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Montra006c, Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - Earlier today, Groupe TVA inc. and Radio Nord Communications announced that they would be purchasing the six stations of Radiomd0069a and CFOM-FM in Qub0065c City. This acquisition, worth over $12 million, now has to be approved by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The dangers involved

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is extremely concerned by this transaction, since it represents most of the employees of the stations involved in the sale and all the CKAC union members.

For this reason, CUPE’s Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC) has decided to express its apprehensions about this transaction. Over the past few months, a number of acquisitions in the communications sector have considerably reduced the number of major players and, consequently, the diversity of information sources. “If nothing is done, all information in Qub0065c will soon be controlled by two or three large corporations, giving them a disproportionate influence on public opinion. Together, they will be able to call the shots. When it comes to Quebecor Md0069a, the situation is quite alarming. Quebecor already owns the Journal de Montra006c, the Journal de Qub0065c, some fifty weeklies, dozens of magazines, including 7 Jours and Le Lundi, a publishing firm, Internet portals, LCN and TVA. If we add seven radio stations, including CKAC - the largest private information radio and the chief station in a provincial network - there will be an unprecedented concentration of media in the hands of a single owner. The threat to the diversity of information, different points of view and the independence of newsrooms and journalists is evident,” stated Jacqueline Turgeon, CPSC president.

CUPE points out that, in spite of all its promises to the CRTC, Quebecor has not respected its commitments concerning the independence of the TVA and Journal de Montra006c newsrooms. The union representing the journalists at TVA have lodged a complaint to this effect with the CRTC. To the CPSC, this is a flagrant example of a media empire which can package the same content in various containers. “There is a great temptation to reduce costs by using news issued by another media. Imagine what it will be like to hear the news on CKAC in the morning, read it in the Journal de Montra006c or on canoe.qc.ca, see it later on LCN and finally in a late-night report on TVA. If it is about an event, it could also be announced in a magazine or your regional weekly … This is an exaggerated power and a potentially dangerous influence. The CRTC must take up its responsibilities and defend public interest. This acquisition makes no sense,” added Jacqueline Turgeon.

The local image of information media is also at risk. Recently, CHRC in Qub0065c City experienced major cutbacks in the production of local programming and is now obliged to rebroadcast programs produced by CKAC, based in Montra006c. This unacceptable situation has, rightly, raised an outcry in the Quebec City area. CPSC wonders what Quebecor’s position will be in regard to the survival and development of regional stations.

CUPE is also concerned about labour relations

The possibility of Quebecor becoming the owner is also a justified concern for Radiomd0069a’s employees, represented by CUPE. Quebecor’s reputation as an employer is notorious and recent examples have only served as confirmation. Quebecor’s intransigence in the labour dispute at Vido0074ron is just one example, along with the rapidly deteriorating labour relations at TVA where bargaining to renew the collective agreement is at a standstill. CPSC considers that it is clear that Quebecor is not a good corporate citizen and does not deserve the CRTC and the public’s confidence. On the contrary, as an employer, it usually manages to shatter the industrial peace in every enterprise it acquires. “Since 1994, labour relations have been healthy at Radiomd0069a and we hope this will continue,” stated Gilles Mathieu, union representative for the CKAC employees. “Unfortunately, this morning’s announcement augers no good for our members. We will do everything we can to maintain a good working climate and good relations with the employer, but we do not feel very confident.”

With 7,000 members in communications in Qub0065c, CUPE is also active in other sectors including health and social services, education, urban and air transport, government corporations and public organizations in Qub0065c, hydroelectricity and the municipalities. With close to 100,000 members, CUPE is the largest FTQ affiliate.



The entire text of this press release is posted on the Internet at scfp.qc.ca