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Poll starts Martin lobbying

QUEBEC CITY - Canadians depend on their media to be a window on government decisions, according to a Decima Research poll on Canadian attitudes towards media released today.

Commissioned jointly by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Newspaper Association, the poll said that nearly all Canadians (91%) believe that keeping Canadians informed is either an extremely important or important role for the media to play, while 86% say they depend on Canadian media to remain a force that keeps government accountable.

A significant majority (57%) say maintaining a strong domestic media industry in an important agenda item for the new federal government.

"In times of 'democratic deficit', Canadians are telling us they need their media to be part of the solution," said Anne Kothawala, CNA president and CEO. "This is a message to all governments in Canada that they cannot simply pay lip service to openness and transparency. Canadians are saying that closed-door decision-making has to be the exception, not the rule."

Released today at the CAB's annual convention in Quebec City, the poll was done "as Canada enters a new era with the transition to a new government in Ottawa," said the press release, alluding to the transition in Prime Minister's expected very soon from Jean Chretien to Paul Martin.

The radio and television broadcasters that make up the CAB account for more than 80% of radio tuning by Canadians, and more than 80% of TV tuning to Canadian services. 13 million adult Canadians read Canadian newspapers every week.

"What this tells us is that it is very clear that Canada's private media companies - whether print, radio or television - are the core of the nation's media industry, delivering a critical service to mass audiences that feel a strong need to keep themselves informed," said Glenn O'Farrell, CAB president and CEO.

"The results also point to anxiety among Canadians over the future of Canada's private media companies," says the release, adding, "61% of Canadians agree that the volume of U.S. or international media from such sources as the Internet, and satellite services threatens to overwhelm Canadian voices."

"This is a strong message to the new leadership in Ottawa: Canadians want a strong Canadian media and government should ensure that they don't put obstacles in the way," added O'Farrell.

"Results clearly show the value Canadians place on obtaining Canadian perspectives, so much so that 7 in 10 would accept that a greater proportion of tax dollars be used to ensure that Canadian content is available to Canadians for many years to come," adds the release.

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