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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Changes to Ukrainian TV in Vancouver

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:

“ 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.


Anonymous said...

You can get plenty of Ukrainian programming via IPTV services. There are about 10 or so stations from Ukraine that provide up to date news, movies and local Ukrainian programming. Programming is time shiftable. Works great!

People should just dump the Rogers monopoly and be done with them.

Pawlina said...

Yeah, Rogers' days probably are numbered, especially once IPTV technology and receivers become compatible.

Would you like to come on Nash Holos and explain to my listeners (and me!) how IPTV works?

Anonymous said...

Hey Pawlina, thank you for your effort. With all my interest to Ukrainian Canadian media I have never seen any Ukrainian TV progra here... Probably because scheduling is too early. But I'd like to see it. And if Anonymous not answering I can try explain How TV over IP protocol does work.

Orest said...

IPTV works over the internet and you need at least a decent connection. Dial-up simply will not work.

When you get a subscription which costs roughly $30 per month you hook-up the IPTV receiver directly to the internet or to a router and a way you go!

My service offers programming in Ukrainian, Polish and Russian. About 30 stations all together. This is great if you like keeping up with current events and not waiting for Svitohliad or Kontakt to give you their weekly round-up.

Pawlina said...

Thanks, Stan. I'll be giving you a call soon to pick your brains. :-)

Pawlina said...

Nice to hear from you, Orest!

As you know I'm a big fan of the new technology ... even when I don't quite understand it. IPTV sounds exciting and I can certainly understand its appeal.

However, there is still a place for the "old media." Some people still like to get the news nicely packaged through a familiar filter. And sometimes it's just nice to sit back with a cup of tea (or a beer) and enjoy a respite from "information overload."

It's great to have the choice. I hope we always will.

Pawlina said...

Stan, this blog is a forum for discussion, not crass self-promotion. Therefore I have removed your "comment." Please ensure you do not do it again. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone I agree that cable tv is soon going to disappear and everything will be iptv. I have imb+records Ukrainian tv programming and it's over 12 channels and free video on demand movies and music and sport shows. It's great for just 30$ a month! But you do need high speed Internet. Check it out and enjoy it!


Pawlina said...

Dear Itia,

If you will read the first comment, from someone at your company, I offered an interview on Nash Holos to promote your company as well as the technology. Contact details are on the website.

If you're not interested in direct communication, kindly refrain from crass self-promotion on this blog.

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