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Montra006c, Thursday, January 9, 2003 CUPE’s Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC) is firmly opposed to having TVA purchase Radiomd0069a’s AM stations. Today, the CPSC submitted an unequivocal brief to the CRTC, clearly stating its opposition to the proposed transaction and asking the CRTC to deny its authorization. To allow such an acquisition would lead to the death of radio as a separate source of comprehensive information and transform it into nothing more than a TV sidekick.

In the beginning, Astral Md0069a’s purchase of Tlmd0069a’s AM stations and the FM Rock Dt0065nte network received the support of the CRTC and the CKAC employees’ union, affiliated with CUPE. This transaction was perceived by most players as a step in the right direction for AM stations, in that it was a project to revitalize radio, initiated by radio and for radio.

Unfortunately, the Competition Bureau forced Astral to dispose of certain assets, which explains the offer to purchase the AM stations by the Groupe TVA Inc. The Competition Bureau’s decision may have pleased the announcers, but it created an even greater problem by increasing media concentration in the small Qub0065c market. The CPSC considers that the CRTC must reaffirm its mandate and respect its primary opinion by preventing a transaction that will harm both radio and the public interest since it poses a clear threat to pluralism and the free circulation of ideas; the CRTC should take this into account. “Radio would become nothing more than an additional tentacle of the octopus that Quebecor Media has now become. Far from preserving the diversity of news’ sources, we fear that, on the contrary, this transaction will simply mean that the contents of the TVA/LCN news broadcasts will be transferred to the Radiomd0069a stations,” pointed out Gilles Mathieu, CUPE union representative.

The CPSC brief poses fundamental questions, which have not yet been answered. What will become of the CKAC newsroom in the TVA project? What will happen to the journalists assigned to cover national news and the two parliamentary correspondents? Will the CKAC newsroom become no more than a transmitter for TVA and LCN news? Will it only be allowed to issue news covered by the TV? Neither the way in which Quebecor does business nor its submission has provided the CPSC with any reassurance.

“For the workers represented by CUPE, one thing is clear: the temporary uncertainty is better than being stuck with a transaction that will increase the concentration of the press in Qub0065c,” concluded Gilles Mathieu.

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