Victoria TV employees pledge their money to keep station alive

By Carla Wilson, Canwest News Service
August 13, 2009

Staff at the CHEK TV station in Victoria have pledged more than $500,000 in a bid to create an employee-owned company.
Under the proposed agreement, the employees would own 25 per cent of the company, with the balance held by outside investors, said news director Rob Germain.
"Employees have overwhelmingly come forward to put up funds," he said. Canwest Global Communications Corp. announced last month that on Aug. 31 it would close CHEK, B.C.'s oldest television station.
The 53-year-old station went up for sale earlier this year, along with other smaller stations in Canwest Global's secondary network, but no buyer could be found.
The closure announcement prompted CHEK staff to seek an employee ownership plan, inspired by the Harmac pulp mill near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, which was saved from closing by a group of workers and investors.
Richard Konwick, CHEK assignment editor and president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 815M, said about 45 staff were eligible to participate, including part-time workers. The union played a key role in developing the proposal.
A full-time worker would be expected to buy one share for $15,000.
Part-time workers would buy half a share for $7,500.
A Canwest official is in Victoria working with employees, letting them know what a bid would require, said Germain.
"They are holding the door open for us and we appreciate that greatly."

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