COMMISSION DENIES UNIFOR COMPLAINT
CRTC Decision 2016-8 denied the applications by Unifor Local 723M and Urban Alliance on Race Relations for an expedited public hearing into Rogers’ May 2015 decision to cancel local third-language newscasts on its OMNI stations.
Ontario CRTC commissioner Raj Shoan disagreed with the decision and said that the CRTC should have taken this opportunity to undertake a review of the 1999 Ethnic Broadcasting Policy in conjunction with this decision.
While the CRTC spins its wheels with bureaucratic process Vancouver’s Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi communities will continue to be denied the daily local ethnic news Rogers promised Canadians when it received its licence renewal for OMNI just last year.
That said, the OMNI cuts issue has come up several times during the CRTC’s current public hearing on local television.
Let’s Talk Local TV News
Local President Steve Hawkins appeared in front of the CRTC’s current hearing into local TV news, on Thursday, January 28th.
He called for stronger conditions of licence to require Rogers to provide the levels of local news programming they promised Canadians when they were allowed to purchase CITY and OMNI. He said the CRTC’s lack of conditions of licence allowed Rogers to make programming changes that resulted devastating job loss.
From his presentation:
“Some have asked if local programming on OMNI and CITY in western Canada is the canary in the coal mine for local news. If it is, that canary is lying on the bottom of the cage and its future prospects don’t look very good. It’s being starved of the resources it needs to survive”.
He also called on the CRTC to conduct a separate review of the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy.
A full transcript of his presentation can be found on the Local web site: www.unifor830m.ca.
Video of the presentation can be found on CPAC2, Jan 28th, second posting at 1:45 to 2:05
Interestingly, when the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (the 2nd party to file an application on the OMNI cuts) appeared on Friday – emphasizing ethnic communities’ shock at the CRTC’s unwillingness to take action over the cuts – the CRTC’s Chair, Jean-Pierre Blais essentially said that Rogers was not yet off the hook for local news, and that he very much hoped the Alliance (and others) would be involved in the spring 2017 renewal process.
The CRTC will likely be sending out broadcasters’ television licence renewal application forms this September, for a hearing in March/April or even earlier – Jean-Pierre Blais’ term as CRTC Chair ends 7 June 2017: if he wants to set his mark on the renewal decisions, they would probably have to happen by February, to permit the decisions to be issued within the next four months.
Stephen will be travelling to Ottawa in the first week in February to call on the new Liberal Government to require the CRTC to act on these important policies and to support the work we do in providing local news and local programming on CITY and OMNI