CRTC fails to protect Chinese language local news

TORONTO- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s rejection of Unifor’s complaint against Roger’s contracting out its Chinese language newscasts is a huge loss to local news says Unifor, Canada’s largest media union.

“Local news is essential and licensed news broadcasts are not playing cards to be swapped with the only competing TV station in the community,” said Jerry Dias, National President.  “Rogers promised not to do this. They did it anyway.”

Unifor Locals 723M and 830M, which represent employees at OMNI in Vancouver and Toronto, along with The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations argued contracting out Cantonese and Mandarin newscasts to Fairchild TV violated Rogers condition of license.

In May 2017 Rogers obtained a rare “section 9(1)h” license to re-start OMNI newscasts in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi, which comes with a 12 cents monthly fee from all cable subscribers.

Rogers promised in writing “to re-establish in-house production in all markets served by OMNI’s television stations” but then only re-hired half of the 60 people that had been laid off in 2015 when those same newscasts were cancelled. Instead of re-hiring the highly skilled Chinese speaking news team, funded by the monthly CRTC fee, Rogers contracted with Fairchild TV to broadcast OMNI News, while it continued to air its own rival Fairchild newscast.

Today the CRTC ruled Rogers’s condition of license to “produce the news” does not prevent it from subcontracting to a rival licensee and even called it “reasonable in the regulatory context.”

“The Commission’s tolerance of what is now Fairchild’s editorial monopoly is based on a confidential ‘editorial control’ agreement. Taking the word of a company that has broken a written promise to Canadians to produce these newscasts in house is disrespectful to the community,” said Howard Law, Media Director.

For more information, please contact Unifor Atlantic Communications representative Natalie Clancy: Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or (902) 478-9283 (cell)