Posted 31 July 2009 - 04:44 PM
From today's Times Colonist:
A Harmac-style employee takeover of Victoria-based CHEK television is proposed as an option by workers struggling to keep the Vancouver Island television station on the air.
Talks are underway to get Canwest-Global, the owner of the station, to allow the sale of B.C.'s oldest TV station to avoid a planned Aug. 31 closure.
A possibility being considered is employee ownership, similar to the model employees at Harmac pulp mill used to resuscitate that mill when then-owner Pope and Talbot went bankrupt last year.
Canwest announced earlier this month it was rolling up operation of CHEK, which is into its fifth decade of operation. It could be a while yet before details of the proposal become public, but staff members are anxious to avert the closure of the station, preserving media diversity on Vancouver Island, and their jobs.
"We're looking at ways to try and keep the station operating and employees employed and keep CHEK television on the air after Sept. 1," said Rob Germain, news director.
Forty employees are affected by the closure.
Station manager John Pollard said employees are "working diligently towards a local ownership," and that has generated considerable interest among viewers and investors.
"We've had four different groups come through and say: 'We want to be part of this.' We've had calls from lots of other people. We've had people calling, saying: 'I've got $25,000, how can I help you guys stay on the air."
Options include a rescue similar to that of Harmac, where employees formed a partnership with three private investors, to buy the old pulp mill.
CHEK employees are considering something similar, although no details are available.
"That is one of the options," Germain said, adding "it's premature to say too much about that now."
CHEK news reporter Kendall Hanson is "excited" a closure could be averted, but has concerns about whether the deal will be allowed.
"I'm not 100% sold that indeed Canwest-Global is thrilled about the idea of us being bought," Hanson said.
Hanson said he hopes viewers contact the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
"We've had interest from investors. Now I'm hoping there's public pressure on both Global and the CRTC we can get the deal going."