Gladu says local media need immediate help to survive pandemic

Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu speaks during Question Period at the House of Commons. December 11, 2019. (Screenshot from video of Question Period)

Sarnia-Lambton’s MP says government has a role to play in helping smaller market radio and TV stations stay viable during the pandemic.

Marilyn Gladu pledged to advocate for Canadian media companies in response to a recent report that indicated as many as 200 private radio stations could close over the next two years.

The Communications Management Inc. (CMI) report said up to 2,000 jobs would be lost.

Gladu said community radio and television stations and newspapers are incredibly important and can’t be lost.

“The local news is incredibly valuable, where else are we going to hear about the local heroes stories, or what are the needs locally?” asked Gladu. “These are things that people tune into every day and learn about what’s going on in the community, and that would be totally lost if we went to something that was nationalized or didn’t have that local content.”

Sarnia-Lambton MP-elect Marilyn Gladu speaks to reporters during election results. October 19, 2015 ( Photo by Aaron Zimmer)

Gladu said immediate additional assistance is needed similar to the business loan and wage subsidy models because advertising revenues dry up when businesses are in distress.

“Absolutely, I think that we’ve seen that we’re not going to recover overnight from what’s happened under COVID, and I think that local radio stations and newspapers are equal victims in that, the same as small businesses that are having difficulty,” she said.

The MP also said the CMI report’s call for regulatory relief is timely. She noted the Conservative party’s new leader Erin O’Toole has ideas to modernize the media industry and create a level playing field.

Gladu said the Liberal government has significantly increased funding to the CBC which competes with and puts more pressure on the private sector.

She said a competitive landscape needs to be created while maintaining the independence of media, free of political interference.

The full CMI report can be found here.