Ownership controls are said needed to avoid media domination by a limited number of mouthpieces and to preserve Canadian perspective. But keep hands off content. Excerpts from evidence presented May 1.
It is often said that the information and debate supplied by good journalism are the oxygen of democracy.
Perhaps the most vital characteristic of the information that citizens of a democracy require is independence. By "independence," I mean freedom from any pressures or incentives that might cause information to be distorted, either in pursuit of rewards or because of fear of consequences. There should be no pressures on the news media to offer information that is less than as complete and accurate as possible. There should also be no pressures to limit debate to only certain points of view.
Independence from government is perhaps the single most important aspect of the overall independence of the news media, since government controls so many of the rewards and punishments that might cause information to be distorted between the source and the public.
Because independence from government is so vital, some may question the wisdom, and even legitimacy, of a Senate examination of the state of the news media. They may feel the state of the industry should be left as a private matter between the news media and their customers, and that no arm of government or Parliament should interfere.
As far as the editorial content of news media is concerned, I believe they are right. Because independence from power is so vital, I would be uncomfortable with a government or parliamentary body making recommendations about the editorial content of print media, which are, and should be, unregulated. Broadcast media, which operate under an act of Parliament, are different, but even in the case of broadcasting, the vital independence of editorial content should be recognized and respected.
I believe such questioners are wrong, however, as far as the structure of the industry is concerned. All societies have rules for allocating broadcast frequencies because of scarcity. Most impose public obligations on …
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Publication information: Article title: Control Ownership. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Canadian Speeches. Volume: 17. Issue: 2 Publication date: May-June 2003. Page number: 29+. © 1998 Canadian Speeches. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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