For the Love of Owning: How the media affects everyday headlines

In an age where media is as important as eating breakfast, a new fear is building in Quebec over just who will be controlling our love affair with the small screen.

Bell Media is currently in attempt to take over Astral Media for a deal of $3.4 billion. This is slightly old news to some, yet it is much more to be concerned than one could imagine.

How media affects Quebec and society in general is simple. Whether one supports the current student movement or not, most can agree the news coverage is responsible for the negative outlook, and just one example of how condensed journalism really is.

By looking at the bigger picture, Canadian media is owned by five major conglomerates; Postmedia Network, Rogers, Bell Media, Astral Media, and Quebecor. These companies are in control of what we see, hear and watch.
                                                Click here to see who owns what in media

Postmedia Network owns 30 newspapers across the country’s landscape, including the Montreal Gazette. How does this affect the movement? For one, the National Post, the Gazette’s adopted cousin, has been no short of using propaganda and disinformation to tarnish the red square’s reputation.

In an article posted April 23rd, three days after the riots at Salon Plan Nord, Graeme Hamilton wrote, “you would think […] after a student protest Friday led to smashed windows at the Montreal convention centre, […] students would be rushing to distance themselves from the violence that discredits their cause.”

However, not one word about the infamous comments Liberal Party leader Jean Charest said at the convention that sparked the violence itself. Many testimonies from students admitted that the scene was rather calm until Charest said, “To those knocking on our doors this morning, we could give them a job- up north as soon as possible.”

Many were teargased and hurt, yet the National Post, along with many newspapers, did not mention this or the true reality of Quebec this past year. Another article from the same newspaper referred the Charbonneau Commission as a “small scandal”.

Some of its authors went as far as calling the province’s students “dimwitted”, “blockheaded”, or “anarchists”, which is astonishing coming from a professional media outlet. Should this not be considered discrimination since these words target a specific group of people?

On May 11, the National Post’s Kelly MacParland wrote, “[Charest] has put up with infantile hectoring from student leaders who think mob rule is a new definition for democracy.”

Somehow the fact two students lost usage of an eye due to police brutality did not cross the mind of the media, or the fact that the Charbonneau Commission is one of the largest Quebec scandals of the decade since it involves corruption in the construction industry.

The National Post is not the only offender. There is also biased reporting from the Calgary Herald, as well as the Quebec Huffington Post, an extension of American newspapers founded by Ariana Huffington. One contributor of the Huffington Post is none other than Conrad Black.

Although, a headline no one can forget is the infamous cover of Maclean’s, owned by Rogers, on June 4: “Quebec’s New Ruling Class” that sparked much attention.

Returning to how one major conglomerate buying another could have a negative effect. Firstly, Bell Media is already the largest corporation in Canada; it owns CTV, but has also been important for Internet, telephone and satellite users.

Secondly, Astral Media is in charge of a majority of radio stations- 84, to be precise, and claims ownership to certain television stations and an advertising company. If Bell Media were to take over, it would be an undeniably powerful tool in shaping how people see mainstream society, which causes fewer voices to be heard.

Ironically, Quebecor, another major company which owns TVA, Videotron and Archambault, has taken part in a campaign against the deal.

Our neighbors in the United States have had shaped public opinion since the invention of the camera. Today, 90% of their media is owned by the big six of Hollywood; General Electric, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and the ever-eyeballing CBS.

In result, the more media is owned, the less variety there are in points of view. The news coverage becomes biased and from the direction seen by the owner of the company, meaning local news becomes well… less local.

For example, odd recent headlines courtesy of RDI have been: a man reportedly hunting a squirrel and accidentally shooting his family member, or the recent scandal of an Asian woman being illustrated on the newly designed $100 bill. Conservative MP’s have apologized for the inconvenience- whether the woman looks Asian, is for workers to decide.

These are stories that would make much more sense if they were reported by Fox News, known for its sensationalism of confusing entertainment with everyday headlines.

On the other hand there is Quebecor, which launched Sun TV in 2011, a Northern version of Fox News, in Toronto. How flattered must Rupert Murdoch be?


In the true North strong and "free", there is Quebec, the target in media for what has been a memorable year in societal reform and politics. Yet for those who do not live here, it’s a wonder how little our cousins know about what goes on in the province often portrayed as the black sheep of Canada.

By the statistics and slanted journalism, the answer is in who owns us. For those interested in signing a petition to keep Astral Media from being bought, visit http://saynotobell.ca/petition