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.
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!
Tuesday’s layoff announcement at Rogers sent shockwaves as it decided to end all of OmniTV’s produced diversity programming, which included Ukrainian news show Svitohliad. Other notable diversity programming included Polish, Greek, Japanese and Tamil. The channel has been airing multilingual television since 1972, bought by Rogers in 1985 and re-branded as Omni1 and Omni2 in 2002.
Svitohliad was a flagship show for the Ukrainian community, as OmniTV was one of the few stations to air ethnic programming as part of their regular schedule. It covered community events, interviews with notable figures and even news segments from Ukraine.
While certainly not as profitable as importing popular American programming (which all Canadian networks are very guilty of, with notable exception to the CBC), OmniTV showcased Canada’s multicultural landscape with homegrown television. The announcement forces viewers who want multicultural programming onto Rogers’ premium international channels which feature Polish and Russian channels, but not Ukrainian. For that you still need to watch over the internet on sites like UkrainaTV.
The ending for Svitohliad came rather abrupt and unannounced, as the show never established an online presence to branch out, connect, provide updates or post show archives. There is no word yet on the other Ukrainian show on OmniTV, Kontakt, which is not produced by Omni as it is an independent venture. Luckily Kontakt has an online presence too, where they do post their shows.