As a general rule, I try to agree with Heritage Minister Sheila Copps as little as possible. Unfortunately, she made some comments yesterday that I whole heartedly agree with. In fact, I've been saying the same thing for years.
In response to the House of Commons heritage committee's report on Canadian broadcasting, Copps called for a review of cross-ownership in the media. In her words, "one owner in radio, television and newspapers, whether it be Canadian or international, doesn't really respect diversity of voices - I think as a society, we have a right to a diversity of voices." It's now common for large media companies to own numerous radio and television stations as well as newspapers. When a single agenda controls a multitude of media outlets, it presents a barrage of spin intended to manipulate and deprive us of our basic freedoms. There's no doubt the media is now and has always been biased, but with numerous outlets at a media empire's disposal, this bias can infiltrate the general will of the people at large. This is very dangerous.
There are many examples of corporations in Canada that own too large a portion of our nation's media (BCE, Inc., Rogers, etc.), but the one that particularly bothers me is CanWest Global Communications Corp. CanWest Global Communications Corp. owns the Global Television network and several independent television stations, seven specialty cable channels, the National Post and newspapers in most of the country's largest markets, at least one radio station in Canada, as well as a television production company and a string of other media properties including the Canada.com Internet portal. This is the company that requires its newspapers to follow a common editorial line on key national and international issues. This policy alone threatens to undermine the defense of freedom of expression by media organizations. If you think this is wrong, Stephen Kimber would agree with you. Kimber wrote for the Halifax Daily News for fifteen years until he wrote an article that was critical of his parent company, CanWest Global. Editors at the paper refused to print the article and Kimber resigned. At least two colleagues writing about this situation had their columns pulled as well. There are many stories like this within the CanWest Global Empire. Doug Cuthand wrote an opinion piece comparing the treatment of Native Canadians and Palestinians for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and could not get printed because CanWest Global supports Israel. With policy and precedent of this nature it's not unreasonable to assume journalists who work for this conglomerate self-censor themselves as a means of job security. In a sense, this is the very worst form of censorship and drapes the entire empire in a shroud of distrust. Without trust, a news source isn't worth the paper it's printed on, is it?
When you own 14 big-city dailies, one national newspaper, and 126 other dailies and weeklies - as well as a television network, radio stations, and Canada's third-most popular website, spreading your political views through these outlets doesn't only become unethical, it becomes criminal. Arm yourself through diversification and boycott news from CanWest Global Communication Corp.