For Immediate Release
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is urging Canada’s national political parties and their candidates to steer clear of any and all campaign contributions from the federally regulated broadcasting industry in response to this conflict. Today, Friends released data detailing the trail of political financial contributions of major Canadian media empires since the last election in 1997.
“The close relationship between media companies and national political parties is undermining public trust in both national political and media institutions in Canada, especially in light of the trend toward fewer owners in the media industry,” said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a consumer advocacy organization promoting Canadian content on radio and television.
Since the last election there has been a profound transformation within the media/communications industry. Only a handful of companies own virtually every radio, television and major newspaper in the country. For instance, CanWest Global has a virtual monopoly grip in Vancouver where it owns two TV stations and both major newspapers
“These companies are federally regulated. They make it a priority to maintain favour with politicians and they can be very generous," Morrison said.
Political contributions data released by Friends show Canada’s media companies are among the most enthusiastic contributors to national political parties, most ranking in the top 10% in terms of amount of contribution.
In particular, CanWest Global, Bell Canada Enterprises, and Rogers Communications have consistently ranked among the top financial contributors to the Liberal Party. Last year, CanWest made the second largest contribution to the Liberal Party – more than $87,000.00 – while Rogers Group of Companies ranked 14th and BCE ranked 40th.
"Some of the largest campaign contributions come from companies in regulated industries, like finance, banking and communications. It might make good corporate sense for these companies, but from the standpoint of democracy, we're uncomfortable with candidates cashing cheques from the few news organizations left to report on this federal election," said Mr. Morrison.
"Let's remember that the politicians seeking office will, after the election, make key decisions that impact these corporations. The CRTC decides on licence renewals, approves or rejects takeover bids within this industry, and of course, the Federal Government spends hundreds of millions of dollars in support of programming broadcast on private networks.
"We can hardly be surprised at the efforts taken by these huge corporations to protect or enhance shareholder values – but voters have good reason to demand a more prudent response from politicians. Just say no to campaign contributions from regulated industries – that's our message.
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Jim Thompson 613-567-9592
View data in PDF format:
Political Parties (pdf 24KB)
Cabinet Ministers (pdf 12KB)