After two intense days of CRTC hearings in the nation’s capital, we were encouraged by the significant back pedalling that Rogers has made on some of the key issues in the City and OMNI license hearings.
On the strength of our intervention and those of like minded community groups, the Canadian public and Unifor members were rewarded by RBL CEO Keith Pelley’s concessions in his reply comments to the Commission on OMNI prime-time programming and the threat that NHL hockey broadcasts could displace current commitments to local programming on City.
However there is no cause for immediate celebration, our work is not done. We will have to wait for the Commission decision to see how it addresses some of the other key issues:
- on City, the diversion of $5M annual local programming spending to Programs of National Interest
- on OMNI, the dilution of Canadian content requirements and the minimum number of ethnic groups covered by programming requirements
- the re-establishment of feet-on-the-street news reporting at Alberta’s two OMNI stations, and a guarantee that Vancouver’s local OMNI news will be protected by license and the Chinese news should have their staffing restored to January 2013 levels
We were also delighted that Pelley backed down on the RBL request for a lengthy five-year license for OMNI when the main reason for seeking regulatory relief was a two-year inventory of US programming for which RBL overpaid. Pelley conceded to a two year term and we expect that the Commission will agree.
Pelley also agreed to our request to re-establish the OMNI community advisory boards. We are hoping it will be made a condition of license and we advocated for including union members on those boards.
We hope to get a decision within a couple of months and we will keep you posted.
Director, Media Sector