Canada Begins Curbing Cross-Ownership

Canada's communications regulator has instituted a new media ownership policy to maintain "a diversity of voices" in the country's broadcasting system.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has established a new policy restricting cross-ownership. A person or entity will only be permitted to control two of three types of media serving the same market: a local radio or television station or a local newspaper.

Consolidation in broadcasting has raised concerns that a large group could achieve a dominant position through acquisitions and reduce diversity of content, the CRTC feels. Therefore, for TV, after a deal goes through, one party now cannot control more than 45 percent of the TV audience in the market as a result of the transaction. The agency also will not approve transactions between companies that distribute television services, such as cable or satellite companies, that would result in one person effectively controlling delivery of programming in a market.

The CRTC left unchanged limits on how many radio and TV stations one company can control in a market.

The new policies apply only to private broadcasters; the commission will focus on public broadcasters and diversity in upcoming proceedings for the CBC and provincial educational broadcasters. The commission also plans to review its policies relating to community broadcasters soon.

(Radio World)