By Jasminee Sahoye
Many Indo-Caribbean people who try to stay informed about their South Asian heritage by tuning into Rogers OMNI TV, will soon be unable to watch their favourite programs due to cuts to multicultural and local news programming.
According to a joint news release, South Asian Women’s Centre, the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, and the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, have expressed their shock and outrage to Rogers Communications’ recent announcement about the cuts to multicultural and local news programming on OMNI. The cuts are mainly to South Asian Edition of OMNI News.
The South Asian edition has been a leader in reporting issues of critical importance to the diverse South Asian communities in Canada – giving a strong voice to racialized and marginalized communities and individuals, and providing a platform for discussing issues that helped members of our communities to participate in the broader national issues, according to the release.
“We are asking Rogers to rethink its strategy and not just reinstate but strengthen the program so that it continues to be a critical voice in the South Asian community. Our agencies and leaders from our community would be willing to meet with Rogers to discuss this decision and to provide our support in strengthen local programming for South Asian communities,” the release noted.
It added that “this move by Rogers is particularly disheartening since we understand that OMNI had committed to reach diverse South Asian communities during the CRTC licensing process that lead to OMNI channels being included in the basic channels. While the marketing is heavily geared to reach and retain a large South Asian customer base, this move is definitely seems counter-productive.”
“We are shocked because the South Asian community is one of the largest growing populations in Toronto, the GTA and in Canada and this channel afforded the community a safe space to highlight and raise issues that are unique to the South Asian communities, something that mainstream media was not able to afford on a regular basis,” said Kripa Sekhar, Executive Director of South Asian Women’s Centre.
“They covered a wide spectrum of issues including immigration, health, HIV, violence against women, poverty, youth issues as well as community events and festivals informing people about what is happening with in Canada, in our communities, and about how to access information, support and resources.”