What the OMNI cuts mean for newcomer communities and journalists

Article by Shannon Clarke

When Rogers Media announced it was cutting 110 positions in May, Canadians—journalists, community leaders and critics—focused on OMNI. Not just because the station received significant cuts, but also because of what it has come to represent.

“OMNI, being something that is synonymous with diverse communities and also with the face of Rogers—we were very surprised and shocked by [the announcement],” Jason Merai, executive director of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), said of the company’s decision to eliminate Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian and Punjabi newscasts from OMNI’s broadcast. “Why would you eliminate that access to an opportunity for [newcomers] to gain knowledge to be engaged in this country?”

Since the announcement, the UARR, along with several other organizations including the Chinese Canadian National Council, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and the Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC), have co-ordinated to lobby against the cuts. Since May 7, they have held press conferences, drafted petitions and written letters asking Rogers to reconsider. They are now asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to step in.

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