CUPE along with unions representing workers in Canada’s media demonstrated in front of the CRTC hearings into CanWest’s purchase of Alliance Atlantis, calling on the commission to reject the merger.
CUPE, ACTRA, CWA-Canada, and CEP say that by linking arms with a giant American investment house, CanWest is bringing in foreign ownership of our media through the back door.
“CanWest has been gutting newsrooms across the country, feeding its unfettered desire for acquisitions, and now it is putting the critical issue of Canadian ownership of our media on the table,” says Peter Murdoch, vice-president, Media, with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. “The result is loss of jobs, loss of local programming, loss of Canadian culture and identity.”
Michel Bibeault, CUPE-Quebec assistant director, stressed that diversity of voices in local news is crucial in a democratic society. In October, Global TV (a subsidiary of CanWest) announced 200 job cuts in its stations across the country.
The CRTC has done little to stop the erosion of Canadian news and dramatic programming, but the unions say they are not prepared to see foreign ownership become a reality through the back door of a regulatory agency.
The CRTC has a mandate under the Broadcast Act to regulate in the interest of Canadians. Allowing foreign ownership through a labyrinth of legal and investment mumbo jumbo won’t wash, say the unions.