In a stark reversal of decades of support for mandated hours of news production, the CRTC today announced it will allow the public broadcaster to cut back on television news programming.
Many fear today’s decision could lead to CBC cancelling television newscasts. The CRTC cites the range of other options available in metropolitan areas as a reason for the change.
The union representing most of the Corporation’s workers calls this decision unreasonable. It fears CBC will use this to cut down television production in favour of spending on online content.
The Canadian Media Guild says if this happens, it could result in permanent damage to Canada’s media environment, and an unfair exclusion for thousands of Canadians who access television rather than online news, for a variety of reasons including lack of resources.
The decision was contentious even at the CRTC, where it was supported by three of five commissioners, with the two dissenting commissioners submitting strong arguments opposing it.
“Under the guise of modernisation, the CRTC has chosen to give CBC a blank cheque to kill original production, even after a difficult two years when Canadians saw the importance of trusted news,” said Kim Trynacity, CBC Branch President for CMG. “This is a time to invest more in local and regional news, not less. It’s shameful that the CRTC failed to see that. The impact on service and jobs could be significant.”
CMG President Carmel Smyth said “the ripple effect of cuts in metropolitan centres could affect services in every region and community.”
Smyth also said the union is disappointed the CRTC’s ruling on identifying sponsored content is not strong enough.
The decision included several issues the union has strongly advocated for, including promoting diversity and inclusion in hiring and programming.