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CRTC disregards foreign ownership in approving AAC sale

In its decision today to allow CanWest Global and US investment bank Goldman Sachs to buy Alliance Atlantis, the CRTC demonstrated a disregard for the principle of Canadian ownership of our media. The CMG is calling on Parliament to review the rules on foreign ownership in light of this decision.

“The companies have tied themselves into pretzels to try to fit with the letter of the law,” says Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG. “But the spirit of that law is clearly broken. After all, we all know that Goldman Sachs will hold the purse strings for the foreseeable future.”

The Broadcasting Act states that Canadian broadcast system must be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians.

The CMG is also very concerned about the further concentration of media ownership this deal represents. The union had urged the CRTC to impose measures to protect the distinctiveness of the Alliance Atlantis specialty stations. For example, the CRTC could have restricted the amount of programming repeated between CanWest’s existing conventional stations and the specialty channels. It has not.

“We worry that the sale will reduce competition in the specialty sector and that the Alliance Atlantis channels will be used as cash cows to finance the growing CanWest media empire,” Lareau adds. “That will likely mean even less original programming for Canadians and fewer jobs in this important sector of the economy.”

The Guild will continue to represent its 100 members at Alliance Atlantis and the ownership change will not affect the process of implementing the collective agreement that was reached this week.

For more information, contact Lise Lareau (lise@cmg.ca) or Staff Representative Keith Maskell (keith@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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