Unifor has called on the CRTC to bring in strong measures to boost local news and programming, including calling for the restoration of expanded programming in Italian, Punjabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.
Unifor Media Director Howard Law told the CRTC’s recent hearings on the future of local TV that it should pay no attention to earlier submissions from Canada’s private broadcasters.
“Private broadcasters are simply out of touch with public opinion and the clear views expressed by both the CRTC and the Heritage Minister. You might as well ignore those portions of their submissions,” Law said.
Bell Media and Rogers have proposed that expenditures on local news be pegged to revenue from the company’s broadcasting assets. Law said those revenues are expected to decline in coming years and under the broadcasters’ proposals, that would mean a steady decline in local news coverage.
Unifor however is calling on the CRTC to establish steady and predictable expenditure on local news as a condition of license, which it said the companies can afford thanks to their broader interests in Internet, cable, phone and other services.
On OMNI, the ethnic language broadcaster owned by Rogers, Law backed the company’s idea to charge TV distributors a fee of 12 cents per subscriber, but called for the fee to be 15 cents.
“For three pennies a month more we can restore the level of free over the air local news programming to these four major linguistic communities,” Law said.
As a condition of license, Law also called for OMNI to broadcast an hour of news programming a day in each language, to maintain full editorial control of its news and for Rogers to fully account for how the extra fees are being used.