January 29, 2020

Wondering what's happening with Kew Media? So are we.

The CWA Canada/IATSE Fairness in Factual TV Campaign is seeking assurances from Kew Media Group that it will deal fairly with the dozens of showrunners, writers, editors and other crew as it struggles with a strategic review of its assets and financial reporting difficulties.

This week the company announced that its earnings may be significantly lower than previously forecast for fiscal 2019. On January 16, the Ontario Securities Commission placed a cease-trade order of the company’s stock. At the time, it was trading at 64 cents.

Kew Media has many subsidiaries that produce factual and documentary shows – including Bristow Media Group, Architect Films, Media Headquarters, Frantic Films, and Our House Media, leaving hundreds of workers in the industry nervously wondering what lies ahead as the 2020 production season ramps up.

Staff at Architect have been told that little will change. Architect’s co-owners Mike Sheerin and Tanya Linton informed employees last week that there will be a ‘seamless transition’ to a new company, Nikki Ray Media Agency, and Sheerin and Linton say they expect to co-produce with Kew.

Researchers have been hired back for another season of Our House’s true crime series ‘Unexpected Killer’, but little else is known about future plans at that company.Frantic’s president Jeff Peeler resigned last week, according to staff. There have been no public statements from the company, though people are being assured that work will continue as normal.

We are seeking further information from Kew’s co-owners Peter Sussman and Steven Silver and their investor relations firm about whether any of the companies are being considered for dissolution, what notice will be provided to employees and contractors and what happens in case of company spinoffs, dissolution or bankruptcy.

“Workers are understandably anxious after seeing this in the news, and the silence and secrecy are making a bad situation worse,” says Denise O'Connell, a director and writer and an organizer with the factual union. “Many have worked long hours and gone the extra mile to make deadlines for these companies. They deserve better.”

The unsettled business culture of the factual production industry was one of the factors that led to the formation of our campaign 6 years ago. “There’s no question union contracts would provide some stability, sustainability and certainty to the labour part of the industry. You don’t see this type of volatility in the scripted world, which is highly unionized,” says IATSE Vice President John Lewis.

We will send updates as more information becomes available. Get in touch with us at factualtv@cmg.ca to share any news you receive in the coming days and weeks.