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CMG joins rally against takeover of Alliance Atlantis

Members of the Canadian Media Guild joined several unions and advocacy groups in Gatineau on Monday to speak out against the proposed purchase of AAC by CanWest Global. The rally was held in front of the CRTC before the start of hearings into the takeover of the 13 AAC specialty channels by CanWest Global and US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Arnold Amber, director of CWA/SCA Canada (CMG’s parent union) is flanked by CEP’s Peter Murdoch (left), CUPE’s Michel Bibeault and ACTRA’s Richard Hardacre at the November 19 rally.

The CMG was there with CWA/SCA Canada, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, ACTRA, the Council of Canadians and the Campaign for Democratic Media.

“Probably the most troubling thing is that CanWest Global will be under even more pressure to make cuts to existing and new operations to pay for the deal,” says CMG national president Lise Lareau.

Cuts have already been announced recently at Global TV across the country, which is losing 200 jobs, and at six CanWest newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette. Employees at those two papers are represented by CMG’s parent union, CWA/SCA Canada.

The deal also introduces the possibility of foreign control over a Canadian broadcasting company, something that is not allowed under federal legislation. CanWest Global was faced with tough questions from the CRTC about the proposed ownership structure and the amount of control Goldman Sachs would have over broadcast operations.

Click here for a backgrounder prepared for the rally.

Before hearings wrapped up yesterday, CanWest Global vowed to make changes to the structure to reduce the American bank’s say over how the TV operations would be run. Nonetheless, the CanWest Global properties and the AAC channels will need to be profitable between now and 2011 to put CanWest into a position to become majority owner of the merged company. A decision from the regulator is expected in the coming weeks.

The deliberations at the CRTC are not having any impact on discussions between the Guild and AAC management at the bargaining table.

For more information, contact Lise Lareau (lise@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333.

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