CRTC hearing pandering, says CEP

    OTTAWA, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The idea of the Canadian Radio-television
and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) giving Canadians 35 days to review
the largest television deal in Canada's history is nothing short of a charade
at transparency and public accountability, says the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada, Canada's largest media union.
    "The CRTC needs to hold full public hearings on the concentration of
media ownership in this country," says Peter Murdoch, Vice-President, Media
for CEP. "It has the mandate and the responsibility. Trying to squeeze a brief
review in before major deals get signed is a regulatory shell game," he says.
    In early February, CEP wrote to the CRTC's Chairman, Konrad von
Finckenstein, to ask that the CRTC hold a public hearing concerning
concentration of ownership in Canada's broadcast media. The CRTC has never
held a policy hearing on concentration of ownership in broadcasting, though it
has held public hearings on many other important issues, such as religion, and
the portrayal of women by the broadcast media.
    The CEP pointed out in its letter to the CRTC that concentration of
ownership in Canada's private television sector is staggeringly high. In 1983,
the four largest companies in private TV controlled 37% of the sector's
revenues. In 2005, the four largest companies controlled 86% of those
    The CRTC did not answer CEP's letter, but announced a public hearing on
March 1, 2007 to consider BGM's purchase of CHUM's 33 radio stations, 12
television stations and 21 specialty television services. BGM announced this
purchase in July of last year.
    The CRTC hearing will begin Monday, April 30, 2007. The CRTC wants
Canadians who are interested to file their comments by Thursday, April 5, 2007
- 35 days from the time the CRTC announced its hearing.
    "Why the rush?" asks Mr. Murdoch. "How does giving Canadians so little
time to review a $1.3 billion deal and media concentration constitute the
'open, transparent and accountable' process to which Mr. von Finckenstein has
said Canadians are entitled?"

For further information:

For further information: Peter Murdoch (905) 516-5720 (cell) or (613)
230-5800, ext. 249

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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