Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is just wrong

If this deal goes through and the companies involved retain their current holdings, one company, CanWest, would own major interests in:

* the dominant newspapers in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Windsor, Ottawa, and Montreal;
* The National Post;
* the Globe and Mail (in partnership with the Toronto Star and Thomson, the world's largest data company.);
* the Global TV network;
* the CTV network;
* CityTV and its affiliates;
* many of the major cable TV specialty channels;
* Alliance-Atlantis, the country's dominant movie distributor and one of its major TV production companies;
* the dominant telephone company in Eastern Canada.

First, I'm amazed they'd even float the idea of this deal.
Second, at what point does the government step in? Will it simply wait until One Big Company owns all the media in this country? The people who seemed so shrill when shouting about media concentration ten years ago now seem overly conservative in their warnings. Enough is enough. And "enough" was long ago, before the BCE-CTV merger, and way before the CanWest-Alliance deal.


nomdeblog said...

Actually we need less regulation. We need open skies on airlines, airwaves, banks etc.

Until we let foreign competition in we are just going to end up with the usual capitalist cronies in Canada owning and running things.

It costs a lot of money to run global outlets, the accounting and legal support costs are huge and can only covered by large scale operations. Canada is a tiny economy and our international trade capabilities are negligible because we are so dependant on the US for trade (our trade is essentially inter-state based).

Therefore we should open up our communication and media industry to foreign takeovers and let the chips fall where they may in terms of what kind of competition we end up with.
Otherwise in an attempt to achieve scale by restricting ourselves to Canadian owners we will just get concentration of ownership and insuficient diversity or choice.

Ottawa Watch said...

That's a good point. Regulation of the TV industry has created the environment for second-rate companies to prosper and to go after the print media. The open-skies option, however, has probelms. Do we want Chicago Tribune, Gannet, Knight-Ridder, etc. to pick up the Canadian print market? would we want Murdoch to cut a cheque to buy all the major private TV stations in Canada? Media convergence hasn't worked and is yesterday's communications theory. At the very least, the print, TV and telecommunications industries need some trust-busting and disentangling.

nomdeblog said...

You might be right about trust busting, but I think wide-open markets eventually do that better than lawyers.

Sam Zell just bought the Tribune, I used to live in Chicago, I’ve met him, he’s only about 5’5” but I think it would be fun to watch Sam and Eddie the Ego at the Globe and Mail go at it. I think Jack Welch will buy the Boston Globe. These are entrepreneurs; they’ll take media to the next level.

We’re in a globally connected economy where Canada is row boat in the ocean. Size counts in these industries. Our banks are puny, yet everyone is having a fit because they earn a lousy billion dollars a month .. it’s chicken feed.

But Canadians are so isolated from the reality of the global economy because all our trade is 100 kilometers a way. We live in a bubble and we have no captains of industry to come home and tell us about what a corrupt, pitiful scary place the rest of the world is and we’d better learn how to protect ourselves by getting engaged with the world and also protecting our borders.

As it is , we have Jim Travers telling us at the Star that to call the Taliban - murderous scum bags is “Bush jingoism”. Taliban Travers is what we’ll get if we don’t allow our own Brit Humes and Glen Becks and Dennis Millers and John Batchelors to develop. That won’t happen without foreign ownership. The closest we have is Lowell Green and he’s a bit long in the tooth. And you’re into fossils … ; >)

michael said...

Hey, it worked for the airline industry...right?
C'mon, Mark, we both know the media in this country is screwed because it's all about how much money you can make and not about reporting news well or even accurately.