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Guild seeks info from CBC, more money from Ottawa

The Canadian Media Guild is seeking clarifications from CBC management on comments made yesterday by President Hubert Lacroix during a speech at a business luncheon in Toronto. He said he was asking the federal government for some financial assistance to deal with an expected budget shortfall and to cover downsizing costs in 2009-10. The Guild has not been given notice of layoffs and has been assured that no decisions have been made.

Lacroix said that no decisions would be made for 2009-10 until the CBC board meets in mid-March. He is seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister ahead of time and will reportedly meet with Heritage Minister James Moore next week.

The Guild has asked for a meeting with CBC before the board meeting to discuss options for mitigating permanent layoffs and shuttering of programming.

“The CMG is committed to working with the CBC through this difficult period to come up with creative ways to save the institution and jobs, and continue serving Canadians,” says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the Guild’s CBC branch. “We have developed a good working relationship over the last year and have received assurances from the CBC that the union and employees would be consulted before major changes are made.”

Meanwhile, the CMG is urging Ottawa to find a way to increase CBC’s Parliamentary appropriation for 2009-10 to ensure that the public broadcaster can continue to serve Canadians in these troubled economic times.

“This is not the time to spur on a race to the bottom in the media industry, which is in a severe crisis across the board,” says CMG national president Lise Lareau. “Hobbling the CBC doesn’t help the media industry and simply puts Canadians’ access to information and programming, from coast to coast to coast, at risk. The federal government has many options at its disposal to make sure the CBC can continue to do its job and it would mean a relatively small amount of money in overall federal spending.”

The CMG believes that funding for public broadcasting should be considered part of the government’s overall stimulus plan. Ottawa could come up with a range of innovative ways of increasing the CBC’s budget this year, including increasing its own communications spending to run public service announcements on CBC-TV and Radio-Canada television.

The Guild is also urging its members and their friends and family to contact their MPs to remind them of the importance of public broadcasting, both locally and nationally, and to ensure that it survives the current economic crisis.

For more information, get in touch with the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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