Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
Chair: The Honourable Lise Bacon Deputy Chair: The Honourable David Tkachuk
The Honourable Lise Bacon, Chair
The Honourable David Tkachuk, Deputy Chair
The Honourable Senators:
P.C. (or Gerald Comeau)
Pat Carney, P.C.
Terry M. Mercer
John Trevor Eyton
*Daniel Hays (or Joan
Janis G. Johnson
Gerard A. Phalen
Rod A.A. Zimmer
In addition, the Honourable Senators George
Baker, P.C., Tommy Banks, Michel Biron, Eymard G. Corbin, Pierre De Bané, P.C.,
Consiglio Di Nino, Joyce Fairbairn, P.C., J. Michael Forrestall, Aurélien Gill,
B. Alasdair Graham, P.C., Leonard Gustafson, Laurier L. LaPierre, John
Lynch-Staunton, Lorna Milne, Wilfred P. Moore, Nancy Ruth, Pierre-Claude Nolin,
Mira Spivak, Gerry St. Germain, P.C., Terry Stratton, and Marilyn Trenholme
Counsell have participated in this study since the tabling of the Interim Report in April 2004.
Research Staff: Joseph
Jackson, Library of Parliament
Thomas, Library of Parliament
Black, Special Advisor to the Committee
Adam Thompson Clerk of the Committee
The Committee also
expresses thanks to Alexandre Drago in the office of the Chair; Rhonda Walker
and Robin Hay in the office of the Deputy Chair; Céline Ethier in the office of
Senator Fraser, former Chair; Tracy Bellefontaine in the office of Senator
Johnson and Till Heyde, former Clerk of the Committee, and Jessica Richardson
with the Committees Directorate, for their contributions to this study.
ORDER OF REFERENCE
the Journals of the Senate of Thursday,
April 27, 2006:
The Honourable Senator Robichaud,
P.C., for the Honourable Senator Bacon, moved, seconded by the Honourable
That the Standing Senate Committee
on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on the
current state of Canadian media industries, emerging trends and developments in
these industries; the media's role, rights, and responsibilities in Canadian
society; and current and appropriate future policies relating thereto;
That the Committee submit its final
report to the Senate no later than June 30, 2006 and that it retain until July
31, 2006 all powers necessary to publicise its findings; and
That the papers and evidence
received and taken and the work accomplished by the Committee on the subject
since the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament be referred to the
The question being put on the
motion, it was adopted.
Bélisle Clerk of the Senate
(This Order of
Reference is similar to the Committee’s Orders of Reference for this study
during previous parliamentary sessions.)
Volume I of this final report
contains the committee’s essential analysis, recommendations and suggestions.
The committee’s 2004 Interim Report
provided considerable background material that was used in the preparation of
the final report. Since that Interim
Report the committee has heard from many more witnesses and conducted
additional study. This volume collects
much of the recent material that helped shape the final report, as well as
providing reference material and fuller discussions of points raised in Volume
Although there was some overlap between what
the Committee heard while preparing its Interim
Report and since then, the second set of witnesses were more focused on
specific concerns and problems in particular markets.
in Society and Innovations in Communication Technologies
Witnesses discussed ongoing changes in society
and innovations in communications technologies that affect the news and
For this study the most important of these
fragmentation of the audience for news and information because of the
proliferation of new broadcast channels and the Internet;
the slow decline in newspaper readership;
the emergence of new sources of entertainment (such as DVDs and video
games) which have reduced the traditional audience for news outlets;
changes in the consumption of news and definitions of news;
the development of new approaches to
audiences (for example free dailies); and
the use of “convergence strategies” to rebuild market share and to take
advantage of changes in technology, including efforts by news organizations to
maintain audience and readership (partly through acquisition of a broad range
of different media).
There were mixed opinions about the
implications of these changes. As journalist Ian Mulgrew told
the Committee in Vancouver:
Journalism has changed in the last thirty
years, some for the better, some not. …
Economic pressures, technological change, the
fight for eyeballs with television and the Internet have all created this very
different world. It is a busier world, and newspapers and their journalists
must attract customers to survive.
We can do more in our newsrooms today because of technological change. Therefore,
pointing out sometimes that we have fewer journalists does not necessarily mean
that we are doing a worse job. I happen to
think that, in many ways, newspapers are livelier, more visually appealing and
more entertaining than they ever were. [January 31, 2005]
Opinions varied about the Internet. While
witnesses agreed it contributed to
change, the traditional news gathering organizations were still important. As
Deborah Jones, a member of the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Association of
The information on the Internet may not always
be just the unreliable, opinionated bloggers. I think that, increasingly,
people might be turning to more mainstream or established websites like the New
York Times. Personally, I almost never watch television any more because it
is so slow to sit through a newscast when I can go to the CBC or the CTV
website and find all the stories on the line-up and just scan them within a few
minutes. [January 31, 2005]
The varied sources of information are having an
impact on the way that younger Canadians get the news. Professor Will Straw
told the Committee:
For the last several years I have asked members
of my post-graduate seminars in communications whether or not they read a daily
newspaper, and for the last three years, in classes of 15 to 20 people, none of
them said that they did. These are students surrounded by information, immersed
within it and committed to the idea of being informed, and they are not against
newspapers, but they have not acquired the habit of subscribing to newspapers
or buying them on a daily basis. [December 16, 2004]
Professor Straw also discussed the
proliferation of free ‘metro’ newspapers.
… the free daily newspapers have, in a sense,
removed (their) coverage from the culture of journalism. The news tends to be
put together from little pieces supplied by services that are more or less
standardized around the world. Most of the time, they publish material that is
easily syndicated – movie reviews, celebrity gossip, material produced
centrally for an international readership. [December 16, 2004]
A number of witnesses noted that while there
may be more sources of information today than in the past, there may not be as
many independent sources or as many journalists involved. This can affect the
quality of coverage.
… more and more reporters are treated as
general assignment reporters doing a different story each day. They may cover
same-sex marriages at the Supreme Court one day, the government’s plans for the
Kyoto protocol the next day and federal-provincial health negotiations the day
after that. In that world there is never enough time to develop any expertise.
Christopher Waddell, Carty Chair in Business and
November 24, 2004
In the same vein:
Although aboriginal affairs and land claims are
the biggest economic and social issue in B.C. across all of the critical
resource industries, there is not a single dedicated reporter covering it at
the local dailies, nor is there a labour reporter at either paper, … nor is
there a dedicated legislature reporter, nor a dedicated fisheries reporter. The
Province has no forestry reporter but there are lots of entertainment and
Deborah Campbell, President
Canadian Association of Journalists, Vancouver Chapter
January 31, 2005
Witnesses also emphasized the importance of
having a number of reporters from different ownership groups.
If one reporter covers an event and supplies
information to everybody, there is only one vision. But if you have fifteen
different reporters who cover the same event; you will have fifteen different
Alain Gravel, President
Fédération professionelle des
journalists du Québec
This was a refrain of many
witnesses. It is an important point. However, the Political Editor of Corriere Canadese, Angelo Persichilli,
was one of those who questioned whether there actually is less diversity of
voices, given the recent advances in communications technology.
How is it possible to
have less diversity of voices in a 1,000-channel environment and a volcano-
like Internet, erupting news 24/7, compared to
20 years ago, when we had only two national TV networks, one national radio
broadcaster and only one national newspaper? [December 13, 2004]
Numerous witnesses noted adverse effects of
media concentration and cross-media ownership. Christopher Waddell, a former
journalist, was blunt in his assessment:
I do not see any benefits to journalism in
cross-ownership of media. I think we were better off when we did not allow
… there are several issues that are related on
the cross-ownership question, most of which the committee has heard about in
some form or another prior to this
evening. One is just a simple question of the diversity of voices and the
number of different people who are out there reporting. It makes sense, and it
is practically true, that if you have five different people for five different
organizations chasing the same story,
the likelihood is that some of them will come up with more information than
others. [November 24, 2004]
Allan Thompson, a journalism professor at CarletonUniversity, was
especially concerned by the closing of foreign bureaus.
As Canadians, we lose when our media
organizations are forced to rely
upon news reports produced by others. [December 1, 2004]
Professor Thompson, a former journalist, also
said that the pressure to produce stories, with the 24-hour news cycle and the
multi-tasking required by converged media, has harmed the quality of
What worries me is a lowering of standards in a
real sense; the use of unnamed sources because of the pressure to produce stories,
the manipulation that can take place in that environment, and sometimes
scandal-driven journalism. It is not that there are not scandals that warrant
attention because the watchdog role is very definitely a part of our function.
[December 1, 2004]
Many witnesses spoke about specific
markets or specific adverse effects of high levels of concentration and
cross-media ownership. Vancouver
was the market most often cited. Various critics described CanWest’s dominance
in that market as
“frighteningly powerful” and “debilitating for voices.”
The francophone media market in Quebec was also
What makes the situation more difficult is the
current transformation taking place in the daily newspaper market owing to the
phenomenon of concentration. In Quebec,
concentration has occurred to an unparalleled extent. Two groups dominate the
francophone press market: Quebecor and Gesca.
April 27, 2004
Quebecor is the dominant player in
that market: it is a leader in the newspaper market in Quebec and also owns
television stations, magazines, distributors, cable, video and music stores,
and book publishers. Possible problems with cross-promotions abound.
Journalists with one of Quebecor’s newspapers have filed a complaint with the
Quebec Press Council over promotion of the TVA network’s programs in the Journal de Montréal. Both companies
belong to Quebecor. The Press Council did not pursue the issue.
A Quebecor journalist argued that
“Quebecor's commercial activities can exert a great influence over the editorial content of the empire's dailies” and noted
In two years, Star Académie and Occupation
Double have made front page headlines in the Journal de Montréal
nearly 200 times, as if they were more important or influential news than
municipal, provincial, national or international events.
Martin Leclerc, President
Le Syndicat des travailleurs de
l’information du Journal de Montréal
December 15, 2004
Media organisations naturally
defended their position. CTV, for example, argued that its news service had
improved with cross-media ownership.
CTV's acquisition by BCE and the Thomson
family, creating Bell Globemedia, provided stable financial resources, which
enabled CTV to become the strong and vibrant broadcaster it is today. For the
news division, this has been an important factor in expanding and improving our
news service. We have raised journalistic standards at all of our stations. …
We have improved our newsgathering
infrastructure. We have built our own station-to-station video delivery system
— a sort of trans-Canada telephone system for television news stories. …
CTV News now has the financial resources to
cover the most important stories from across Canada and from around the world.
Robert G. Hurst, President
June 14, 2005
Both Torstar Corporation and CanWest
argued that there was no hard evidence of the asserted harm.
Despite repeated allegations made most
prominently by the Kent
commission that the chain ownership of newspapers is a negative force, no
serious causal evidence of this proposition has ever been advanced. Some of Canada's
newspaper chains have in fact been the principal sources of advancement in
innovation among Canadian newspapers. Perhaps immodestly we would cite Torstar
and Southam Newspapers as good examples.
Robert Prichard, President
February 16, 2005
The then President of CanWest Media
Works, Richard Camilleri, argued that: “Reduced diversity of voices in news and
information is simply not true.”
Testimony from earlier witnesses who share that
perspective has consistently lacked quantitative or empirical analysis. Their
arguments rarely rose above anecdotal observations specifically constructed to
support their own proposed remedies. [April 13, 2005]
The Canadian Association of
Broadcasters argued that fragmentation in the television market, with the
proliferation of pay and specialty channels, had led to concentration.
[W]here broadcasters have consolidated their
holdings, and there has been consolidation, it is in response to the current trends in broadcasting and
fragmentation and the erosion of traditional borders. It is a response to fragmentation as broadcasters seek to maintain economies of scale in the face of
fragmenting resources. It is a response to
the erosion of borders as broadcasters seek to
re-aggregate audiences that have been splintered by the increasing volume of
American and other foreign channels in our broadcasting system.
This view was echoed by CanWest and
by Torstar. Mr. Camilleri said,
[T]he biggest challenge facing all media in
Canada, big or small, including both television and newspapers, is indeed media
Consolidations that have occurred and will
continue to occur among Canadian media companies, including cross-media
consolidations, are a natural and strategic business response as individual
companies seek to maintain and protect a diminishing share of total industry
advertising revenues.[April 13,
Another CanWest executive suggested
concentration allows the large corporations to
subsidize operations in smaller markets:
In fact, we have small- and medium-market
stations that are not making any money. If we did not own Toronto,
Vancouver, and Alberta, we would not be able to subsidize.
I think eight or nine of our conventional stations are unprofitable.
Charlotte Bell, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs
CanWest Television and Radio
April 13, 2005
Mr. Prichard argued that:
Modern media, driven by technological
innovation, has been marked principally by increased fragmentation and
competition, not increased concentration. [February 16, 2005]
CanWest also argued that there is
increased competition in media markets and noted the amount of competition in
market. As Mr. Camilleri put it,
In terms of dominance in Vancouver,
or the alleged dominance in British Columbia
you have to bear this in mind. In radio, we have a zero-per-cent share of
marketplace. In television, CHUM has emerged as a new player in the market. CTV
has continued to expand. All of the specialty channels reach into British Columbia. In
terms of newspapers, with the presence of the all the competitors, with the
emergence of Metro, from the Pattison
Group and now with 24 Hours with
Quebecor, those two papers alone rank 10 and 11 in the list of national
circulation. [April 13, 2005]
Cross-media ownership, for a variety
of reasons, attracted the most attention from witnesses. Witnesses were also,
however, concerned about other developments, notably the fact that community
newspapers have become more concentrated by province and region, with effects
on diversity of voice and employment.
Transcontinental now owns 17 of the 21
newspapers in Newfoundland and Labrador. For print journalists, there is really no other
place to work. The four independent papers are struggling. Copy from the
Transcontinental dailies now appears in the former Optipress weeklies, and vice
versa. Independent newspaper voices are getting harder and harder to find.
Transcontinental has a virtual monopoly on newspaper publishing and printing in
I believe that this degree of concentration of media ownership is bad for
journalism and bad for democracy. Big media companies like Transcontinental are
enjoying the savings of merged operations, but are not reinvesting that money
into communities from which they derive their profit.
Group ownership in radio was also seen as a
The CAJ's primary concern with media
concentration in this province rests with private radio, which is often the
source of news and information in communities throughout the province,
including Halifax and Sydney. Ownership among the province's approximately 20
commercial radio stations is unequally divided among four major chains:
Maritime Broadcasting, NewCap Broadcasting, Astral Media and CHUM. The Irving
Group is also present; however, they have only one station along the province's
SouthShore. There are still some independent,
locally owned radio stations, most notably, CJLS in Yarmouth, CKEC in New Glasgow, CJFX in
Antigonish and CIGO in Port Hawkesbury.
Scotia Chapter Representative
National Board of Directors,
Canadian Association of Journalists
April 19, 2005
Several other witnesses deplored the
diminishing place of news on radio, especially local news.
[I]n the 1980s, I clearly remember the lively
competition that existed among the various radio stations in Montreal. As a journalist assigned to the news desk and to
reading the news, I was in the habit of listening to
our competitors' news reports every
What is left from that time? Almost nothing.
Many FM stations with a few journalists reformat the news that they receive
from other sources, copy from Internet sites, like the Radio-Canada site, that
gets information from various press agencies.
professionnelle des journalistes du Québec
December 16, 2004
Both Cogeco and Brunswick News
argued that radio is now less important as a source of news than it once was.
Consumers, they said, have other means of getting news, and the demand for
radio news has, accordingly, fallen off.
[B]ut I guess radio has evolved from the old
AM-type newscast of the past. We mainly offer music and entertainment, rather
than news, except for one of our stations, which is personality driven.
There are a number of ways that you can get
your information. You can get it directly on the Internet. You can get it
through the CPAC provision. You have local newspapers, which you did not have
at the time.
Michel J. Carter, President
TQS and Cogeco Inc.
April 12, 2005
Yves Maynard, Vice-President of Corporate
Affairs at Cogeco, pointed to the
rise of all-news radio and noted that “It clearly provides an alternative.” 
Victor Mlodecki, the Vice-President and General
Manager of Brunswick News, also cited changes in the radio news market:
In many respects, the era of “scoop” journalism
is over. The days of needing a large staff to
get the news before the competition are also over. The electronic media always
gets the news first, and radio stations can use the local media to find the news. The other thing is that the
marketplace does not demand that kind of service from the radio stations any
more. If there was a real demand for local news on radio stations, somebody
would fill that demand. [April 22, 2005]
The Quebec Association of Community
Radio Broadcasters said that cross-media ownership can have an adverse effect
on community radio stations and the provision of local news.
The fact that a resident of Longueuil or the MontrealSouthShore
is not able to get information about what is going on in his or her own
backyard is unacceptable. This is probably why community radio exists. However,
a community radio station in Longueuil is unable to sell advertising due to the
commercial practices of the major networks and the big media houses.
des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec
December 15, 2004
Probably the most emotional
testimony was prompted by the extensive, and growing, media ownership by the Irving family in New
Brunswick. In terms of dollar amounts, the Irving media empire is
dwarfed by CanWest, Bell Globemedia and Quebecor. But the Irvings dominate the media in their province.
Their media holdings in New Brunswick include
all the English-language daily newspapers, three radio stations (they own one
and all but three of the province’s English community newspapers, with recent
purchases among French-language newspapers.
The Irving firms’ media dominance is compounded
by the family’s dominance on the industrial side of the province. Numerous
witnesses expressed concerns about the implications of a dominant media force
linked to a dominant industrial
David Henley, whose community
newspaper group had been purchased by the Irvings,
also worried that the Irving
empire controlled most of the printing presses in the province. This concern
was echoed by David Cadogan, whose community newspaper group was also purchased
by Brunswick News. Mr. Cadogan said that the Irving
media have had more access to
advertising from other Irving family businesses
than other publications do, and that the Irving
media have been and will be brutal competition to
anyone who goes after the same ad dollars.
firm’s dominance of newspapers in New
Brunswick is extending from the English-language to
the French-language market.
The independence of the print media, which was
a source of pride for the Acadian community, has been seriously undermined
since the Irving empire managed to increase the number of French-language
newspapers it owns.
Marie-Linda Lord, Professor,
Information and Communications Program
University of Moncton
April 22, 2005
To several of these witnesses, the
media-industrial links within the Irving
empire introduced an unhealthy bias into
the news received by New Brunswickers.
No matter how unbiased the intent or open the
editorial policy might be, there would be an unconscious loyalty to the
parental control. It is inconceivable that a writer reporting on a sensitive
issue involving one of these companies would not be intimidated about the fact
that he or she is writing about another arm of the Irving body. That reporter would be gambling
with the potential of a subtle punishment by way of lack of promotion or maybe
even loss of a job. I emphasize “potential.” I am not saying that would
necessarily happen. There are now few places to go to find another job in that
field. He or she would have to uproot and move out of province as their only
Former owner of Henley
April 21, 2005
A professor of sociology has
examined the Irving media empire in New Brunswick and found
instances where the family’s commercial interests seemed to influence the
stories in the Irving-owned newspapers. Bias does not have to come from direct
orders from the owners, of course, but can come from self-censorship by
journalists – or even incompetence.
Research on the media coverage of their own
companies also reveals that the papers routinely publish their own press
releases as news stories. For
example, the Saint JohnTelegraph-Journal prints an article entitled “Refinery Hires 1,000 for
Maintenance Project,” which is almost identical to
the Irving Oil press release on that topic
entitled, “1,000 Tradespeople ‘Turnaround’ Saint John Refinery.”
Erin Steuter, Associate
Professor, Department of Sociology
April 21, 2005
Brunswick News denied the
allegations of bias. Mr. Mlodecki said:
The publishers of BNI's newspapers operate
under general philosophical guidelines, which leave editorial content, the
day-to-day news coverage and management of the news coverage entirely in the
hands of individual publishers. The BNI operating philosophy can be summed up
as follows: BNI newspapers strive to be the most trusted, respected and
accurate source of information in the New
Brunswick communities that they serve. Our newspapers
reflect broad, mainstream values of the citizens of New Brunswick. Our newspapers treat people
with dignity and respect. What we print will be in accordance with the
standards of our communities, which we recognize will evolve and change over
time. BNI newspapers will cover the news as impartially as possible without
fear or favour. We will expose wrong-doing, duplicity or the misuse of power, public
or private. We are committed to the principles of truth, fairness and accuracy.
When mistakes are made, we will admit them and we will correct them promptly.
Our newspapers' duty is to serve our readers and operate on a financially
sustainable basis. [April 22, 2005]
One witness, who had worked for the Irvings and
several other media owners, said that the Irvings
did not attempt to influence his work.
They never ever raised a single concern with
me, directly or through intermediaries, complained about the content or were
involved in any way. They wanted the papers to be run properly. They were run
in a business-like fashion, and that was the end of their involvement in it.
January 31, 2005
Another witness, however, who had also worked for
suggested that the potential for interference (whether real or imagined) does
in fact exist. He described one occasion where he tried to
obtain confirmation of layoffs at a lumber facility owned by the Irvings:
We had double-sourced the story, but it is
always nice to get the other side. The confirmation came back [from the Irvings] with an order to
hold the story for a week. Now, that is a minor thing, to hold it for a week,
but it is an indication of how Irving
influences outside the media empire can affect the reporting of the news. We
ran the story a week later. Perhaps I should have run it anyway, but it is
always hard to violate an order from the boss.
Various witnesses spoke about foreign ownership
of Canadian media. Opinions were wide-ranging. Peter Murdoch, Vice-President of
the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada strongly supported the maintenance of
current restrictions (“number one on our list at this point in our history is the issue of foreign ownership.”) and argued
that “the person that owns the messenger also owns the message” (November 24,
On the other hand, Victor Mlodecki,
Vice-President and General Manager of Brunswick News, argued in favour of reducing
or eliminating the current restrictions.
Other witnesses advocated positions between
these extremes. For example, Paul Wilcocks, a former journalist, stated:
We have to recognize we are moving through a
period of fairly rapid change in Canadian media ownership and management
approaches, and we have not really had enough time yet to assess all of those
implications. The only effect that I can see in lifting foreign-ownership
restrictions at this point would be to provide capital for some of the players
currently in the market or players from the U.S. to bring about further
consolidation. Until we have had a chance to see just how this plays out over
the next several years, that seems to me to be unnecessarily reckless, since
everybody in the business entered into it knowing what the current rules are
and accepted them. It just seems prudent to leave them in place. [January 31,
Patrick Nagel, also a former journalist,
…you could improve some competitive aspects of
Canadian media by permitting foreign ownership.… [January 31, 2005]
Angelo Persichilli of Corriere Canadese argued that:
Technology has forced us to open up to foreign
competition. Unfortunately, Canadian media operators, instead of fighting
foreign competition by increasing the quality of our programs or the content of
our newspapers, have reduced the competition inside.
This fortress mentality, coupled with the
Canadian mergers and convergence, is killing competition inside Canada
and fostering competition from outside. [December 13, 2004]
One issue of concern was journalists’ ability to protect their sources. This was highlighted in
2004 when Ken Peters, a reporter for the Hamilton Spectator,
was found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to
divulge a source, and when a team of RCMP officers raided the home and office
of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet
O’Neill searching for documents she may have used in a story.
The most prominent issue is that this [the Ken
Peters] case unfortunately set Canadian case law back many decades in the sense
that courts have traditionally balanced the administration of justice and
freedom of expression…
Before this case, the situation in Canada
was much healthier in terms of being able to balance the two priorities. … If
we cannot have access to information and be able to give some level of promise
of confidentiality our sources simply will not come forward in which case we
will all be poorer for it.
President, CityMedia and Publisher, Hamilton
February 16, 2005
CanWest described the Juliet O’Neill case as
“nothing less than a Third World assault on Canadian freedom, a tactic
conceived and executed to intimidate
journalists.” Ms. O’Neill’s editor
complained about the effects of recent legislation:
The raid against Juliet O'Neill and the Citizen
was made possible by provisions in the Security
of Information Act, a piece of legislation hastily cobbled together in the
days after 9/11. It is my belief that this law and others like it give
politicians too much licence to stymie press freedom in the name of national
security…. this is not the way things should be done here. We do not need
jackboots in Canada.
Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief, CanWest MediaWorks Publications
April 13, 2005
These concerns led to suggestions for ways of
protecting journalists. A few witnesses had some sympathy for explicit shield
laws. News organizations such as Torstar and the Globe and Mail, however, preferred a court-based solution to
[T]he courts have been good, particularly with
the interpretation of the Charter guarantees on press freedom …
In honesty, I have to say that I do not think
we have had a lot of discussion whether shield laws are a necessary response.
We are in favour of journalists being able to protect their sources because
that is a very important part of how they function. We believe that the
direction given to the courts through Dagenaistalks
very much about the need to balance out press freedom against fair trial
rights, and not be casual about impinging on those freedoms in any way.
Edward Greenspon, Editor-in-chief
The Globe and Mail
May 11, 2005
We think the best solution is the common-law, court-based
solution respecting the central role of journalists and following the Supreme
Court of Canada's jurisprudence in this area.
Robert Prichard, President and CEO
February 16, 2005
The Fédération professionnelle des
journalistes du Québec suggested amending the CanadaEvidence Act to
provide protection for journalists.
The QFPJ would like your committee to ask the
Department of Justice to amend the Evidence
Act and any related legislation to provide maximum protection from seizures
and breaches of the confidentiality of certain sources.
The most common observation was that the Access to
InformationAct did not truly facilitate access to information and that in fact there was less
access now than in the past. CanWest Global deplored the lack of uniformity in
access to information.
While paying lip service to openness,
successive governments and governments all over the country have failed to
deliver on promises for more transparency and open access to crucial
information that the public has a right to know. Journalists, and one would
assume, ordinary Canadians, are continually stymied and delayed in attempts to access
information. The prevailing attitude is one of reluctant compliance at best and
outright subversion of legislation at worst. Often the information is made
expensive by excessive processing and photocopying fees. Access officers have
come to believe their job is to wear journalists down rather than to ensure
they get the information they need to report the truth to Canadians.
Editor-in-Chief, Ottawa Citizen,
Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief, CanWest MediaWorks Publications
April 13, 2005
Similarly, the Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail said:
Today in Canada, our ability to report the
news is often encumbered by the misapplication of access to information laws or
the overzealousness of privacy laws. We are also disturbed by a trend of some
elements of the judiciary to the increased use of publication bans and even
We do see what we consider
misapplication of information laws. The so-called “freedom of information
laws,” often block the release of information that, in our view, should be in
the public domain.
That happened very early to our reporters
trying to gain access to sponsorship information. They were blocked access to
information that they should have been able to get, in our view.
May 11, 2005
Hurst claimed that there was less openness now than before the Access to
I am a bit surprised that in open-ended
questions more and more journalists coming before you are not being more
specific about the daily issues we have in the trenches about things like
freedom of information and the reviews and the overhaul of freedom of
information, because there is less openness and freedom of information in this
country from the federal to the
provincial to the municipal levels
than there was before all these acts were brought before Parliament. [June 14,
A related issue is whistleblower
legislation. The Canadian Association of Journalists wanted strong legislation
– stronger than that then proposed by the government – as well as better
protection for journalists trying to
protect their sources.
We are looking at legislation that would
protect public servants, employees in a major corporation or anybody, people
who come forward to speak out about wrongdoing who are now afraid to do so
because of the repercussions in terms of their livelihoods and even their
future job prospects. … people have no other way to get the stories out
sometimes but to talk to journalists completely on the understanding that their
names will not be used.
Various witnesses pointed out that Canada lacks the think tanks focused on the
media that can be found in the U.S.
and argued that tax laws could be changed to
stimulate the funding of such foundations in Canada. Other witnesses supported
the idea of media think tanks and training institutions, in principle, but were
concerned about government involvement.
The federal government has stepped forward
recently with increased funding for all sorts of university-based research, and
it is making a huge difference in many, many areas. The same sort of process
could also be used in funding an institute of this sort. There are already
examples of these sorts of research consortiums that we could look to. The
Project for Excellence in Journalism in the United States is one example …
I am not suggesting that the government take
the lead in organizing such an institute. I think that would defeat the
purpose, but certainly your committee could be instrumental in creating the
crucible and then bringing together the players that could make such an
institute or think tank a reality.
of the Tyee, a free web-based
alternative daily newspaper produced in British
Columbia, wanted the government to
…create tax incentives for media philanthropy.
Some of North America's best publications that
are very much reader-driven exist because someone with wealth and ideals
ensures that they do.
January 31, 2005
Two magazine publishers who appeared
before the Committee thought there was a place for charitable donations in
their industry, although one wanted the use of such incentives limited to avoid
any problem of the government’s becoming involved with content.
…I think you have to
delve into the nuts and bolts of it.
The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Mother Jones, the UtneReader and many periodicals in the States simply would not exist without
foundation support because they lose money every year. They are in this
business not to make money but
because they think it is important to
have those voices heard. The charitable giving laws in the States are such that
foundations can give money, for instance to
Harper's, in order to continue
…I think that if we could set up an appropriate
charity to do genuinely charitable
things as in a student internship — help kids learn journalism, not to become partisan people but the opposite, to give them a practicum to
finish their training, not to
subsidize our company outright but to
bring more kids into our newsroom
than we could normally afford to do
— that would be something that would help us out. I want to be careful because
I do not want to come across as
looking for a government handout. …
The very idea that government agencies should
interfere with the independence of the media was strongly contested by some
witnesses. As one witness observed:
The Competition Bureau should stay out of the
editorial issues and focus on
competition and economic matters. “Freedom of the press” says it all. There are
lessons to be learned from other
countries about media regulation and I think I could sum it up by saying not to do it. I believe democratic society and media
regulation do not go together.
Representatives of Torstar said that the
Competition Bureau should be involved in matters of competition but there
should be no special provisions for newspapers.
We believe the Competition Act should apply as developed through the legislation
and its jurisprudence and we seek no special treatment of any kind under that
statute. … In applying the Competition
Act, the question is always: What is the relevant market? In a world of
media where radio is competing against community newspapers or television is
competing against radio, with all the different forms of media competing for
the same advertising dollars, we believe it is a matter of the proper
application of the Competition Act.
The market should be defined broadly in the competition for the advertising
dollar rather than being limited to just daily newspapers or community
newspapers or radio or any particular medium.
Robert Prichard, President
February 16, 2005
However, a vice-president of Cogeco complained
In our view, the competition policy
requirements, the relevant markets involved and other evaluation criteria are
not sufficiently clear and consistent at this time with respect to Canadian
media industries, and neither are the respective roles and responsibilities of
the federal government agencies involved.
Yves Maynard, Vice-President Corporate Affairs
April 12, 2005
Other witnesses suggested that the current
approach of the Competition Bureau and the legislation governing the system
lacks some of the application and teeth that exist in other jurisdictions.
Discussing one transaction, Anders Bruun of the Farmers’ Independent Weekly pointed out:
Despite the clear fact of a virtual monopoly
created by the Glacier purchase of Farm Business Communications,
when we contacted the Competition Bureau, we were told
that there was essentially nothing that they could or would do to prevent that acquisition from going ahead,
notwithstanding the level of concentration in this market sector that was produced by it.
Mr. Bruun noted the lack of remedies in Canada
and contrasted that with the case in other jurisdictions.
Act is a room with many exits. It is not often that you hear of an
effective competition law remedy in non-competitive situations in Canada.
If a company such as ours was forced out of business by anti-competitive
behaviour, it would be very difficult for us to sue and get a remedy. In the United States,
you can sue and collect triple damages. That provides a powerful disincentive
to non-competitive behaviour that does not exist in Canada. You are left with very
little recourse if you are forced out of business by anti-competitive
behaviour. The parties doing it may be fined, but what good does that do you?
You have lost your business. [February 4, 2005]
Some journalists approached the matter from a
We also recommend that the Competition Bureau
be required to take into account criteria on the diversity of information
sources, when it examines a transaction relating to the media.
As the Bureau said to us in a letter last March
5: The very important issue of diversity of sources of information does not
fall within the purview of the competition commissioner [...]
The only thing that matters to him is competition in the…advertising market. If
the diversity criteria cannot be included among the criteria used by the
Bureau, then the CRTC must become the sole judge of media transactions.
Alain Gravel, President
Fédération professionelle des
journalists du Québec
Few witnesses made specific comments about the Broadcasting
Act except to praise it in very general terms.
We think the Broadcasting Act is great. We think the Broadcasting Act established in 1968, when you look at the
objectives that were set out for it were terrific. … The Broadcasting Act is a tremendous act in terms of liberating and
giving people access to these services, but how the regulator interprets that
sometimes becomes a problem.
Stein, Senior Vice-President
Shaw Communications Inc.
February 22, 2005
As for the CRTC, witnesses recognized that it
had been an important instrument in the creation of Canada’s broadcasting system, but
they thought that it was often out of touch
and tended to over-regulate the
The regulator, the CRTC, has in most cases got
it right. I think that one of the most important reviews that the CRTC
undertook was when they looked at the development of new media and the
Internet…. They said, “We looked at this area and we could regulate it if we
wanted to in certain ways, but it is thriving, dynamic and growing, and there
is a great deal of Canadian stuff, so we are going to let it rip.” …
The broadcasting system in Canada has always been a
competitive system. However, recently there has been a sense that it has to be
more protected; things like no competition, genre protection, and licensing
Ken Stein, Senior Vice-President
Shaw Communications Inc.
February 22, 2005
Another witness criticized the CRTC’s habit of
paying attention to musical genres.
Furthermore, measuring diversity in terms of
available musical formulas, as the CRTC currently does, teaches us little about
the real verbal content of radio programming, about the production of local
news and about the access that people have to sources of diversified
Gagnon, Executive Secretary
des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec
December 15, 2004
Another complaint was that the CRTC moves
[T]he time it takes to
get decisions from the CRTC is getting longer and longer.…. For example, a
1997-1998 CRTC notice contained the following statement, and I quote:
“...it plans to consider innovative ways of
providing additional financial resources for community radio, as part of a
I regret to tell you that we are still waiting
to see these innovative measures.
Treasurer, Envol 91.1 FM (CKXL)
radio communautaire du Manitoba
The journalists’ union at the Journal de Montréal criticized the way
in which the CRTC follows up or does not follow up on its decisions.
In 1997, when Quebecor came forward to purchase
Television Quatre Saisons, our union appeared before the CRTC, stating that we
were in favour of the transaction on condition that the television network
establish a monitoring committee to ensure the independence of the TQS newsroom
and the Journal de Montréal newsroom, as regards both information and
promotion. The CRTC finally created a committee with limited powers that has
ultimately not lived up to expectations for it.
In 1999, our union filed a complaint about two
actions by TQS senior management regarding the content of the Journal de
Montréal to influence the information printed about this network. This
complaint … to the TQS monitoring committee could not be investigated because
Journal de Montréal senior management refused to meet members of the
monitoring committee. It was stated at the time that the jurisdiction of the
CRTC did not extend to the Quebecor empire's newspapers.
[T]he CRTC has no jurisdiction over print
media. The CRTC must focus on the impact of transactions on electronic media.
Its mandate therefore must be broadened. But it should be broadened in order to consider additional factors
and impose more stringent rules with respect to
percentages when the buyout of a television or radio station will mean that the
one taking over will become a player in the world of cross media ownership.
A common refrain from witnesses was the divided
responsibility, or overlap, between the Competition Bureau and the CRTC.
Perhaps the main comment concerned the absence of clarity when media mergers
were being considered. Cogeco Inc. said:
One of the elements is trying to achieve more
clarity in the attribution of roles and responsibilities as they apply to
competition in the broadcast sector or in mergers and acquisitions that involve
As we say in our brief, pretty well around the
world, at least the countries that we have looked at, there is a concurrency of
jurisdiction between some form of competition authority and some kind of
communications or broadcast regulator.
There are, however, different ways in which the
policy considerations and their implementation are coordinated between these
agencies. In Canada
there is a document that describes how the CRTC and the Competition Bureau are
prepared to consider mergers and acquisitions involving broadcast properties
and competition issues involving the behaviour of broadcasting firms. It is not
a regulation. It is not an enforceable document.
It is a very loose guideline. I take it that
there can be some consultation between the two bodies, but there is no real
channel set up in the law or by regulation to allow that to take place. It
creates situations. The argument goes that very seldom do we see that the two
bodies are at odds, but it has happened before.
Yves Maynard, Vice-President Corporate Affairs
April 12, 2005
Mr. Maynard commented on the U.K. system:
There are countries where this interface
between the competition authority and the communications regulator are formalized
into some kind of an ongoing consultative mechanism. That is how it happens in
It is perfectly licit for Ofcom and the competition authorities there to meet
and to discuss competition issues because the scheme provides for it.
Witnesses told the Committee that Canada’s national public broadcaster was
important to Canadians and Canada’s
broadcasting system for a number of reasons. The former Chair of the House of
Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Clifford Lincoln, said:
[T]he Canadian broadcasting system, as it is,
is a mix of public and private enterprises and should stay the way it is. It
works and it works well. The place of the CBC and Radio-Canada should have a
prominent place within it. We need a public broadcaster more than ever before.
At the same time, we are asking the CBC to
do almost everything by itself, without giving it the sustained stable funding
that it needs to carry out its
mandate. How can we reproach the CBC for abandoning the regions and the local
communities at the same time that it does not know from year to year how much funding it will receive? Some
people say it receives a huge amount of funding, close to
$1 billion. At the same time, we must equate this to
what its mandate is. We have said: Give the CBC adequate funds to carry out its mandate, especially its reach to the regions and local communities. If the
broadcasting dies in local communities, it will die nationally. [February 26,
More than one witness stressed the importance
of the CBC/Radio-Canada for Canada’s
regions. For example:
The CBC plays a crucial role in providing
quality journalism in the regions of Canada despite what is taking place
in the marketplace. When CBC managers contemplate the future of regional
broadcasting from their offices in Toronto,
it is difficult for them to understand what is happening on the ground here.
The New Brunswick CBC suppertime news programs, the CBC radio news and current
affairs programming and the CBC on-line service are the only games in town.
Unlike big-city markets that offer many choices for viewers and readers, the
CBC is broadcasting the only New Brunswick-produced television news programs.
CBC Radio is the only serious producer of radio news.
Director of Journalism
April 21, 2005
Not all witnesses agreed that the CBC/Radio
Canada should get back into the production of local and regional news.
At the present time there is a big groundswell
movement for the CBC to get back into local television. We do not think that is
appropriate. We think that they are the national and the international service.
We think that local coverage is being provided well by the private sector.
Wendell Wilks, CEO
December 13, 2004
A constant refrain from witnesses was the need to restore
the CBC’s funding.
Radio-Canada would have many more
possibilities, opportunities to produce content and programming that is
diversified and distinct from what is being done by private broadcasters, if
financial resources were increased and brought back at least, to what they were
before the cuts in the 1990s.
Serious arguments were made for clarifying the
CBC’s mandate. For example, one witness pointed out the difficulties of having
the CBC compete with the private sector.
The commission [CRTC] recently relaxed the
conditions on CBC to allow them to go after American movies. In our market, you
are now seeing Harry Potter and all the top movies. You have to ask
yourself: Why are they getting taxpayer money to compete in the advertising
pool and to be subsidized? It seems like a conflict. They also compete against
CTV for the rights to the Olympics and they can outbid CTV. Now, that is a very
commercial enterprise. The same applies to hockey games on Saturday nights.
Educational television is a secondary but
important source of information and discussion about public affairs. As the
head of TVOntario pointed out:
[A]s an educational broadcaster, TVOntario
plays a unique, valuable and distinctly different role in the Canadian
broadcasting system, which is different from the role played by public
broadcasters such as the CBC.
Ms. Bassett also noted that TVO serves Canada’s
TFO provides an essential service to Canada's large Francophone community outside of Quebec. It is the only
Canadian French-language broadcaster based outside Quebec.
Witnesses also made other points:
The business needs of national broadcasters and
national speciality channels dictate that they spend their production and
pre-licence dollars first on programs that appeal to the largest and most
commercially appealing demographics. However, some of the broadcasting system's
profits must support productions that do not fit commercial broadcasters' needs
but rather advance the regionally unique social, cultural and educational
agendas of people in each area of Canada.
This support is clearly stated in the Broadcasting Act but not easily found in
the broadcasting system.
The Knowledge Network
January 31, 2005
Télé-Québec has always included broadcasts in
its programming that enable citizens to debate major political and social
issues. For twenty-five years, it broadcast Droit de parole, a forum
that enabled concerned citizens to debate important topical issues with experts
or politicians. Since September, a new program hosted by Marie-France Bazzo and
entitled Il va y avoir du sport has taken over but in another way.
[I]f Télé-Québec or CBC/Radio-Canada were to disappear one day, no private station, in our
opinion, would want to take up the
genres that are as costly as future programs for basic youth program and auteur
documentaries, for example, which are extremely costly and not big
Paule Beaugrand-Champagne, President and General
Not-for profit broadcasters include television
networks such as Vision TV, CPAC and APTN,
as well as community media (discussed in the next section).
APTN, in part, owes its existence to the Broadcasting
Act and the actions of the CRTC.
In the area of news and current affairs
programming, APTN's all Aboriginal news team now provides APTN National News,
a half-hour newscast every weeknight in prime time, 52 weeks of the year;
Contact, a popular, live one-hour open-line show on the issues of the day,
audio streamed worldwide over the Internet; Death at Ipperwash, 90
minutes per week of the testimony at Ontario's Ipperwash inquiry; specials on
matters of current concern such as residential schools and elections; and a
news website with daily headlines and in-depth features.
Without … regulatory
requirements, it is doubtful that many distributors
would make space available on basic [cable] service for a national Aboriginal
service, or if space were made available, that APTN would generate sufficient
revenue to support our mandate.
An important component of Canada’s broadcasting system is
community-based radio and television media. Community television programming is
made available through cable distributors who provide studio and equipment to
broadcast programming developed in the community. Cable companies can choose to
support community television programming and the Canadian Television Fund (CTF)
or only the CTF.
Community radio stations operate as
co-operatives and non-profits and are heavily dependent on the work of
volunteers. Witnesses made a number of observations.
Community radio responds to the population's
wish to have radio service that talks to it about its own environment and in
which it sees itself. For example, we at CINQ FM broadcast programming in seven
languages in the heart of Montreal.
For other regions, such as the MagdalenIslands, the community radio station is
the only local radio service in the area. The people count on this “front-line”
service to inform them, to support local discussions, to give a voice to their
citizens and to acknowledge and recognize their culture. Local businesses also
benefit from the presence of this community radio station which broadcasts
their publicity at an affordable price and encourages local economic
development. It serves as the station for local emergencies as well as for
local events and celebrations. It is the Island
Magalie Paré, Member of the Board of Directors
Quebec Association of Community Radio
December 15, 2004
Witnesses also noted some of the challenges
facing community radio.
Here in Halifax,
we have the campus community station CKDU, which is our largest community
station. It is financed by the student's union at DalhousieUniversity.
The University of
King's College uses that
station to broadcast our journalism programs. CKDU has only 50 watts. I mean I
have light bulbs more powerful than that. It cannot be heard beyond downtown Halifax. It is chronically
short of money and cannot hire many staff members.
Professor Bruce Wark
School of Journalism,
University of King’s College
April 19, 2005
Witnesses raised a number of concerns about community television and the
way it has been “managed” over the past few years in particular markets.
The CRTC for many years required cable
television stations to provide access to community producers, until around
1996, when the CRTC dropped that requirement. The owners of community
television, which are in every case the cable company owners, started gradually
closing down community television studios and offices, until finally, in
September 2001, when even the most popular and long-lasting community
television programs were unceremoniously cancelled, terminated.
In 2002, the CRTC, in the broadcasting public
notice, required that TV stations owned by cable companies should once again
give broadcasting access to community television groups. Gradually, the cable
TV managers gave back some broadcasting time. We, the community groups, like
ICTV and Work TV and VCTA, are now precariously surviving the dictates of the
Why is this community media in crisis? The public
policy required for democratizing community television in Canada either does
not exist or perhaps is not well defined or the CRTC is not interpreting
properly — and that is something this committee could perhaps recommend.
Vancouver Community Television Association
January 31, 2005
Corporate interests are rarely congruent with
public interest and common wealth. This is especially true of community
television in the Lower Mainland. For the past eight years in Vancouver, Rogers first and now Shaw
have closed all neighbourhood television offices and denied citizens their
rightful access to cable community challenge. Here, experience has shown that
citizens and community groups have no timely legitimate and effective action
when cable companies deny the public access and mismanage the community
channel. Over the past eight years, the commission has first let Rogers and now
Shaw incrementally dismantle the successful network of volunteers, thousands of
them, and community groups working out of neighbourhood offices throughout
[R]ecently, Shaw TV cut its live coverage of a Vancouver community
council to show a junior hockey
game. Neither team was from the Vancouver or Lower Mainland area. I made a
complaint. The answer from Shaw TV was that no regulations were broken. While
it may be true that no regulations were broken, I believe the spirit of
community television was violated.
Diversity is not just a spectrum of
views in the mainstream media, although the maintenance of a wide range of
views is important. Diversity is also judged by the availability of a broad
range of news and information for audiences across the country, as well as the
availability of news and information for minority audiences.
The Canadian Press
(CP) is the only major news agency in the world to
rely so heavily on the shared contributions from its members of news and
pictures. The Committee’s Interim Report
pointed out that the agency had a history
of looking into a cloudy future.
Since the Interim Report was tabled
in April 2004, CanWest's largest newspaper, the National Post, has pulled out of CP. Moreover, CanWest has
established CanWest News Service and a national news centre in Winnipegto provide national and
international news to its dailies
and to its television stations in Canada.
Potential competition is a concern
for any enterprise, of course, but the competition for CP comes from some
members within its organization and this could be detrimental for others. As
one witness explained:
I think Canadian Press is very important. It is
more important, probably than they realize, to medium-sized papers, and
certainly important to small newspapers, especially small newspapers that are
not part of a major corporate group at this point, because if all the news is
only coming from corporate groups, it is going to be harder for those papers to
get content. …
I think the pressure on Canadian Press has been
with us for, at least in a serious way, 15 or 16 years now, as the larger
corporate groups wonder if they could not do much of what Canadian Press does
more cheaply and with some competitive advantage.
January 31, 2005
Another witness seemed less
concerned by possible competition from newspaper groups.
If one boils the notion of Canadian Press down
to its basics, it is essentially a vehicle through which all of the newspaper
owners in the country can hire one reporter to cover a story for them all. Yet
if one group of newspapers with common ownership seeks to take the same
approach within its own papers, the condemnation is loud and harsh. I do not
Murdoch Davis, then Publisher
Winnipeg Free Press
February 4, 2005
from some members, particularly some large ones, has led to cost cutting. But
as the Publisher of Le Devoir pointed
Cost cutting is also at the root of the concern
that the role of the Canadian Press as a cooperative agency may be jeopardized
in the medium term. For political reasons, no one will dare attack the
existence of the agency, at least with respect to its basic services. However,
CP may gradually have to abandon some of its specialized services that are felt
to be superfluous by the major press groups. I am thinking here of regional news
services, television schedules and special covering sports events. Some members
of the Canadian Press could withdraw from those services because they feel that
they are redundant.
The ones who would suffer the most, of course,
would be the independent newspapers and their readers.
April 27, 2004
CanWest is noticeably not one of
CP's staunch supporters.
Since the CND [CanWest’s Canadian News Desk]
has been launched, our papers have used significantly less CP content. That
measures into the value equation that the editors are undertaking as they go
through the budgeting process.
Canadian News Desk
April 13, 2005
Another CanWest executive noted:
With more and more easily accessible news, on
the Internet, for example, and across Canada and around the world, CP
becomes less and less relevant over time. We have to take that into account
when we consider how much we pay for it and what the service does for us.
Scott Anderson, Editor-in-Chief,
Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief, CanWest MediaWorks Publications
April 13, 2005
Committee members asked most of the
news organizations who appeared their views on CP. Newfoundland Broadcasting
Company (NTV) stated that CP was not really that important to them, but
Torstar, Gesca and the Globe and Mail
support CP. So, overwhelmingly, do smaller papers:
The Canadian Press
… is absolutely vital to our product
and our ability to tell Islanders
what is happening when you get off the Island.
Gary MacDougall, Managing Editor
The Charlottetown Guardian
It is perhaps ironic that the
competition for CP, which supplies a potential diversity of coverage for its
members, comes from large groups that are criticized for reducing the diversity
of viewpoints available to
Two vital minority groups are the
official language minorities. Several witnesses argued that there was a need
for more news and information for and about the official language minorities.
First, we ask that the government provide more
support for services in French and, second, that these services reflect our
local reality to a greater degree. As it now stands, most of the programming on
Radio-Canada's television and radio networks reflects the reality in Montreal and Quebec.
We have no problem understanding that, but perhaps it would be a good idea to
diversify the programming by focusing more on the regions so that people living
here can, firstly, relate better to what they are watching, and secondly,
become more well known elsewhere.
Daniel Boucher, Chairman and
February 4, 2005
This view was echoed by La Liberté, the French-language paper in Manitoba:
It is often difficult for minority media to benefit from programs designed for the majority
group, since their needs are different. If it was possible to take into
account the needs of the French media when the criteria for support programs
are developed, it would be helpful.
Witnesses made two suggestions for
the CRTC: getting more minority-language programming on cable and promoting
community radio in minority-language areas.
The Société franco-manitobaine recognized the good work of Radio-Canada,
which is accessible across Canada,
but saw the need for more French-language programming.
The CRTC must play a leadership role and
pressure cable operators and anyone
offering these types of services to
make sure that programming is available in both official languages throughout
the country. We have to insist on
Daniel Boucher, Chairman and
February 4, 2005
Numerous witnesses noted that the
government, through spending on advertising, has an impact on newspapers aimed
at minority groups – ethnic newspapers, as well as those serving official
language minorities. This was a particularly sore point. One group felt that
government advertising expenditure could be distributed more equitably.
I think QCNA could possibly ask to be at par
with a francophone association which is outside of Quebec. There is APF, which is the
Association de la Presse Francophone, which represents roughly the same amount
of papers [as English-language community papers] in Quebec. The amount of federal advertising
dollars that flows to them is something like seven times, eight times, ten
times — I am not sure — more than QCNA receives. This is not in just one year.
This goes back many, many years.
We have the same challenges as francophone
papers outside of Quebec.
Many of our members would like to
see a fair equality when it comes to
federal government advertising.
Several witnesses complained that
government departments often ignore even the existing legal requirements.
Every week, we have to file
complaints with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, because
many advertisements directed at francophones end up in majority language
newspapers. This means that francophones in the province have to read
advertising in English or in a bilingual format in English-language newspapers.
This leads directly to assimilation. One of the reasons these advertisements
are not published in our newspapers is a lack of planning on the part of
federal government agencies. Often, when we file our complaint, if the
advertisement contains a deadline, it is too late to publish it.
Immigrants make up a large and
growing proportion of the Canadian population, especially in the larger cities.
The ethnic media are proud of the job they do serving the newcomers and those
wishing to maintain a link with
In order to overcome the language barriers they
face in the new country, they turn to the press or mass media of their own
community in Canada
to seek important information and valuable assistance.
In this context, the ethnic press and media
become a vital source of information for newcomers and help them adjust to
their new society by bringing news to them on current events. They also
communicate their concerns to the various levels of the Canadian governments.
Thomas S. Saras, President
National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada
November 16, 2004
Some communities are especially
The Canadian-Chinese community in Vancouver is
served by three Chinese dailies, two Chinese radio stations, two Chinese
television stations, and several weekly free papers.
Ming Pao Daily News
January 31, 2005
Several representatives of ethnic
media noted that their operations were small and proposed ways for improving
their finances, especially with what they would consider a fairer share of
government advertising expenditure.
I am not necessarily calling for more
subsidies. I am just saying that they should be treated just like anyone else.
Several representatives of racial
and ethnic minorities were concerned with the roles of minorities in the
mainstream media – how they are represented and the role they play in working
with or in the mainstream media.
Professor John Miller of the School of Journalism
at RyersonUniversity, has studied the situation of
minorities in 96 mainstream newspapers and presented his findings to the
Committee. Especially telling was the result that: “Approximately 59 per cent
of the papers that responded to the
survey have entirely white staffs.” Since 1994 there has been some progress,
Professor Miller says, but “mostly in the part-time area more than in the
full-time area.” Moreover:
There is little sign of diverse hiring in small
and medium papers, which means that minorities are not getting the chance to go through the same training ground that white
journalists go through in order to
give them more practice and make them more qualified to
work for the biggest papers. [December 7, 2004]
The Canadian Race Relations
Foundation agreed that some progress was being made, but:
The question is, are they [minority
journalists] getting absorbed into the process and being allowed to develop, to
train, and to be mentored. I am not sure. I do not want to say categorically
that they are not given the same attention, but it is a difficult thing, when
the news organization is trying to trim, and they do not have enough time and
personnel to be mentors as well to people coming in
Professor Miller, in his survey of
diversity employment, noted that:
The group that is most under represented is the
Aboriginal journalists. Of the 2,000 employees, only one was an Aboriginal.
That is most worrisome and an obvious area for some effort. I compared the
percentages in the newsroom … with the percentages of these groups in our
population, and you can see the Aboriginal minority group is the most
under-represented, scarcely visible in daily newsrooms at all. [December 7,
This can restrict coverage, harm the
reliability of news or even introduce an undesirable bias into it. As Connie Dieter noted:
It has only been recently that non-First
Nations people or non-Aboriginal people have really taken an interest in what
is happening in our communities. As a result, some media editors and other people in media do not have a good
understanding of the basic issues that face First Nations people, and that is
translated in [their] news reporting.
February 3, 2005
Ms. Dieter suggested an Aboriginal radio
station in Saskatchewan and a First Nations
newspaper, like the one produced in Edmonton,
for Southern Saskatchewan. She also argued
that more Aboriginal people should be hired by the mainstream media.
Self-regulation was discussed extensively by
witnesses. Examples of self-regulatory
mechanisms include public editors
(ombudsmen), press councils, the work of the Canadian Broadcast Standards
Council and statements of principle. In general, witnesses thought
self-regulation was a positive factor.
There are only three ombudsmen in Canadian news
There are 44 members of the U.S.-based
Organization of News Ombudsman, but only three are in Canada, one at the Toronto Star and one
each at the CBC and Radio Canada.
In the past, there were ombudsmen at the Ottawa
Citizen, the Montreal Gazette, the Edmonton Journal, and the
Calgary Herald, but they apparently were sacrificed to cost-cutting. We
feel this is too bad, because we think ombudsmen provide a useful path of
communication between readers and the paper.
Doris Anderson, Chair
Ontario Press Council
December 14, 2004
During its trip to Washington, D.C.,
the Committee met with Mike Getler, Ombudsman at the Washington Post and Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ombudsman at National Public
Radio. Each stressed the usefulness of having a mechanism for independent
oversight in the media, and noted the importance of having the trust of the
readers and listeners with complaints and of the journalists whose work was
being criticized. Each believed that having a transparent procedure for handling
complaints helped improve the media.
Witnesses emphasized the importance of press
councils. Press councils, which
represent newspapers but not electronic media, were established in the 1970s
and 1980s in response to issues
raised by a previous Senate Committee (the Davey committee). They operate in
each province except Saskatchewan.
The modest funding for press councils comes for the most part from a levy on
the news organizations that are members of the council. The councils tend to be reactive, dealing with complaints from
citizens. While they have their limitations, witnesses suggested that they play
an important role.
I think press councils and those sorts of
institutions serve a purpose in the sense that they do allow for a public forum.
As I said when I began speaking, so many of these issues never get talked about
because the organizations that control the forum where it gets talked about
have a vested interest, and they do not want certain things to be said. The CBC
does not want certain things said, so they will not be discussed on CBC. The
same applies to CanWest and Bell Globe Media.
I know from working inside, everyone keeps
their information close to their chest. They do not want to start to actually
discuss a lot of things about others, because then they will have to open up
their own can of worms.
We really need more public forums where not
just journalists but everybody in society who is concerned about these issues
can talk about it openly.
February 3, 2005
We have a press council in Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Free Press,
as the province's largest paper, is the biggest financial supporter of that
press council and a member of our staff is a member of it. I support the notion
of them being local or regional. I would not support the notion of a national
I have seen press councils deal with important
and tricky matters and deal with them well and helpfully. Like a lot of
deliberative bodies, unfortunately they tend to take a long time, so maybe the
beneficial effect is diminished.
If one analyzes the complaints that go to press
councils in any province, frankly, a lot of them are marginal. We received a
complaint by way of the press council at the Winnipeg Free Press
yesterday. One of our reporters wrote rather uncomplimentary things about
Donald Trump's new wife, and someone in the community has seen fit to quarrel
with that at the press council. Well, I suppose we will respond and see where
it goes. I am not sure it is one of the great issues of our day. However, the
fact that he can take that to the press council, or anybody else, is certainly
better than if he could not.
Less well known than press councils is the
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council … is
responsible for the code of ethics and the RTNDA news code, and it has been
moving aggressively on a public information front. It has received money from Rogers and other
institutions to publish its information and findings in other languages so that
third language communities can, in fact, now be aware of their right to
complain and what decisions have been produced. They are trying to put online
their decisions, case to case, for offensive news content. Many of the
decisions, for example, have to do with race, or racism or hatred, often in the
radio sector and the talk show sector. It is fair to say that citizens can find
or trace some of the reasoning
of those decisions, but a survey recently
discovered that fewer than 40 per cent of Canadians are even aware, as yet, of
the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. That survey was conducted by
Catherine Murray, Associate
Professor of Communications
January 31, 2005
Another witness in response to a question about
a code of ethics replied:
Under pay-per-view, there is a code that is in
place with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, and we adhere to that rigorously. We also respond to our customers
in terms of any complaints that they may have. We want to
be able to make sure that we deal
with that appropriately and respond to
those complaints because we do not want to
be providing products or entertainment that are offensive to people. Particularly when you are focused on the
communities on which we are focused, that is a responsibility that we know we
Many news organizations have statements of
principle that guide their work. In general witnesses thought that statements
of principle can be helpful.
I think it depends on the particular media
organization, the owners and the senior editors, and whether they give due
consideration. … They can simply be wall art, something you stick on a wall,
but that does not play a part in actual newsroom decisions or at story
meetings. I think they have had some positive effects and have guided people in
decision making, but not enough.
Also, there are whole new areas of problems to
which these codes do not refer. If you are going to construct a code, I think
you need it at two levels. At the top level, you want your statement of principles,
which are the very broad things — often motherhood and apple pie — but things
that need to be stated. Below that, I think you need specific policies on
specific problem areas, such as covering suicides, covering funerals, and a
whole range of issues. If we got public pressure to make sure that those codes
were adhered to, I think it would improve the situation.
Professor Stephen Ward,
School of Journalism,
University of British Columbia
February 1, 2005
Representatives of many media organizations said
principles were important. For example, the CEO of TorStar, Robert Prichard,
told the Committee:
All of our newspapers are guided by eight
simple but important principles.
We are committed to editorial excellence. We
believe that we will best serve our readers, our communities, our advertisers,
and our shareholders by producing high quality publications.
Second, we are committed to the independence of
each of our publishers; each publisher is fully responsible for the content of
his or her newspaper.
Third, we are committed to the Atkinson
Principles at The Toronto Star. We have a special legal and historical
commitment to observing and promoting the principles that our long-time
publisher Joseph Atkinson pursued in his lifetime.
Fourth, we are committed to the advancement of
journalism and journalists. We believe at the heart of great newspapers are
great journalists and that to advance our commitment to quality we must also
advance the profession of journalism.
Fifth, we are committed to ensuring that all of
our newspapers pursue quality journalism free of fear of improper influence by
any source, be it public or private, and we do everything in our power to
ensure that all our newspapers are able to remain fiercely independent.
Sixth, we are committed to the communities we
serve, we reflect them, we inform them and we serve them.
Seventh, we are committed to our newspapers
being both good newspapers and good businesses. We believe that a good
newspaper makes a good business. We also believe that to be a good newspaper, a
newspaper must be a good business.
Eighth, we are committed to our people, the
6,000 women and men, who design, create, report, write, print, and sell
advertising in our newspapers. [February 16, 2005]
However, the prominence given to statements of principle varies. At least two
organizations, CanWest and Brunswick News said that they were in the process of
developing and/or distributing statements of principle to
[A]mong other things, one of my duties is to develop and coordinate that statement of
principles over time. It is an evolving thing. It is done in collaboration with
editors across the country. I hope
it is a work that is never finished.
Editor-in-Chief, Ottawa Citizen,
Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief, CanWest MediaWorks Publications
April 13, 2005
At the time of these Senate hearings the
statement of principles had not been distributed to journalists within the
organization. This is in contrast to the approach of the Toronto Star where the principles are posted on the web-site and
available 365 days of the year.
In the case of Brunswick News a set of
principles has been developed but has not been circulated to journalists.
This is a work in progress and we are getting
it to the point where we think it is exactly what we wanted to say, and it may
in the near future be rolled out to all the newspapers.
Victor Mlodecki, Vice-President and General Manager
Several witnesses analysed the effects of
recent structural changes – especially recent increases in concentration and
cross-media ownership – on journalists. Some argued that the changes have led to a shrinking job market for journalists, and more
difficult working conditions. As well, some noted significant problems for
freelance journalists with respect to
income security. Not all, however, made such a bleak assessment.
Will Straw, a professor who teaches future
journalists at McGillUniversity, said that
unmet expectations are a source of tension.
I think the sad thing is that they are training
journalists to believe they will work in a profession that is well paid, is
regarded as respectable and has ethical codes and so on. In fact, it is a profession
of people working for very low wages, people offering to work for free as
interns and with very little future. Most people want to get out of it when
they hit middle age and want a better salary.[December 15, 2004]
Most witnesses said that fewer journalists are
employed now than in the past. Other witnesses, primarily those associated with
large media organizations, argued that the net effect of the changes has not
been significant, although the composition of employment – for example, the
split between full-time and freelance – has altered. Several witnesses,
however, said that the number of journalists employed influences the quantity
and quality of news and information available.
The amount of news in circulation rises and
falls in direct proportion to the number of journalists available to report it.
There was some disagreement among witnesses
over recent trends but it seems to
come from the use of different definitions of journalist. Union
representatives, who argued that there had been a significant drop in
employment, appear to be focusing on
full-time, editorial staff at
particular news outlets. Media organisations, such as Torstar, appear to be using a broader definition that would include
Deborah Campbell of the CAJ suggested that “[j]ournalists have estimated
privately that they think that the local dailies have downsized by about 40 per
cent in terms of editorial staff since the 1980s.”
representative in Vancouver
presented some data:
The Sun and Province newsrooms,
in their heydays, used to have a
combined total of 760 reporters and
editors, according to Marc Edge in his 2001 treatise on the history of Pacific Press.
Even into the 1980s, the Sun
counted an editorial staff of around
200 andthe Province
about 165. Current Sun staffing is around 120, with only a tiny
contingent of general-assignment, city-side reporters.The Province has a total contingent of 106 on a good day, and both
these sets of figures include part-timers. Around 20 journalists were cut fromthe Province staff
in 2003 alone. The Times-Colonist has lost 10 reporters since 1993, and
the list goes on.
Janet Ingram-Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer
Media Union of British Columbia
January 31, 2005
Gesca, according to
a representative of the union members working for it, experienced similar sharp
declines, except in the company’s flagship papers, La Presse and Le Soleil.
According to Robert Prichard, the President and
CEO of Torstar, employment in the Toronto
Star newsroom has been stable for a decade, at least as a proportion of
total employment at the Star. He went
on to suggest that employment of journalists has increased in Canada.
If you think about how many people are involved
in journalism in Canada,
in the broad sense of journalism,… we believe the number of people is growing.
They may not be employed in traditional daily newspapers in the same numbers,
but the breadth of people engaged in news gathering and news commentary with
all of the ways in which the Internet is affecting that, the number of people
doing it, I think, is growing, not shrinking.[February 16, 2005]
While most of the witnesses linked the possible
drop in the employment of journalists with increased concentration and
cross-media ownership, one witness suggested that more attention should be paid
to the influence of large unions.
I did not hear anyone speak out on or question
the concentration of unionization in our media, or look at how that affects
content or other things. There are far fewer unions than owners exercising
influence in the country's newsrooms. In English Canada there are basically
two. I am not aware of any of the unions offering to sit down and find ways to
reduce costs in non-journalistic areas so that resources can be reinvested in
journalism. Sometimes, in fact, newspaper unions actively seek to exclude from
publication the work of anyone who is not a member. Now there is an impingement
on the diversity of voices for you to examine.
Murdoch Davis, then Publisher
Winnipeg Free Press
February 4, 2005
Several witnesses argued that local journalism
has suffered with the changes in media ownership. Journalists with a regional
or local bent face problems with groups that are centralized and operate from
the larger cities. Monique Prince, journalist at La Presse and Coordinator of the Regroupement des syndicats de Gesca,
suggested that journalists are not being replaced in the regions. There is widespread
use of independent freelance journalists or contributors
who are not well paid. With more attention being paid to
the bottom line, owners have
replaced experienced journalists with younger ones or with freelancers.
Some witnesses said that concentration of
ownership means that journalists have limited employment opportunities, and
this can have effects on content – such as limiting views out-of-synch with
those of the media group.
Francisco, where I came from, there was an easy
solution for that kind of problem. You do not like where you work, you are not
being treated well by your boss, but you do good journalism, walk across the
street. Here it is quite the opposite. If you get into
trouble with the company that owns all the media, you will not work.
David Beers, Editor
January 31, 2005
many witnesses, the recent ownership changes have been especially hard on
freelancers. Freelancers have little power to
negotiate with publishers. There are fewer opportunities to
resell articles they write to other
papers that are owned by the same people and there is less incentive for papers
to pay decent rates. According to one witness:
The rate for freelance magazine writers has not
gone up for 30 years. For 30 years, the top rate that a magazine writer in Canada
can make is about a dollar a word. There are some notable exceptions. Walrus
magazine is one of them, but it is new and such magazines are very rare. …
Probably the average that a freelance
journalist might make is, I am guessing, $12,000 a year, and I think that might
even be generous because a lot of them, like actors who are starting out in Hollywood, would be
working as waitresses or doing other kinds of jobs at the same time.
Deborah Jones, Member of the Vancouver Chapter, CAJ
January 31, 2005
Numerous witnesses also complained about the
draconian contracts that some freelancers are being forced to sign. CanWest and
Brunswick News were cited as media firms that had contracts demanding genuinely
universal rights (see, for example, the sample contract with CanWest Global in
Of late, the CAJ has had to
issue a statement urging CanWest to
drop a new freelance contract that would seize all rights from independent
writers and journalists, including moral rights, meaning that these independent
voices would lose all control over their work. By taking moral rights, CanWest
would be able to change or alter a story in any way, to
use it in advertising copy, to
change the views expressed without the author's permission. Where are these
journalists and writers to go if
they do not like it?
Deborah Campbell, President
Canadian Association of Journalists, Vancouver Chapter
January 31, 2005
To write for the Irvings you must sign an absolutely Draconian
contract. For instance, everything they own belongs to the Irvings. There is a little bit in the
contract that was interesting. It said, the owners can sell it in media “now in
existence, or which may hereafter be developed.”
Not all contracts were this demanding. Le Devoir, the Hamilton Spectator, the Halifax
Chronicle-Herald and the Globe and
Mail do not demand universal rights for all time from freelancers. An editor at the Globe
explained the practice at his newspaper:
They [the freelance writers] retain the
copyright. What we acquire is first publication rights, that is we can publish
it one time, one time only, which is the right we acquire, and non-exclusive
electronic rights [within the data bank ofthe Globe and Mail]. They are free to
take that same material and go elsewhere after it has appeared in the Globe and Mail, by mutual
agreement usually 24 hours after its first publication. If they wish, they can
take it to CBC, to Global, to
CanWest said that its so-called “terrible
contract” was common in some fields, and could benefit some freelancers. The
then President of CanWest MediaWorks
noted that in the entertainment field “the grant of rights for now and
hereinafter to be known,
technologies, markets, and platforms, et cetera, is very commonplace.” Scott
Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of CanWest
MediaWorks, said such contracts are needed in the Internet age to bring clarity to
the market for resale rights.
Mr. Anderson noted that CanWest had changed
some of the language in the contracts when faced with complaints. The Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian News Desk argued that
freelancers receive more for giving up universal rights than they would receive
for one-time use.
We brought some order to that by signing and
establishing a contract that gave us rights for publication in all of those
papers, whether it was used or not, and increased the amount of payment we
originally offered at the outset. For example, instead of $200, we paid $250.
Sometimes that worked for the freelancer because they were not going to get
picked up anywhere else. Sometimes it went the other way, but we simplified it
and tried to make it easier for everyone. We recognized that by adding to our
rights we also added to the payment required.
April 13, 2005
The Association des journalistes indépendants
du Québec made several suggestions, involving changes in legislation, for
improving conditions for freelance journalists. Some of these changes would be
modelled on (or involve amendments to) the Copyright
Act and the Status of Artist Act.
Others would involve the establishment of unemployment insurance funds or group
pension plans for freelancers.
Everyone wants better, higher quality media.
Several witnesses suggested that the key was education, broadly defined.
Promoting media literacy is, for some, a good way of making better users of
news and information. Training, education and research on the media are ways of
producing better journalists.
Murdoch Davis, then publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, argued that a media
literacy course should be part of a civics program in school.
Little is to
be gained if media literacy is taught in the absence of more teaching about the
Charter, about how our courts function and why, about the rules and structures
of various levels of government, about how the tax system works and does not
work, about the value of voting, the importance of democracy, about what human
rights means, what civil rights are, and how they sometimes conflict. I believe
the attention paid to all of those
things in the education of our young, or even our university and college
students, is woeful. [February 4, 2005]
Media organisations obviously think it is
important to encourage young people to become active rather than passive media
consumers, to acquire a keener
awareness of the nature and role of the media and to
become familiar with the basic sources of news. The Committee heard of several
media literacy programs run by Canadian media companies. These ranged from
making discounted copies of newspapers available in schools to producing an educational guide for use in schools
and, in the case of Gesca, developing the Cyberpresse-écoles program, which
gives primary and secondary schools in Quebec
and southern Ontario
free access to the entire archives
of Gesca dailies.
To be useful, news and information must be up-to-date. Journalists who produce the news cannot
afford to let their skills and
knowledge base become stale. As a professor at UBC noted:
Many journalists tell me that they want to upgrade their skills and train and educate, but
they do not have the opportunity. The problem is that as a journalist, once you
get a job and you start doing well, then you are so busy doing journalism all
the time that you never get a chance to
stop and retrain and rethink,
because you are so caught up.
February 1, 2005
Another journalism professor, at the University of King’s College, explored the increasing,
and counterproductive, pressures of having less time for research:
I am interested in the idea that you might have
to work for several media at once, and journalists are not just filing for
radio you are also filing for TV. This increases the pressure because now you
have even less time, less time, less time all the time. …
I worry about having to serve many masters and
having even less time. The time for research is dwindling rather than
expanding. We are going the wrong way.
April 19, 2005
There are other problems. For a
start, training programs are costly.
Several witnesses urged government help in this
area. Torstar recommended increased public investment in the teaching and study
As a newspaper company we seek no subsidies, no
loans and no other financial handouts from government. Instead, we urge the
government to devote its financial resources to developing the human capital a
strong media depends upon, and to supporting the research that Canadians need
to better understand media's role in our society.
Robert Prichard, President
February 16, 2005
Professor Allan Thompson said the government
should direct more resources to
open-ended fellowships, awards and research grants for journalists,
particularly for study and work abroad. For journalists to
feel comfortable taking government funds, he felt the programs would have to be transparent, with clear criteria, and a
selection based on the proposals made by the particular journalists. He benefited
from such a program.
I was fortunate to
win the Gemini Fellowship, which was funded at the time by the International
Development Research Centre, a Canadian Crown corporation. This $25,000 award
directed at young journalists allowed me to
work for eight months with Gemini News Service in London, a news agency devoted to developing world issues. It also financed a
five-month field trip toAfrica, my first foray into
that kind of reporting. [December 1, 2004]
Regrettably, the Gemini Fellowship was killed
off a year or so ago for lack of funds. I think this was a grievous error. In
effect, we lost one of the few mechanisms in place to foster more media
attention to the developing world.
Professor Thompson suggested that federal
departments or agencies that are involved with foreign policy should fund one
or two fellowships, “making it possible for young or mid-career journalists to expand their horizons, to
tell Canadians more about the world around us and Canada's place in that world.”
Several witnesses noted
the difficulties that arise if the government funds media, even indirectly. No
one expressed any support for the government’s involvement in content. Private
sector support of media training,
for some, depends on higher profits.
A good rate of return makes a number of things
possible: it allows us to set up training programs, to renew our staff and
equipment and to introduce new projects.
Guy Crevier, President
March 8, 2005
As for training supported by the industry itself,
the most visible support appears to come from the larger media companies.
The Toronto Star,
which is the largest philanthropic arm of Torstar Corporation, has three
priorities for its philanthropy and one of the three is journalism education.
Our most recent gift was a $1-million gift to the journalism education program
Prichard, President and CEO
February 16, 2005
Each year, more than 30 journalism students
spend some portion of the year working at The Toronto Star. The
We do not have an expectation that we will be
able to hire all of them, but we do see it is an opportunity for us to identify
the best talent, but it is also our sense of responsibility to journalism in
general to give young people in journalism programs the opportunity to have
some experience in the workplace.
CanWest was also proud of its contributions to
We contribute many millions of dollars to
academic institutions that support curricula and training for journalists, et
cetera. We continue to expand our own in-house training and development budget
to train and develop not only journalists but all of our employee base, because
we constantly have to retool our skills because of the way the world is
We are now forging strategic alliances with
many academic institutions in every city in the country in which we do business
— small, medium and large — which will consist of us creating co-op programs,
summer student programs, and hiring graduates, as well as sending our employees
back to school for training. As well, our employees are actually going back to
school and lecturing and teaching because we think they have something to
Richard C. Camilleri
April 13, 2005
As the Director
of Journalism at St. ThomasUniversity noted:
family has also donated $1 million to St.
create a chair in journalism which will allow us to
bring a visiting journalist to
campus each year to teach. The
Université de Moncton received a
similar gift, and we plan to work together with Monctonto
make the most of these opportunities.
In recent years, Canada’s news media have undergone
a kaleidoscopic series of ownership changes, with empires forming, breaking up
and reforming. This Committee’s April 2004 Interim
Report documented changes in ownership, especially the rise of cross-media
ownership. Since then, there have been even more changes, although these have
mostly not stood out – especially in terms of dollar amounts – the way the
transactions involving Quebecor, BCE and CanWest Global did in 2000.
Nevertheless, more recent ownership changes are significant.
Chief among these was the sale by
Bell Canada Enterprises of its controlling interest in Bell Globemedia, whose
holdings include the CTV network and the Globe
and Mail. In that deal, announced
Dec. 2, 2005, the Thomson family increased its share of Bell Globemedia to 40%,
up from 31.5%. Torstar Corp. bought 20% of Bell Globemedia
and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund also acquired 20%. As a result, BCE’s
share fell to 20% from 68.5%.
This deal diminished concerns that
had been raised about having Canada’s
largest telecommunications company own both a major television network and the
largest national newspaper. It does,
however, mean that the owners of the country’s largest newspaper now have a
significant share of one of its direct rivals, the Globe, as well as CTV. Statements by both BCE and Torstar stressed
the importance of editorial independence. In sum, the reshuffling of the
ownership of Bell Globemedia does not lessen the extent of cross-media
ownership in Canada.
Also of interest was the sale of the
last group of Canadian newspapers owned by Hollinger to a comparatively new
entrant in the field, Glacier Ventures International Corp. of Vancouver. This completed the spectacular
cycle in which Hollinger had grown from almost nothing to become, at its peak
in the mid-1990s, the hugely dominant proprietor of Canadian newspapers, before
beginning its swift subsidence.
The Interim Report included a lengthy section (Part II), with numerous
tables, on the state of the Canadian news media. Most of the data series
presented ended in 2003 and occasionally in earlier years. Although changes
have occurred since then, the picture drawn of the Canadian media sector generally still holds. The major laws dealing
with the media – the Broadcasting Act
and the Competition Act – have not
been changed, and there have been no policy shifts to
address the concerns expressed in the Interim
These concerns include: the
dominance of the news sector by large media conglomerates with extensive
cross-media holdings; the high concentration of ownership in particular media
markets, especially in Vancouver, the
French-language market in Quebec and New Brunswick. Indeed,
some of the trends noted in the Interim
Report have intensified.
Meanwhile, some attitudes toward
media conglomeration have changed. There has been a world-wide decrease in
expectations about the benefits of linking various parts of the media sector.
Soon after the huge deals were consummated the high-tech bubble burst, stock
prices plummeted and the debt loads that financed the media mergers became more
noticeable. Few can now utter the phrase “the synergies of convergence” without
a tinge of embarrassment.
One large legacy remains, however,
from each transaction: the debt incurred to make the purchase. In recent times,
executives at the new media conglomerates have spent considerable effort trying
to create or salvage value from the collection of media assets they now
possess. The most popular way to salvage value is to cut costs, often by reducing
staff, including newsroom staff. Another way of salvaging value has been to
sell off some of the acquired assets.
Profits in Canadian media can be
erratic, particularly in broadcast media, but in good years they are very
good. The CRTC has reported, for
example, that in 2005 profits (before interest and taxes) in the commercial
radio sector soared by 23.8% to $277 million; revenues were up 8.7%, to $1.3
stellar result followed several years of annual profit increases in the order
As for newspapers, they continue to
earn notably healthy profits even as their circulations, in most cases,
Another way to create shareholder
value which has gained popularity in the media sector, as in other parts of the
economy, is to create income trusts. In
2005 CanWest Global created the CanWest MediaWorks income trust to hold 12 of
its daily newspapers (all of them except the National Post), 21 community newspapers and interests in two free
It should be noted that income trusts
bring their own problems. They strongly intensify shareholder and market
expectations that profits will be high and sustained. Michael Sifton, founder
and chief executive officer of Osprey Media, described the pattern thus in a
recent newspaper interview:
Sifton) has not had a lot of fun. “It becomes a little frustrating,” he says,
referring to the eternal grind of pumping out enough earnings to pay the
eternal cash distribution.
Some other changes in media
ownership in Canada
merit attention. These concern concentration in the ownership of radio and
community newspapers, where a series of regional monopolies or near-monopolies
Mergers and acquisitions involving
different types of media continue, despite the cooling of expectations about
the benefits of convergence. The CRTC has, since 2000, approved the transfer of
radio licences or granted new ones to companies also involved with print media.
And in 2004, TVA and Sun Media, which are controlled by Quebecor Media Inc.,
acquired the television station Toronto One.
The Toronto One decision is
interesting for several reasons. First, it continues the open door policy of
the CRTC with respect to cross-media transactions. As in the others that have
taken place since 2000, the CRTC voiced concerns about possible impacts on the
diversity of editorial voices but then allowed the transaction with the modest
conditions that it had imposed for CTV and Global, namely the separation of
newsroom management for print and broadcasting.
The second, and related, point of
interest is that the conditions imposed on Quebecor’s operations with respect
to Toronto One will be different from the conditions imposed on Quebecor’s
operations with respect to TVA, the television network it purchased in 2000.
The earlier conditions placed on Quebecor involved a separation of newsroom
operations – not just newsroom management – for the print and broadcasting
units. One argument cited by the CRTC for the differential approach is that the
for news is highly competitive. If the CRTC is going to base its decisions on
the extent of news competition in each market, one might wonder why the
conditions of newsroom separation imposed on CanWest’s Vancouver operations were not stronger.
This leads to the third point of
interest. The conditions imposed by the CRTC may become irrelevant. As it noted
in its decision approving the Toronto One transaction:
The Commission will be prepared, however, as it
did for CTV and Global, to consider suspending application of the conditions of
licence respecting cross-media issues if the licensee is able to enter into an
agreement with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) resulting in
Toronto One being subject to, and complying with, an industry-wide code
approved by the Commission, and provided Toronto One is a member in good
standing of the CBSC.
At the time of writing, progress on
the development of this code had been halted, as both the CBSC and the CRTC
awaited the recommendations of this Senate study.
Community newspapers have a long
history. Before radio and television, they were the primary source of
information for their communities. Even today, there are small or isolated
communities that rely on their local newspapers for relevant information. As a
member of the Black Press Group has put it:
Anybody can tell you what's going on in the
world--CNN, USA Today, or Yahoo. But where do
you turn when you want to know about the new construction site down the street
or the latest school board vote? … If you want to hear world news, ask the big
guys. But if you want to know what's going on in your neighbourhood, we've got
Group ownership has a long tradition
in the community newspaper industry – and it has thrown up perennial concerns
about concentration. The names of the group owners have changed over time.
Once, the Thomsons and Southams dominated the industry. Today, they are history. What stands out in the recent transactions is
the focus of groups on specific regions – regions often also covered by dailies
owned by the groups (and in some cases by the broadcasters owned by the
groups). At Transcontinental’s 2002 annual meeting, the CEO, Luc Desjardins,
In 2001, we acquired about 20 weekly
newspapers, 18 of which were from Gesca and Unimedia. Transcontinental is now Quebec’s leading
publisher in this fast-growing segment that we
now refer to as regional press. We are number two in this market in Canada.
Victor Mlodecki is the general
manager of Brunswick News, the media arm of the Irving empire. He told the Committee:
group consists of three daily newspapers, six English language weeklies, six
French language weeklies, and an urban weekly with an edition for each of the
three major cities. We have a website associated with the newspapers, a career
website and Acadian Broadcasting Ltd., which has four radio stations. All of
the print titles and three of the radio stations are located in New Brunswick.
In other words, the Irving
empire controls every English-language daily and almost all the weeklies in New Brunswick, plus
radio and Internet operations. Mr. Mlodecki gave a revealing explanation of the
business benefits of group ownership in a region (or province):
… The newspapers are nice, but it is the distribution systems that are
important to me. That is the future of the business in many respects, you
know. Over the next 20 years, we are going to manage our transition from
newsprint to the Web. That is what we are doing, but the corollary component
that is becoming very important is the distribution of flyers to households.
The following list shows selected
transactions in the community newspaper sector since 2000.
CanWest Global sold off many of the community newspapers it had picked
up with the purchase of Hollinger, but retained community papers in B.C.
Black Press added to its extensive holdings in the province by acquiring
in 2003 the B.C. publications of Quebecor/Bowes.
In June 2003, Torstar and Osprey swapped newspapers in Southern
Also in 2003, Osprey bought more community newspapers and some small
dailies in Ontario.
In 2005, Torstar purchased Runge Publishing Inc., publisher of 18
community newspapers in eastern Ontario.
In 2001, Transcontinental acquired about 20 weekly newspapers, 18 of
which were from Gesca and Unimedia.
Transcontinental purchased CanWest Global’s Atlantic papers in 2002 and
Optipress, which was itself the result of a merger of two printing and
publishing groups, in early 2004.
In 2002, Brunswick News, the media arm of the Irving empire, purchased two groups of
community newspapers (from David Cadogan and from David Henley).
In 2003, Brunswick News bought Northern
Light from Transcontinental. (Transcontinental had purchased it from
CanWest in 2002)
In 2004, Brunswick News bought the alternative weekly here.
Brunswick News has also developed an increased presence in the
In 2005, Brunswick News purchased the Tribune and its sister francophone newspaper La Voix du Restigouche.
In 2004, Glacier Ventures acquired a group of community newspapers and
printing operations in Northeastern Saskatchewan.
In 2005, Glacier Ventures acquired another group of community newspapers
and related printing operations in Saskatchewan
The list does not cover all
transactions involving community newspapers in Canada. There are about 2000 of
these and changes in ownership (as well as start-ups, failures and
reorganizations) are common. What the list highlights are transactions that
have allowed groups to increase concentration in provincial and regional
markets. Because of these transactions, the community newspaper markets have
become more concentrated in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, the Atlantic Region and southwestern Ontario.
A telling transaction was the 2003
swapping of newspapers by Torstar and Osprey in Southern
Ontario. Torstar was able to increase its concentration of
community newspapers in the Golden Horseshoe region of southwestern Ontario, while Osprey picked up papers that complemented
its existing holdings in smaller communities in Ontario.
The Competition Bureau examined
several of the transactions but did not challenge them as being
anti-competitive. Its reasoning focused on the local, not the regional,
implications of the transactions. This is customary for the Bureau.
In 2001, for example, the Bureau
announced it would not oppose the acquisition of Unimedia by Gesca, a
subsidiary of Power Corporation Canada,
The Bureau concluded that the transaction would not likely
substantially lessen or prevent competition because the newspapers involved did
not circulate to any significant extent in the same towns or rural areas. There
were no competition concerns or overlap in advertising in any of the markets
and there was no media convergence issue.
Similarly, in 2003 and 2004 the
Bureau examined Transcontinental’s proposed acquisition of Optipress and
Transcontinental Inc., one of the major
publishing and printing houses in North America, proposed acquiring Optipress
Inc., one of the major community and weekly newspaper publishing and printing
enterprises in Atlantic Canada. Transcontinental, which has a strong presence
in the Atlantic provinces through a chain of daily newspapers and printing
plants, argued that Optipress's community papers and printing assets would
complement Transcontinental's operations. Following a thorough review, the
Bureau announced on January 16, 2004, that it found no significant competitive
overlap and consequently did not challenge the transaction.
In Canada in 2004, Standard
Broadcasting Corporation Ltd. was the largest radio group with 51 stations or
9.4 per cent of the total market.
The market in Canada,
however, includes English-language and French-language stations – 438 English
and 92 French. All of Standard Broadcastings’ stations were English-language
ones, so its effective market share was 11.6 per cent, a greater concentration
than that of Clear Channel, the leader in the U.S., which had 10.7 per cent of
the total market in 2002.
The French-language radio market in Canada
is even more concentrated. Astral Media Inc. is the largest group with 27
stations or 29.3 per cent of the relevant market. Corus Entertainment Inc. is
the second-largest radio group in the French market with 10 stations. The top
two groups have a 40.2 per cent market share.
five radio groups in Canada
control 40.4 per cent of the total
market. For purposes of comparison, the top
five radio groups in the U.S.
had 17.6 per cent of the market in 2002. The largest radio group in the U.S.,
Clear Channel, had 10.7 per cent of the total
The concentration in Canadian radio
has not led to the extent of worry seen in the U.S. with the rise to dominance of
Clear Channel (see Box on U.S. Telecom Act and Clear Channel below). This is
not to say that there are no concerns, especially in Quebec with the highly concentrated
French-language radio market. There are two related concerns in Canada.
The first is that the local nature of radio is vanishing; groups with
homogeneous programming are taking over. The related second is that local news
is disappearing, although this is part of a wider concern that radio news in
general is becoming less important.
U.S. Telecom Act and Clear Channel
In the U.S.
the Telecommunications Act of 1996
relaxed ownership limits in radio. This led to a huge increase in group ownership
of radio stations. The two largest groups in 1996 each had fewer than 65
stations. By March 2002, the two largest radio groups held 1,156 and 251
stations. Clear Channel Communications, by far the largest, attracted the
most criticism, and seemed to symbolize what an unregulated, profit-based
system would become.
concentration in the U.S.
radio market has led to fears of reduced formats and reduced playlists within
any of those formats – reduced choice for consumers – and a lessening of a
truly local presence on the radio dial.
The lack of
a local presence and the use of “automatic pilot” broadcasting by Clear
Channel have even been linked to an avoidable death. As the Economist put it:
When a train carrying ammonia
fertiliser derailed in Minot,
North Dakota, last year, the
police tried to get a local radio station to broadcast a warning about a
toxic white cloud spilling from the wreckage. The station's failure to put
out that warning, in a town in which all six radio outlets belong to one company
(called Clear Channel), is now trumpeted as evidence of the perils of
clearing America's thicket of rules that restrict the concentration of media
ownership. (“Too Little Too Late”, May 15, 2003)
It is less
costly, and more profitable, for a group to
centralize operations with common playlists for numerous markets augmented by
scattered local references, thrown out by a team of broadcasters
impersonating local broadcasters. Group-owned stations can give the
appearance of being local, without the higher costs of being true, local
Evidence for the second concern was
given to the Committee in Halifax
by Murray Brewster, representing the Canadian Association of Journalists:
To give you an idea of the scale of the sacking
of private radio newsrooms, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Halifax radio
station CJCH and its competition, CHNS, had approximately 11 to 15 staff each,
with newscasts from 6 a.m. until well into the evening and on the weekends.
Today, both newsrooms boast between three and four people and those staffers
cover newscasts on two and sometimes three different private radio stations…
The other thing too that I can say with a
reasonable degree of authority is that those folks that are left in the private
radio newsrooms now, because there are so few bodies, rely more upon the
handouts, press releases and material that is handed out to them, and cop
checks. I do not want to say that there are any inaccuracies, but it affects
critical thinking and the ability to question some of what is being handed to
them, some of what is being told to them. [April 19, 2005]
As part of the fallout from Astral
Media’s 2001 proposal to acquire
Telemedia’s radio assets in Quebec
– a case that highlighted jurisdictional conflicts between the Competition
Bureau and the CRTC – Astral and a subsidiary of Corus Entertainment agreed to an exchange of some radio assets. The CRTC
approved the exchange in January 2005 (Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2005-15).
The French-language stations Corus proposed to acquire were:
CHRC Québec, CJRC Gatineau, CKRS Saguenay, CHLN
Trois-Rivières, CHLT Sherbrooke,
CFOM-FM Lévis. Corus also sought authority to acquire the assets of
English-language radio station CKTS Sherbrooke; digital radio stations
CKAC-DR-2 Montréal and CJRC-DR-2 Gatineau; the Radiomedia French-language
information network; the CHLN Trois-Rivières network, in order to broadcast its
programming on CKSM Shawinigan; the Montréal Canadians hockey network; and the
Montréal Alouettes network. [para. 10]
The stations Astral proposed to acquire were:
CJDM-FM Drummondville, CJOI-FM Rimouski, CIKI-FM Rimouski and its transmitter
CIKI-FM-2 Sainte-Marguerite-Marie, CFZZ-FM Saint-Jean-Iberville
applied for a licence to operate a French-language radio network for the
purposes of broadcasting the football games of the Montréal Alouettes during
the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons. The proposed radio network would originate
from CKAC Montréal. The assets of this network would subsequently be
transferred to Corus as part of the transaction described herein. [para. 18]
As part of its application Corus
proposed to change the operations of the stations it acquired. Of most concern
was the proposed transformation of CKAC in Montreal. CKAC was the oldest, largest and
most vigorous provider of news and information in French-language private radio
employing 15 journalists. But as the Commission explained:
Corus took the
position that general interest AM radio is a thing of the past, at least in
major markets, and that it is important that each AM station today develop a
niche for itself. The applicant expressed the view that an all-news format
would give the regional stations a much greater local presence than they now
have. [para. 21]
to CKAC Montréal, Corus proposed to transform the station into a spoken-word
station primarily oriented to sports and health. … Corus took the view that this orientation
would position CKAC’s programming as complementary to existing radio
programming in Montréal, including that offered by its spoken word or all-news
stations CHMP-FM and CINF (Info690). As a result, according to the applicant,
CKAC would no longer air open-line programming dealing with controversial
political topics. [para. 22]
The proposal involved a significant
change in radio news journalism and broadcasting among the stations acquired by
a description of the news staff that would be in place in its various stations
after the transaction. Corus proposed to
implement a new information entity in Montréal and pool all resources rather
than have three separate newsrooms for CKAC, CHMP-FM and CINF (Info960). This
new entity, under the heading “Corus – Nouvelles,” would include 17
journalists, that is, 11 for CINF, three
for CKAC [emphasis added], two for CHMP-FM and one for CKOI-FM. In Québec,
there would be four journalists for the two stations, CHRC and CFOM-FM. CJRC,
CKRS and CHLT would each have three journalists, and CHLN would have four
journalists. [para. 37]
There were more than 6,500
interventions concerning the Astral-Corus transactions. “Several Members of
Parliament and Members of the Quebec National Assembly intervened in the public
process to express their concerns as
to the ability of the stations in
their regions to continue reflecting
their communities.” [para. 53] As an additional example of the opposition:
provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC) of the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE) and the Syndicat des employés de CKAC intervened to oppose the
applications by Astral and Corus. The interveners reminded the Commission that
CKAC Montréal, created in 1922, is the world’s oldest private sector Francophone
radio station. The unions submitted that the station has established an
enviable reputation as being among the best providers of information and that
it forms part of the cultural heritage of Quebec
The interveners expressed their concern that the elimination of the newsroom
and the change in CKAC’s program orientation would lead to the elimination of a
competitor, to the benefit of other Corus-owned stations in the Montréal
market. [para. 57]
The CRTC paid lip service to the
importance of local information programming, but noted that “overall, AM
stations in Quebec
have not been profitable in the past five years” [para. 66]. It approved the
application for the transfer of radio assets and the related restructuring by
Corus of its AM operations in Quebec.
The CRTC did increase local
programming requirements for CKAC and granted the licences to Corus only until August 31, 2009, but the
decision changed the nature of radio news in Quebec.
Irving Interests and Radio in New
of CRTC decisions about media ownership in New Brunswick is equally sobering. In August
2000, the CRTC approved two new radio stations in Saint John and St. Stephen. The successful
application for both stations was made by New Brunswick Broadcasting Co., which
is owned by the Irving
family that also owns all the daily English-language newspapers in the
The CRTC decision did not mention
ties to the Irving family and its dominance of print
media in the province, although CRTC commissioners did raise the issue during
hearings on the applications. The decision contained no condition that the
print and broadcasting newsrooms (or the management of the newsrooms) be kept
A CRTC Commissioner asked the
intervener from Maritime Broadcasting System Limited, a group that owns radio
opposition to this application be as fervent if it was a different company
involved? Is it because of Irving's other
properties and their role in the media that you are concerned about this?[CRTC,
Transcript of Proceedings (Broadcasting Applications and Licences), Moncton,
New Brunswick, March 9, 2000, para. 4386]
After some remarks about the Saint John market, the Maritime representative noted: “If
the Irvings get
another radio station, with the newspapers, that's an extremely difficult
The hearings and the entire
application process were unintentionally ironic: New Brunswick Broadcasting (NBB)
portrayed the matter as a David versus Goliath battle – with NBB in the role of
David – because Maritime owned three of the four existing commercial radio
stations at the time of the application, while NBB owned only one. As the
Controller and Business Manager of NBB put it:
Maritime's three-station combo has come into play, it has dominated the market.
The net effect of Maritime's activities, relative to the manner in which they
are operating their near-monopoly, has seriously impacted on CHSJ's viability
and ability to compete. [para. 2864]
one intervener, NBB had suggested that one of the Maritime stations “has the
ability to be an overbearing 800
pound gorilla” [para. 4370]. Maritime responded: “...If we're the gorilla, the Irving media empire is the
whole wild kingdom.”[para. 4371]
Near the end of questioning by the
CRTC Chairperson NBB said:
And last but
not least, in a time when ownership concentration in New Brunswick is on the rise, the licensing
of these two stations will ensure that a strong local, independent voice
prevails. [para. 4226]
This comes to the heart of the
strongest argument in favour of the Irving
media empire from the point of view of the public interest. New
Brunswick has a total population of only 752,000 of
whom about one-third are francophones. Such a small society surely would not
have three English-language daily newspapers if those papers did not have
strong group ownership. The same may be
true for at least some of the weekly newspapers owned by Irving.
Still, many of the witnesses before
this Committee, especially those in the Maritimes, might have been bemused to
hear that the Irving media empire would provide
an “independent voice” in New
Brunswick. The Irvings’
corporate interests form an industrial-media complex that dominates the
province. According to one source it includes more than 300 companies, has an
estimated net wealth of $4 billion and employs 8 per cent of the New Brunswick labour
To give a frame of reference, the federal government in 2004 employed 1.9 per
cent of Canada’s
labour force. And because the Irving interests are
privately owned, they do not even have to provide the level of public reporting
that publicly traded corporations are required to provide. This situation is,
as far as the Committee could determine, unique in developed countries.
In August 2000, five months after
hearing, the CRTC approved both applications, giving the Irving
interests their second radio station in Saint John
and the first Canadian commercial station in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
In its hearings in Ottawa and across the country the committee
heard about numerous concerns that Canadians have about the state of their
media. Certain markets – Vancouver, New Brunswick and Quebec
(primarily the French-language media) – were cited repeatedly.
Concentration and extensive cross-media ownership in these markets led many
witnesses to argue that there had been a decrease in available viewpoints in
these markets and a decrease in the services provided by the media there,
especially in the provision of local and “hard” news.
It is reasonable to ask: Why did our
laws or regulators fail to prevent the extent of concentration that we see in
these markets today?
What follows is a brief history of
developments that led to the current concentration of media in Vancouver,
identified by committee witnesses as the market where media concentration by
one owner was of most concern, with
comparisons of the media markets in Quebec and
It would be useful, but beyond the scope of this report, to have fuller,
academic studies that examine the political, economic and social influences on
the three markets.
In Vancouver and the other two markets, the
current state did not arise from a single transaction. Nor was there a smooth
evolution, with a small media firm gradually growing into a large one. Rather,
there was a series of transactions that did attract the attention of the
authorities – the Competition Bureau and the CRTC. Some of the transactions
were contested by the Competition Bureau, and the CRTC often set down
conditions of licence to address potential problems. In the end, however,
review by the authorities proved to be more of a speed bump than a protective
barrier. A recent international comparison of media laws has noted “Canada’s
relatively relaxed attitude toward concentration in media ownership… .”
The following examples confirm this description.
Four main steps led to the current
concentration in Vancouver:
the monopolization of the daily newspaper market, the consolidation of
community newspapers in the area with the dailies, the acquisition of two
television stations in the broadcast market by one owner, and the acquisition
of the print business by the broadcaster.
In the mid-1950s the public in Vancouver, British
Columbia had a choice among three independent, daily
newspapers, one morning and two evening papers. After a series of transactions,
which involved the Southam newspaper empire and printing operations, Pacific
Press Limited gained control of all the dailies in 1957. It closed the morning
paper, the Herald, and turned one of
the evening papers, the Province,
into a morning paper. The Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (now the
Competition Bureau) became involved. The Competition Bureau prepared a survey
of its work in media industries for this Committee and described the Pacific
There were also several
unsuccessful investigations into newspaper markets by the Restrictive Trade
Practices Commission (RTPC) under the Combines Investigation Act. In
1960, for example, the RTPC launched an investigation into the newspaper
industry after Pacific Press was given control over all three daily newspapers
in the Vancouver
market. While the RTPC concluded that the formation of Pacific Press led to a
public detriment, it did not seek a conviction under the Combines
Southam eventually gained control,
with outright ownership, of both of Vancouver’s
dailies in 1980. A decade later, in May 1990, Southam announced that in a
complex series of transactions it had gained control of a number of community
newspapers serving the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The Competition
Bureau argued that this reduced competition for advertising in the Vancouver newspaper market
(the effect on journalism or the diversity of local voices was apparently not a
concern for the Bureau). The outcome was not encouraging for those who believe
there should be limits to concentration of ownership in the news media. As the
Bureau explained in its summary of media cases:
This case involved
the acquisition of three community newspapers in Vancouver by Southam Inc.
which already owned the two daily newspapers in the area, the Vancouver Sun
and the Province.
The issues that were raised are fundamental to how the Competition Act
applies to newspaper mergers, and in fact to mergers generally. The findings of
the Competition Tribunal were appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal
and the Supreme Court of Canada.
presented a large volume of evidence to support the claim that there was
overlap, and therefore that the acquisitions eliminated competition. One key
piece of evidence cited was the conclusion of a report commissioned by Southam
prior to the merger to study the market and provide recommendations on future
strategies. The report stated:
“What is the reason
for this substantial difference in market performance seen between Vancouver and other
markets? We believe strongly that it is the large number of aggressive weeklies
which are siphoning revenues (logically) due to the Sun and/or Province by
virtue of their readership and market presence.”
Based on this and
other evidence, the Bureau concluded that the weekly community newspapers were
in the relevant market and Southam’s acquisition would permit it to eliminate
Tribunal took a different view and concluded that community newspapers and the
dailies were very weak substitutes -- i.e. small changes in relative prices
were not likely to induce a significant shift by advertisers from one type of
newspaper to the other. This analysis led the Tribunal to conclude that the
acquisition of the North Shore News and the Courier by Southam
did not likely lead to a prevention or lessening of competition in the
newspaper retail advertising services market in the city of Vancouver, on the
North Shore or throughout the Lower Mainland.
The summary explained that the
Competition Bureau could not challenge the pre-existing concentration in the
market, as the Competition Act
requires a review to examine the impact of any increase in concentration. This point becomes important when
looking at other markets with high existing levels of media concentration. The
summary also noted that the Tribunal argued that different economic factors
were at play in the market for real estate advertising, and that Southam’s
acquisition of the Real Estate Weekly
would substantially lessen competition. Southam eventually sold the NorthShore
edition of the Real Estate Weekly – a
speed bump in the course of the transaction.
In 1992, the Southam chain, with its
concentration of daily and community newspapers in Vancouver, fell to Conrad Black’s Hollinger
Concentration on the broadcasting
side developed in the late 1990s when CanWest Global, which had a television
station in Vancouver,
agreed to acquire the conventional television broadcasting undertakings of
Western International Communications Ltd. (WIC). WIC, with television stations
in Vancouver and Victoria, had been sold to Shaw Communications and Cathton
Holdings; Shaw and CanWest then reached a tentative deal to split WIC’s assets.
The CRTC reviewed the proposed
transaction and approved it, subject to some conditions, such as CanWest’s
divestiture of the station it held in Vancouver,
CKVU-TV. A CRTC News Release explained:
In its decision
today, the Commission is departing from its policy which allows a company to
own, in the market it serves, only one television station broadcasting in a
In effect, the
Commission is authorizing CanWest Global to maintain ownership of the
English-language stations CIII-TV and CHCH-TV in the Hamilton
market, and CHAN-TV and CHEK-TV in the Vancouver-Victoria market. This is
because the Commission is of the view that these two large markets are
already well-served by a good number of media outlets, and that the
plurality of voices and fora for expressing them is not compromised by having
one owner for two television stations.
The News Release quoted the Commission
chairperson, who emphasized the cultural benefits from the transaction:
In approving the
transaction between CanWest and WIC, with certain conditions, the CRTC is
allowing the company to consolidate. In so doing, it will be able to both
create new synergies and make a more effective contribution to the Canadian
broadcasting system. The company now has a greater capacity to spotlight local
artists and to stimulate the production of quality Canadian programming,
particularly in Western Canada.
This decision highlights the
emphasis the CRTC places on Canadian culture at the expense of news.
In 2000, weeks after the CRTC
approved the acquisition of WIC’s television assets, CanWest announced that it
intended to acquire the majority of Hollinger Inc.’s media assets. This was
proudly announced by the executives of CanWest Global as the largest deal in
Canadian media history (and was promptly denounced by the Communications,
Energy and Paperworkers Union as an "unprecedented and horrifying"
concentration of ownership).
The Competition Bureau reviewed the
proposed transaction and concluded “that, since there was no evidence that
newspapers, the Internet and television compete directly for retail advertising
normally found in newspapers, the transaction would not substantially lessen
competition in those markets for advertisers.”
The Competition Bureau did have some
concerns with respect to the business-oriented specialty channel, ROBTv,
in which both CanWest (through the National Post) and the Globe and Mail
had interests. As the summary of media cases stated:
As a result of these concerns,
CanWest agreed to the Bureau's request to place its entire investment in ROBTv
in trust, pending resolution of the partnership situation. As the undertakings
took effect at the time of the closing of CanWest's acquisition of Hollinger's
assets, CanWest also agreed to ensure that Hollinger did not share confidential
information with ROBTv and The Globe and Mail. The Bureau undertook to
monitor CanWest's compliance.
In terms of the largest transaction
in Canadian media, this, too, must rank as a speed bump and not a protective
The CRTC decided to examine
questions related to cross-media ownership when it considered applications to
renew Global’s television licences. In August 2001 it renewed all the Global
licences subject to some conditions, but noted concerns about cross-media
The Commission is concerned
that cross ownership of television stations and newspapers, such as is the case
with Global, could potentially lead to the complete integration of the owner’s
television and newspaper news operations. This integration could eventually
result in a reduction of the diversity of the information presented to the
public and of the diversity of distinct editorial voices available in the
markets served. For example, under a fully integrated structure, the same
editor could decide what matters would be investigated and what stories would
be covered by a commonly owned television station and newspaper. Under such an
integrated structure, the television station and the newspaper may no longer
compete and might present a single editorial position and approach to the
selection of stories considered relevant to the viewers and readers.
As a safeguard, the CRTC required
Global to adhere to the following principles and practices:
1) Global will maintain separate and independent news
management and presentation structures for Global television operations that
are distinct from those of any Global affiliated newspapers. Decisions on
journalistic content and presentation for Global will be made solely by Global
television news management.
2) Global news managers will
not sit on the editorial board of any Global affiliated newspaper; nor will any
member of the editorial board of any Global affiliated newspaper participate in
the news management of Global television operations.
3) Global shall establish a
Monitoring Committee as set out in Appendix "A" to this Statement to
deal with complaints from all sources, including employees and the general
public, arising from any of the principles and practices included in this
4) Global shall report to the
Commission on an annual basis, concurrent with its annual return, regarding the
number and nature of the complaints received by the Monitoring Committee and
how Global resolved each complaint.
5) Global shall provide a copy
of this Statement to each of its employees and shall emphasize the importance
of complying with the principles and practices set out in this Statement.
6) Global shall, through the
use of Public Service Announcements, make its viewers aware of the principles
and practices set out in this Statement, and the Monitoring Committee.
The CRTC set out the possibility
that it would be prepared to suspend these conditions of licence if Global and
the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council could develop an industry code dealing
with cross-media ownership.
As noted, the CRTC decided to handle
all the licence renewals for Global (as it would have for any group) at the
same time. Thus the licences for the two Global stations in Vancouver
were approved at the same time as licences for markets, such as Hamilton, where CanWest
did not exercise a dominant position.
This same-time licensing for all the
stations in a group is, according to the CRTC, in keeping with its new
Television Policy. It is, however, at odds with the more usual case-by-case
approach of the CRTC. The CRTC’s treatment of Global’s Vancouver
stations, which were in a market of obvious media concentration, is also at
odds with its treatment of Quebecor’s television group in Quebec. Because the CRTC was concerned about
the diversity of views in French-language media in Quebec, more stringent conditions with
respect to cross-media ownership were set out. These include adherence to a
code developed by Quebecor and designed to ensure that the newsgathering
activities – not just newsroom managements – of Quebecor’s newspapers and
television stations are completely separate.
The CRTC did express some concern
about diversity of views in the Global case:
Global’s level of cross-media
ownership is particularly high in Vancouver/Victoria where it operates two
television stations and three daily newspapers. In Calgary
Global owns one of the two major daily newspapers and a television station. In
each of Regina and Saskatoon, Global owns the only major daily
newspaper and a television station.
That was apparently not considered serious
enough for the CRTC to impose stricter conditions, along the lines of
Quebecor’s code, for these markets, despite the noted concerns about
cross-media ownership. The CRTC might have made an argument for unified
treatment of all stations in a group – with perhaps the same rationale that it
used for same-time renewal of all the licences in a group. But in 2004 it
imposed different, lighter conditions when it approved Qiebecor’s acquisition
of the Toronto One television station. This is an English-language station in a
highly competitive media market, so the lighter conditions may have been
warranted. The fact remains that the CRTC is capable of treating some stations
in a group differently from others, depending on the degree of media
concentration in the particular markets, but has puzzlingly chosen not to do so
in some striking instances.
The end result is that by late 2001,
after various stages of federal oversight going back to the 1950s, CanWest had
approval for its extensive media holdings in Vancouver.
Why did Canadian laws or regulators
fail to prevent the extent of concentration now seen in Vancouver? The answer to this question has
three parts. The first relates to the years before 1986 when a new Competition Act was put in place,
replacing the Combines Investigation Act. Under the earlier act mergers
and monopolies were criminal offences, requiring that a criminal burden of
proof (“beyond a reasonable doubt”) be satisfied to obtain a conviction. As the
Competition Bureau noted in its summary of media cases:
… in the 75-year history of
the criminal merger law, only nine cases were brought before the courts. None
of these actions was successfully prosecuted on a contested basis by the Crown.
Seven cases resulted in acquittal and two cases, not contested, resulted in
Media mergers before 1986 had what
was, in practice if not in theory, a free ride. This explains the ability of
Pacific Press to obtain a monopoly of the daily newspaper market in Vancouver.
After 1986, with the new Competition Act, the burden of proof was
lighter (matters under the act are, in general, civil rather than criminal),
but Southam, which had taken over the dailies from Pacific Press, was still
able to acquire a number of community newspapers serving the Vancouver market. In this case, the
Competition Bureau took its investigation to the Competition Tribunal,
and the Tribunal concluded that community newspapers and daily newspapers were
not really competitors, in the sense that “small
changes in relative prices were not likely to induce a significant shift by
advertisers from one type of newspaper to the other.” The Tribunal, like the
Competition Bureau, concentrated on a narrow, economic aspect of the media
market, namely paid advertising, but the Tribunal took an even narrower view of
what constituted the market. The result was that Southam kept its monopoly of
the dailies, and added community papers that served the same geographical
market and the same pool of readers.
Concentration on the
broadcasting side is explained by the CRTC’s priorities. News was ranked well
below support for Canadian culture. When CanWest Global acquired two television
stations serving Vancouver,
the CRTC said that Vancouver (and Victoria) were “already well-served by a good
number of media outlets,” and noted that the “company now has a greater capacity
to spotlight local artists and to stimulate the production of quality Canadian
programming.” None of the “good number of media outlets”, however, approached
CanWest’s dominance in the market.
In 2001, the CRTC
renewed the licences of all Global television stations and, in effect, approved
the acquisition by CanWest of the Hollinger newspaper empire. The decision
expressed concerns about cross-media ownership and set down some related
conditions of licence. There were no special conditions for the Vancouver market.
The story in the French-language
media market in Quebec and the
English-language market in New Brunswick is
similar to that for Vancouver.
A series of transactions that were occasionally contested but never completely
overturned led the way to greater and greater concentration.
The final transaction in the case of
Quebecor, which is the dominant player in the Quebec media market, was the acquisition by
Quebecor of Videotron. Both parties were themselves large media companies that
had grown from modest beginnings -- Quebecor from a single weekly newspaper in
1950, Videotron from a small cable company with 66 subscribers in 1964. Both
grew through numerous acquisitions and the growth of individual parts. Two transactions are worth highlighting:
Quebecor's acquisition of TQS in 1997 and of Videotron in 2000.
TQS was in financial trouble when
Quebecor bought it, and the CRTC took this into account in approving the
transaction. Cross-media concerns also influenced the decision. The CRTC
recognized the usefulness of linking a strong print business with a struggling
broadcaster, but was also aware of problems related to diversity of news
sources. In the end, the CRTC accepted measures proposed by Quebecor.
… the Commission is
taking into account TQS's precarious financial situation, the new owners'
strong financial resources, the new vitality that can be created by the arrival
of a partner like CQI in the French-language television industry and its intimate knowledge of the Quebec environment through its print media.
… The Commission also considers that the measures proposed by the applicant to
ensure the editorial and functional independence of TQS and the CQI print media
are essential, and that applying these measures will ensure TQS's independence
and make it so that the plurality of voices in Quebec in the area of
information will not be affected by approval of this transaction.
The conditions imposed involved a
complete separation of the television and newspaper newsrooms. These
conditions, as noted above, are stricter than those later imposed on CTV,
Global and Toronto One.
The restrictions imposed on TQS were
carried over when the CRTC approved Quebecor's acquisition of the TVA Group,
through its acquisition of Videotron. Once again, the CRTC noted its concerns
about diversity of voices -- but approved the transaction.
The Competition Bureau took issue
with this acquisition, noting that:
This would have given Quebecor
control, in viewership terms, of the first and third largest French-language
television networks in Quebec,
TVA and TQS. As a result, Quebecor would control more than half of all the
French-language television advertising revenues in the province….
The Bureau concluded that this
proposed merger would likely prevent or substantially lessen competition in the
sale of French-language television advertising air time in Quebec…
As part of its reasoning, which as
usual focused on advertising markets, the Competition Bureau argued that “other
media were very poor substitutes for television as far as advertisers were
concerned.” The Competition Tribunal agreed and ordered Quebecor to divest
itself of TQS, the third largest French-language television network in Quebec, in order to keep
TVA, the largest network. At the end of March 2001, the Competition Bureau
…following its review of other
aspects of the transaction, that competition
would remain vigorous in the other markets it had examined, including
access to high-speed Internet services and the supply of advertising space in
magazines, on Internet sites and in other
French-language media in Quebec.
The silo approach to media
industries – a narrow, economic approach that essentially ignores news and
information – also helps explain media concentration in New Brunswick. Here, the media transactions
involving the Irving
family (K.C. Irving before his death and now his sons James K. Irving, Arthur
L. Irving and John E. Irving) have certainly not gone uncontested. But today
the Irvings control
a growing cross-media empire and are the dominant voice in their province. The Irving family also, of course, dominates the industrial
life of New Brunswick.
As was the case with CanWest Global
in Vancouver and Quebecor in the French-language
market in Quebec, certain key transactions
stand out in the explanation of the Irving media
dominance in New Brunswick.
By 1968, through a series of
transactions, K.C. Irving Limited had acquired a controlling interest in all
five (now three) English language daily newspapers in New Brunswick. This monopoly position was
contested, but as in the Pacific Press case discussed above, the Combines InvestigationAct, in force before the 1986 Competition Act, required a criminal
burden of proof. The result, as explained by the Competition Bureau in its
summary of its work in media, was:
Crown was successful in showing that K.C. Irving had acquired complete control
of the daily newspaper business in New
Brunswick. As a matter of law, however, the Court
found that a showing of complete control was not sufficient to prove a criminal
offense under the Combines Investigation Act. … Characterizing the
Crown’s arguments as theoretical and without sufficient factual basis, the
Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and set aside the convictions against the
The Irving conglomerate also acquired
broadcasting assets in the province.
Action under competition law having
failed, the federal government tried another tack. In 1982, in an action that
was aimed, in large part, at the Irving’s media
holdings, the government issued an Order in Council Direction to prevent
cross-media ownership in Canada.
The Order in Council stipulated that the CRTC could not issue or renew licences
to applicants effectively controlled, directly or indirectly, by the owner of a
daily newspaper whose newspaper circulation covered a major area served (or to
be served) by the broadcaster. Following a change in government, however, the
Order was rescinded in 1985.
The Irvings’ media arm sold all its television
business in 1994. This was prompted by the expectation that the CRTC would not
renew the two relevant licences, which were for CBC affiliates, as the CBC
intended to own its own stations in the province.
In terms of media concentration in New Brunswick, it is
probably the relatively recent purchases of several community newspapers in the
province that have raised the most new concerns. In 2002, Brunswick News bought
community newspaper groups from David Henley and from David Cadogan; in 2003,
it bought a New Brunswick community newspaper from Transcontinental, which had
purchased it the previous year from CanWest Global; in 2004, the company bought
the alternative newspaper here; in
2005, it bought the Tribune and its
sister paper La Voix du Restigouche.
empire also increased its presence in the French-language market.
The CRTC does not regulate
newspapers, of course, so it did not need to approve the transactions, although
the change in ownership structure, with the acquisition of print media, could
be considered by the regulator at the time of renewal of the broadcasting
licences. The Competition Bureau did not contest the Irving family’s acquisition of the community
newspapers; given its silo approach to media and numerous precedents of
uncontested increases in group ownership of community newspapers, this is not
There has been an interesting recent
change in the ownership structure of the Irving
broadcasting assets. At the end of April 2005, when the general manager of
Brunswick News appeared before the committee, the three Irving brothers held
equal shares in the broadcasting arm, Acadia Broadcasting Limited (through 100
per cent ownership of a holding company which, in turn, held 100 per cent of
Brunswick News which controlled 100 per cent of the broadcasting assets). In
May 2005, Acadia asked the CRTC authority to authorize a change to the control
of Acadia through a corporate reorganization.
With the reorganization, John E. Irving became the sole owner of Acadia, and Brunswick News dropped off the CRTC
organization chart. But the Irving empire’s ultimate
ownership of the entire cross-media group has not, of course, changed. Because
of the private nature of the Irving
empire details are scarce, and there has been no public announcement of any
reasons for the reorganization. But if the three brothers own equal shares in
Brunswick News, John E. Irving has 33.3 per cent, a minority position, in the
The CRTC examines licence renewals
on a case-by-case basis and has no stated policy on how it weighs the print
side of a media conglomerate. It would be pure but understandable speculation,
therefore, to suggest that the reorganization will have an influence on renewal
As part of its study of the state of
Canadian news media this Committee commissioned a survey of Canadians to obtain
information on their use of news media, their views about the balance, fairness
and objectivity of Canada’s
news media and their opinions about certain elements of public policy.
of 1503 Canadians was conducted between March 22 and 30, 2005. The survey,
carried out for the Committee by Ekos Research Associates provides results
for the country as a whole that are valid within (plus or minus) 2.5
percentage points, 19 out of 20 times. An additional sample of 53 aboriginal
Canadians living on reserve was also surveyed. The survey included a number
of questions that have been asked of Americans and thus allows one to compare
Canadian and American opinion on a number of topics. Results were also
compared with a similar survey carried out by the Canadian Media Research
The survey results provide
interesting insights on a number of topics that go to the heart of the
Committee’s work. In particular, the survey gives an overview of some of the
strengths and weaknesses of the current news and information system in Canada.
Careful analysis of the opinions expressed by respondents suggests that all is
not well in the converged and consolidated media landscape. Indeed, if we
continue down the current path without a change in direction the results could
The good news is that Canadians use
a variety of media to obtain news and information and that they have a good
deal of trust in the media they use. There are, however, important warning
signs about media concentration, and Canadians’ trust in the news media, such
as the perception that media cover up their mistakes. Results from this survey
and the survey done by Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC) when compared
with survey results in the United
States also offer salutary warnings.
This appendix presents the key
results from the survey, including observations about foreign ownership rules
and concerns about concentration in Canada’s news media. It is divided
into five sections. The first section describes people’s use of news media, the
second their views about such issues as trust, balance and fairness. A third
section compares American and Canadian opinions and attitudes about the
importance of news. The fourth section presents an overview of Canadians
attitudes about issues such as foreign ownership rules, media concentration and
media cross-ownership. A conclusion and summary of important issues completes
The following figure shows that
television is the main source of news for Canadians. This is true for all types
of news (national, international, regional or local). Newspapers are the main
source of news for a much smaller portion of the population. For example,
television is the main source of national news for 66% of respondents as
compared to 15% for newspapers, 9% for radio, 9% for the Internet and 1% for
Canadians’ main source for national, international,
regional/provincial and local news
The Internet’s greatest strength in
terms of news is as a source of international news; it is the main source of
international news for 18% of respondents. This is slightly higher than the
percentage (13%) who said that newspapers were their main source of
international news. Newspapers’ greatest strength lies in regional/provincial
and local news, with 27% of respondents saying newspapers were their main source
of this news.
There are some interesting
differences among age groups (Figure 2). First, television is the overwhelming
main source of news for people over 65 (74%). Newspapers are chosen as a main
source by between 13 and 18% of respondents in all age categories. The Internet
is a main source of news for younger respondents. Only 1% of people over 65
suggest that the Internet is a main source of news while 16% of those 25 and
under describe the Internet as a main source of news. Given the rapid growth in
importance of the Internet, this proportion seems likely to have risen since
the survey was conducted.
Canadians’ main source for national news by age category
Figure 3 shows how often respondents
look for news on the Internet. Usage is concentrated in the younger age groups
(44 and under). The percentage of respondents saying that they rarely or never
read news on the Internet increases with age. Only 47% of respondents under the
age of 25 said they rarely or never read news on the Internet, while this
increases to 87% for those over 65. For respondents under 25, 53% use the
Internet more than once a week as a news source. The comparable figure for
people between 25 and 44 years of age is 49%.
Frequency of use of Canadian
Internet news by age category
Given the overwhelming importance of
television as a source of news and information programming it is not surprising
that the vast majority of anglophone Canadians (between 72% and 78%) watch the
three main English-language television networks. Similarly, a large majority of
francophone Canadians watch the main French-language networks. The next two
figures present these results.
Canadians’ viewing of English-language Canadian newscasts by age
Canadians’ viewing of French-language Canadian newscasts by age
When asked about their trust in news
sources, respondents gave a ranking of news media that tends to mirror the use
of news media. For example, television is rated more highly than newspapers and
newspapers are rated more highly than radio.
Figure 6 presents respondents answer
to the question “in general what source of news do you trust the most for
local, regional, national and international news?”
Canadians’ most trusted new source (first choice)
When asked to rate English language
news, anglophone Canadians gave very high ratings to all of the main English
language television news sources (Figure 7). In general, more than 75% of
respondents rated the news and information programming as good (between 5 and
7) on a seven-point scale where “poor” is a rating of 1 to 3 and the mid-point,
neither good nor poor, is 4. CBC and Newsworld were rated as good by more than
85% of respondents. CTV and Global did almost as well with 80% and 78% of
respondents rating them as “good.”
Canadians’ ratings of English television news and information
A similar pattern is evident among
francophone Canadians (Figure 8). A large majority rate the French language
television news very highly. Indeed, almost 90% of respondents rated RDI highly.
The lowest rating was for TQS news, which was rated “good” by 70% of
Canadians’ ratings of French television news and information
In short, Canadians who watch English or French language news give very
positive ratings to the news they watch. More generally, Canadians do not think
that the quality of the information they obtain is worse than it was five years
ago (Figure 9).
Canadians’ perception of quality of information available over the
last five years by age
In fact, approximately 50% of all
age groups think that the quality of information they obtain through the media
has stayed about the same. Less than 20% in all age groups say the quality is
getting worse, while 32% think it is getting better.
A series of questions were asked to obtain Canadians’ views about the
extent to which media are balanced, fair, accurate and complete. The following
four figures (Figures 10, 11, 12 and 13) present the results for these
Looking across all four figures one can see that Canadians have positive
views about the five media types and that they have positive views about
balance, fairness, accuracy and completeness. If one compares media, television
receives the highest positive ratings.
Looking at the four categories of balance, fairness, accuracy and
completeness it is “completeness” that receives the lower ratings.
Extent to which Canadians find media balanced
Extent to which Canadians find media fair
which Canadians find media accurate
Extent to which Canadians find media complete
Given these positive results it
should not be surprising that a large majority of Canadians have trust in
journalists and reporters. Figure 14 presents the results for a question on
trust by region. Respondents in Quebec and the
Atlantic are more positive than those in the
rest of the country. It is noteworthy,
however, that overall, 17% of respondents have little trust in journalists and
Canadians’ trust in journalists and reporters by region
The preceding figures show that respondents have a largely positive view
of their news and information media. Responses to other questions, however,
reveal some disturbing patterns. These can be seen when one looks at survey questions
that have been asked of Canadians and Americans.
Over the past few years surveys have
asked Canadians and Americans the same question on a number of different
occasions. Although we lack comparable data for all the years, it is possible
to obtain some sense of the differences between American and Canadian
perceptions of their news media.
For example, as seen in Figure 15,
most Canadians and Americans disagree with the statement that “news is not as
important today as it once was.”
which Canadians and Americans rate the importance of news (“News is not as
important as it once was – agree or disagree?)
While there is little difference
between the two populations about the importance of news, there are large
differences when it comes to what might be described as “alienation from media
executives” (Figure 16). In Canada,
42% of respondents agree with the statement that “people who decide what to put
on TV news or in newspapers are out of touch with people like me.” That number
is high enough to merit concern in newsrooms.
If one examines the trend in the United States, the message may be
even more serious. In 2000, 44% of
Americans agreed that news executives were out of touch with people like them;
by 2002, that proportion had grown to 51%.
Thus, while the Canadian situation is more positive on this item than
the American one, the responses to this question should not be taken with any
sense of complacency but rather as a warning sign.
In markets with higher levels of
concentration, Canadian respondents are even more ready to believe that news executives “are out of
touch with me.” For example, only 38% of
respondents in the Greater Toronto Area agreed with the statement, while 48%
and 49% did so in Montreal and Vancouver.
Canadians’ and Americans’ alienation from media executives (people who
decide what to report on are “out of touch with people like me”– agree or
Canadians are more likely than
Americans to see the media as caring (Figure 17). In 2005, 53% of Canadians
agreed that news organizations care about the people they report on. A minority
of American respondents agreed with this statement in September 2001, November
2001 or in 2002. For example, in 2002 only 30% of American respondents to a
survey agreed that news organizations care about the people they report on.
Canadians’ and Americans’ attitudes towards news organizations (“care
about the people they report on or don’t care about the people they report on
– agree or disagree?)
However, there is solid evidence in
the survey carried out for this Committee that Canadians’ views of news media vary
between markets with high degrees of concentration of ownership of cross media
ownership. For example, if one looks at the responses to this question by
metropolitan area one sees a disturbing pattern. A majority of respondents in
the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) (58%) agreed with the statement that news
organizations care about the people they report on. This drops in Vancouver to 44% and in Montreal to 41%, both markets with high
degrees of concentration of ownership and cross-media ownership.
Canadians and Americans are
sceptical about the willingness of media organizations to acknowledge errors
(Figure 18). For example, only 33% of Canadians agree that news organizations
are willing to admit mistakes. In three different surveys the percentage of American
respondents willing to agree with this statement ranged from 24% to 35%.
Canadians’ and Americans’ scepticism on media
acknowledging errors (“willing to admit mistakes or try to cover up mistakes”
– agree or disagree?)
Similar results were obtained by the
CMRC survey carried out in November and December of 2003. In that survey 54% of
Canadians agreed that the news media try to cover up mistakes and only 34%
agreed they were willing to admit mistakes.
Canadians are more likely than
Americans to see news organizations as helping society to solve its problems
(Figure 19). Fifty-five percent of Canadian respondents agreed with the
statement that news organizations “Help society to solve its problems” and only
31% thought that the news media “get in the way.” This is the reverse of the
situation in the United
States, where, in three surveys carried out
between 2001 and 2002, a minority of Americans thought the news media help
society, and a majority thought the media get in the way.
Canadians’ and Americans’ view of media as a constructive actor
(“helps society solve its problems” or “gets in the way” – agree or
The responses to these questions
should give anyone concerned about the health of Canada’s news media pause. One can
be cautiously optimistic that things are not as bleak on this side of the
border as they are on the other side, but the negative ratings are still rather
too high for comfort. And if Canadian
trends follow those in the United
States, as is often the case in many fields,
even greater alienation of audiences lies ahead. Furthermore, the survey
results indicate that Canadians are more likely to entertain negative attitudes
in markets with a high degree of concentration of ownership.
This is disquieting. We know from
the American survey results that it is possible in a modern democracy to have a
majority of citizens thinking that news organizations “get in the way” of a
society solving its problems. That is extremely unhealthy, both for the media
themselves and for the society they serve.
Several of the key issues before
this Committee have to do with ownership issues. Should Canada change its position on
foreign ownership of Canadian news media? Should the Government of Canada have
a policy to deal with media mergers? Do higher levels of ownership
concentration have negative or positive results?
The March 2005 survey asked respondents
for their views about foreign ownership and media concentration.
When asked, “Do you support or
oppose allowing the foreign ownership of various news media” a solid majority
of respondents are opposed (Figure 20). No matter which media they are asked
about opposition to foreign ownership is supported by more than 60 percent of
respondents. Less than 20% support foreign ownership.
Canadians’ views on foreign ownership
Respondents were asked a number of
questions about media concentration (e.g., one company owning many newspapers
across the country), cross-media ownership (e.g., one company owning newspapers
and television or radio in the same city).
Looking at the responses to four
questions probing different aspects of media ownership, one can see that there
are serious levels of concern with concentration and cross-media ownership,
whether it is in one market (e.g., one city) or across the country (Figure 21).
Between 18% and 20% of respondents say they have moderate concern, while a
solid majority (more than 60% no matter what the question) say they are
concerned to a great extent.
Canadians’ concerns with media concentration
Where there is a high concentration
of ownership (e.g., in Vancouver)
the degree of concern rises. For example, 71% of respondents in Vancouver said they were
concerned (i.e., chose a 5, 6 or 7 on a seven-point scale).
Disturbing results were also
obtained in the CMRC survey when respondents were asked if media consolidation
has a positive or negative impact. Fifty-six percent of Canadians and 50% of
Americans said that media consolidation over the “past few years” has had a
negative impact. Only 5% of Canadians and 10% of Americans were willing to say
that there was a positive impact.
Several conclusions can be drawn
from these surveys. First, Canadians consume a great deal of news whether in
the form of television, newpapers, radio or the Internet. Second, while Canadians
are not as disenchanted with their news media as Americans are, there are
important warning signs. A solid majority of respondents to this survey are
convinced that the media try to cover up their mistakes. Similar results can be
found in the CMRC survey. Third, the concerns of the many witnesses who
appeared before the Committee are mirrored in the general population. Just as
individual witnesses were concerned about media concentration, so are a
majority of individual Canadians. Fourth, while Canadians have a good deal of
trust in news organizations and think that the news and information they
provide is, for the most part, fair, balanced, complete and accurate, there are
reasons to conclude that trouble is not on the horizon but already present.
The warning signs need to be
addressed, given that Canadians think that the media have an influence on
public issues. Seventy-two per cent of respondents think that the media have a
large influence “on decisions around major public issues in Canada today.” Since the majority
of citizens are convinced that the media is an important influence it should be
disturbing to find that a majority think the media covers up its mistakes and
that almost one-third think that the media gets in the way of society solving
its problems. The most worrisome finding is that negative views increase with
levels of concentration of ownership.
This Committee has already stated
its belief in the importance of news gathering organizations for the health of
democratic society. While the comparison between American and Canadian opinions
give one some reason for optimism, the amount of optimism should be limited.
First, it is possible to have a majority of citizens in a democratic society
think that news organizations “get in the way” as demonstrated by American
responses on three different surveys. Second, while a majority of Canadians
(56%) see news organizations as helping “society solve its problems” there is a
worrying 31% who see news organizations as getting in the way.
It is quite possible that the number
of people who feel that news organizations “get in the way” will grow as
distribution mechanisms continue to change. During the period from 1920 to 1980
a great deal of local news was reported by local newspapers, radio stations and,
after 1950, television stations. The current situation is radically different
from what it was and is likely to continue to change.
Given the survey results presented
above and evidence from different surveys of American citizens it is possible
that a majority of Canadians could soon be of the view that news organizations
“get in the way.” The reduction of local news because of changes within
corporate organizations and ongoing changes within distribution systems will be
at least one source of this feeling.
Addressing the possibility of this
dismal future and supporting a healthy environment for news and information
organizations is the main purpose of this Committee’s work and of this report.
Canada has a long history of regulating foreign
ownership of the media. Most recently, the Governor in Council on April 8, 1997
issued a Direction to the CRTC (ineligibility of Non-Canadians) requiring 80%
Canadian ownership and control for all broadcast licensees and 66.6% for
holding companies. This Direction also sets out additional restrictions on
non-Canadian activity to maintain effective domestic control of broadcasting.
The definition of Canadian is key.
This may be straightforward for individuals but can be complicated for
organizations. Shareholders can own a company that itself owns other companies.
Thus, the owners of the holding company indirectly own any companies owned by
the holding company. Non-Canadians may own up to
20% of a broadcaster directly and up to
33.33% of a holding company that owns a broadcaster. In effect, this allows a
non-Canadian to own up to 46.7% of a Canadian broadcaster. [20% + (33.33 x
80%) = 46.7%]
For large corporations whose shares
are widely held, a block of voting shares less than 50% (even less than the
46.7% limit for direct and indirect ownership) can still provide effective
control of a corporation. If a non-Canadian has effective control, by any
means, of a Canadian corporation, that corporation loses its status as a
qualified corporation, even if it meets the quantitative limits. Without the
Canadian status the corporation may not acquire or be granted a broadcasting
licence in Canada.
Although broadcasters must be
Canadian-owned, there is no explicit prohibition against foreign ownership of
newspapers. There are, however, two acts that support the ownership of Canadian
newspapers by Canadians. Section 19 of the Income
Tax Act precludes the deduction of advertising expenses to the extent that
the expenses are incurred for advertisements directed at the Canadian market
and placed in a newspaper or periodical that does not meet certain Canadian
For a newspaper to be “Canadian” at
least three-fourths of the voting shares must be beneficially owned by Canadian
citizens. As was the case in broadcasting, even if non-Canadians meet the
quantitative limits and own less than one-fourth of the voting shares in a
newspaper, the newspaper could still be deemed non-Canadian. The key, again as
in the case of broadcasters, is whether the non-Canadian has effective control
of the newspaper. If the Canada Revenue Agency decides that a newspaper is no
longer Canadian, there is a one-year transition period before claimed
deductions are disallowed.
Newspapers are also covered by the Investment Canada Act. Non-Canadians who
acquire control of an existing Canadian business or who wish to establish a new
unrelated Canadian business are subject to the Investment Canada Act, and they must submit either a Notification
or an Application for Review. The “prescribed specific type of business
activity that, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, is related to Canada's
cultural heritage or national identity” includes newspapers and other print
Surprisingly, the schedule of
regulations related to the Investment
Canada Act does not include broadcasting. This omission is not of great
significance, however, given the mandate for Canadian ownership and control of
broadcasting that is found in the Broadcasting
An additional question that emerged
during the committee’s study of the current restrictions was whether foreign
ownership policy was limited -- in the sense of not being reversible -- by the
terms of Canada’s recent trade treaties, such as NAFTA. In other words, if Canada
liberalized its rules, could it later decide to
tighten them again?
The issue of possible
irreversibility is complex. Trade lawyers argue that they would need to know
the specific facts of any case before providing an answer (which would hold
only for the case in question). If any restriction, such as a foreign ownership
limit, were liberalized, one can argue that an attempt to reintroduce the
restriction would pose problems. The reintroduced restriction could be
challenged by the U.S., Mexico
or the other foreign owners involved. Again, more facts would be needed,
including answers to the questions: What were the grounds for the
reintroduction of the restrictions? How were the restrictions reintroduced?
Countries other than the United States and Mexico could become involved if the
ownership restrictions in our media industries were relaxed. Canada has other foreign investment
protection agreements in addition to NAFTA. These other agreements, especially
the post-NAFTA ones, would probably also include protections from any Canadian
attempt to reintroduce a measure that had been liberalized.
The treatment of culture in NAFTA provides
an example of how some aspects in a treaty can be overlooked. NAFTA, based on
the earlier FTA, included a cultural exemption. Canada could indeed offer
protection for specified cultural activity. What was widely overlooked was the
related paragraph in the treaty that allowed a country harmed by the use of the
cultural exemption to seek
compensation of equal commercial value.
[M]any nations have had to
address the implications of media mergers and the gradual concentration of
media ownership. While almost all advanced democracies include a traditional or
constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, it is not uncommon for
restrictions to exist with respect to concentration, cross-media ownership and foreign
ownership. These restrictions, however, vary considerably by type of media and
from one country to the next.
The report included comparison
tables for Canada, France, the United
Kingdom, the United States
Recently, a volume has been produced that compares telecommunication and media
law for a wider range of countries.
The Global Competition Review covers 47 jurisdictions (46 countries and the
European Union). It includes sections dealing with cross-ownership restrictions
and foreign ownership restrictions.
The importance of these areas can be
seen in the treatment of them by the European Union, which leaves them as the
matter of member states’ national laws. As the Interim Report noted, many nations have had to address the changes
brought about by the wave of media mergers in 2000 and concentration in media
sectors. Countries have also had to adjust to the changes tied to technological
progress. Some countries sought to liberalize their media laws, often with
respect to cross-media ownership, but the proposed changes faced stiff
opposition in some countries, and media law there is still not completely
settled. At the time of drafting this report, that was the case in the United States and Australia.
Of the 46 countries covered by the
2005 Global Competition Review, eight had no restrictions on foreign ownership
or cross-media ownership. Most countries examined had some restrictions in one
or both areas, but the nature of the legislated restrictions varied widely and
could be quite complex. In several of the countries with no apparent specific
restrictions, foreign or cross-media ownership is nonetheless subject to domestic competition policy and anti-trust law,
or, in the case of foreign ownership, to
successful registration as a local concern. The policies, laws or registration
requirements can be loose or strict. In the case of Canada, for example, a broadcaster
with cross-media links must be licensed by the CRTC. The CRTC could, in theory,
set down demanding conditions of licence for media conglomerates, and such a
regulatory stance could, again in
theory, be an effective brake on cross-media transactions. However, as the
Global Competition Review noted: “... A series of CRTC decisions in the 1980s
and 1990s has eroded this policy [of discouraging cross-media ownership] to the point where it has been effectively
abandoned.” (emphasis added)
U.S. Media Law
2003 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried to ease ownership
restrictions in the United
States. The proposed changes were hotly
contested, and in June 2004 were effectively quashed by the United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Accordingly, the original ownership
restrictions remain in place. These include:
A ban on common ownership of
a broadcaster and a daily newspaper serving the same market;
radio-television cross-ownership, with the allowable number of jointly
owned stations increasing with the size of the market;
Restrictions on the ownership
of two television stations in the same designated market area, with the
restrictions based on the coverage or relative ratings of the two
Limits on the number of radio
stations in a local market that may have the same owner, with the limits
based on the total number of radio stations in the market.
contentious change proposed by the FCC had to do with the permitted coverage,
in terms of television households reached, of television broadcast networks.
Under the existing system, networks could own stations that, in total,
reached 35 per cent of households; the FCC proposed an increase to 45 per
cent; and a Congressional Act placed the limit at 39 per cent (perhaps not
coincidentally, the proportion then reached by some networks).
over television network reach and the existing restrictions demonstrate the
use in the U.S.
of explicit quantitative limits to
control media ownership (what are called “bright line tests”). The reasoning
is that these tests protect consumers by providing definite limits, and they
help industry participants by having a transparent system. This, according to some, limits political interference and
pro-market stance and nominal support of global competition, the U.S.
maintains foreign ownership restrictions for broadcasters. The restrictions
go back decades and cover only broadcasters, a term with a narrow meaning in
namely over-the-air transmitters of radio and television signals. Cable
companies and other distributors, production companies, and pay and specialty
channels may be owned by non-U.S. citizens.
no restrictions on foreign ownership of newspapers, and foreigners (including
Canadians) do own some American papers. All the major newspapers and
newspaper groups, however, are U.S.-owned.
U.K. Media Law
the same time that the U.S.
was attempting to modify its media ownership rules, the United Kingdom's new Communications Act received Royal
removed most foreign ownership restrictions and, according to the Global Competition Review, “substantially
removed former restrictions on cross-media ownership in the U.K. by removing certain
prohibitions and raising the relevant market share thresholds.” What is
important for this report is the provisions for the assessment of media
important is the explicit role for the Secretary of State, with the advice of
Ofcom (the regulator for all
communications in the U.K.),
to intervene in certain cases on
specified grounds of public interest.
guide explains that two kinds of media mergers allow the Secretary of State's
In a “relevant merger situation”,
the Secretary of State may intervene where:
two or more enterprises cease to
be distinct as a result of the merger;
and where either
The value of the turnover in the UK
of the enterprise being taken over exceeds £70 million (the turnover test);
and / or
The merger would result in the
creation or enhancement of at least a 25 per cent share of supply of goods or
services of any description in the UK
or in a substantial part of the UK (the share of supply test).
In a “special merger situation”
the Secretary of State may intervene:
where two or more enterprises
cease to be distinct and
one of the merging parties has an
existing 25 per cent or more share of the supply of newspapers or
broadcasting in the UK or
in a substantial part of the UK.
(Ofcom guidance document)
public interest considerations include a newspaper test, and a broadcasting
and cross-media test.
newspaper test includes a consideration of the following:
the need for accurate
presentation of news in newspapers
the need for free expression
of opinion in the newspapers involved in the merger
the need for, to the extent
that is reasonable and practicable, a sufficient plurality of views
expressed in newspapers as a whole in each market for newspapers in the UK or part of the UK.
for broadcasting and cross-media mergers include:
the need for there to be a
sufficient plurality of persons with control of the media enterprises
serving that audience in relation to every different audience in the UK or a particular area/locality of the UK
the need for the availability
throughout the UK
of a wide range of broadcasting which (taken as a whole) is both of high
quality and calculated to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and
the need for persons carrying
on media enterprises and for those with control of such enterprises to
have a genuine commitment to the attainment in relation to broadcasting
of the standards objectives set out in Section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 (e.g. due
impartiality of news, taste and decency).
Secretary of State then decides whether the merger should be allowed to proceed, in whole or in part, and whether
conditions should be attached.
There are lessons to be learned from
laws and practices in other countries. There are, of course, important
institutional differences between Canada
and the U.K., as there are
between Canada and the U.S.
Nevertheless, it is a useful exercise to
see how the media laws in those two countries would, if applied in Canada,
have affected the Canadian media sector.
In terms of foreign ownership, the U.S. model would have allowed Canada to retain restrictions,
although with somewhat different coverage and rationale. Following the U.K.
model, on the other hand, would have led to the removal of most restrictions.
The U.S. bans cross-media ownership in
the same market, although there are numerous exceptions. In the case of the U.K., it is not possible to
say with complete certainty that the law would have banned the transactions
discussed above that took place in Vancouver, Quebec and New Brunswick. The
transactions in each of those markets would, however, have been flagged, by the
turnover test or the share of supply test, if not both, for review on public
From the discussion so far, the
reasons for rejecting this option should be apparent. It is obvious to this Committee that the current regulatory regime is not effective and shows no sign of
improving. Simply maintaining the status quo is therefore not acceptable.
While the Competition Bureau has
intervened in media mergers (e.g., the Astral case), it has done so on
relatively narrow grounds. While the Bureau has commented, in some cases on
related issues, it has tended to
emphasize advertising markets, particularly local markets. This focus is
extremely narrow and in its own right peculiar.
It strikes this Committee as
extremely odd that almost the only consideration that the Competition Bureau
deems important in a media merger is the local advertising market. Competition
is deemed worthy because over time it provides benefits to consumers. In many
cases these benefits include lower prices. Hence it is reasonable as part of a
review of media mergers to look at the impact on advertising markets. However,
it is short sighted in the extreme to let this be the sole focus of a review.
While this Committee does not and
would not suggest examining the content of news media as part of a review of
mergers it does suggest that a reduction in the number of owners, the diversity
of views and sources of news within a community should be matters of public
interest and thus should be part of a review of the acceptability of a merger.
A related problem with competition
policy as it has developed in Canada
is the understanding of dominant position in a market. A company that achieves
a dominant position in a market over a period of years by providing a better
quality product at a better price is not in violation of competition law. This
is particularly the case of the company that grows through its own business
acumen and does not abuse its market power. Thus, in competition policy it is
perfectly acceptable for a company to
end with a dominant position in a particular market and this would not normally
be a concern before the Competition Bureau.
While the reasoning behind this
position may be acceptable for the production of many products and services, it
is not acceptable in the area of news and information services. It is
particularly unacceptable when a company is able to
purchase all, or almost all, of the newspapers or broadcasters in a particular
market or region. The situation in New
Brunswick is a perfect illustration of the problem.
A solution would be to clarify the
mandate of the Competition Bureau so that it could not define the markets for
the news media in such a narrow manner that important services such as “news
and information” can be defined out of existence. In addition, the Competition
Act needs to address the particular public interest in news and information
The mandate of the CRTC is very
broad and since it flows from the principles enunciated in the Broadcasting Act it involves
the reconciliation of conflicting goals. Legislation such as the Broadcasting
Act, by its very nature, must be broad and comprehensive and leave some
discretion to the activities of the
CRTC in the exercise of its mandate. While a rational observer might conclude
that Section 3 of the Broadcasting Act assumes that news and information
have at least some importance, it is not at all clear where and how they fit
within the many objectives of the Act.
Nor does the Actprovide
any guidance on how its various objectives are to
This ambiguity about the importance
of, and the priority for, news and information programming has allowed the CRTC
a great deal of latitude in its decisions considering media mergers.
At times in the past it has denied certain corporate efforts (e.g., the attempt
by the Torstar Corporation to
purchase a cable network during the 1980s). At other times it has approved
large scale cross-media mergers such as that of Bell Canada Enterprises’
purchase of CTV. It has allowed the merger of assets that even the Competition
Bureau has argued against (the Astral case). The CRTC may appear to have criteria to
guide its decision making, but it is impossible to
develop a coherent list of these criteria and demonstrate how they have been
consistently used over the years.
One partial solution would be to clarify the aims and objectives of the Broadcasting
Act and the responsibilities of the CRTC with respect to news and information programming. The easiest way
to do this would be to amend the Broadcasting Act so that it
specifically gives a high priority to
news and information.
Amendment of the Broadcasting Act
should be coupled with an amendment of the responsibilities of the CRTC. One
might, for example, specify that the CRTC has a responsibility to preserve an
acceptable quantity and a diversity of information, news and public opinion
within the broadcasting system. This does not mean judging the quality of
individual news programs; it means taking into account the overall sources,
diversity and quantity of the elements mentioned.
During the past few decades the CRTC
has largely allowed questions of news and information services to disappear from its mandate. This is particularly
so in radio. At present the Commission focuses on the economic health of AM and
FM radio and provides some information on the genre of radio stations (e.g.,
country and western). It is extremely difficult to understand why the genre of
a radio station’s music is of more importance to
the public interest than the question of how much and what type of news and
information programming is provided.
An “interface agreement” was
developed by the CRTC and the Competition Bureau “to
provide greater clarity and certainty” for those seeking to
understand the jurisdictional boundary between the two agencies.
Essentially, the agreement says that both organizations have jurisdiction and
can engage in parallel merger reviews. In the Astral case they came to opposite conclusions: the Commission approved the
merger and the Bureau opposed it.
The fact is that the “interface
agreement” does not help resolve the problems that concern this Committee. For
example, it does not and cannot address the fact that the Competition Bureau,
under its current mandate, has a narrow focus on economics or the fact that the
CRTC pays comparatively little attention to
While it may be possible to clarify the “interface agreement” the fundamental
problem is that it does not resolve the problems of joint jurisdiction or
address the larger issue of the public interest.
Some of the problems might be
addressed by substantially altering the role of the CRTC and by enlarging that
of the Competition Bureau. This could be done by altering the responsibilities
of the CRTC, so that it was only allowed to
examine broadcasting media mergers from the perspective of a diversity of
voices (in this case the amount and diversity of news, information and opinion)
and restricted from commenting on the ongoing economic viability of the
entities involved in the merger. The competitive aspects of the merger would be
left to the Competition Bureau.
This option would require changes to
the mandates of both organizations. It would have the advantage of clarifying
the current situation and would go some way to ensuring that a diversity of
news and views were considered in broadcast media mergers. It would not,
however, clarify the situation involving newspaper mergers or cross-media
mergers. The only way that these might be examined more appropriately is within
an expanded mandate for the Competition Bureau.
One way to reduce the overlap
between the two agencies might be to merge them and form one agency. While this
would reduce the confusion about overlap, the creation of one institution would
not, in and of itself, change the need to apply different considerations to
media mergers than are applied to other mergers. Nor would a simple integration
of the agencies resolve the problem that procedures in both agencies are
seriously deficient when it comes to the consideration of media mergers.
It is also unlikely that some of the
considerations of public policy important for broadcasting matters could easily
be incorporated within the procedures developed by the Competition Bureau
without substantial changes to the Competition
Act and the considerations that might be included in a review by the
Competition Tribunal. Two such issues might be the diversity of news and
opinion available in particular markets. In short, the two agencies would not
easily fit together.
While the mandates of the two
federal agencies most deeply involved in the issues before this Committee need
to be clarified, that alone will not solve the problem. Nor is it possible to give
exclusive jurisdiction to one agency or the other.
To give exclusive jurisdiction for
media mergers to the CRTC would have two unfortunate consequences. First,
important concerns about competitive markets (e.g., advertising) would, judging
by past performance, be ignored. Second, the CRTC would have to be given
responsibility for examining mergers involving newspapers. This would represent
a serious and unacceptable expansion of the CRTC’s mandate.
As a regulator of the broadcasting
system the CRTC has enormous power to set conditions of licence for
broadcasters, to require them to provide certain services and to prevent them
from providing certain services. For example, the CRTC has the power to
determine what genre of radio stations will be allowed in a particular market
and how many of a certain genre will be allowed. The application of these types
of decisions to newspapers would rightly be seen as disastrous. It would also
probably be unconstitutional. In addition, it would violate one of this Committee’s
fundamental principles – that any solution to the current problems should not
involve government interference in the internal operation of news gathering
For these fundamental reasons the
Committee rejects any notion of expanding the role of the CRTC in such a way
that it might be involved in oversight of the internal operations of
An alternative approach, giving
exclusive jurisdiction to the Competition Bureau, would require an expansion of
the Bureau and a substantial reduction in the authority of the CRTC. While this
might be desirable on certain grounds it would introduce confusion within the
broadcasting system and likely lead to an increase in the friction between the
Bureau and the CRTC.
Thus there will always be a problem
of overlap. Given this reality there are at least two adjustments that could be
made. These are the adaptation of a model used in other situations (e.g., the Canada Transportation Act)
or a modified version of a model developed in other jurisdictions (e.g., such
as that developed in the United Kingdom to deal with media mergers). Each of
these will be discussed in the next two sections.
Overlap between the jurisdiction of
the Competition Bureau and the CRTC is not unique. A similar problem exists
with respect to the Canada
Transportation Act. As a solution, the airline merger provisions of the Act
call for the Commissioner
of Competition to be informed “under
her own legislative provisions at the same time as the Canadian Transportation
Agency is informed of a proposed merger.”
Similarly, proposed revisions to the Investment Canada Act (Bill C-59)
concerning matters of national security had included a provision for national
security reviews by the Governor in Council.
Adoption of a model similar to that involving transportation mergers and the
inclusion of “reviews” similar to
those proposed in the Investment Canada Act would go some way to clarifying the situation between the Bureau and
the CRTC. However, they would not resolve all the issues that need to be addressed when dealing with the media.
During the course of its work this
Committee examined the recent changes to the regulation and supervision of
broadcasting and media in the United
Media mergers in the United Kingdom are subject to a jurisdictional overlap similar to that in Canada. To respond to the problems of overlap the United Kingdom has developed a set
of procedures that may be applied in any type of media merger. These are
described in Appendix V of this Volume.
The obvious advantage of this model
is that it explicitly recognizes a public interest in media mergers and further
recognizes that these interests are broader than the concerns that typically
apply to mergers (e.g., narrow
economic concerns about competitive behaviour). It also recognizes and
preserves the distinct role and competency of the two regulatory agencies involved and requires both to contribute to
the review. A third advantage is that the results of the review are made
3. (1) It is hereby declared as the
broadcasting policy for Canada
(a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned
and controlled by Canadians;
(b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in
the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community
elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and
provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the
maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;
(c) English and French language broadcasting, while sharing
common aspects, operate under different conditions and may have different
(d) the Canadian broadcasting system should
(i) serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political,
social and economic fabric of Canada,
(ii) encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a
wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas,
values and artistic creativity, by displaying Canadian talent in
entertainment programming and by offering information and analysis concerning
Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view,
(iii) through its programming and the employment opportunities arising
out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the
circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including
equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature
of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that
(iv) be readily adaptable to scientific and technological change;
(e) each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall
contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of
(f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make maximum use, and
in no case less than predominant use, of Canadian creative and other
resources in the creation and presentation of programming, unless the nature
of the service provided by the undertaking, such as specialized content or
format or the use of languages other than French and English, renders that use
impracticable, in which case the undertaking shall make the greatest
practicable use of those resources;
(g) the programming originated by broadcasting undertakings
should be of high standard;
(h) all persons who are licensed to carry on broadcasting undertakings
have a responsibility for the programs they broadcast;
(i) the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting
(i) be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information,
enlightenment and entertainment for men, women and children of all ages,
interests and tastes,
(ii) be drawn from local, regional, national and international
(iii) include educational and community programs,
(iv) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to
the expression of differing views on matters of public concern, and
(v) include a significant contribution from the Canadian independent
(j) educational programming, particularly where provided
through the facilities of an independent educational authority, is an
integral part of the Canadian broadcasting system;
(k) a range of broadcasting services in English and in French
shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available;
(l) the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national
public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services
incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and
(m) the programming provided by the Corporation should
(i) be predominantly and distinctively Canadian,
(ii) reflect Canada
and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special
needs of those regions,
(iii) actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural
(iv) be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and
circumstances of each official language community, including the particular
needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities,
(v) strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French,
(vi) contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,
(vii) be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate
and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose, and
(viii) reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada;
(n) where any conflict arises between the objectives of the
Corporation set out in paragraphs (l) and (m) and the interests
of any other broadcasting undertaking of the Canadian broadcasting system, it
shall be resolved in the public interest, and where the public interest would
be equally served by resolving the conflict in favour of either, it shall be
resolved in favour of the objectives set out in paragraphs (l) and (m);
(o) programming that reflects the aboriginal cultures of Canada
should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources
become available for the purpose;
(p) programming accessible by disabled persons should be
provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become
available for the purpose;
(q) without limiting any obligation of a broadcasting
undertaking to provide the programming contemplated by paragraph (i),
alternative television programming services in English and in French should
be provided where necessary to ensure that the full range of programming
contemplated by that paragraph is made available through the Canadian
(r) the programming provided by alternative television
programming services should
(i) be innovative and be complementary to the programming provided for
(ii) cater to tastes and interests not adequately provided for by the
programming provided for mass audiences, and include programming devoted to
culture and the arts,
(iii) reflect Canada's
regions and multicultural nature,
(iv) as far as possible, be acquired rather than produced by those
(v) be made available throughout Canada by the most cost-efficient
(s) private networks and programming undertakings should, to an
extent consistent with the financial and other resources available to them,
(i) contribute significantly to the creation and presentation of
Canadian programming, and
(ii) be responsive to the evolving demands of the public; and
(t) distribution undertakings
(i) should give priority to the carriage of Canadian programming
services and, in particular, to the carriage of local Canadian stations,
(ii) should provide efficient delivery of programming at affordable
rates, using the most effective technologies available at reasonable cost,
(iii) should, where programming services are supplied to them by broadcasting
undertakings pursuant to contractual arrangements, provide reasonable terms
for the carriage, packaging and retailing of those programming services, and
(iv) may, where the Commission considers it appropriate, originate
programming, including local programming, on such terms as are conducive to
the achievement of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in this
subsection, and in particular provide access for underserved linguistic and
cultural minority communities.
(2) It is further declared that the Canadian broadcasting system
constitutes a single system and that the objectives of the broadcasting
policy set out in subsection (1) can best be achieved by providing for the
regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting system by a single
independent public authority.
OBJECTS AND POWERS OF THE
IN RELATION TO BROADCASTING
5. (1) Subject to this Act and the Radiocommunication
Act and to any directions to the Commission issued by the Governor in
Council under this Act, the Commission shall regulate and supervise all
aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system with a view to implementing the
broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1) and, in so doing, shall have
regard to the regulatory policy set out in subsection (2).
(2) The Canadian broadcasting system should be regulated and
supervised in a flexible manner that
(a) is readily adaptable to the different characteristics of
English and French language broadcasting and to the different conditions
under which broadcasting undertakings that provide English or French language
(b) takes into account regional needs and concerns;
(c) is readily adaptable to scientific and technological
(d) facilitates the provision of broadcasting to Canadians;
(e) facilitates the provision of Canadian programs to
(f) does not inhibit the development of information
technologies and their application or the delivery of resultant services to
(g) is sensitive to the administrative burden that, as a
consequence of such regulation and supervision, may be imposed on persons
carrying on broadcasting undertakings.
(3) The Commission shall give primary consideration to the objectives
of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1) if, in any particular
matter before the Commission, a conflict arises between those objectives and
the objectives of the regulatory policy set out in subsection (2).
(4) Where a broadcasting undertaking is subject to the Employment
Equity Act, the powers granted to the Commission under this Act do not
extend to the regulation or supervision of matters concerning employment
equity in relation to that broadcasting undertaking.
be considered regarding prevention or lessening of competition
93. In determining, for the purpose of
section 92, whether or not a merger or proposed merger prevents or lessens,
or is likely to prevent or lessen, competition substantially, the Tribunal
may have regard to the following factors:
(a) the extent to which foreign products or foreign competitors
provide or are likely to provide effective competition to the businesses of
the parties to the merger or proposed merger;
(b) whether the business, or a part of the business, of a party
to the merger or proposed merger has failed or is likely to fail;
(c) the extent to which acceptable substitutes for products
supplied by the parties to the merger or proposed merger are or are likely to
(d) any barriers to entry into a market, including
(i) tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade,
(ii) interprovincial barriers to trade, and
(iii) regulatory control over entry,
and any effect of the merger or proposed merger on such barriers;
(e) the extent to which effective competition remains or would
remain in a market that is or would be affected by the merger or proposed
(f) any likelihood that the merger or proposed merger will or
would result in the removal of a vigorous and effective competitor;
(g) the nature and extent of change and innovation in a
relevant market; and
(h) any other factor that is relevant to competition in a
market that is or would be affected by the merger or proposed merger.
Notices, advertisements and other
matters that are published
11. (1) A notice,
advertisement or other matter that is required or authorized by or pursuant
to an Act of Parliament to be published by or under the authority of a
federal institution primarily for the information of members of the public
possible, be printed in one of the official languages in at least one
publication in general circulation within each region where the matter
applies that appears wholly or mainly in that language and in the other
official language in at least one publication in general circulation within
each region where the matter applies that appears wholly or mainly in that
other language; and
(b) where there is no publication in general circulation within
a region where the matter applies that appears wholly or mainly in English or
no such publication that appears wholly or mainly in French, be printed in
both official languages in at least one publication in general circulation
within that region.
(2) Where a notice,
advertisement or other matter is printed in one or more publications pursuant
to subsection (1), it shall be given equal prominence in each official
This is particularly so
given the complementary roles of the two organizations and the fact that the
Commission is now moving beyond opening markets to competition and is
exercising its powers to forbear from regulation in the area of
including the general public, need greater clarity and certainty as to the
overall regulatory and legal framework in which telecommunications and
broadcasting firms must conduct their affairs.
Nothing in this document
is intended to limit the responsibility or authority of the Commission or the
Bureau to administer the respective legislation for which they are responsible.
It is recognized that in addition to competition issues, the Commission has
many other statutory objectives, while the focus of the Bureau is on matters
related to competition.
Issues of authority with
respect to competition can be grouped into four areas:
Where the Commission has forborne or exempted
Where the Commission and the Bureau both have
Where the Commission is exercising exclusive
Where the Bureau is exercising exclusive authority.
Under the Telecommunications
Act, the CRTC has authority to exempt classes of carriers from application
of the Act. Exemption orders may be subject to conditions. The Commission
also has the power to forbear in whole or in part from most regulatory
responsibilities where it finds, for example, that services or classes of
services are subject to sufficient competition to protect the interests of
users and that forbearance would not likely unduly impair the development or
continuance of a competitive market. Forbearance orders may also be
conditional, and can be varied or rescinded.
As a law of general
application, the Competition Act has an established administrative
framework, jurisprudence and a market test standard of “substantial prevention
or lessening of competition” with which to deal with competition issues.
However, it is generally accepted that during the transition to competitive
markets, competition safeguards beyond those available under the Competition
Act are required.
Where the Commission has unconditionally
exempted or has forborne from regulation in whole and unconditionally, until
such time as it exercises its authority to review, rescind or vary its
exemption or forbearance orders and decisions, the Competition Act would
Where the Commission has forborne only in part
or has exempted or forborne conditionally, the Bureau considers that the Competition
Act would apply to the activities exempted or conditionally forborne from
To the maximum extent possible, the Commission
identifies in its orders and decisions the powers and duties which the
Commission will no longer exercise.
As all markets are not
yet subject to effective competition, the Commission will continue to enforce
regulatory safeguards to deal with issues such as bundling of services by the
telephone companies, contract and access issues for multi-dwelling buildings,
and exclusive programming rights practices. During the transition to
competition, the Commission can deal with these issues more efficiently than a
case-by-case approach under the Competition Act.
One notable issue in the
transition to competition is anti-competitive cross-subsidization. Until all
telecommunications markets are subject to effective competition, the Commission
will need to guard against incumbent carriers cross-subsidizing services
offered in highly contested markets with revenues from services where effective
competition does not exist. Imputation tests and bundling restrictions imposed
by the Commission are intended to address this issue. Safeguards imposed by the
Commission seriously diminish the likelihood of anti-competitive
When the Commission
deems that markets have become sufficiently competitive and the Commission
forbears from regulation, the Competition Act would address
anti-competitive pricing issues should they arise.
Under the Telecommunications
Act, prior approval of telecommunications mergers is not required. However,
the CRTC has specific responsibility under the Telecommunications Act
for ensuring compliance with foreign ownership and control rules and has broad
regulatory authority over the Canadian telecommunications system. Under the Competition
Act, all mergers are subject to review and those which exceed proscribed
economic thresholds must be formally prenotified to the Bureau.
Under the Broadcasting
Act, prior approval of the Commission is required for changes of control or
ownership of licensed undertakings. Whereas the Bureau’s examination of mergers
relates exclusively to competitive effects, the Commission’s consideration involves
a broader set of objectives under the Act. This may encompass
consideration of competition issues in order to further the objectives of the
Act. The Bureau’s concern in radio and television broadcast markets relates
primarily to the impact on advertising markets and, with respect to broadcast
distribution undertakings, to the choices and prices available to consumers.
The Commission’s concerns include those of the Bureau except that its
consideration of advertising markets relates to the broadcasters’ ability to
fulfill the objectives of the Act.
It is generally
Government and Commission policy to encourage competition in broadcasting,
particularly in the distribution of broadcasting services.
respect to merger review:
there is parallel jurisdiction.
any transaction must comply with the legislation
administered by both organizations.
the merger and related pre-notification
requirements of the Competition Act apply to telecommunications and
review by the Commission under the Telecommunications
Act deals with ensuring compliance with foreign ownership and control
limitations and may include other regulatory issues that may arise as a result
of the transaction - prior approval, per se, is not required.
review by the Commission under the Broadcasting
Act applies to changes in ownership or control of licensees under the Act.
(b) Marketing Practices
Depending upon the
specific circumstances, marketing practices can be addressed by the Commission or
The Commission will, for
example, deal with slamming complaints in the telephone market. However, the
Bureau may act in cases where the slamming practice involves an element of
false or misleading advertising. The Competition Act applies to all
false or misleading advertising in the communications industry, as well as to
The Bureau considers
that the Competition Act will apply to exclusive dealing, tied selling
and other trade restraints not covered by regulatory safeguards imposed by the
Both the Commission and
the Bureau would support the appropriate use of industry codes of conduct or
ombudsman models as complementary vehicles to deal with consumer concerns. As
appropriate, the Commission and the Bureau will review industry codes to ensure
compliance with their respective legislation.
access are critical for telecommunications competition. They require a high degree
of technological and economic expertise, as well as flexible and timely dispute
resolution. While the Competition Act applies to access and
interconnection issues in unregulated network industries, they have been a
primary focus of economic regulation in telecommunications by the CRTC.
The CRTC will continue to deal with issues
related to interconnection and access.
This Freelance Agreement (the “Agreement”)
sets forth the terms and conditions of the agreement between CanWest News
Service, a division of CanWest Publications Inc. ("CanWest") and the
above-named individual (“Freelancer”) for the services of Freelancer to create
and supply written or other material (“Content”) to CanWest.
1. CanWest may, from time to time
engage Freelancer to furnish Content to CanWest. This Agreement shall apply to
all Content furnished to CanWest by Freelancer, without further formality,
until terminated in writing.
2. Freelancer acknowledges and
agrees that Freelancer’'s engagement hereunder is on a “flat fee” basis.
Nothing in this Agreement shall be interpreted so as to create the relationship
of employer/employee between CanWest and Freelancer, which shall be that of
independent contractors. Freelancer acknowledges that Freelancer shall be
solely responsible for all necessary deductions and remittances whether for
income tax purposes or otherwise in connection with the compensation earned
hereunder. Freelancer agrees that the Content, this Agreement, and the services
of Freelancer are not subject to any union or collective bargaining agreement,
and will not become so subject.
3. Freelancer hereby irrevocably
grants and assigns to CanWest all rights of every kind in and to the Content
(including copyright), and agrees that CanWest shall have the right to
exclusively use and exploit the Content in any manner and in any and all media,
whether now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity.
For greater certainty, Freelancer shall have no right to re-sell or re-publish
the Content without CanWest’s express written permission. CanWest shall be
entitled to edit the content, and Freelancer hereby waives in favour of CanWest
and its assigns, all "moral rights" in and to the Content. Nothing
herein shall obligate CanWest to use or publish the Content in any manner. The
rights granted hereunder may be freely assigned or sub-licensed by CanWest to
any third party.
4. Freelancer represents and
warrants that the Content is wholly original to Freelancer, that Freelancer has
the unimpaired right to convey the rights granted herein, and that the Content
shall not infringe upon or violate the rights of any third party, whether
personal or proprietary, including copyright. Freelancer hereby indemnifies and
holds harmless CanWest from and against any and all damages, or liabilities
arising out of a breach by Freelancer of this Agreement or any of the foregoing
representations and warranties. Freelancer’'s rights and remedies hereunder
shall be limited to the right, if any, to obtain damages at law and Freelancer
shall not have any right in such event to terminate, rescind, enjoin or restrain
any of the rights granted to CanWest hereunder.
5. This Agreement shall be governed
by the laws of, and shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Province of Ontario
applicable therein. Either of CanWest or Freelancer may terminate this
Agreement on thirty (30) days written notice, provided that CanWest shall
retain all rights in and to all previously provided Content. This is the entire
Agreement between the parties.
The following eligibility criteria
for PAP are from the Department of Canadian Heritage website:
To be eligible,
publications must meet certain requirements outlined in detail in the
Application Guide. Key elements of these criteria include:
in operation for one financial year and one completed publishing cycle;
Canadian-ownership and control;
edited, designed, assembled, published and printed in Canada;
paid circulation comprising at least 50% of total circulation, through
bona fide subscriptions and single copy sales through retailers/newsstands;
a significant portion of original material produced by Canadians;
a maximum of 70 per cent advertising;
minimum frequency of 2 times and maximum of 56 times per year;
minimum subscription price of $12 or more per year or a value of $1 or
more per issue, and minimum single-copy-sale price of $0.50 per issue in the
case of a weekly newspaper and of $1 per issue in the case of a periodical.
The CBC operates four commercial free radio
networks and two television networks. It also operates two 24-hour news and
information services – CBC Newsworld and the Réseau de l’information. In addition it operates:
three specialty television channels (Country Canada, ARTV and a documentary
channel); English and French language services over the World Wide Web;
Internet based programming services for English and French youth; and Galaxie,
a digital audio service offering 30 music channels.
While the CBC/Radio Canada operates a large
number of services on different platforms the audience share of the main
television networks has been declining for the last twenty-five years. In part
this is due to the fragmentation of
audiences, for both public and private broadcasters, that has occurred as the
number of channels available has increased.
It is also due to a decision by the
CBC to increase the proportion of
Canadian content that it provides on its television networks.
Unfortunately, the precipitous decline in audience share over the past two
decades has occurred as the parliamentary appropriation also declined. The huge
loss of revenue has forced the CBC to
focus on activities that earn income – advertising during TV news programs and
a heavy reliance on the broadcasting of sporting events.
Although audience shares have declined over the
last twenty years CBC is still an important source of news for Canadians. The
following table shows the audience for various news shows during the Fall of
Audiences to Early-Evening and
Late-Night News Programs on Canadian English-Language Networks
August 30, 2004-April 3, 2005
Average Minute Aud.
Canada Now – National
Canada Now – Local
The National – 2nd
Sunday Night News
The National (Sept.-Dec.)
The National (Jan.-Apr.)
Sunday Night News
Sunday Night News
Sunday Night News (Oct.-Dec.)
Sunday Night News (Jan.-Apr.)
CTV Evening News
CTV Evening News
CTV National News
CTV Late Night News
Global National (as of Feb. 27)
Corporate Research and Strategic Analysis (Nielsen Media Research)
CBC radio, in both French and English, offers a
unique service that does not duplicate the efforts of private broadcasters.
Because it is a unique service and is free of advertising it tends to attract audience shares that are significantly
higher than those attracted to the
CBC’s television broadcasting. For example, for all programming the main radio
services (French and English) have audience shares that are several times those
of the television services (e.g., 15% for radio as opposed to less than 5% for English language television)
There are lessons to be learned
Although French language television audience
shares are higher than those of English language television shares they have
also been declining as more French language specialty channels have become
There is no doubt that the CBC makes an
important contribution to the
Canadian broadcasting system. It makes a great deal of Canadian content
available to Canadians, and operates
a large number of different services that allow Canadians to see and hear about different regions of the
country. It also has an impact in “raising the bar” for other news services
since the private sector competes
with the CBC for viewers.
As one witness told the Committee:
We would like to
draw your attention to a study
conducted for the BBC by McKinsey & Company the respected international
consulting firm. That study examined the role of most of the world's major
public broadcasters in 20 countries on four continents. McKinsey found that
there is a strong link between the health and funding of the public broadcaster
and the overall quality of that broadcasting market. A strong public service
broadcaster like the BBC, which produces a distinctive programming schedule,
sets off what McKinsey calls a virtuous circle with its commercial competitors; because the BBC produces better programs,
private broadcasters are forced to
do the same.
News Inc. Operating Philosophy and editorial freedom (complete text)
The BNI operating philosophy can be succinctly summed up as follows:
BNI newspapers strive to be the most trusted, respected and accurate
source of information in the New
Brunswick communities they serve.
Our newspapers will reflect broad mainstream values of the citizens of New Brunswick. Our newspapers treat people with dignity and
respect. What we print will be in
accordance with the standards of our communities, which we recognize will evolve
and change over time.
BNI newspapers will cover the news as impartially as possible without
fear or favour. We will expose
wrong-doing, duplicity or the misuse of power, public or private. We are committed to the principles of truth,
fairness and accuracy. When mistakes are
made, we admit them and correct them promptly.
Our newspapers’ duty is to serve their readers and New Brunswickers at
large and operate on a financially sustainable basis.
Global’s Statement of Journalistic Standards (complete text)
Our primary duty to our readers is to report the news as accurately and
fairly as possible. We must be driven by facts that are obtained through
credible sources and which fairly reflect the context of the news.
MISTAKES AND ERRORS
If our reporting contains errors and omissions, we will ungrudgingly and
promptly publish a correction.
FAIRNESS AND BALANCE
News reporting should be fair, unbiased and present competing sides to a
story. People who are the subject of news reporting must be given a fair
opportunity to respond as part of the story, failing which, such response, once
obtained, should be published at the next opportunity. Journalists and editors
must make all effort to set aside their own biases and prejudices in order to
provide readers with fair coverage.
DIVERSITY OF VIEWS
While the Proprietor will shape the overall editorial tone and direction
of the newspaper, editors should provide readers with a wide range of views on
matters of public interest. Our newspapers should promote intelligent debate
and discussion on issues of the day both within the paper and as a participant
in the larger Canadian media landscape.
Opinion pieces should be published as a means of assisting readers to
understand and evaluate current events. Contributors will normally have broad
license subject to intellectual integrity and literary discipline. Commentary
should be founded on fact and not state conjecture as established fact. If
critical of another commentator, such criticism should be respectful and speak
to differences of ideas as opposed to personal attacks. Opinion and commentary
pieces will be clearly identified as such so as to demarcate them from news
As a first principle, sources used in reporting should be clearly
identified and the use of anonymous sources avoided. However, when
circumstances dictate the use of anonymous sources, independent corroboration
should be obtained before publication. Readers should be informed that such
corroboration was obtained in order to establish that the information reported
is as reliable as possible.
Photographs should be used in a manner that fairly represent the story
or commentary with which they are associated, and not as a tool for editorial
Headlines should be written in a manner that fairly reflects the story
with which they are associated, and not as a tool for editorial effect. They
should state factually what has been written and avoid interpretive and
/ Radio-Canada Journalistic Standards and Practices (extract)
1. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our society, since freedom
itself cannot flourish without the free flow and exchange of ideas, opinions
and information. This is a principle central to democracy and vital to the
defence of individual liberty. As broadcast journalism has become a powerful
and influential part of the information media, it shares the freedom, but must
also recognize the obligations that come with it.
The Corporation enjoys administrative and programming independence from
political and governmental direction. This independence permits the Corporation
to discharge the role assigned to it within the Canadian broadcasting system.
The autonomy of the Corporation is assured through the authority conferred by
Parliament upon its Board of Directors. The directors act as Parliament's
"trustees" to define and to guard the public interest and to ensure
the Corporation's mandate is fulfilled. This principle of the "arm's
length" relationship between the CBC and government is critical to the
Corporation's independence, particularly with respect to its journalistic
activities. However, there is no autonomy without responsibility.
2. RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESS
As contemporary life becomes more complex, the distance between what we
know and what we need to know for proper understanding and informed decision
making seems to be greater than ever. Consequently, there has never been a
greater need for truly effective media and for public confidence in the media.
Trust in the media is of crucial importance. An increasingly
sophisticated public, seeking ways to cope in an increasingly complex world,
makes heavy demands on the media while at the same time expecting the highest
standards of performance.
To meet these expectations, the media must be socially responsible; in
other words, freedom of the media and the constitutional protection that it
enjoys require responsibility to the public it serves. The broadcast media in
particular have an obligation to be fair, accurate, thorough, comprehensive and
balanced in their presentation of information. This is unmistakably true of a
public broadcasting agency, which is accountable through its Board of Directors
to the Parliament and people of Canada.
While the principles of good journalism remain the same among public and
private, print and electronic media, there may be wide differences in their
application. In CBC journalism those principles must govern daily practice so
the Corporation's journalism will meet the highest standards of excellence and
4. CTV News Policy Handbook (extract)
Stories Concerning Bell Globemedia, or Affiliated Companies
Stories concerning Bell Globemedia, the CTV Television Network,
affiliated companies or shareholders should be covered in accordance with the
same standards of fairness, balance and accuracy applied to any other
story. Stories should be neither under-reported
CTV employees invited to participate in stories should be treated with
the same standards of courtesy as other contributors.
5. Le Devoir (extract)
10.07 Both parties acknowledge
the public's right to information. Accordingly, they acknowledge that freedom
of the press is not a privilege exclusive to the press, but that it proceeds
from the fundamental right of every person to have access to the facts relating
to or concerning any matter of public interest. Freedom of the press also
proceeds from the right of every person freely to express and publish his/her
opinion on or relating to any matter of public interest and to hear and read
the opinions of others. For the protection of these fundamental rights, it is
essential that the press be free to gather the news without any obstruction or
interference whatever, and to publish and comment on the news.
Accordingly, having regard to the financial resources of Le Devoir,
information must be:
accurate, with attention to detail and as complete as possible;
consistent with the right of persons and institutions to their
reputation, without prejudice to the public's right to free information on
every matter of public interest that is free and as complete as possible;
free of all outside constraints;
open to the public's right to express its opinion on subjects of public
6. The Globe and Mail Style Guide (extract)
The credibility of the news, analysis and opinion in
The Globe and Mail rests on reputation for honesty, accuracy, objectivity and
balance. To these ends, the following
rules and principles apply:
Integrity: The Globe and Mail will ask no one to slant
an article, column, feature, headline or other item to suit any interest or
opinion. Staffers may decline to write
what they believe is untrue or unfair. A
strict separation will be maintained between the editorial views of The Globe
and Mail and the coverage, selection, editing and play of the news.
Fairness: The Globe and Mail will seek to provide
reasonable accounts of competing views in any controversy so as to enable
readers to make up their own minds.
7. The Toronto
Star’s Atkinson Principles
“Throughout his 50 years as publisher of The Toronto
Star from 1899 to 1948, Joseph E. Atkinson developed strong views on both the
role of a large city newspaper and the editorial principles it should espouse.
These values and beliefs now form what are called the Atkinson Principles. For
more than a century, they have provided the intellectual foundation on which
The Star has operated and have given the paper its distinctive voice.
A strong, united and
independent Canada: Atkinson argued for a strong
central government and the development of distinctive social, economic and
cultural policies appropriate to an independent country.
Social Justice: Atkinson was relentless in pressing
for social and economic programs to help those less advantaged and showed
particular concern for the least advantaged among us.
Individual and Civil
always pressed for equal treatment of all citizens under the law, particularly
minorities, and was dedicated to the fundamental freedoms of belief, thought,
opinion and expression and the freedom of press.
Community and Civic
Atkinson continually advocated the importance of proper city planning, the
development of strong communities with their vibrant local fabrics and the
active involvement of citizens in civic affairs.
The Rights of Working
People: The Star
was born out of a strike in 1892 and Atkinson was committed to the rights of
working people including freedom of association and the safety and dignity of
The Necessary Role of
Atkinson believed the public need was not met by the private sector and market
forces alone, he argued strongly for government intervention.
These six Principles collectively constitute the intellectual framework
on which Star editorial policy has been based. Standing alone, they dictate few
specific answers to particular issues of policy and debate. They must
continually be interpreted to apply to new and diverse situations. They have,
however, provided a firm and principled foundation on which analysis and
reasoning can take place. They also provide a spectrum against which news
coverage can be organized to highlight issues worthy of debate.”
8. The Washington
After Eugene Meyer bought The Washington Post in 1933
and began the family ownership that continues today, he published “These
The first mission of a newspaper is to tell the truth
as nearly as the truth may be ascertained.
The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it
can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.
As a disseminator of the news, the paper shall observe
the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.
What it prints shall be fit reading for the young as
well as for the old.
The newspaper’s duty is to its readers and to the
public at large, and not to the private interests of the owner.
In the pursuit of truth, the newspaper shall be
prepared to make sacrifices of its material fortunes, if such course be
necessary for the public good. The newspaper shall not be the ally of any
special interest, but shall be fair and free and wholesome in its outlook on
public affairs and public men.
As a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, CTV is committed to
the highest standards of broadcasting, and adheres to the codes of conduct of
the Canadian Association of broadcasters. If you have a concern about
something viewed on our service or under the statement of principles and
practices regarding journalistic independence, write to:
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
P.O. Box 3265
Station D, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6H8
Or, email Complaints@CBSC.ca. To obtain a copy of the statements of principles
and practices, write us at:
P.O. Box 9,
Station O, Toronto, Ontario.
Global Television is a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. The
Council plays a special role in Canadian broadcasting by assisting in the
application of specific broadcast standards and providing recourse for members
of the public. Such standards include Global's Statement of Principles
and Practices related to cross-media ownership.
We welcome your feedback on matters related to our programming.
You may reach us at (INSERT STATION PHONE NUMBER) or you may contact the Council
REPORT ON THE CANADIAN NEWS MEDIA BY THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND
with the recommendations of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications with one major exception.
I do not support the concept that proposed mergers of news gathering
organizations be targeted under a new section of the Competition Act. It is my
belief that the “public interest” in such mergers, as discussed in the report,
is properly protected under the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution which
identifies freedom of the press and other media of communication as a
I propose that the Competition Act be
strengthened to ensure that all mergers,
whether of energy, transport, media or other companies which could create
monopoly conditions be more effectively scrutinized to ensure the public
interest is served. My objection is the
recommendation that media companies be treated differently from other
proposed restrictions on broadcast media implemented through the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reflect the fact that
the airwaves are a public resource whose distribution and use must be monitored
in the interest of their public owners.
This is not the case when dealing with the ownership of private or
publicly-owned media companies themselves.
 In addition to owning the only two
English-language daily newspapers in Vancouver (The Province and The
Vancouver Sun), CanWest Global owns television station CHAN, the most
popular station in the city. CanWest also distributes 16 community newspapers
in the Vancouver area, including the Vancouver Courier, which is Canada’s
largest-distribution community newspaper with four editions weekly, including
separate west and east editions on Wednesday, a citywide Sunday edition, and a
downtown edition delivered on Friday.
v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp (1994) 3 S.C.R., 835.
2003, Glacier Ventures International Corp. completed its acquisition of Farm
Business Communications, which publishes periodicals within specific regional,
crop and industry niches. At the end of 2001, Glacier had entered into an
agreement to purchase Western Producer publications, which published Canada’s
largest weekly agricultural newspaper, the Western
Producer, and several related publications. With the two acquisitions,
Glacier, according to its annual report, became Canada’s largest publisher of
and VisionTV did not appear before the Senate Committee but they contribute to discussion of public affairs.
companies are required to contribute
5% of their revenues to the CTF or
2% to community television and 3% to the CTF.
its Woodbridge Co. Ltd. holding company, the Thomsons had owned The Globe and Mail from 1980 to 2000.
Channel, in its corporate material, uses a figure of 13,000 stations for the
size of the U.S.
radio market and calculates that it has a 9 per cent market share of the number
of stations (and an 18 per cent market share of total
revenue for the industry). It argues that the radio industry is less
concentrated than other industries in the media/entertainment sector.
 In addition to the radio licences granted to Brunswick
News, the CRTC approved several other radio licences for New Brunswick in 2000. These were: two
low-power Christian music FM stations in Moncton,
two new English-language FM stations in Moncton
(one was a conversion from an AM station) and a new commercial French-language
FM service in Moncton.
 As the Interim Report noted, in 2003 CanWest owned both Vancouver dailies and important community
papers in the area, and has 71 per cent of the local audience for TV newscasts.
In francophone Montreal,
Quebecor had 60 per cent of newspaper readers and 37 per cent of newscast
audience, in addition to its ownership of the main cable TV firm.
 Rachel Brandenburger (ed.), Getting the Deal Through – Telecoms and
Media, Global Competition Review, 2005.
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications,” n.d. (“This document is up to date as of November 2003.”)
 The three community newspapers at
issue in the case were the Vancouver Courier, the North Shore News
and the Real EstateWeekly [footnote
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications,” n.d. (The paper was up
to date as of November 2003.)
 CRTC, “The CRTC Authorizes the Sale of WIC Western International
to CanWest Global and that of WIC Premium to Corus,” News Release, 6 July 2000.
Emphasis in original.
 CRTC, “The CRTC Authorizes the Sale of WIC Western
International to CanWest Global and that of WIC Premium to Corus,” News
Release, 6 July 2000.
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
 The Tribunal, which
was created in 1986 when Parliament enacted major reforms of Canada's
competition law and replaced the Combines
Investigation Act with the Competition
Act, is a specialized court that combines expertise in economics and
business with expertise in law. It hears and decides all applications made
under Parts VII.1 and VIII of the Competition
Act. The Bureau has the power to bring civil matters before the Competition
Tribunal or other courts depending on the issue. (Information here is from the
websites of the Competition Bureau and the Competition Tribunal.)
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications,” n.d. (Emphasis added.) It should be noted that Videotron
offers Internet services.
 The Competition Bureau, “The Competition Bureau’s Work in Media
Industries: Background for the Senate Committee on Transport and
 The Canadian Media Research Consortium
(CMRC) conducted a survey of 3,012 Canadians during November and December of
2003. The results of that survey were shared with this Committee by Professor
Donna Logan, Director of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of British
Columbia. Professor Logan was the lead
investigator for the CMRC project. Where similar questions were asked the two
surveys are in close agreement.
 Where similar questions are asked
and similar scales are used the two surveys produce similar results.
 For example, higher levels of
negativity and alienation are expressed in Montreal
and Vancouver than in Toronto.
Brandenburger (ed.), Getting the Deal
Through – Telecoms and Media, Global Competition Review, 2005.
Schultz’s paper observes that the “Broadcasting Act is a policy morass.
While some of the policy objectives in Sec. 3 are reasonably concrete, others
are undefined – perhaps even indefinable, e.g., ‘cultural sovereignty’;
furthermore there is no ranking, no attempt to
resolve inconsistencies, or ambiguities, or outright conflicts. One of the most
important consequences of what I think can be charitably described as a
legislative laundry list of policy goals is that it effectively transfers
policy-making power, subject to minimal
constraints to the CRTC. It can also
mean…that different Commissioners at different times can give different
meanings and interpretations to the
same objectives.” Schultz op. cit., p. 9.
Interface Agreement is contained in Appendix XI below.
C-59 was introduced in the House of Commons in June 2005; work stopped on the bill with the election
call and dissolution of Parliament in November 2005. The bill called for the adoption of a
timetable for national security reviews, but the details were not made
fuller description of the details of this process can be found in a “guidance
document” titled Enterprise Act 2002: Public Interest Intervention in Media
Mergers available from the United
Kingdom’s Department of Trade and Industry
was discussed at some length in this Committee’s Interim Report.
& Company, Public Service Broadcasters Around the World: A McKinsey
Report for the BBC (London: McKinsey & Company, 1999).
from the submission of Brunswick News Inc. to the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications. April 22,
Document dated October 17, 2002. In
correspondence addressed to the committee, CanWest Global stated that it was
their intention to post it on the corporate CanWest Global Communications
website, www.canwestglobal.com. The Committee’s staff was unable to find it on
this site at the time of the publication of this report.
full text of the CBC/Radio-Canada Code of Journalistic Standards and Practices
can be found at
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