Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Media conglomeration.

I'm watching the City-TV news, and one of the sports guys did a segment on how people thought the Leafs are doing lately (in a word: crappy). They showed him popping into a radio announcer's booth; this fellow was a popular host on Fan 590, a sports-talk AM station.

City-TV (and all its affiliates across the country, including all the "A-Channel" stations) and Fan 590 are owned by Rogers Communications, which also owns 680 News (an all-news radio station). Rogers also owns Rogers Sportsnet, which shows Blue Jays games; Rogers also owns the team, and the building they play in. (He was nice enough to rename it "Rogers Centre" from "SkyDome," which was a name that some kid submitted in a contest back in the late '80s to name the stadium.) Rogers also supplies cable-TV service to everyone in Toronto who has it, not to mention the community-access channel that occupies Channel 10.

So, conceivably, you could have this situation:
  • you go to the Rogers Centre to watch the Rogers Blue Jays
  • your mom watches the same game at home on Rogers Sportsnet
  • on the JumboTron at the end of the game, they show you the Rogers 680 News traffic report
  • on the drive home, you listen to the Rogers Fan 590 postgame call-in show
  • once home, you turn on your TV which is connected to Rogers Cable
  • you watch highlights of the game on Rogers City-TV
  • Ted Rogers personally tucks you in bed
Alright, maybe that last one isn't quite plausible (unless you're Mrs. Rogers). You have to ask yourself, though: is this alright? Should one company be able to own all these media outlets? Obviously, when it comes to something as frivolous* as sports, it doesn't really matter.

But let's say you have an important matter of public interest, and one company owns a whole whack of media outlets, all masquerading as separate entities. ("Wow, I heard that Stephen Harper is a great PM from 680 News, Fan 590, and City-TV! He must be doing a great job.") As a result, one editorial board's set of opinions get spread all over the place, and other voices don't get heard as a result.

This phenomenon began in the US in the '90s, with the relaxation of ownership rules for different media outlets in the same market. Nowadays, the CRTC doesn't give a rat's ass how much stuff one company owns, so long as the CanCon rules are followed.** I say, we should all give a rat's ass.
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* Yeah, I realize I'm a huge baseball fan. But Noam Chomsky's point is well-taken here: "Sports are pushed as to distract us from asking questions about the real issues."
** I pulled out of my driveway this morning and was flipping around the dial... when who should I hear but Triumph. Fuck yeah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Noam Chomsky's anti-sport rhetoric is pushed as to distract us from asking questions about his poor throwing arm.