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CanWest plans to leave The Canadian Press

Dear colleagues and fellow CMGers,

You will have already heard from Eric Morrison that CanWest has formally given notice to The Canadian Press that it plans to leave the co-operative a year from now.

We are obviously concerned by any action that could diminish The Canadian Press and Broadcast News and the incredibly important role it plays in this country. The Guild has spoken out strongly against the increasing concentration of media ownership in Canada and the resulting impoverishment of the country’s overall journalism report.

Those of us on the front lines at CP/BN know from our frequent dealings with our CanWest counterparts that there is a sense of dismay at the idea of doing without our report. Like us, they worry about how the loss of CP will degrade their publications. CanWest has many fine people dedicated to quality journalism. As such, we would far rather have them contributing to and strengthening CP/BN, and by extension the journalistic discourse within Canada.

We will, I’m sure, miss the $4 million CanWest now pays CP/BN if it does in fact leave. However, CP management has assured us that we can weather the loss, thanks in part to our increased ability to respond to commercial opportunities. From the detailed financial information the company has shared with us, we believe that to be very much the case. We are a vibrant, innovative organization and we share management’s confidence that we will more than make up the loss a CanWest withdrawal represents.

The Canadian Press has survived for almost nine decades precisely because it is a top-notch, independent source of timely and quality information. It is also one of the leanest and most efficient news organizations anywhere in the country. But its key strength rests with the people who make CP/BN happen 24 hours a day, every single day of the year. The enterprising, hard-working and dedicated character of our employees ? most of whom are Canadian Media Guild members ? is unsurpassed.

Whether or not CanWest ultimately decides to leave, we are confident CP/BN will not only survive, it will thrive.

Colin Perkel
CP/BN Branch President

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