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Guild briefed on CBC’s plans for transmission

The CMG CBC Branch’s Harry Mesh and Staff Representative Glenn Gray met with the CBC’s Martin Marcotte and Industrial Relations on November 5 to discuss the proposed sale of Transmission Services assets. Another meeting was held December 4 to discuss the asset sale as well as digital TV, the use of “monitors” and exams.

The proposed sale of assets is primarily infrastructure (towers, buildings, land, generators, etc.) and shared antennas. Any technical equipment used exclusively for CBC will not be sold. The National Alarm Center and all remote site monitoring equipment will remain in the possession of CBC. Management has assured CMG that they do not anticipate any staffing reductions as a result of the sale of Transmission assets, if it takes place. The Request for Proposals will be issued in mid-December and CMG will likely be advised of the outcome in March of next year. Completion of a sale of assets, if it does happen, will take considerable time after that, as it is a complicated legal process.

The second issue discussed was the upcoming switch to digital TV transmission and the associated shutdown of analog transmitters in all but the largest centres. CBC has confirmed that digital TV transmitters will be limited to where TV production facilities exist. This would mean a total of 27 (14 English and 13 French) digital?TV transmitters after the transition. Currently there are about 658 analog transmitters across the country.

CBC and the private broadcasters have told the CRTC that they cannot be ready for the August 31, 2011 deadline for digital conversion and are requesting a delay of the mandatory conversion and shutdown of analog transmitters until 2013. The exception would be any transmitters operating on UHF channels 52-69, which will have to shut down by the original date as that frequency spectrum?has already been?reallocated for?another use?after that time.

Approximately 28 technical positions, including some management and APS jobs, may be affected by the shutdown of analog transmitters. It is expected that most, if not all, of these reductions can be done through attrition. The exact date this will happen is not yet known. Staff reductions have already taken place this year in Transmission through retirements and layoffs.

We also discussed the use of “monitors” at transmitter sites. “Monitors” in this context are local CBC hires, used in extremely remote communities to do a very limited set of functions. Management agrees that the work should be limited in scope. CMG expressed concern for the safety of our members and that of the monitors when the work performed goes beyond the scope of work that the monitors are qualified to do. We also expressed concerns about potential liability. CBC will provide CMG with further clarification of their role which we will share with you.

We will keep you informed of all developments. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with Glenn Gray (glenn@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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