CBC. 1981. Concentration to Convergence: Media Ownership in Canada

November 30, 2007

Senator Tom Kent was a guest on the popular weekly television show Front Page Challenge with host Fred Davis and panellists: Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Gordon Sinclair on Dec. 6, 1981. He managed to stump the panellists.
“Senator Tom Kent was the head the 1981 Royal Commission on Newspapers called the Tom Kent Commission. Kent described the state of media concentration such as newspaper monopolies in Canada as “monstrous.”    The Kent Commission made some tough recommendations. These included making Thomson sell its recently acquired flagship paper, the Globe and Mail, putting a stop to Southam’s expansion, and breaking up regional monopolies like the Irving empire in New Brunswick (CBC 1981).”.

The commission want[ed] to forbid companies from owning newspapers and television or radio stations in the same market. Both publishers and reporters attack[ed] the Kent report saying it [was] too harsh. They sa[id] the commission want[ed] to put the government in the newsrooms of the nation, which would infringe upon their freedom (CBC 1981).”

“The Kent Commission wasn’t exclusively about concentration of media ownership but also looked at press councils, quality of print journalism in Canada and new technologies such as the introduction of computers in newsrooms. Kent proposed a Canada Newspaper Act aimed at controlling media concentration, particularly cross-ownership of newspapers and other media. But the government largely ignored Kent’s recommendations as it did a decade earlier with the Davey report (CBC 1981).”

CBC placed this story under Politics and Economy > Concentration to Convergence: Media Ownership in Canada > Tom Kent stumps Front Page Challenge panel

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4 Responses to “CBC. 1981. Concentration to Convergence: Media Ownership in Canada”

  1. Paul Says:

    I’ve long been concerned about media concentration, particularly after Conrad Black and Hollinger bought up virtually every major English-language daily in Canada in the mid-1990s and used the money they earned to help fund the National Post – Black’s attempt to create a rival to the Globe and Mail and put a serious conservative bent on the national media scene.
    I never knew about the Kent Commission or the Davey Commission and only just stumbled upon them when doing a Wikipedia search for Quebec media. He foresaw the danger of what happened just 15 years after his commission released its report. It’s a shame that none of his recommendations were implemented; Canadian journalism and the country’s entire media scene are the worse off as a result.
    Thank you for posting even a small snippet about what the Kent Commission was all about.


  2. Thank you Paul for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly. And as knowledge management becomes more and more monetized, my concerns about access to an objective mass media become even more increased. Canada has been able to produce some excellent research such as this report. Unfortunately, the summaries presented through the mass media (and in public curricula) are inadequate, unproductive and given only very short-term attention with no follow-up.

  3. Frances Leitch Says:

    I was wondering if you could help me. Some many years ago, there was a bill passed which severely limited freedom of speech and expression, especially for journalists. The bill made it possible for journalists (and media) to be sued, especially by politicians. I cannot remember the name (or number) of that bill. Was it passed in the 1980s or 1990s. I cannot recall. Do you know of any such bill? I found the bill disturbing at the time because it limited any journalists from writing about ongoing investigations. Thank you!


    • Are you perhaps referring to the controversy surrounding The Pentagon Papers containing the secret history of American involvement in Vietnam? The Nixon administration banned publications related to these leaks. The lawyer who defended the New York Times who published the papers has compared this to WikiLeaks controversy. See http://snurl.com/1pz6vb


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