Last summer, Rogers TV axed many of its self-produced diversity programming on Omni1, including Ukrainian program Svitohliad, in order to cut costs after a disappointing financial quarter. The announcement came without warning and was made effective immediately, leaving a large void in the community. The only other show left was Kontakt (which was not effected because it is independently produced), now with the sole responsibility of producing all Ukrainian-Canadian programming for the entire country.
Acting swiftly to try and restore the Ukrainian program, the Buduchnist Foundation (a member-supported, charitable wing of the credit union) met with Rogers and offered to cover the program’s losses in order to keep it on the air.
Still with the show was long-time (almost 30 years!) producer Stefan Genyk-Berezowsky, but gone was the iconic host Iryna Korpan of 22 years. Korpan recently started her own film company and produced two documentaries, one about her grandmother who was executed by the Nazis for saving Jews during WW2, and the other about Roman Hnatyshyn the 24th Governor General of Canada of Ukrainian descent. Replacing her as host was actor Larysa Bajus, who’s previously worked with Genyk-Berezowsky at the Ukrainian Drama Theater Zahrava. Also the show has a new reporter Lisa Shymko, who is currently the Director for PR at Buduchnist. Congratulations are also littered throughout the entire episode by leaders of the community, politicians and celebrities, praising the new show.
Members of the Ukrainian community were upset that their organizations were left out of the negotiations with Rogers to get Svitohliad back on the air, as Buduchnist would be financing the new program. Buduchnist defended its position that it had to act swiftly before the time slots were filled, in a meeting with the community at UNO Hall last August. It was reported by Paul Grod, President of the UCC that the old show lost Rogers $100,000 a year.
Forum TV’s credits reveal its new leaders are not people with much expertise in media but rather members of the Buduchnist board that fund the program. The show’s Executive Producer is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Buduchnist, another producer is also on the board and the associate producer is the President of Canadian Friends of Ukraine. All have impressive resumes in their own regards according to their LinkedIn profiles, but nothing about any sort of experience running a television show. It would be great to see the show take a page from Kontakt, which regularly features up and coming journalists and students who are trying to get a foot hold in the industry. The show airs Sundays at 8pm on Omni1, with replays on Wednesday at 2pm and Friday at 9am.
After watching the premiere episode? What did you think of it? Please leave a comment!