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
-- 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
An Open Letter from Vancouver To
the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications News
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
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.