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Volume Ten, Number Two   March 2005

Another forgotten report?

from the Campaign for Press and Broadcast Freedom

The Senate Committee on the Canadian News Media has come and gone, leaving a predictably bland taste in the mouths of many.  Still, their visit saw solid representation from local independent media who spoke passionately of the tightening vise of media concentration and ways to reduce the pressure.  To reinforce the call for hard-hitting media reform that the senators heard in Vancouver, we've drafted an open letter to the Senate Committee.  The letter outlines five urgent policy goals -- a modest beginning -- that should be addressed in the senators' Summer 2005 report.  Please take a minute to read the letter and add your name to the list of supporters at -- and then encourage your colleagues, friends and organization contacts to sign on to help turn up the volume.  This is a unique opportunity to speak to those who can set the framework for a more democratic media. It's worth a minute of your time. 

Campaign for Press and Broadcast Media 

An Open Letter from Vancouver To the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications News Media Study  


In your recent Vancouver hearings, you heard directly about the state of discontent with the news media in Canada's third largest city. The Reason for that discontent is clear: the Canadian news media system is Structured in a way that has encouraged a trend toward monopoly ownership. The solution lies in a new and different framework that encourages diversity, not only of news coverage and civic discourse, but also of media ownership and opportunities for participation. To this end, the following policy goals can and should be met by the recommendations of the Senate Committee.

They amount to important first steps for immediate action, and we submit them with respect and expectation. 

1. Establish a market domination cap. Corporate and commercial pressures may well constitute the greatest current threat to the democratic functions of the news media. Create legislation to break up concentration and cross-ownership of media where it is already too high. 

2. Maintain Canadian ownership requirements. To open Canadian news media to foreign ownership would be to invite the same degree of market domination, but by corporations with a lesser incentive to represent the democratic interests of Canadians. 

3. Enhance the role of the public broadcaster. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation remains a bulwark against market domination, corporate and advertiser pressures on public information, and the democratic deficits of commercial media. 

4. Put communities in charge of community media funding and programs. As an urgent example, amend the Broadcasting Act so that local community organizations, rather than cable companies, are responsible for community television. 

5. Foster community media. Give structural support such as tax incentives to co-operative and member-based media ownership, to community media philanthropy, and to programs for media literacy. 

A final course of action is surely the most important, and that is to deepen civic participation in the Canadian media system. Only when citizens have the tools and the power to understand, to access, to hold accountable, and to create news media will we be assured that this most recent federal study will amount to more than another forgotten report.


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