TORONTO, March 12, 2015 /CNW/ – Today’s decisions from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) threaten the quality of local programming available to Canadian viewers, Unifor says.
“Canadians rely on quality locally produced programming to inform them about their communities and the issues that affect their lives,” Unifor Media Director Howard Law said.
The CRTC has dramatically eliminated minimum daytime Canadian programming hours in the name of quality over quantity, but done nothing to address what it has identified as a key concern – the quality of local Canadian programming, Law said. By cutting the number of hours, the opportunities for creative new shows will be limited.
“The Commission’s deregulatory direction into ‘quality over quantity’ has intuitive appeal, but there is no quality without quantity,” Law said.
“Eliminating daytime exhibition requirements for Canadian content may well sideswipe the creation of local news, information and entertainment programming. The Commission did nothing for local programming today.”
At the same time, the CRTC allows Netflix to operate regulation-free and outside Canadian content rules, but tells Canadian broadcasters such as Bell, Rogers and Shaw they can’t restrict sales of their own streaming services to conventional TV customers.
“The CRTC continues to give Netflix a free pass on creating and broadcasting Canadian content, while Canadian companies carry that responsibility on their own,” said Unifor Media Council Chair Randy Kitt. “Netflix isn’t shy about collecting subscription fees in Canadian dollars and repatriating them to the US, so why do they continue to get a free pass?”
And while Unifor applauds the CRTC for bringing in rules to ensure that news channels provide a minimum amount of original journalism, which should prevent the establishment of opinion-only channels like those in the U.S., Unifor believes more is needed in this area to ensure that Canadians receive quality journalism.
“A functioning democracy requires an informed citizenry,” Kitt said. “News outlets need to provide the staff resources necessary to bring independent and professional journalism to their audiences.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 13,000 in the media sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.