Quebec b'caster considers axing news division

Would replace reporters with citizen journalists

OTTAWA -- The new owners of struggling Quebec broadcaster Television Quatre Saisons on Monday proposed replacing its network news division with citizen journalists.

Maxime and Julien Remillard, the principals of Quebec movie distributor Remstar Corp., told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that it was possible to reflect local Quebec communities without traditional news shows if cameras and microphones were thrust into the hands of newsmakers themselves.

The CRTC began hearings Monday in Montreal on a plan by Remstar to eliminate the TQS news division, with the loss of 250 jobs, to restore the network's financial health.

An eventual decision by the CRTC on whether to allow TQS to banish its news division for cost savings will be watched by rival broadcasters as they are similarly obligated to provide costly local news coverage as a condition of license.