Canadian Media Guild leaders are concerned about the closure of TVO’s parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. The Ontario public broadcaster has announced that the bureau will be closed by the end of June. The cut is expected to affect The Agenda with Steve Paikin in its ability to do provide national and Ottawa-based interviews. In its statement, TVO says the cut “goes hand in hand with continued expense reduction and strategic use of resources”. The only Guild employee in the bureau was offered a position in Toronto, but for personal reasons has declined the offer.
“This is yet another blow to the capability of Ontario’s public broadcaster to actually create TV programming,” says Lise Lareau, national president of the Canadian Media Guild, which represents on-air and production staff at TVO and TFO. “At the same time, we understand TVO has had an increase in its funding from the province. We think Ontarians should be asking why TVO is blaming the cut on budgetary concerns.”
The Guild has decried the slow and steady decline of TV production at TVO over the past several years. Programs like Imprint, Second Opinion and Person 2 Person have all been cancelled and no TV programs have replaced them. At the same time, TVO stopped reporting the number of hours of its in-house production – which are less than half what they were in 2000. All new investment in that time has been centred on online and infrastructure improvements.
“During this time of production decline, TVO’s financial allotments from the province have remained steady,” says Lareau. “We are concerned that TVO is risking its own relevance if it’s not seen to be producing for television, the medium that still has the most impact and is best able to drive viewers to the online sites.”
For more information please contact Lise Lareau at firstname.lastname@example.org or CMG staff representative Keith Maskell at email@example.com