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OPEN LETTER: ELAN betrayed our communities by selling out community TV to PKP's Vidéotron

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We take exception with the largely inaccurate and at times purposefully misleading commentary published in the Gazette on April 16, 2014, by the English Language Arts Network (ELAN). By supporting Vidéotron’s application for an English community TV station (MYtv), Executive Director of ELAN, Guy Rogers, and President, Peter MacGibbon, argue against the vision of Independent Community Television (ICTV) for a multilingual and community access TV station for the region of Montréal.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think an Anglo institution would champion allotting millions of dollars in public money to a private media outlet like Vidéotron, owned by Québecor and Parti Québécois MNA, Pierre Karl Peladeau (also known as PKP, and one of the most vocal advocates of the racist Charter of Values). We believe ELAN does not speak for English artists in this province when supporting Vidéotron’s segregationist vision of community TV for Montréal, one that divides language groups by channel–MAtv for French content and MYtv for English.

We support ICTV’s proposal for promoting inter-community dialogue which will be achieved through 168 hours of original multilingual programming per week, including 84 hours in French, 33.6 hours in English, as well as Aboriginal, third language and bilingual content. In comparison, Vidéotron is offering a formula featuring only 20 hours in French on MAtv and 20 hours in English on MYtv. As a result, all the ethnic and Aboriginal communities will be herded into the English channel, despite their linguistic preference and with no chance to produce content in their mother tongue. Yet, in an effort to confuse the public into supporting the segregationist vision of Vidéotron in these times of increased racism and xenophobia, ELAN incorrectly cites ICTV’s proposed programming content by misrepresenting percentages. The following table accurately illustrates programming hours by language offered by MAtv, MYtv, and ICTV.

A typical broadcast week for MAtv, MYtv, & ICTV (hours per week vs languages broadcasted):

In the Gazette opinion piece, ELAN also attempts to rewrite the history of the battle to hold Vidéotron accountable for its current community TV licence and the associated $23 million annually they already receive in public funds, both of which are bound by Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations. In an effort to sway Gazette readers to support this new narrative, ELAN suggests the MAtv management team “was immediately receptive” to the need for English content. This account neglects to mention the prior refusals by Vidéotron to open an English channel or broadcast English content on Vox or MYtv. ELAN goes on to recall Vidéotron holding a “public meeting” last Fall to propose an English-only station. Facts show that when the event held at ELAN’s office failed to secure a diverse representation of the anglophone community among the meeting’s participants, Vidéotron was satisfied to have a very narrow definition of community representation for their MYtv pitch.

Luckily for all of us, Canada’s champion of community TV, Cathy Edwards, the Executive Director for the Canadian Association of Community Television Users & Stations (CACTUS), attended the meeting. Though most participants sat in silence, Ms. Edwards was among the few who voiced concerns regarding the low turnout and lack of representation of the diverse communities of Montréal. Ms. Edwards explained the regulations and how neither MAtv nor the proposed MYtv are/will be in compliance. Unfortunately, ELAN was already on board with Vidéotron’s proposal and explained that their priority is job opportunities for their membership.

This argument is both misleading and naive. A closer look at MAtv’s operations reveals little employment will be available for independent English producers or for all the producers from the “other” communities ELAN conveniently forgets. MAtv is operated by Vidéotron, a subsidiary of Québecor Media Incorporated where new jobs will likely be prioritized as internal hires because the workers are unionized (and we support them in their efforts to combat Québecor’s union busting history). Additionally, MAtv’s programming grid indicates that out of the 28 shows they air, only one independent producer is contracted from Montréal and all of the other shows are either produced internally or bought from other cable providers. Vidéotron is proudly saying MYtv will be organized in the same manner as MAtv; thus, ELAN is shamefully supporting Vidéotron to guarantee one of its members will receive a single contract with the new channel.

To support Independent Community Television for Montréal visit, check out the sample letters, and be sure to send your letter to the CRTC before April 22, 2014.

Endorsed by:

Amy Miller

Stefan Christoff

Ezra Winton

Liam O’Rourke

Norman Nawrocki



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