CanWest letter backfires as review of media concentration announced

Ottawa - The federal government is appointing a new panel to
study media concentration.

The move follows accusations that one of the new media giants is
trying to stifle journalistic freedom.

News of the panel came today in response to Opposition criticism over a recent letter in support of the prime minister, penned by CanWest Global executive David Asper.

Asper's essay, entitled "Put Up Or Shut Up," was published in Southam newspapers, which include titles in most of Canada's major cities. In it, Asper is critical of media outlets and Conservative Leader Joe Clark in particular for dogging Prime Minister Chretien on a controversial loan in his riding.

Prime Minister Chretien says neither he, nor anyone acting on his behalf, asked CanWest to write a letter that's critical of Chretien's detractors.

A spokesperson for Heritage Minister Sheila Copps says the panel's mandate hasn't been set in stone, and the panel itself is still being put together.

CanWest owns Southam newspapers, and co-owns the National Post
with Hollinger Incorporated, which is controlled by Conrad Black.

Part of the partnership agreement gives CanWest the right to
publish its opinion in the Post if it disagrees with an editorial

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