CRTC favours big players at “diversity of voices” hearing
Ironically, the CRTC soaked up the views of the big players on the first two days of hearings last week into the “diversity of voices” in Canada’s media. CBC, CTVglobemedia, CanWest, Shaw, Telus, Quebecor, Astral Media and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters were at the top of the bill.
Such is the apparent utter disregard for true public input at the hearings that the CRTC dumped a 266 page document into the fray a week before the start. The document proposes a battery of changes to broadcasting regulation that would certainly redraw the media landscape in Canada.
What the CRTC and the media companies that rely on Canadian audiences and subscribers should not forget is what was contained in the comments submitted by nearly two thousand Canadians last July: a deep dissatisfaction with the homogeneity of news and programming. They point to a connection between increased concentration of ownership and decreased diversity of coverage and programming, particularly at the local level.
Vote out poverty in Ontario
An event will be held in Toronto on October 1 to convince Ontario voters and their politicians to eradicate poverty in the province. George Stroumboulopoulos and Mary Walsh are co-hosts, Stephen Lewis is the key-note speaker and Susan Aglukark will perform.
Sponsored by the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice and Make Poverty History, the event aims to focus Ontario voters on a concrete plan to eradicate poverty, including increasing the minimum wage and social assistance rates, providing more affordable childcare and housing, implementing the Kelowna Accord to combat poverty among Aboriginal people, and improving access to post-secondary education and training.
CMG volunteers helped produce video vignettes featuring people living in poverty who share their experiences and propose solutions. The videos will be shown at the event and will also be available for broadcast and as a teaching aid in classrooms.
CMG members are also volunteering to help publicize the event.
To purchase tickets, go to http://www.roythomsonhall.com.
Guild works with The Canadian Press to redesign pension plan
CMG members at The Canadian Press will vote this fall on changes proposed to strengthen their pension plan. Members of CMG have worked with management for nearly four years to come up with the proposals to ensure the long-term financial health of the plan and to preserve it as a defined benefit plan.
“It was a lot of work but we went into it as partners, not as adversaries, and the review never degenerated into an us-versus-them fight,” says CMG vice president Scott Edmonds, who was a member of the joint committee. “We all wanted the best pension plan possible for Guild members and excluded employees at The Canadian Press. And we all wanted to ensure unpredictable costs driven by the pension plan didn’t jeopardize the future of company.”
The impetus for the redesign was a series of solvency deficits faced by the plan, which forced the company to make special payments and put pressure on operations, even leading to a two-per-cent wage rollback one year.
Under the proposed changes, the company will increase its ongoing contributions to the plan while employee contributions will stay at the existing rate. Pensioners will get annual increases to offset inflation. Some early retirement subsidies will be eliminated, although individual employees also will be able to save more in a Flex Plan to retire early or increase retirement income. The changes would only affect earnings after January 1, 2008.
The joint committee will be visiting each location of The Canadian Press this fall to talk to members about the changes. Members will then vote on the proposal. A majority of the members must approve the changes before they can come into effect.
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Not a single in-house production on Vision TV’s fall sched
Weeks before CMG members at S-Vox, which owns Vision TV, ratified their first collective agreement this summer, the company laid off the employees involved in the production of current affairs show 360 Vision. The move marked the end of in-house production at S-Vox.
In-house production is also down this fall at CBC-TV, where Martha Stewart will replace Gill Deacon on the daytime schedule.
Over at TVO, Paula Todd’s gone and so is her Friday night program “Person to Person.” In its place is a first showing of “Allan Gregg in Conversation,” which was already on the weekend schedule.
Too bad the broadcasters aren’t doing anything to help reverse the crisis in film and TV production in Toronto.