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Union putting factual TV worker issues on the public policy map

Since we started the Fairness in Factual campaign three years ago, more than 400 workers have signed up to be represented by the CMG in collective negotiations with production companies. These hundreds of workers now also have a collective voice to push for policy changes to help improve both the industry and their working conditions. The latest call for change came in a comment to the CRTC on the licence renewals for the big private broadcasters: Corus, Bell, Rogers and Quebecor.

As the economics of broadcasting change, we know that production companies are getting squeezed with lower budgets from broadcasters and compressed deadlines. The squeeze is passed directly on to the frontline workers who face downward pressure on their pay while taking on more responsibilities and longer work days. Something has to give.

We’ve urged the CRTC to require broadcasters to sign “terms of trade” agreements with the independent producers’ association, the CMPA. The only hammer independent producers have to get a framework agreement is for the CRTC to require it. Without one, each individual producer is at the mercy of whatever the increasingly large and powerful broadcasters want.

We’ve also asked the CRTC to maintain rules requiring that broadcasters  commission a certain amount of independent production, and to prevent “producer of record” deals from counting as independent production. “Producer of record” deals allow the broadcaster to have all the rights of a producer without producing the content while leaving all the risks of financing and production with the independent producer. These types of deals are becoming more common and are only possible because independent producers have so little clout with broadcasters at the moment. The CRTC has to step in or the industry – and especially workers – will suffer even worse conditions.

Elsewhere, Ontario’s panel reviewing labour and employment law has recognized the desire by factual TV workers for collective bargaining. This follows the submission and presentation CMG made in 2015, calling for better tools for workers in factual TV to negotiate collectively with production companies.

It’s all a good sign for getting our voices heard! There is strength in numbers.

For more information, get in touch with CMG organizer Katherine Lapointe (klapointe@cwa-scacanada.ca).

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