TORONTO - The number of Federal Government announcements are swirling in the wind like the contents of a pillowcase torn open on a mountaintop. Critics will say “with as much weight”.
However, by August 22, 2019, that will change. The Council of Ministers – Cabinet – will have to pronounce itself on a Petition to Cabinet presented by two unsuccessful applicants who responded to a CRTC Call for national TV, 9 (1) (h), station that would provide news and current affairs programming, as well as ethnic programming.
The CRTC, two years after issuing the Call for proposals (as per Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2018-127) , restored that license, and the subsidy valued at approximately $20 million annually, to the communications giant that had proven itself unwilling or unable to deliver the contents anticipated – Rogers Media Inc.
It didn’t make sense to anyone. Especially since the seven other applicants were not even given the courtesy of a reason for their rejection. The Petitions to Cabinet may transfer that responsibility onto the shoulders of the Government in Council. Good luck.
Essentially, however it will decide, the Cabinet will then own the decision of the CRTC, one with wide ranging legal, constitutional and political consequences in the middle of an electoral environment.
One of the petitioners (ICTVMTL) has also filed with the Federal Court, alleging, among other issues, conflict of interest - arguably of the highest order - and calling for the firing of the Chair and the Vice Chair of the CRTC as a result.
Their decision did not reflect of the CRTC’s own parameters set out in the Call. Keep in mind the CRTC itself had identified the need for a news and current affairs station after Rogers/Omni abruptly shuttered their programming in 2015, laying off hundreds in the process.
Leaving, in the process, fully 22% of Canada’s population (seven million of our countrymen who function in a language other than English, French or an Aboriginal tongue) with no TV station offering news and current affairs from a national perspective, daily, in their language.
Corriere Canadese (Corrcan Media Group) stepped up to the plate with a proposal to fill that need with a program to do precisely that, featuring the top 3rd language groups identified by StatsCan in its August 17, 2017 report: ARABIC, CANTONESE, FARSI, GERMAN, GREEK, GUJURATI, HINDI, ITALIAN, KOREAN, MANDARIN, PILIPINO (TAGALOG), POLISH, PORTUGUESE, PUNJABI, RUSSIAN, SPANISH, TAMIL, URDU and VIETNAMESE, among others.
Of the eight applicants, it alone offered content produced inhouse, using experienced Canadian journalists, offering news from a Canadian perspective in the language of the intended audience, daily.
It too was rejected in favour of Rogers.
No reasons given. Corrcan filed a petition to Cabinet and offered a solution within the Cabinet’s jurisdiction to deliver. More to come.