Guild takes fight
to avert broadcaster's
job, service cuts
to the Hill
Media Guild | CWA Canada
Leaders of the largest union at the CBC
were to appear before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa
today as part of an ongoing campaign to convince the federal
government to adequately fund the public broadcaster.
The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) will be
condemning the lack of funding that prompted the impending
job and service cuts, says president Lise Lareau. The CMG
will ask the Commons heritage committee, which is studying
the state of the broadcasting industry, to demand that the
government implement key recommendations from its February
2008 report on the CBC in time to avert the cuts.
• a seven-year contract with
CBC/Radio-Canada outlining expectations of the broadcaster
• multi-year funding indexed
• increase per capita funding
by $7 a year to bring it more into line with what other
public broadcasters around the world receive
• greater prominence for the
regions in all services
The CMG's campaign — CBC: Now more than ever — focuses
on fixing years of severe underfunding and will be in effect
until the next federal election, says Lareau.
Supporters are urged to express their concerns to Prime
Minister Stephen Harper and leaders of the other federal
political parties via an online campaign being run by the
Canadian Labour Congress.
"Canadians should be appalled at how the Harper government
has handled the CBC file," Lareau writes in her blog. "It’s
brought on a crisis in the media and culture industries that
didn’t have to be. There’s not a lot of money
at stake. In that way, it’s very similar to the furore
caused by the $45 million in arts cuts announced last summer."
Lareau says the main issue is a lack
of political support for the CBC. The downsizings due to
lack of funding have been constant since 1990, she notes.
Now, however, "we
are faced with a government that's opposed to public service
of all kinds."
The CMG campaign is also attempting to address another issue,
which is a lack of awareness among Canadians of the CBC's
need for public support.
"There are very few people doing this story right now.
We're hampered in our efforts to get the word out (to the
public) because of consolidation" of media in this country,
The CMG today will also be presenting a proposal to the
heritage committee on digital over-the-air television.
Broadcasters are saying they want to shut down transmitters
in smaller markets and leave one-third of Canadians with
no option other than paying for cable or satellite to watch
The union will propose that the government
use some of the proceeds from the auctioning of wireless
spectrum to help broadcasters in smaller communities make
the transition to digital television. Under the Guild’s
model, free television service can be expanded at a relatively
low cost to broadcasters if they share the infrastructure.