Sun TV Union Seeks Governmental Assistance, Quebecor Seeks Sun TV Market Expansion

It’s time to update a story that’s been closely followed by this website since late last year.  The embattled workers at Sun TV, the floundering Toronto station now in its fifth year of existence, have been trying in vain to reach an agreement with Quebecor, the French-Canadian conglomerate that purchased the station from CHUM in 2005.  Since the CMG successfully convinced staff to unionize, the goal has been to secure a collective bargaining agreement.  Here we are 13 months later and Quebecor still refuses to sit down at the negotiating table to settle this matter once and for all.
 
The final union update of 2006, with regards to Sun TV, was posted in mid-November on The Canadian Media Guild website.  (Click here to get caught up on the history.)  But after two months of silence, there have been a couple of new postings.
 
On January 15th, the union presented a set of “detailed” proposals to the station’s managers in order to, once again, re-ignite the negotiating process.  Realizing that they need to apply more pressure to the company in order to get things resolved, the union has “requested, more than a year after bargaining began, that the federal Labour Minister appoint a conciliator to help the two sides” reach “a deal”.
 
Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the current federal government’s Labour Minister, did the union one better.  He appointed two conciliators to handle this dispute.  According to the latest CMG posting, dated January 29th, Blackburn appointed Sheri King and Carol Wall who “will help the two sides set out a reasonable bargaining schedule and join the talks.” 
 
Furthermore, “The Guild hopes to reach a deal with Sun TV management by the scheduled end of the conciliators’ appointment, which is March 27, 2007.”  As of now, that’s a grand total of 41 days before the deadline, and it begs the following question:  is it enough time to reach a deal that will satisfy both parties? 
 
 
 
Meanwhile, according to a recent Financial Post item, Quebecor “is seeking permission to expand its coverage” of Sun TV “to include Ottawa and London, Ont[ario], two of the most lucrative markets in the province.”  The company is hoping to persuade the CRTC to allow the creation of two new transmitters so that the station can broadcast reruns of Danger Bay and King Of Kensington in those cities.  The move is a desperate attempt on their part to try to boost the station’s sagging fortunes. 
 
According to the February 10th article by Post writer John Greenwood, Sun TV is pushing for this change for two reasons.  One, because “the additional broadcast range would help it become more competitive for national advertising revenues.”  (Really?  Are the citizens of our nation’s capital and the home of Oscar winner Paul Haggis just dying to get caught up on Here’s Lucy?)  And two, because viewers in those cities “would gain access to additional Canadian programming”.  (Is it possible to overdose on all those episodes of Beachcombers?  Any takers?)
 
Maybe the station will reverse its downward spiral and create an avalanche of support, if The CRTC approves its proposals.  Then again, if viewers in Toronto and Hamilton aren’t interested in checking out hot, new shows like Chico And The Man & Leave It To Beaver, why would Ottawa and London be any different?
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
12:32 a.m.
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Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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