CRTC foreign ownership decision puts Canadian media at risk, says Council of Canadians



    OTTAWA, Dec. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The Council of Canadians is deeply
disappointed with the CRTC's decision yesterday to allow the purchase of
Alliance Atlantis by broadcaster CanWest Global, which grants U.S. investment
bank Goldman Sachs nearly two-thirds ownership of two of Canada's largest
media companies, and which could pave the way for more foreign ownership of
Canadian media.
    "We're very disappointed with the Commission's ruling," says Garry Neil,
a Council of Canadians board member and cultural policy expert. "This decision
opens the door to significantly increased foreign ownership of Canadian
broadcasting and cable companies that over the years have been able to grow
because of supportive government policies and measures."
    As the Council stated in its November 16 presentation to the CRTC,
foreign companies with significant control of Canadian broadcasters, cable
companies or other firms involved in Canada's broadcasting system would have
access to the provisions of Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade
Agreement, which would allow them to sue governments and seek compensation for
other cultural policies or actions that limit their investors rights under
NAFTA.
    "Foreign ownership restrictions are critical to maintaining appropriate
regulations in our broadcasting system," said the Council in its submission.
"In turn, such regulations are essential to ensuring that the private sector
players have appropriate responsibility for achieving the objectives of the
Broadcasting Act, including editorial diversity and bringing Canadian stories
and artists to our television screens. All of this is essential for our
democracy, our culture and maintaining our sovereignty."

    About Us

    Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada's largest citizens'
organization, with members and chapters across the country. We work to protect
the public interest by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean
water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and
economic concern.




For further information:

For further information: Garry Neil, (416) 268-5665; Stuart Trew, (613)
233-4487, ext. 228, strew@canadians.org

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