Give TQS to Québec’s cultural communities
What should be done with bankrupt Télévision Quatre Saisons? How about using the prime broadcast real estate of TQS to revive la Télévision Ethnique du Québec, the multicultural and multilingual cable TV network hijacked by CanWest Global in the early 00’s.
TEQ was a locally owned and operated community channel that aired programming by and for Québec’s cultural communities. The station experienced financial difficulties in the late 1990’s and was eventually sold to Rogers and later CanWest Global.
CanWest turned TEQ into CJNT-TV. Nearly all of the Québec-produced programming of TEQ was dumped by the new owners. CJNT now airs a mix of ethnic programming from Toronto and Montreal in the daytime and American TV in prime-time, all tied together with English-only branding. Montreal’s so-called “multicultural” TV station has an ENGLISH-ONLY website!
There is some French-language programming on CJNT, essentially produced by Montreal’s Lebanese and Haïtian communities. The token French-language shows, bundled up with Urdu, Cantonese and Armenian programming and the station’s deliberate editorial choice to make English the common language of the station strongly suggests that Montreal’s French-speakers are just another one of the city’s minorities.
It’s as if an American multicultural channel used Spanish as the common working language. Or as if a French channel used Arabic.
From being the voice of Québec’s minorities CJNT became the agent of their ghettoization and Anglicization by CanWest’s owners who only really cared about the 40% of American programing the station’s license allowed it to air.
“There is a debate that we need to have on Québec’s ethnic television and the Anglicization of ethnic communities through television”, declared Michel Tremblay, president of TEQ’s producers union in 2000.
TQS’s bankruptcy might be a good opportunity to have that debate.