Stop the meter on your Internet
Media makers of all kinds are finding new and exciting ways to use the Internet. From independent and citizen journalists, to community initiatives, to professional media organizations, the net is exploding with opportunities to create and find news, analysis and creative content.

But thanks to a troubling recent decision from the CRTC, big Internet Service Providers (like Bell and Rogers) are now allowed to force new Internet usage fees on all Internet users including all of us and our employers. They are also imposing this billing scheme on competing indie service providers, so we’ll have no choice but to pay up.

This means we’re looking at a future where Internet providers will charge per byte, the way they do with smart phones. If we allow this to continue, we will all pay more for less Internet and that rich source of media content will be less and less accessible to Canadians.

This could severely limit public and independent media projects, and will also mean much higher Internet bills for all of us.

Luckily our friends at have started a campaign to reverse this decision.

Please take a minute to sign the Stop The Meter petition here so we stop this from happening.

New alliance for freelancers getting down to business
The alliance launched in December between the Canadian Media Guild and the Canadian Writers Group, and backed by CMG’s parent union CWA Canada, is hard at work to improve conditions for freelance writers who provide content for Rogers Publishing (publishers of Macleans and Chatelaine, among other magazines) and St. Joseph’s, which publishes Toronto Life. At CBC, where freelancers are included in the CMG collective agreement, we are in the midst of revisiting the rate structure for freelance contributions (see story this issue).

The alliance has also launched a blog, Story Board, to provide regular updates on news from the industry and efforts on behalf of freelancers. You can find out there more of what the alliance has been up to.

Writers who belong to the Canadian Writers Group automatically become members of CMG’s freelance branch. Media freelancers can also join the freelance branch by writing to .

Labour photo of 2010 documents march for migrant worker justice in Ontario
Labour activists from around the world voted through December on which of five short-listed photos should win “Labour photo of the year.” Here’s the winner:

The photo documents the start of the Pilgrimage for Freedom, a 50 km march in defense of the rights of migrant workers from Leamington, Ontario, to Windsor that took place last October. It was taken by Gerardo Correa, who is himself a migrant worker from Uruguay. The annual contest was launched in 2008 by LabourStart. Thousands of activists voted. Click here to view the five finalist photos.

Fund CBC to counter effects of private media consolidation, Guild tells Parliament
The Canadian Media Guild appeared before the parliamentary Heritage committee in December to push for increased funding for local programming at CBC/Radio-Canada. The committee was looking into what to do about recent mergers in the private media sector, including the purchase by cable, satellite and phone giant Shaw Communications of Global TV last fall and the imminent purchase of CTV by Bell Canada, another communications giant.

Now that all of the major private TV networks in Canada– CTV, Global, City and TVA– are owned by cable, satellite and communications companies, it will be easier for each of the companies to control access to content by consumers and access to broadcast and distribution windows by producers. Note that CBC/Radio-Canada is the last national broadcaster without a connection to a distributor.

CMG argued that, as with any type of media consolidation, quality local programming– particularly in smaller communities– is inevitably reduced. The union called for additional funding for CBC to be earmarked for new local programming on all platforms in under- and unserved communities. You may recall that CBC presented a plan to expand radio, including opening 15 new radio stations in growing communities that don’t have local CBC or Radio-Canada service, to the government in 2005. The plan was never funded and, in the meantime, there has been an erosion of local media, public and private, in smaller communities across the country.

In addition, the Guild proposed making support for independent local programming a priority in the country’s cultural policy and in the coming digital strategy, and giving a directive to the CRTC to create a strategy for radio, television and digital programming in smaller communities that includes community media initiatives. The Guild also urged the government to set aside frequencies for public and community uses before it auctions off a band of spectrum in 2012 to private telecommunications companies.

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