Unifor lauds much-needed local news review


TORONTO, Feb. 17, 2016 /CNW/ - Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, lauded the by the federal government announcement that it will be launching an investigation into the decline of media and its effect on Canadian society.

"The ability of Canadian media to independently and thoroughly cover local, national and international news from a Canadian perspective is crucial to the well-being of our democracy," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

"The news industry is under incredible pressure. Public policy has to catch up to reality. These hearings are needed and long overdue."

Liberal Heritage Committee Chair Hedy Fry announced Tuesday that the committee will hold a series of meetings about the shifting patterns in how Canadians get information, particularly online, and how that affects local communities.

Unifor intends to play an active role in that initiative, and will be contacting the committee to ensure that its members' insights into the challenges facing the media sector are a key part of its work. Unifor represents about 15,000 media workers, including 5,000 journalists.

Canadian media companies are being hammered by a fragmented advertising market, as American digital giants such as Google and Facebook and grab advertising dollars from Canadian television and newspapers, and Netflix grabs an increasing share of the broadcast market.

"American media companies will not and cannot produce Canadian news," said Howard Law, Unifor's Director of Media.

"And they should not make money from Canadian consumers without contributing their fair share to Canadian content, just like Canadian media companies."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.