OMNI Television proposes new national channel, return of ethnic newscasts and more Canadian content. Approval of OMNI request for inclusion in basic TV packages would secure future of multicultural television with win-win solution, says the Rogers owned station.
By PD Raj
TORONTO – OMNI Television announced this week that it has filed an application with the CRTC to operate a new national multilingual and multicultural channel called OMNI Regional, the first of its kind in Canada.
The national channel would be comprised of four feeds: Pacific, Prairies, and East, which would mirror OMNI's local stations in those regions, and ICI Quebec, made possible due to a strategic partnership with Montreal ethnic television station International Channel/Canal International (ICI) to serve French-language ethnic communities in the province of Quebec.
If approved by the CRTC, OMNI Regional would have priority access to basic TV packages (pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act). OMNI stations in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver would continue to operate as free over-the-air channels, as would ICI's local station in Montreal.
"We believe our application offers a win-win solution: Canadians get low-cost access to quality news and information programming in their language of comfort no matter where they live, and OMNI and its community and production partners get a stable revenue source that we can use to build a strong and relevant voice for ethnic audiences in Canada," said Colette Watson, Vice President, Broadcast and TV Operations, Rogers.
As part of its proposal, OMNI Television is committing to bringing back four daily newscasts in Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi, making it the only national ethnic programming service in Canada to provide daily newscasts, seven days a week, in multiple languages.
"Our new current affairs programming is resonating with local viewers, but we've also heard from our community partners, Parliamentarians and the CRTC about the importance of news and information programming to our democracy. If approved, our proposal will allow us to produce both current affairs programming that is locally relevant and news programming that is national in scope," added Watson.
DESIBUZZbc founder R. Paul Dhillon hs produced a number of TV series for OMNI, including REFLECTIONS: South Asian Stories, which featured an episode on South Asian actors called The THESPIANS!
OMNI Television's proposal also includes the following:
• A commitment to devote 80% of OMNI Regional's schedule to ethnic programming – a 20% increase over current – and maintaining the requirement to devote 50% of the schedule to third-language programming;
• A commitment to devote a minimum of 40% of OMNI Regional's annual revenues to the production of Canadian programming;
• A commitment to maintain local daily current affairs shows in Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi languages;
• The creation of a national cultural affairs series produced in Alberta that is designed to showcase important cultural and social contributions from Canada's ethnocultural communities;
• A commitment to re-establish in-house production in all of the markets served by OMNI's OTA stations; and
• The creation of four regional feeds that comprise the national network will be specifically tailored to ethnic Canadians living in B.C., the Prairies, Eastern Canada and Quebec by including English and French-language ethnic programming as well as third-language programming produced by local independent producers that reside in those regions.
OMNI Television expects the CRTC to post its application for public comment shortly.