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The Quebecor dilemma

After two years of layoffs in this industry, word that Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Peladeau is investing in news with a third all-news channel should be seen as a good thing. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. We all need them.

There’s no question the journalism will be from a conservative right point of view, but my main concern is that the channel will probably serve a much narrower interest: what’s good for Quebecor and Pierre-Karl Peladeau. There’s no other media owner in this country who injects their own business interests into “journalism” as much as Peladeau does.

Talk to anyone who works at le Journal de Montreal, also Quebecor-owned. Reporters there filed a complaint with the Quebec Press Council because they felt pressure to give prominence to Quebecor’s mega-hit “Star Academie” on TVA. Quebecor-owned papers (Journal de Montreal, Journal de Quebec, the Sun chain) are frequently filled with rabid reporting about the CBC/Radio-Canada, Peladeau’s only real competition in Quebec, because he owns almost all of the rest of the media in the province.

And what’s good for Quebecor and Pierre-Karl Peladeau is rarely good for the rest of us. He’s cut the guts out of the Sun newspaper chain since he bought it, he’s cut beyond the bone to newspapers across Ontario, leaving the people of Kingston, Sudbury, North Bay and other smaller cities with less real information about their communities.

At the same time, there’s no question we need the diversity of opinion that comes with a “Fox News North”, whether or not we like that opinion. I just hope it means the other “mainstream media” will be freed up from kowtowing to the right in this country. I’m happy to see the right-wing audience served by Quebecor, as long as everyone else concentrates on the mainstream issues they’ve been ignoring in their quest for the same audience.

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