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.