by LIVIO DI MATTEO*
Why Has OMNI Television Stopped Italian Programming in Thunder Bay?
My Shaw Cable package in Thunder Bay includes a channel (No. 195) called OMNI. As its website states: “OMNI is Canada’s only multilingual and multicultural television broadcaster, o ering a wide range of ethnocultural and third-language programming to the country’s diverse communities”.
Until last week, what I assume is OMNI regional here on Shaw in Thunder Bay had two Italian newscasts around noon – one its Toronto news program in Italian and another the RAI news broadcast from Italy.
I used to watch them quite frequently and would even PVR them if I was unable to watch them during the noon hour period. Well, this week these seem to have disappeared. When I contacted SHAW, they said that they have no control what OMNI provides, they just provide access to the Channel. I have contacted OMNI itself via their “Contact Us” link but have yet to hear back.
Not sure what has happened here given that there are nearly 3000 people in Thunder Bay whose first language is Italian. Italian appears to be the largest foreign first language group in Thunder Bay followed by Finnish at just under 2000.
In terms of some of the other first language groups in Thunder Bay with programming available on OMNI there is Cantonese (180), Mandarin (315), Punjabi (75), and Tagalog (200). Yet OMNI no longer has Italian programming from the OMNI regional feed available in Thunder Bay.
What has happened here? Not sure because I have not heard back from OMNI but my best educated guess is that this was a made in Toronto HQ. One would have expected a multicultural television broadcaster to have done a better job on its community composition home work.
Hopefully, OMNI will come to its senses and put back an hour or so of Italian programing back on OMNI regional.
*Professor of Economic Sciences at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay