Canadian Newspaper Ownership in the Era of Convergence: Rediscovering Social Responsibility

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Kai Hildebrandt, Walter C. Soderlund
University of Alberta, 2005 - History - 194 pages
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Questions related to ownership of Canadian newspapers have been a part of public policy debate at least since 1970, when the Davey Committee released its report. This book examines the ownership debate in both its empirical and normative aspects. The key question is how much control over newspaper content should be in the hands of their owners, given the need for diversity of information in the exercise of democratic governance? The book begins by introducing the concept of social responsibility, first brought to prominence in the 1947 Report of the Commission on Freedom of the Press in United States, and examines the unsuccessful Canadian history of attempts to introduce regulations into the newspaper industry. Case studies of conventional newspaper chains (acquisitions by Conrad Black's Hollinger companies in the mid 1990s) and of convergence strategies as practiced by the Aspers' CanWest Global comprise the empirical base for evaluating ownership effects on newspaper content. The conclusion makes the argument that against the history of past failures of governments to enact regulations limiting ownership, the concept of social responsibility of the media needs to be re-examined. It implies a recognition on the part of owners of the unique character of mass communication in democratic societies and, in light of the potential for abuse inherent in convergence (using and re-using the same material across different media platforms), a need for editorial autonomy of their media properties.
 

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Contents

One Failed Attempts at Regulation of Newspaper Ownership
11
Two Chain Ownership
31
Three The Impact of Conrad Blacks Ownership on Thomson
45
Four An Assessment of Conrad Blacks Ownership
75
Five Media Convergence and CanWest Global
89
Six CanWest Globals National Editorial Policy
109
Seven The Firing of Russell Mills Round Two of National Editorials
125
Conclusion Ownership Rights Vs Social Responsibility
137
Notes I
151
Reference List
167
Name Index
183
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Kai Hildebrandt is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Windsor. Walter C. Soderlund is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Windsor.

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