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BCCLA Opposes Canwest’s Attempt to Loosen License Restrictions

Vancouver – The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has filed a submission to the CRTC opposing an application by media giant Canwest to loosen license restrictions aimed at protecting media diversity. The BCCLA filing alleges that Canwest has failed to demonstrate that it has met the terms of its license and is therefore not entitled to relaxed terms and self-governance.

“The BCCLA remains gravely concerned about the intensity of media concentration across Canada,” said David Eby, the acting Executive Director of the BCCLA. “Freedom of the press and of expression are directly impacted when one company decides who gets access to the media, and who doesn’t.”

The Canwest application seeks to move the company from under the direct oversight of the CRTC to an industry-based monitoring group. In addition, the application seeks to permit increased overlap in directing news gathering resources between print, internet portals and television news stations, reducing editorial diversity and increasing repetition of the same story over multiple platforms.

“Canwest promised the CRTC that its dominant control of newspapers and television in Canada would improve, not degrade, the quality of its journalism,” said Eby. “Instead, they’ve cut 500 jobs and centralized local news offices in four mega-broadcasting centres, eliminating the diversity of viewpoints that used to exist on various media platforms before Canwest purchased them.”

Canwest’s application can be viewed on the CRTC website here (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-8.htm).

The BCCLA’s submission on Canwest’s application can be viewed on the BCCLA website here.

MEDIA CONTACTS
David Eby, acting Executive Director
778-865-7997