National security & cultural sovereignty trump foreign ownership of Canadian media - Keep it Canadian

    CALGARY, Dec. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Most voters (66%) believe broadcasting and
communications are too important to our national security and cultural
sovereignty to allow foreign control of Canadian companies in this sector,
according to a new poll commissioned by ACTRA, the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
    Canada's leading voices in culture and telecommunications released the
survey today at a public meeting today in Calgary where they launched a
campaign called Keep It Canadian in support of current laws which restrict
foreign ownership of Canadian broadcast and telephone industries.
    "Powerful lobbyists for the cable industry are at work right now, quietly
trying to persuade the federal government to allow Americans to buy them out.
If they succeed, there's nothing to stop foreign companies from taking control
of Canadian media and telecommunications too," said Ian Morrison, spokesperson
for Friends.
    The results show that 62% of Canadians are more likely to vote for
candidates who oppose giving control of Canadian media to foreign interests,
up slightly from December 2003 when this question was last posed. Only 19% are
more likely to vote for a candidate who is in favour of allowing foreign
companies to own more of Canada's broadcasting and telephone companies.
    "At a time when the country could be thrown into an election at any
moment, the poll contains a strong message to politicians who may favour
opening Canada's media to foreign ownership. There is no political upside for
any party to support the sell-off of our media," said Peter Murdoch,
Vice President - Media for CEP.
    The results also found 82% of Canadians (54% strongly) agree that it is
important that the Canadian government work to maintain and build a culture
and identity distinct from the United States.
    "Most Canadians want action from Ottawa to build a culture and identity
distinct from the United States, whose television and movies dominate the
Canadian cultural landscape," said Stephen Waddell, National Executive
Director of ACTRA.
    The survey reveals that the opinion of voters who lean toward supporting
the Conservative Party mirrors or is greater than the general population when
it comes to retaining control of Canadian communications and media companies.
    "Voters the Conservative Party needs to grow their support levels in the
next election value Canada's cultural sovereignty," said Ian Morrison.
    The issue of foreign ownership is in play right now. Currently, the
federal government has established a panel to review the policy that limits
the share a foreign company can hold in a Canadian media or telecommunication
company to 46.7%. At the same time, transactions like the proposed purchase of
specialty TV broadcaster Alliance Atlantis by CanWest Global stretch this
policy to the breaking point because the lion's share of financing for the
deal comes from the United States.
    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 further information:

For further information: Peter Murdoch, CEP, (905) 516-5720 cell; Susan
Ponting, ACTRA: (416) 644 1519, cell: (416) 897 7028; Jim Thompson, Friends of
Canadian Broadcasting, (613) 447-9592; Complete survey results are available

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