Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Cuts in the air at Cogeco Media

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Cogeco Media executives testified before the CRTC as part of consultations on the new Online Streaming Act.

  • Valérie Gamache (View profile)Valérie Gamache

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Without the creation of a new fund reserved for commercial radio, the Cogeco Media network fears it will have to cut short news production.

The news… It's very expensive and unfortunately, if we have cuts to make, that's where we're going to look, said Cogeco's vice-president of regulatory affairs, Paul Beaudry, during his testimony in the framework of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) consultations on the new Online Streaming Act, resulting from Bill C-11.

We are backed into a corner and we are in a position where we have to make important decisions quickly.

A quote from Paul Beaudry , vice-president of regulatory affairs at Cogeco

We realize that some of our peers in the industry have made difficult business decisions. We haven’t done it… yet, said Paul Beaudry, emphasizing the last word. He was referring in particular to the latest cuts announced at TVA, where 547 positions were eliminated.

Cogeco Media, which operates 21 radio stations across Quebec , including 98.5 FM in Montreal, says it no longer has any room for maneuver and deplores the fact that no financial aid or subsidy program is offered for commercial radio.

The president of Cogeco Media, Caroline Paquet, maintained that radio was completely forgotten. She urged the government and the CRTC to act before it is too late. Without a level playing field for traditional broadcasters, hundreds of stations will close and thousands of jobs will disappear. We will witness the creation of media deserts from coast to coast, she lamented.

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The president of Cogeco Media, Caroline Paquet, testified before the CRTC on Tuesday.

The growth of unregulated online businesses, such as music streaming site Spotify, is hurting private radio stations, which have suffered a 20% drop in advertising revenue in five years. The president of Cogeco also targeted Radio-Canada, which does not sell advertising on the radio, but which, on the other hand, broadcasts its radio content on the web, where the state corporation solicits advertisers.

To save what remains, we will have to act quickly, says the president of Cogeco. It's one minute to midnight, says Caroline Paquet in an interview with Radio-Canada.

The company is now asking the CRTC to reduce the financial contributions imposed on radio stations commercial radio stations, but above all demands that the government create a new fund reserved solely for commercial radio stations for news production.

Cogeco proposes that this new fund be partly financed by online companies which, like Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram), refuse to offer compensation to producers and news creators.

This request comes a week after the government announced an increase in its aid for the written press. In the fall economic statement presented last Tuesday, the Liberals increased the journalistic labor tax credit from 25% to 35%, but the measure only concerns print media. /p>Open in full screen mode

The Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, had a meeting with the president of Cogeco Media on the sidelines of the latter's testimony before the CRTC.

Tuesday morning, on the sidelines of her testimony, the president of Cogeco Media met with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, to plead her case. She feels the urgency, but she is part of a government, she must also convince her colleagues of the benefits, she said to summarize the meeting.

Asked why government aid is limited to the written press, the minister replied: We just extended existing aid, but we are looking at other ways that we can better help all media.

The ball is in the court of the CRTC, of ​​the government, otherwise we will do like the others.

A quote from Caroline Paquet, president of Cogeco Média

Cogeco's heartfelt cry joins those of Bell Media and Quebecor, who testified last week before the CRTC.

Bell, which laid off more than 1,300 employees last June, is also calling for the creation of a special information fund.

Quant to the CEO of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau, he also insisted on the urgency of action, arguing that with the elimination of 31% of its workforce, Groupe TVA is now pushed to its limits in terms of of local news production.

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