The Never-ending Story: Postmedia, the Competition Bureau, and Press Ownership in Canada

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Marc Edge


The 2014 purchase by Canada’s largest newspaper chain of its second-largest chain increased concentration of newspaper ownership considerably. The deal’s 2015 approval by the Competition Bureau, some scholars noted, provoked little outcry over the latest federal regulatory failure to stop the increased concentration level. A series of inquiries, from the 1981 report of the Royal Commission on Newspapers to Senate reports in 1970 and 2006, all identified increased concentration of newspaper ownership as a problem and proposed measures to solve it. Formed in the 1980s, the Competition Bureau took action against a local newspaper monopoly in Vancouver in the early 1990s but has been ineffective since. This study charts the historical progress of newspaper ownership concentration in Canada and calculates that Postmedia now publishes 37.6 percent of Canadian paid daily newspaper circulation and owns fifteen of the twenty-two largest Englishlanguage dailies. That includes 75.4 percent in the three westernmost provinces, where Postmedia owns eight of the nine largest dailies. Possible explanations for a lack of outcry include the company’s use of the “death of newspapers” meme as justification and the fact the deal’s effect was felt mostly in Western Canada, far from the corridors of power.

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