THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA
June 20, 2002
The Hon. Sheila Copps, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière, 12th Floor,
Hull, Québec K1A 0M5
Members of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) wish to raise the issue of the possible negative effects of the concentration and convergence of media ownership in the hands of very few owners. Ottawa Local Council of Women members are particularly concerned due to the perceptions raised by recent events in their community where there is only one locally printed daily available in English.
NCWC wrote to the government in June 2000, expressing their concern about this issue. Members are dismayed to observe that since that time, diversification of ownership has diminished with even less control than before rooted in local communities. This appears to place critical limitations on the expressing of diverse points of view, or readers accessing varied sources of information.
To re-iterate, NCWC policy adopted at that time asked for “a review of the recommendations of previous Commissions on the media and to encourage measures to encourage diversification of ownership and control rooted in the local community”. (see www.ncwc.ca Policy 2000.4EM) The situation now appears to be exacerbated by increasing cross-ownership between print and broadcast media. When newsrooms and editorial policy converge, or appear to do so, and are integrated in a single system, the effect (limiting of a possible variety of opinions) cannot be estimated.
A free and independent media holds a central place in any healthy, vibrant community, and is in fact recognized as one of the essential pillars of a democratic state. When ownership falls into the hands of a few players, the right of Canadians to a balanced, informed perspective on events in their own country and the world, is severely compromised. NCWC as a non-partisan, non-political grassroots-based organization regards access to a variety of sources and information as necessary for informed participation by Civil Society, a participation which all levels of government increasingly solicit when developing public policy.
National Council of Women of Canada (founded in 1893) is a federation of individuals and organizations working to improve conditions of life for women and their families in the communities where they live. NCWC is a member (since 1905) of the International Council of Women (ICW), holds Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations, and is a participating non-governmental organization with the Organization of American States (OAS/CIM).
With best wishes,
National Council of Women of Canada
c.c. The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien
The Hon. Lawrence MacAulay
The Hon. Jean Augustine
Text prepared with input from the Ottawa Local Council of Women and NCWC Policy Adviser, Amy Williams C.M.