Protect Local Programming

Rogers has an application to renew its broadcast licences in front of the CRTC this April. Broadcast Application 2014-26

In light of last May’s lay offs at OMNI we are are alarmed to see Rogers has no plans to restore programming and even indicates they might reduce ethnic programming even further if they are not granted major concessions by the CRTC

At City in Vancouver, Rogers plans to continue a minimal approach to local daily programming, with no plans beyond the morning show

As the creative content professionals that have dedicated our professional lives to broadcasting, we share Rogers pride in providing local original programming to Vancouverites. We know Rogers could commit to so much more and we challenge them to make those commitments to the CRTC at this critical time


Please read the following letter from Howard Law, Director , Unifor Media Sector, and have your say on the future of Local Ethnic Programming

I am reaching out to inform you of alarming developments regarding the future of ethnic programming in Canada.

Rogers Media is currently applying to the federal regulator, the CRTC, to renew its OMNI television broadcast licenses on terms that will dramatically reduce or eliminate minimum guarantees of ethnic community and third-language programming. As you may recall, this comes on the heels of last year’s cuts to OMNI stations Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, when 21 programs were axed and more than 60 jobs cut.

Our union shares Rogers’ pride in providing ethnic and third-language programming geared to our newcomer and immigrant communities. A vibrant media connects us to our community, and gives us the tools to participate in a democratic life. That’s why Unifor raised concerns against the programming cuts announced last May – a concern that was supported by many of our fellow community advocates, like you As a result of our collective effort, the CRTC required an early review of Rogers’ license conditions for OMNI stations.

Unfortunately, Rogers has responded to this early review by asking the CRTC to go even further and scrap regulations guiding OMNI programming in its Conditions of License. Specifically, Rogers want to:

– Cut back on foreign-language programming so as to make way for U.S. comedy and entertainment shows, perhaps NHL hockey too, especially during the day and evening;
– Eliminate conditions that require stations to broadcast a diverse range of third- language programming;

– Amend the license so as to limit the number of broadcasts aimed at distinct ethnic groups (from 20 to as few as 10, without saying which communities are being targeted);

– Lower community-content minimums

When pressed for more detail on what the elimination of ethnic programming minimums will mean, and why they are needed, Rogers literally says in their legal brief, “trust us.” They provide no details of what will be cut, and no business plan to support their claim that by scrapping minimums of community programming it will all end well.

Rogers says their current OMNI business model is unsustainable. But they don’t provide any verifying information that a standard business statement or shareholder report would require.

We know that the entire broadcast sector is facing significant challenges. We are in a tough business cycle. The internet is competing with TV. All of the multi-billion dollar Canadian media companies like Rogers are adapting. (Rogers wants, and frankly deserves, a CRTC hearing on how best to level the playing field among Canadian ethnic TV broadcasters, in upcoming proceedings).

The case for ethnic programming goes beyond dollars and cents. Community ethnic programming is an act of citizenry, required by Canada’s Broadcasting Act. Of course it costs money. But through OMNI and its mainstream TV stations, Rogers is given privileged access to public airwaves and shelter from intense U.S. competition to deliver programs that matter to Canadians. That’s why they are a $12 billion media success. In return, Rogers must act on its responsibility to be a steward for Canada’s media policy objectives regarding Canadian content, local programming and ethnic broadcasting.

Unifor will be raising our concerns about further cuts to ethnic programming to the CRTC, and we encourage you to do the same.

We also think an open, honest and inclusive discussion about the future of ethnic, foreign- language and community television needs to be had. Let’s find ways to turn our communities back on to community television. How can we help Rogers improve programming, not just cut it?

You can join in this important discussion. Please have your organization submit an intervention or comment by visiting the following page on the CRTC website:

Please note: You must submit your intervention no later than end of day February 28.
Please also request to appear at the hearing to voice your concerns on this matter. Hearings are scheduled to be held in Gatineau, Quebec on April 8. (Unifor will be requesting that additional hearings be held in other regions across the country).

Unless you file an intervention by February 28th, you cannot appear at the hearing to advocate for your community.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. There a large number of Rogers’ application documents on the CRTC website, but if you would like a copy of their most important 16-page document, please contact me at

In solidarity,

Howard Law
Director, Media Sector