.
Another way we can keep informed and in contact with each other.
Another way for the executive to let you know what’s going on.
Unifor Local 830m Facebook Group: Search Unifor Local 830 m group
You need a Facebook account to join. If you have an account and would like to get updates and take part in discussions with the local membership, please contact one of the executives to set you up.
Vivian Yu Tas Razvi Tanya Luciani
Unifor is calling upon Canada’s federal TV regulator to put teeth into broadcasters’ licence conditions for daily local news, including programming targeted to Canada’s ethnically diverse populations.
Unifor filed two submissions to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on August 15, one regarding ethnic and third language OMNI television, and the other regarding local TV “group licence” applications from Rogers, Corus, and Bell Media CTV.
While Unifor supports the principle behind a Rogers proposal for a mandatory monthly cable TV fee of 12 cents per subscriber to pay for daily news on its OMNI channels, the union is calling for tough conditions of license before Rogers gets the money. Unifor is also calling for the fee to be 15 cents to sustain hour-long daily news shows.
“If we are going to have a subscriber fee it has to be enough to get the job done,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “This minimal fee for third language and ethnic daily news is certainly in the same ballpark as existing fees for aboriginal and minority language French and English channels.”
OMNI channels provided an hour of news programming just a few years ago, then cut it to 30 minutes, and then cut it altogether last year. OMNI was the only broadcaster providing news in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi.
On the group licensing for local TV stations, Unifor is calling upon CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais to back up the statement he made in June 2016: “As custodians of the television system, broadcasters have a special obligation to ensure that the system reflects our identity, contributes to our democracy and enhances our safety and security. Local news, information and analysis produced and distributed through the broadcasting system are of central importance to meeting these objectives.”
Unifor supports strict standards for broadcaster expenditures on local TV as well as air time for local programming. It also supports enforceable standards for the number of reporters covering a given community and less centrally produced news segments.
“Canadians turn to their local TV channels expecting to see their communities reflected on their television screens. They also need TV news reporting to hold government and powerful institutions to account” Law said.
Public hearings on licence conditions begin in late November in the national capital region.
Aug 31st, 2015: CARTT.CA
TORONTO – A union representing some employees at TV stations operated by Rogers Media is using the upcoming federal election to help push forward its demand that the CRTC “hold Rogers to account” for cutting news on its OMNI TV stations earlier this year.
In a letter to the CRTC dated August 29, 2015, Unifor Local 723M says that “ethnic communities across Canada have been denied access to free television news about the election in their languages since the election was called” earlier this month.
This,continues the letter, is why the Commission should expedite Unifor’s request filed in June for a public hearing into the matter.
“The harm to voters’ rights is why we asked for an
expedited hearing. To date, the CRTC has remained silent on our request”, reads the letter signed by Rogers Unit Local723M vice-president Angelo Contarin. “We are gravely concerned that the CRTC’s silence lends a troubling patina of authority to Rogers’ decision, and that some broadcasters may interpret this silence as tacit consent to even more cuts to over‐the‐air broadcast news.”
In a Part 1 application dated June 5, Unifor 723M asked for an expedited public hearing into the cancellation of original local ethnic television newscasts by Rogers Broadcasting Limited on its OMNI stations, and a mandatory order requiring their reinstatement.
Rogers Media announced in May that it was cancelling local third-language newscasts on its five OMNI TV stations in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., a move that resulted in the loss of 110 jobs at the stations.
FUND LOCAL PROGRAMMING
Unifor Local 830M is condemning the cuts to local OMNI TV programming announced on May 7th, 2015 by Rogers Media. Eliminating local news from the five ethnic television stations that Rogers is licensed to operate is an utter betrayal of these communities. The CRTC must immediately call Rogers to account for this terrible decision, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people. These cuts come on the heels of Rogers’ decision in 2013 to cancel 21 programs in 13 languages and to end local ethnic TV production in Calgary in 2013, and to close the studio of its Edmonton TV station in 2011.
The CRTC dismissed a complaint by Unifor in 2013 when it ask the CRTC to investigate Rogers’ previous decisions to cut service to ethnic communities. Then in 2014, when the CRTC heard Rogers’ applications for more flexibility to run the OMNI station, the CRTC agreed. The CRTC’s 2014 decision said that asking Rogers to spend $2 million a year on local programming at five stations would be excessive; in 2014 Rogers Communications reported $12.9 billion in revenues, $5 billion in profits, and an adjusted operating profit margin of 39%.
Enough is enough: the CRTC must act to protect the public interest and the interests of Canada’s ethnic communities – letting Rogers eliminate local news and information in the few months before a federal election is called makes a mockery of the CRTC and the integrity of its licensing process.
Broadcasting is a privilege in Canada. It’s not some kind of property for the wealthiest to buy, sell and manipulate. The right to run a TV service hinges on a broadcaster’s commitment to serve the public. If Rogers can’t afford, or doesn’t want, to serve Canada’s ethnic communities, isn’t it time to find someone who does?
FUND LOCAL PROGRAMMING
Toronto – Unifor is calling on the federal Cabinet to direct the CRTC to develop a new funding formula for local television programming, including ethnic programming, saying today’s job cuts at Rogers show why such action is needed.
“If the Cabinet can exercise its prerogative to direct the CRTC to implement pick and pay, it can direct the regulator to come up with a fair funding formula to keep much-needed local programming on the air,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
Dias said today’s job cuts, coming on the eve of a federal election, are a direct consequence of decisions by the CRTC that have failed to reflect the importance of local programming, news reporting and programming that reflects Canada’s diverse communities.
“Canadian democracy is served best by an informed public. News gathering is being cut just as Canadian voters need it the most,” Dias said.
Rogers announced today that it is laying off approximately 100 people, cutting into local programming and news gathering, as well as dropping the nationally broadcast OMNI News in Italian, Mandarin and Cantonese, and cancelling “V-Mix” and “Bollywood Boulevard”, two English language programs for South Asian audiences across Canada.
In a pivotal speech last January, CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais chastised broadcasters for not allocating more money to local programming.
“Both public and private shareholders of broadcasting assets have a duty to ensure that news reporting and analysis continues to be properly funded,” Blais said in a speech in London., Ontario. “An informed citizenry cannot be the sacrificial offering on the altar of corporate profits or deficit reduction.
Unifor Media Director Howard Law said funding for local programming requires regulations to ensure a level playing field for all broadcasters. Unifor has recommended that vertically integrated broadcasters such as Rogers be required to move profits from the cable side of their operations to the broadcast side, something Unifor will recommend at upcoming hearings
“The money is there, it just needs to be allocated properly,” Law said
Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt said today’s cuts come after years of job losses at Rogers – nearly more than 200 in two years – while the CRTC allowed funding to be syphoned away from local and ethnic programming.
“These cuts mean fewer reporters on the street, fewer people telling our diverse communities’ stories.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 12,600 in the media sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information: please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.
All Unifor Local 830M members get one floater vacation day per year. Remember to indicate on your vacation request form (checkmark the box) that you intend to use your floater day on your first vacation request of the year. This floater day must be used by August 31st or you will lose it.
(Please note: Family Day is not a recognized holiday by Rogers under our collective agreement)
OMNI ADVISORY COUNCIL
Local 830m has been denied a seat on this important new council. We have decided to develop our own Advisory Council to share ideas and analysis about ethno-cultural programming with the Company and the CRTC.
If you are interested in participating on this council contact your Steward or a member of the Executive Board.
SHORT TERM DISABILITY
If you are injured at work, or are unable to work because of an injury or illness, and are put on Short Term Disability please let a member of the Local Executive or your Steward know as soon as possible. If there are any concerns or problems that occur while going through this process we may be able to help make sure that you are receiving the proper information and options during this time.