Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two cups and a string.

I had a little bit of trouble trying to come up with an introduction for this weeks blog but then I thought of the little game I used to play as a child, involving two cups and a string. I would yell into one string and my brother, or cousin, or neighbour, would listen for what I had to say. My voice was connected to their ears. I communicated and because of the connection they could hear what I had to say. So two cups and a string is a simple way of thinking about the connections A Major Media Company can make when it branches out into other companies to create a cross-media ownership.

About a month ago, I applied for a volunteer position at Rogers Television in my hometown, Richmond Hill. I have been granted the opportunity to volunteer with the company and I have my training session this evening. When I saw the blog topic for this week, Media Hegemonies/Mapping Who Owns What I figured that discussing what Rogers Communications owns would be a great idea. Yesterday at my orientation, our supervisor played a PowerPoint presentation with all the rules and expectations Rogers Communications has of its volunteers and employees. One of the slides showcased all of the television shows that Rogers Cable Richmond Hill broadcasts. This made me think. If such an average town like Richmond Hill has a Rogers Cable that can broadcast so many shows, like the Richmond Hill Santa Clause Parade, Talk to Santa, and the Rotary Auction, there must be much more to the story.

Through my research I found that Rogers Communications owns CFMT, a multicultural television station, in Toronto, YTV, a youth oriented cable network, that I myself watched almost every evening after school, and The Canadian Home Shopping Chanel. Rogers Communications also has a twenty-five per cent stake in Viewers Choice Canada, a pay per view company and a variety of chain video stores. In the telecommunications section, Rogers owns a major stake in Unitel Communications Inc., a long distance telephone company, and eight per cent of Cantel Communications Inc., a Canada wide cell phone service. In 1994 Rogers took over Maclean-Hunter Ltd as well. Rogers Communications is also a major shareholder in the Toronto Sun Publishing Corporation, which publishes five newspapers across Canada and is the owner of 191 periodicals in Canada, Britain, the United States, and Europe. Lastly I mustn’t forget Rogers’ ownership in the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the Sky Dome in downtown Toronto, and the Toronto Blue Jays (Madger).

The implications of cross-media ownership, however, are to control companies, television broadcasts, and radio shows and fill them with the bias of the owning company. This could lead to job losses as well as a great difference in media delivered. In today's society, it is almost impossible to livewithout a job. At 18, I find it hard living with little money in the bank account but in the same token, I am scared that if I get a job my marks will go down in school. 

Whenever I think of cross-media ownership I think of Michael Moore and how a GM plant in Flint, Michigan was closed down and almost all the citizens' jobs were lost because the city relied on the plant so much. Basically, the plant was closed because GM found cheaper labour rates in Mexico which is unfortunate for the American and the Mexican. Who knows if employees are being treated with respect in Mexico? So we either have poor people without a job in America, poor people in Mexico being forced to work, or a rich company. Typical.

Luckily, the Canadian federal government limits foreign ownership in communication companies ("CEP's poll").  However, this does not necessarily mean that Rogers Communication does not own a lengthy list of other, smaller companies or corporations. Go to the following website and choose Rogers Communication as your media company. The list may not be as long as other corporations but it is still long because it is the goal of any company to produce the most revenue they possibly can. In fact, they are legally held to do so. This is a reality. Companies connect their strings to as many companies as they can, but one thing they do differently than I did as I spoke with my two cups and a string, is that they use more than two cups.

"CEP's poll also asked about concentration of media ownership." Friends of
Canadian Broadcasting. 16 Jan 2004. 15 Oct 2008

Madger, Ted. "Rogers, Ted Canadian Media Executive." The Museum of
Broadcast Communications. 15 Oct 2008 .

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