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Media Convergence: Tom Kent stumps Front Page Challenge panel

In the world of mega mergers and convergence, there's growing concern about a monopoly of ideas. Reporters argue increased ownership will shake the very foundation democracy is founded upon. Owners say it's the only way Canadian newspapers can survive in the new global economy. Press ownership has been officially debated, studied and scrutinized in Canada since the 1969 Royal Commission on Newspapers. Is freedom of the press guaranteed only to those who own one? It's a debate that continues to percolate.

Senator Tom Kent describes the state of media concentration in Canada as "monstrous." The head of the Royal Commission on Newspapers slams newspaper monopolies and stumps the Front Page Challenge panel, much to panellist Gordon Sinclair's chagrin. The Kent Commission makes some tough recommendations. These include making Thomson sell its recently acquired flagship paper, the Globe and Mail, putting a stop to Southam's expansion, and breaking up regional monopolies like the Irving empire in New Brunswick.

The commission wants to forbid companies from owning newspapers and television or radio stations in the same market. Both publishers and reporters attack the Kent report saying it's too harsh. They say the commission wants to put the government in the newsrooms of the nation, which would infringe upon their freedom. 
. The Kent Commission wasn't exclusively about concentration of media ownership but also looked at press councils, quality of print journalism in Canada and new technologies such as the introduction of computers in newsrooms.
. Kent proposed a Canada Newspaper Act aimed at controlling media concentration, particularly cross-ownership of newspapers and other media. But the government largely ignored Kent's recommendations as it did a decade earlier with the Davey report.
Medium: Television
Program: Front Page Challenge
Broadcast Date: Dec. 6, 1981
Guest(s): Paul Hellyer, Tom Kent
Host: Fred Davis
Panellist: Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Gordon Sinclair
Duration: 10:15

Last updated: March 6, 2012

Page consulted on December 12, 2013

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