Category Archives: Uncategorized

Media workers confront issues facing industry

More than 100 media workers and staff from across Canada gathered recently to discuss the challenges facing the industry due to the digital revolution and strategies to ensure the survival of their industry.

“The members in this sector have really stepped up to fight for the future of this industry,” Unifor Media Director Howard law said.

In his keynote address, St. John’s MP Seamus O’Regan, a member of the Heritage Committee, said that while Canadians say local news is important to them, few understand the crisis in the industry as digital ad dollars flow to Google and Facebook.

“We need to fund journalism in this country, we have to,” O’Regan told Media Council, held in St. John’s Newfoundland from June 21 to 25.

Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President, paid tribute to the council for its effective work in fighting for the future of the industry, saying the federal government’s recent Heritage Committee report contained many of the recommendations put forward by Unifor.

“This council and our members have worked very hard to get the message out about the needs of the media industry,” Doherty said.

Ed Greenspon, whose Shattered Mirror report in January outlined the funding crisis facing journalism today, told delegates that Canadians worry that the media’s watchdog role will be eroded without government support.

Newly elected Media Council Chair Jake Moore from Local 79-M, said the work of the council is vital to the strength of Canada’s democracy by keeping voters informed.   “Our members tell our stories as Canadians,” Moore said.

Delegates committed to meet with MPs, especially from the governing Liberals, over the summer break in anticipation of a report from the Heritage Ministry on Canadian Content in the digital age in the fall.

New Facebook Group

We now have a closed Facebook group for union employees at 180 W 2nd!!!

That means when anyone posts in this group – it stays in the group. Only Group members can post, or see the posts.

Another way we can keep informed and in contact with each other.

Another way for the executive to let you know what’s going on.

Unifor Local 830m Facebook Group:  Search Unifor Local 830 m group

You need a Facebook account to join. If you have an account and would like to get updates and take part in discussions with the local membership, please contact one of the executives to set you up.

Vivian Yu         Tas Razvi        Tanya Luciani

Unifor calls on CRTC to boost local news

 Unifor is calling upon Canada’s federal TV regulator to put teeth into broadcasters’ licence conditions for daily local news, including programming targeted to Canada’s ethnically diverse populations.

Unifor filed two submissions to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on August 15, one regarding ethnic and third language OMNI television, and the other regarding local TV “group licence” applications from Rogers, Corus, and Bell Media CTV.

While Unifor supports the principle behind a Rogers proposal for a mandatory monthly cable TV fee of 12 cents per subscriber to pay for daily news on its OMNI channels, the union is calling for tough conditions of license before Rogers gets the money. Unifor is also calling for the fee to be 15 cents to sustain hour-long daily news shows.

“If we are going to have a subscriber fee it has to be enough to get the job done,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “This minimal fee for third language and ethnic daily news is certainly in the same ballpark as existing fees for aboriginal and minority language French and English channels.”

OMNI channels provided an hour of news programming just a few years ago, then cut it to 30 minutes, and then cut it altogether last year. OMNI was the only broadcaster providing news in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi.

On the group licensing for local TV stations, Unifor is calling upon CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais to back up the statement he made in June 2016:  “As custodians of the television system, broadcasters have a special obligation to ensure that the system reflects our identity, contributes to our democracy and enhances our safety and security. Local news, information and analysis produced and distributed through the broadcasting system are of central importance to meeting these objectives.”

Unifor supports strict standards for broadcaster expenditures on local TV as well as air time for local programming. It also supports enforceable standards for the number of reporters covering a given community and less centrally produced news segments.

“Canadians turn to their local TV channels expecting to see their communities reflected on their television screens. They also need TV news reporting to hold government and powerful institutions to account” Law said.

Public hearings on licence conditions begin in late November in the national capital region.

Union urges CRTC to expedite public inquiry into news cuts at Rogers’ OMNI Television

Aug 31st, 2015: CARTT.CA

TORONTO – A union representing some employees at TV stations operated by Rogers Media is using the upcoming federal election to help push forward its demand that the CRTC “hold Rogers to account” for cutting news on its OMNI TV stations earlier this year.

In a letter to the CRTC dated August 29, 2015, Unifor Local 723M says that “ethnic communities across Canada have been denied access to free television news about the election in their languages since the election was called” earlier this month.

This,continues the letter, is why the Commission should expedite Unifor’s request filed in June for a public hearing into the matter.
“The harm to voters’ rights is why we asked for an
expedited hearing. To date, the CRTC has remained silent on our request”, reads the letter signed by Rogers Unit Local723M vice-president Angelo Contarin. “We are gravely concerned that the CRTC’s silence lends a troubling patina of authority to Rogers’ decision, and that some broadcasters may interpret this silence as tacit consent to even more cuts to over‐the‐air broadcast news.”

In a Part 1 application dated June 5, Unifor 723M asked for an expedited public hearing into the cancellation of original local ethnic television newscasts by Rogers Broadcasting Limited on its OMNI stations, and a mandatory order requiring their reinstatement.
Rogers Media announced in May that it was cancelling local third-language newscasts on its five OMNI TV stations in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., a move that resulted in the loss of 110 jobs at the stations.

Local Union Response to Lay Offs

FUND LOCAL PROGRAMMING 

Unifor Local 830M is condemning the cuts to local OMNI TV programming announced on May 7th, 2015 by Rogers Media. Eliminating local news from the five ethnic television stations that Rogers is licensed to operate is an utter betrayal of these communities. The CRTC must immediately call Rogers to account for this terrible decision, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people. These cuts come on the heels of Rogers’ decision in 2013 to cancel 21 programs in 13 languages and to end local ethnic TV production in Calgary in 2013, and to close the studio of its Edmonton TV station in 2011.

The CRTC dismissed a complaint by Unifor in 2013 when it ask the CRTC to investigate Rogers’ previous decisions to cut service to ethnic communities. Then in 2014, when the CRTC heard Rogers’ applications for more flexibility to run the OMNI station, the CRTC agreed.  The CRTC’s 2014 decision said that asking Rogers to spend $2 million a year on local programming at five stations would be excessive; in 2014 Rogers Communications reported $12.9 billion in revenues, $5 billion in profits, and an adjusted operating profit margin of 39%.

Enough is enough: the CRTC must act to protect the public interest and the interests of Canada’s ethnic communities – letting Rogers eliminate local news and information in the few months before a federal election is called makes a mockery of the CRTC and the integrity of its licensing process.

Broadcasting is a privilege in Canada. It’s not some kind of property for the wealthiest to buy, sell and manipulate.  The right to run a TV service hinges on a broadcaster’s commitment to serve the public. If Rogers can’t afford, or doesn’t want, to serve Canada’s ethnic communities, isn’t it time to find someone who does?

UNIFOR May 7th Media Release

FUND LOCAL PROGRAMMING

Toronto – Unifor is calling on the federal Cabinet to direct the CRTC to develop a new funding formula for local television programming, including ethnic programming, saying today’s job cuts at Rogers show why such action is needed.

“If the Cabinet can exercise its prerogative to direct the CRTC to implement pick and pay, it can direct the regulator to come up with a fair funding formula to keep much-needed local programming on the air,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

Dias said today’s job cuts, coming on the eve of a federal election, are a direct consequence of decisions by the CRTC that have failed to reflect the importance of local programming, news reporting and programming that reflects Canada’s diverse communities.

“Canadian democracy is served best by an informed public. News gathering is being cut just as Canadian voters need it the most,” Dias said.

Rogers announced today that it is laying off approximately 100 people, cutting into local programming and news gathering, as well as dropping the nationally broadcast OMNI News in Italian, Mandarin and Cantonese, and cancelling “V-Mix” and “Bollywood Boulevard”,  two English language programs for South Asian audiences across Canada.

In a pivotal speech last January, CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais chastised broadcasters for not allocating more money to local programming.

“Both public and private shareholders of broadcasting assets have a duty to ensure that news reporting and analysis continues to be properly funded,” Blais said in a speech in London., Ontario. “An informed citizenry cannot be the sacrificial offering on the altar of corporate profits or deficit reduction.

Unifor Media Director Howard Law said funding for local programming requires regulations to ensure a level playing field for all broadcasters. Unifor has recommended that vertically integrated broadcasters such as Rogers be required to move profits from the cable side of their operations to the broadcast side, something Unifor will recommend at upcoming hearings

“The money is there, it just needs to be allocated properly,” Law said

Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt said today’s cuts come after years of job losses at Rogers – nearly more than 200 in two years – while the CRTC allowed funding to be syphoned away from local and ethnic programming.

“These cuts mean fewer reporters on the street, fewer people telling our diverse communities’ stories.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 12,600 in the media sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

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For further information: please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.

FEB 2015 UPDATE

FLOATER

All Unifor Local 830M members get one floater vacation day per year.  Remember to indicate on your vacation request form (checkmark the box) that you intend to use your floater day on your first vacation request of the year.  This floater day must be used by August 31st or you will lose it.

(Please note: Family Day is not a recognized holiday by Rogers under our collective agreement)

 OMNI ADVISORY COUNCIL

Local 830m has been denied a seat on this important new council.  We have decided to develop our own Advisory Council to share ideas and analysis about ethno-cultural programming with the Company and the CRTC.

If you are interested in participating on this council contact your Steward or a member of the Executive Board.

SHORT TERM DISABILITY 

If you are injured at work, or are unable to work because of an injury or illness, and are put on Short Term Disability please let a member of the Local Executive or your Steward know as soon as possible. If there are any concerns or problems that occur while going through this process we may be able to help make sure that you are receiving the proper information and options during this time.

Unifor Reacts to CRTC Local Programming Policy

CRTC misses the mark

TORONTO, Jan. 29, 2015 /CNW/ - This morning’s announcements by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) do nothing to close a $100-million funding gap in local program funding, and may have made the situation even worse.

“Motherhood statements about the importance of local TV news do nothing to address the structural changes confronting our broadcasters today,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “We had hoped to hear an announcement about much-needed local TV funding.”

With the $100-million Local Programming Improvement Fund expiring last summer, Law said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais had an opportunity today to tell Canadians and broadcasters how the CRTC will address the shortfall. Instead, he made the situation worse by allowing American Super Bowl ads to be run in Canada – a decision that cost Canadian broadcasters ad sales.

The decisions this morning make it clear no new funding for local programming is to be expected, saying funding for one form of Canadian programming would need to come at the cost of funding for another.

“He’s filling one hole by digging another,” Law said.

Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt, who attended the announcements by Blais in London this morning, said it is not enough for Blais to admonish broadcasters for the amount of local programming they produce. He needs to give broadcasters the tools to fill this vital role.

“Local programming helps Canadians understand the communities around them,” Kitt said. “Original local programming explores the important issues that affect people’s daily lives, and celebrates those who make their communities better places to live. It ties communities together.”

In its submission to the CRTC’s recent Let’s Talk TV hearings, Unifor called for a strengthening of local programming funding after the demise of the LPIF and a stricter definition of local programming to encourage more original programming under licence obligations.

Unifor will continue to take part in CRTC hearing on this issue, and stand up for local TV.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 12,600 in the media sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

Unifor Letter to CRTC re: Reduced Winnipeg Programming

January 23, 2015

John Traversy Secretary General CRTC
Ottawa ON K1A 0N2 

Dear Mr. Secretary General, 

Re: Local programming changes and job cuts at City Winnipeg 

As the union representing workers at CHMI TV (City) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and on behalf of the members of Unifor Local 826M, I would like to provide the Commission with additional background information following the announced layoffs and programming changes at City Winnipeg.

On January 6, 2015 Rogers announced that it would be cutting City Winnipeg’s Breakfast Television morning show from its weekday broadcast schedule. This decision, which also eliminates 17 jobs, has obvious implications for station workers and their families. But the decision also raises important questions on matters of local programming – an issue the Commission has considered among the most pertinent in its recent Let’s Talk TV consultations. Questions around local programming will undoubtedly be raised during Rogers’ group-based license renewal scheduled for 2016.

For many years, Unifor (along with its predecessor union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada) has expressed concern over the Commission’s rather loose definition of local programming. In Broadcast Regulatory Policy 2009-406, the Commission articulated this definition (“programming produced by local stations with local personnel or programming produced by locally-based independent producers that reflects the particular needs and interest of the market’s residents”) and also prescribed mandatory local programming hours for stations operating in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan markets.

In past interventions, Unifor has called on the Commission to amend its definition of local programming, to capture “original” programming hours – eliminating a station’s ability to run repeat programming to cover their license obligations – as well as to delineate between “in- house” productions and those delivered by locally-based independent producers, among other elements.

Local Canadian television faces significant economic challenges, there is no doubt. This claim is not in need of empirical defence, and it’s not my intent to summarize Unifor’s position on this matter in this letter. The Commission has explicitly acknowledged the long-term pressure Canada’s local television industry faces, as a result of the changing structure of advertising as well as “audience fragmentation, decreases in advertising revenue and competition.”1 How the broadcast industry and its regulatory body could “foster local programming” was viewed as a key consideration in the Commission’s Let’s Talk TV hearings.

The situation unfolding at City Winnipeg is a salient example of the underlying challenges local stations face, and one that should force the Commissioners to exercise a greater level of diligence when assessing local programming requirements in the renewing of station licenses. The City example highlights the inadequacy of the Commission’s definition and the need for re- evaluation in the lead-up to the 2016 group-based license renewals.

City Winnipeg: an overview 

For licensing purposes, City Winnipeg operates in a “non-metropolitan” market. Therefore, it is required to broadcast no less than 7 hours of local programming each week.

City Winnipeg has changed ownership hands many times in recent decades and has seen its local workforce decline from a recent peak of 82 workers (in the Local 826M bargaining unit) to a low of 12, following the cuts announced by Rogers earlier this year.

The station had once served the Winnipeg community with a 30-minute evening and 60-minute nightly news broadcast each weekday

(along with two 30-minute daily weekend news broadcasts). Those broadcasts ended in 2006 following the CTV purchase of CHUM assets – assets that were subsequently acquired by Rogers, in 2008. These news programming cuts effectively eliminated 9.5 programming hours and 29 bargaining unit jobs. More importantly, it closed an important window for Winnipeggers into their community.

The station’s morning show (most recently known as Breakfast Television) survived these program cuts and continued to broadcast despite industry upheaval following the 2009 recession. In fact, City Winnipeg was the only Rogers-owned City station that received financial support through the Local Programming Improvement Fund. BT aired for three hours each weekday and focused programming on local community and ethno-cultural events, the promotion of local businesses, artists and amateur athletes, among other interest stories. Three-to-five minute local news, sports and weather segments would appear on the top and bottom of each hour.

On January 6, Rogers announced that BT programming would be cut. In its place will appear a morning radio-television show hybrid that will be simulcast on CITI-FM and CHMI, both Rogers- owned stations.

As a result of this decision to consolidate broadcasts, 17 jobs will be cut at CHMI. Despite City Winnipeg’s ability to claim no net loss in local programming hours (as per the Commission’s definition and conditions of license requirement) local interest news segments will be

1 CRTC Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2014-190

significantly reduced, as a result of staffing cuts. The local community stories that had historically made up the lion’s share of BT’s programming schedule are expected to be reduced to approximately one-hour, per day (instead of three). On-air local expression and local presence will suffer, yet nothing currently obligates station owners to consider these matters when fulfilling their license requirements.

In 2007, when the Commission approved the transfer of control to Rogers of the various City stations, the broadcaster’s commitment to retain “localness” was identified as a “defining element” of City programming. Paragraphs 22 and 23 of Broadcasting Decision 2007-360 highlight this point:

22. Rogers Media stated that, under its ownership, the identity of the Citytv stations would be defined by their “localness”, urban reflection and reflection of the diversity of the communities served. Rogers Media further advanced that Citytv’s extensive morning news programming adds to the diversity of voices in its markets and provides in-depth coverage that none of its competitors provide. Rogers Media made a commitment to the maintenance of the independent management of its news departments and separate presentation structures for Citytv and OMNI.

23. In light of Rogers Media’s statement that it will make “localness” a defining element of the programming offered by the Citytv stations, the Commission directs the applicant, at license renewal, to review its strategy for local news on the Citytv stations in western Canada.

In light of the January 6 announcement, it is difficult to see how the company is considering “localness” – a stated objective that contributed to the decision granting Rogers ownership of the television station. It also reinforces the recommendation to maintain the Local Programming Improvement Fund – or a similar mechanism geared to support important local broadcasts – made by Unifor as part of the Let’s Talk TV consultation.

Unifor believes these recent changes are of concern to the Commission, just as they are of concern to our members and the people of Winnipeg who tune in to watch each day.

I would also ask the Commission, as they prepare for the 2016 group-based license renewal and as they continue to deliberate on how best to foster local programming, to consider this information that we have shared. A simple count of scheduled hours is an imperfect way to determine how well a community’s interests are being served through local programming. The question is as much about substance and quality as it is about quantity.

The current definition of local programming is ambiguous. It provides station operators too much flexibility to meet license requirements while cutting content and redirecting resources away from in-house production. The definition – and therefore the Commission’s ability to enforce its own licensing rules – does little to promote investment in quality programming that Canadians say they cherish and support.

It is not a stretch to assume that an overly-flexible definition for local programming is a contributing factor to the current, and seemingly untenable, crisis we face in local conventional TV – where savvy consumers will gravitate toward well-resourced, informative and high quality television, regardless of the platform it can be viewed on.

Unifor, our national Media Council and the thousands of members working in the television sector await the Commission’s final report of its conventional television review. We also look forward to sharing our views during the 2016 group-based license renewal.

Yours truly,

Howard Law
Media Director, Unifor 

HL:amcope343

CC: Scott Doherty, Assistant to the Unifor National President (via email)
Randy Kitt, Chairperson, Unifor Local 79M & Unifor Media Council Chairperson (via email)
Michael Draven, President, Unifor Local 826M (via email)
Susan Wheeler, Vice President Regulatory Affairs, Rogers Communications Inc. (via email)
Pierre Nantal, Official Opposition Critic for Canadian Heritage (via email)
Stephane Dion, Liberal Party Critic for Canadian Heritage (via email)
Brian Bowman, Mayor, City of Winnipeg (via regular mail)
Ron Lemieux, Provincial Minister, Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection (via email)

DRAFT Local By-Laws, Nov 2014

 

BY-LAW AMENDMENTS

 

Submitted at the General Membership Meeting of Unifor 830M, November 13th, 2014.

The following motion is presented here by the Executive Board to the General Membership in accordance with By-Law 7.1 of the current (2005) By- Laws.

ARTICLE 7     AMENDMENTS

7.1 These Bylaws may be amended by two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of members in good standing at a General Meeting, provided that any proposed amendment is posted at least ten (10) days prior to such General Meeting.

Motion: 

That the current By-Laws (2005) for Local 830M be replaced by the following By-Laws (November 2014) and submitted for approval to the National Unifor Union for approval.

Procedure:

As noted above, amendments to the By-Laws must be made with 10 days prior notice to a general membership meeting at which the proposals are being presented to vote on. Because these By-Laws are replacing the 2005 By-Laws, amendments may be made at the meeting to the proposed new By-Laws. The support of a two-thirds of members in good standing at the meeting is required to pass these new By-Laws.

Explanation:

  1. To update the change from CEP to Unifor.
  2. To reflect and identify obligations and considerations of the Unifor Constitution (2013).
  3. To better organize and clarify the administration and operation of Local 830M for all members.

BY-LAWS Unifor830M Nov 13th-2014 (PDF Version)