Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Break up of a media monolith could be good for Canadian democracy

"The Asper dream ends, the sell-off begins." As this analysis notes, while it's being held out at the moment that the newspaper chain beyond the National Post is not filing for court protection, that step is likely on its way. And that could be good if a variety of ownership comes in to take over those newspapers spread across the country.
The restructuring, which includes the National Post newspaper and the Global Television network, will now lead to what would be the biggest sale of media assets the country has ever seen, including the potential selloff of a national newspaper chain and the auction of a major television network.

The major metropolitan newspapers that are likely to change hands include the National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, titles that have formed the backbone of some of Canada's most famous media proprietorships, from the Southam family to Hollinger Inc. Many of them are the biggest daily newspapers in their markets.
“This is the first step in the breakup of CanWest as a media empire as we know it,” said Chris Diceman, an analyst with DBRS Ltd., a bond-rating agency that has watched CanWest closely. “The two big pieces – television and newspaper – are moving in two different directions.”

Only the divisions of CanWest that own the Global TV network, the National Post and a handful of smaller television assets have sought protection from creditors. The company's newspaper division, CanWest LP, which holds all of the papers except for the National Post, has not filed, but is expected to make that move in the coming weeks once a deal with its own creditors is reached."
Not so great news for the CanWest employees. It is potentially good news for Canadians who may end up with a broadened editorial perspective in these CanWest newspaper communities across the country as concentrated ownership shatters.

Days like these I wish I had multi-millions to snag one of these babies for a new media empire. Oh well, maybe in a few more years.