Ethnic press leader lambasts Public Works exec for advertising discrimination

Community News & Features Dec 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Louise de Jourdan of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan of Public Works and Government Services

Thomas Saras, President of National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada

Thomas Saras, President of National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada

TORONTO – Thomas S. Saras, president and CEO of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMMC), lambasted the Public Works and Government Services of Canada, specifically its Advertising Coordination and Partnerships office, for its “discriminatory practices” against the ethnic media.

Responding to a presentation by Louise de Jourdan, Director, Advertising Coordination & Partnership, Saras specifically questioned why government advertising allotment heavily favors the mainstream media establishment, despite the fact that ethnic media plays an important role in Canadian society.

Speaking before the participants during the last day of the 2009 NEPMCC Development Training Seminar held at Seneca College Nov. 20 to 22, 2009, Saras pointed out that while the mainstream media that included The Toronto Star, Globe and Media, Toronto Sun and three other organizations received $100 million a year in federal advertising, the country’s ethnic media – comprising 650 organizations – received only $800,000, “not even one million dollars,” Saras said.

Saras further pointed out that even in the recent government information campaign regarding H1N1, he said he had counted at least several full page ads in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail coming out almost daily, with one page costing at least $68,000. Saras turned to the ethnic media audience and asked how many had received an ad, and a resounding response was “None” and “nobody.”

“The demographics of the country has changed,” Saras said, noting that over 51 per cent of Torontonians speak languages other than English or French, and relied on ethnic media for their news.

Saras said that even the prime minister and the other government ministers accepted that reality, referring to the speeches of political leaders during the first and second day of the seminars, where the important role of the ethnic media was alluded to, in light of the increasing ethnic population.

Saras likewise complained about the Department’s practice of hiring consultants to advice on what publication would be receiving advertisements in the ethnic media. “If you have to do something for us, you need to consult us,” Saras said.

Saras said six times this year since June, he had received a call from six different ministries regarding their respective advertising campaigns, which Saras said he had followed up on behalf of the organization. Yet, no advertising came, he revealed.

“I called Cossette Media, I called the ministries,” Saras said, and he was told they had submitted their recommendations to Public Works.

Cossette Media is the official agency that the Department deals with regarding media advertising. De Jourdan said during her presentation that less than one-half of the members of the ethnic media organization were receiving advertisements because of their failure to apply and register with Cossette Media. Certain requirements had to be met for eligibility for government advertising, it was pointed out.

Saras said the 30 per cent that agencies get as commission from advertising “is unacceptable,” as it eats up on what should go to ethnic media.

“You cannot come to us and say you don’t have money,” Saras said. “If you don’t have money, close down,” Saras said.

De Jourdan responded, saying she was obliged to do so as a representative of the government of Canada. She said it was not her department that determined the allocation of advertising money, but it was the decision of each and every department concerned.

De Jourdan however said it was her Department that centrally receives and approves the advertising recommendations coming from each Department. She denied having to do with decisions made regarding advertising.

“I would like to invite anyone of you and audit any advertising file to see what decisions are made,” De Jourdan said.