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Foreign Ownership of Canadian Media and Communications

Dec 5, 2007

Allowing foreign interests to control Canadian media and telecom companies may be a poor strategy for Conservative growth

Keep It Canadian

Voters who lean toward the Conservative Party value Canadian control of broadcasting and telecommunications companies more than declared Conservative supporters.

This suggests that relaxing foreign ownership controls in broadcasting and communications may not fit with a growth strategy designed to reach out to potential supporters, but could work to solidify the Conservative Party's base.

These findings emerge from questions on the Harris/Decima telephone omnibus asked on behalf of ACTRA, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting on media and teleco ownership.

Most think Ottawa should help build a strong Canadian culture

Most Canadians (82%) feel it is very or somewhat important for the Canadian government to work to maintain and build a culture and identity distinct from the United States. While 56% of second choice Conservatives strongly agree with this sentiment, only 46% of declared Conservative supporters strongly agree. Interestingly, Conservative voters do not feel as strongly as other party voters about maintaining a Canadian identity distinct from the U.S. (46% vs. 63%).

Most view foreign ownership unfavourably

Keep It Canadian

When considering foreign ownership among telephone, cable and media companies, most Canadians hold an unfavourable reaction to foreign ownership. Specifically, a majority (61%) of Canadians have an unfavourable reaction towards foreign ownership of telephone companies. Regionally, the reaction is most unfavourable in Manitoba/Saskatchewan (69%), Ontario (65%) and British Columbia (63%).

Similar to reactions of foreign ownership of telephone companies, a majority of Canadians (57%) hold an unfavourable reaction to foreign ownership of cable companies. Those living in the Prairies (67%), Ontario (61%), Alberta (58%), British Columbia (58%), and Atlantic Canada (57%) have a more unfavourable reaction than Quebecers (48%). Among voters, those who plan to vote for the NDP (66%) are significantly more likely to have an unfavourable reaction than those who plan to vote for the Conservatives (54%).

Overall, nearly three-in-five Canadians (59%) have an unfavourable reaction to the foreign ownership of media companies; this is particularly true among English speaking Canadians (60%). Regionally, those in the Prairies (65%), Ontarians (61%), and British Columbians (61%) are more likely to react negatively to the foreign ownership of media companies.

Canadian content

Nearly half (46%) of all Canadians expect that Canadian content on radio and television would decrease with the control of Canadian broadcasting and cable companies by foreign owners. This viewpoint is held strongly among English speaking Canadians (48%) and those with post-graduate degrees (42%). Regionally, more Canadians in the Prairies (54%), British Columbians (51%), and Ontarians (47%) think Canadian content would decrease if foreign companies gained control of domestic broadcasting and cable companies.

Candidates who oppose more foreign ownership are favoured by most

Keep It Canadian

62% of voters who lean toward the Conservative Party are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes allowing foreign corporations to own more of Canada's broadcasting and telephone companies, marginally higher than the 60% of declared Conservative supporters who hold this view.

Nationally, almost two-thirds (62%) of Canadians are more likely to vote for a federal candidate who opposes foreign corporations owning more of Canada's broadcasting and telephone companies. A majority of women (64%), French speaking Canadians (68%), those who are divorced or widowed (71%) and two-thirds (66%) of those living in rural areas are significantly more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes foreign ownership of the broadcasting and telephone companies in the next federal election.

Regionally, opposition of foreign ownership is significantly higher in the Prairies (69%), British Columbia (67%), Quebec (66%), Ontario, 61%), and Atlantic Canada (59%), than it is in Alberta (49%). Green party voters (73%), BQ voters (72%), and NDP voters (71%) are most likely to vote for a candidate who opposes foreign ownership.

Canadian media and telecos are too important for national security and cultural sovereignty to sell-off

Keep it Canadian

The contrast between Conservative supporters versus those leaning toward the Conservative Party is also evident when Harris/Decima asked respondents to choose which statements most closely reflect their own opinion:

Some people say Canada's broadcasting and communications companies should be able to sell a majority interest to foreign companies in order to be globally competitive.

Others say that Canadian broadcasting and communications are too important for cultural and national security reasons to allow ownership and control by foreign companies.

Only 19% of second choice Conservatives agree that Canadian broadcasting and communications companies should be able to sell control to a foreign company, while one in four (26%) of current Conservative supporters agree with this view.

Overall, two-thirds of Canadians (66%) stated that Canada's broadcasting and communications companies are too important to allow foreign ownership for cultural and national reasons while the remaining 22% say Canada's broadcasting and communications companies should be able sell a majority interest to foreign companies in order to be competitive, and 12% did not comment. BQ voters (81%) and NDP voters (79%) are significantly more likely to indicate Canada's broadcasting and communication companies are too important to allow a majority foreign ownership.

Methodology

The data was gathered between November 15th to November 25th 2007 through Harris/Decima's weekly teleVox, the company's national omnibus survey. Results are based on a sample of 2,052 Canadians, and the corresponding margin of error is ±2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

For more information contact:

Jim Thompson 613-567-9592

Survey Questions

Q1. It is important that the Canadian government work to maintain and build a culture and identity distinct from the United States.
Q2. As you may know, there has been some discussion about foreign ownership in the communications and broadcasting systems in Canada.  Generally speaking, what is your reaction to foreign ownership in…telephone companies, cable companies, media companies? Very favourable, Somewhat favourable, Somewhat unfavourable, Very unfavourable, Don't know
Q3. Currently, the federal government does not allow foreign companies to control Canadian telephone, cable and media companies.  If foreign companies gained permission and acquired control of Canadian broadcasting and cable companies, would you expect Canadian content on radio and TV to increase, decrease, remain the same, don't know?
Q4. As you may know, there may be a federal election sometime in the next 12 months. In the upcoming federal election, are you more likely to vote for a candidate who supports or opposes allowing foreign corporations to own more of Canada's broadcasting and telephone companies?
Q5. Some people say Canada's broadcasting and communications companies should be able to sell a majority interest to foreign companies in order to be globally competitive.
Others say that Canadian broadcasting and communications are too important for cultural and national security reasons to allow ownership and control by foreign companies. Which of these two views most closely reflects your own opinion?

Related Documents:

December 31, 2007 - Podcast - Keep it Canadian Event
Video presentation of an event in Calgary, AB on Dec 5, 2007 to keep the ownership of Canadian media in Canadian hands.

December 13, 2007
- Cartt.ca: COMMENTARY: Keep It Canadian by Ian Morrison
Poll commissioned by FRIENDS, ACTRA and CEP says 62% of Canadians are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes more foreign ownership of Canadian broadcasting and telephone companies.

December 6, 2007
- Toronto Star: Opponents of Alliance sale flag poll results by Rita Trichur
FRIENDS, ACTRA, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada have released poll results saying that Canadians believe cultural sovereignty ought to trump foreign ownership of domestic media.

December 5, 2007 - Canadian Press: National identity distinct from the U.S. important to Canadians: Decima poll by Lee-Anne Goodman
A new poll says eighty-two per cent of Canadians feel the government should make serious efforts to sustain a Canadian culture that's separate from the U.S.

December 5, 2007 - CBC News: Canadians oppose foreign control of media: poll
A new poll says the majority of Canadians oppose foreign ownership of the media, telephone and cable firms, and believe the government should play a role in preserving Canada's cultural identity.

December 5, 2007 - News Release - National security & cultural sovereignty trump foreign ownership of Canadian media - Keep it Canadian
Poll results show that most voters believe broadcasting and communications are too important to national security and cultural sovereignty to allow foreign control of Canadian media companies.

December 5, 2007 - Opinion Poll - Foreign Ownership of Canadian Broadcasting and Telephone Companies
Executive Summary of a Harris/Decima poll commissioned by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, ACTRA, and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

December 5, 2007 - Interview - Business News Network, Squeeze Play
Ian Morrison, FRIENDS spokesperson, speaks to hosts Amanda Lang and Kevin O'Leary about foreign ownership of Canadian media companies.

December 5, 2007 - Photos - Keep it Canadian Event
Photos from the Keep it Canadian event in Calgary, Alberta