Mainstream radio in Canada is corporately owned. I knew this, but the extent of this ownership has recently increased even further, as I discovered via Facebook fans of public broadcaster CBC (including Hellbound.ca editor/publisher Sean Palmerson). In the latest round of consolidation, a deal announced yesterday, Bell/BCE intends to purchase Astral Media.
Astral has its own history of buying up other media companies. (I learned some of this history while researching an article on radio in St. Catharines for the Covering Niagara anthology.) But the overall trend in this history of buying up and buying out – not just in Canada, but globally – is, as I suggested above, consolidation. This newest deal, if approved by the CRTC, would intensify the corporate media monopoly in Canada by another degree, reducing our five major media companies to four. It's never good for diversity and social justice when corporate profit-making rules the bottom line...
The post that drew my attention to this proposed buy-up was a call for support of the CBC. I'm all for public broadcasting, however much its articulations may sometimes fail to live up to its 'good of the nation' rhetoric (not to mention the problems nation-building rhetoric usually glosses over). But I'd like to add a reminder that CBC is not our only alternative. It may be beleaguered and underfunded, but campus/community radio still presents us with one of many possible alternative media options. To keep these options viable, we need to give them our support.
Take, for example, McMaster's CFMU 93.3 FM. During the university radio station's recent fundraising week I heard a wide range of musical sounds, learned a little more music history, and listened to an interview with a McMaster researcher discussing the lastest in HIV/AIDS research. And that's just a taste of what CFMU's programming has to offer.
I'm also still a big fan of the station that once was UWaterloo's CKMS, now 100.3 SoundFM. Despite losing the financial support of the university's undergraduate population, the station has reinvented itself and moved on, maintaining some familiar programs while adding new ideas to the mix.
CFMU's Raise Your Voice fundraising drive may be over for 2012, but I'm sure CFMU, like many other deserving campus and community radio stations, would gladly accept support all year round.