Entertainment

Foreign media control opposed by most: poll

A majority of Canadians would prefer broadcasting and communications companies stay in Canadian hands, a new Harris-Decima survey suggests.

A majority of Canadians would prefer broadcasting and communications companies stay in Canadian hands, a new Harris-Decima survey suggests.

The survey, commissioned by actors' union Actra, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, was carried out by telephone between March 31 and April 12, 2010.

According to the survey, 57 per cent of Canadians opposed foreign ownership of media companies and 55 per cent opposed foreign ownership of telephone companies.

And 68 per cent agreed that Canadian broadcasting and communication companies are too important for cultural and national security reasons to be sold into foreign control.

Women and older citizens are most likely to oppose foreign ownership. While Conservative voters are least likely to worry about foreign takeovers, 51 per cent of those who support the Tories say Canadian broadcast and communication companies are too important for foreign ownership.

The federal government indicated in the March budget it would ease rules against foreign ownership of Canadian telecommunications and recently cleared the way for a foreign cellphone provider to operate in Canada.

Both Actra and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting have expressed concern that allowing foreign control of telecommunications will lead to foreign control of broadcasting, as the largest companies have interests in both sectors.

Opposition to foreign ownership of communications interest has slipped slightly from a 2007 survey commissioned by the same groups. The 2007 survey found 59 per cent of Canadians were against foreign ownership of telephone companies, compared with 57 per cent in 2010.

Almost half of Canadians polled — 48 per cent — told the 2010 Harris-Decima survey they were concerned that Canadian content on radio and TV would decrease if foreign companies acquired control of Canadian broadcast interests.

An 81 per cent majority believed it is important for the federal government to work to maintain and build a culture and identity distinct from the United States.

The poll of 2,019 Canadians has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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