Ukrainian TV viewers in Vancouver recently received a poke in the eye.
With the purchase of Channel M by Rogers Media, it's little surprise that the independently-produced Kontakt TV has been taken off the air in Vancouver, to be replaced with Svitohliad, which has been airing on (Rogers-owned) Omni TV in Toronto for some years.
Svitohliad airs Sundays at 7:30 am on Channel M in Vancouver. I'm sure it's a nice enough program, but it's only a half-hour long. Kontakt was a full hour long. And, whereas Kontakt aired twice a week (albeit as a repeat), Svitohliad airs only once... at a less than ideal time.
While I was away, an email went round informing people about this change. So just now I called the station to follow up.
I spoke with a lovely lady named Liveny, who told me that the programming changes reflected audience viewership. When I explained that I've been giving Channel M free publicity on Nash Holos due to audience interest in Kontakt TV, and that many people in the local Ukrainian community are upset at the change, she was quite surprised. She then said she would fill out a caller comment card and pass it on to management.
So, if you live in the Channel M viewing area and are upset about the reduction in Ukrainian programming, you can send Rogers management a message by giving Liveny a call and registering your displeasure. (The more calls they get, the stronger the message.) But please be nice to Liveny ... it's not her fault! And besides, she isn't given a whole lot of (accurate) information to pass along to the public. The number is 604-678-3800. Or, if you prefer, you can send an email.
When I asked Liveny if I could discuss the matter further with the programming director, she said that all programming decisions are made in Toronto. Боже. The promise of local programming (which, for us here in Vancouver, has yet to be delivered) just got even less likely. Nothing against Toronto, but it's a long way from Vancouver and the community out here is a tad different. It would be nice to have programming that reflects, and serves, our local community.
So it might also be an idea to lodge a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and hold their feet to the fire. Since day 1, the actions of Channel M management have run contrary to what was promised to the community, which was local programming. (I was involved in the license application process, and believe me, the programming subsequently offered bears no resemblance to what was promised during that process.)
Interestingly, the original decision to award the license to Multivan Broadcasting, made back in February of 2002, contains this statement:
The Commission reiterates that the essence of the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy is to encourage the reflection of local communities, both to themselves and to the wider world.
Shortly before that, in 2001, the Commission called upon the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to develop an action plan for a joint industry/community task force which would:
“...help define the issues and present practical solutions to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system reflects all Canadians.”
The Commission, therefore, (says it) expects licensees to:
“contribute to a broadcasting system that accurately reflects the presence in Canada of cultural and racial minorities...”
However, IMHO, where the Ukrainian Canadian community is concerned, broadcasters miss the mark by a long shot... and always have done. Canadian television has never accurately reflected our community, much less its impact on Canadian society. I'm not sure if the Commission knows this (or cares), but it would be interesting to find out. And what, if anything, they're prepared to do about it.
The CRTC contact details are here. There's also a quick and easy online form.
If you do follow up (with Rogers/Omni, the CRTC, or both) please post a comment here and let us know how you make out.