Postmedia’s Swallowing of Sun Papers Starves Country of Diverse Press
By Harvey Oberfeld
Keeping It Real…
October 7th, 2014
What GREAT NEWS for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives: what TERRIBLE news for diversity in Canada’s print newspaper landscape!
The country’s biggest newspaper empire will soon become almost a monopoly with Postmedia’s $316 Million acquisition of the Sun Newspaper assets.
A lot of the media attention … especially in Postmedia’s OWN newspapers across the nation … have focussed on The Sun papers in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa … and how the move will save up to $8 Million a year by streamlining operations.
Yeah… the way Postmedia has been streamlining its own operations for years through staff cuts, buyouts, cutting papers to a shadow of what they once were …. and, adding insult to injury, increasing the amount of advertorials and fluff content?
And since Sun papers’ corporate owner, Quebecor, has been losing money, I frankly don’t place much in Postmedia’s statement that it has no plans to close any papers. Not today …. but next month?
Yet the real dangers of the deal lie well beyond the “Sun” brand city newspapers in the takeover: they are just part of what Postmedia will get!
In Vancouver, where the Toronto-based giant already owns BOTH The Vancouver Sun and The Province … they will also own the 24 Hours daily.
At least, Toronto still has the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star under other ownership … but the rest of the nation would literally have ONE NEWSPAPER MASTER. In fact, as part of the deal, Postmedia will also take over Sun digital media on-line sites and assets.
In fact, Postmedia will take over 175 English language newspapers in the largest, medium-sized and even the smallest communities of Canada, coast to coast.
And to make it worse … much worse … more than 58% of Postmedia’s shares are reportedly owned by two huge American corporations.
THAT is HIGHLY DANGEROUS for any nation that cherishes a free press that flourishes with diverse ownership that, by its very nature, encourages varying journalistic and political points of view.
Just imagine ALMOST ALL COUNTRY’S NEWSPAPERS of all sizes in the hands of journalistic cheapskate megalomaniacs along the lines of Conrad Black, Randolph Hearst or Rupert Murdoch! And what would prevent even WORSE characters rising up in the future?
Sure … the Tories might love it! And although the massive takeover requires regulatory approval of the Competition Bureau, I am cynical that they would do any more than tinker with the deal … if anything at all. In fact, I can’t EVER recall a newspaper takeover deal they’ve turned down.
There is already plenty of public concern and criticism about the media being in the hands of “friends” of the Conservatives federally, the Liberals in BC, big business, and the establishment.
This will not only multiply that perception … it may actually prove it.
Allowing ONE COMPANY to basically own, control and direct so many newspapers would be a disservice to press freedom and democratic media diversity in Canada.
And it’s not just me saying this.
Let’s keep it real.
The deal, of course, will get the go ahead.
But in the long-run … the public will decide. If they continue to sense a growing right-wing conservative, establishment big business bias amidst pages plumped with puffery … the Postmedia investment will prove a poor one.