Over the years Canada has produced more than its share of media barons, dating back to Lord Beaverbrook, Lord Thomson and, more recently, Conrad Black. Now meet the Aspers – Leonard and Israel – who live in Winnipeg and whose company CanWest is fast-growing into a huge multimedia company. Their sights are global. They already own television and radio stations in Canada and the US – plus 26 daily newspapers, among them The National Post, which Black started in 1998
to challenge the long-established Globe and Mail, and a chain of local papers. Israel Asper, the 69-year-old son of Russian immigrants who started the company back in 1975, admits that he wants to see CanWest an international company before he retires. One of the countries on which he and his son Leonard have their sights is Britain. An attempted foray into the UK television market was thwarted six years ago when their bid for Channel 5 was turned down on a technicality. But they will back. That they’ve promised.
A popular British TV newswoman may soon be vanishing from US television screens – unless someone comes up with some extra money. Dalitt Dhaliwal, who just a year ago was winning awards for her ITN news broadcasts from London, may, by the end of the year, be a victim of the declining economics of the airline industry. WNET-TV, the publicly supported network which distributes ITN World News to about 60 stations in the US, has warned that it is running out of money for the programme because its principal sponsor, Virgin Atlantic has cut back on its contribution.
New York Magazine may have been saved from the auction block because financially troubled Primedia has sold Bacons, the big American clippings service, and directory publisher to the Observer Group in Sweden, for $90m (£63.7m). Primedia will, however, push ahead with plans to sell off its gun and photography magazines to reduce debts. The rising cost of covering events in Afghanistan is speeding up talks between two of the big TV networks, ABC and CBS, about sharing costs of news coverage around the world. Originally, the two networks had considered sharing costs with CNN, but the talks bogged down when CNN insisted on maintaining editorial control.
Was it right for Fortune to put its own boss on the cover of its latest issue? Eyebrows were raised over the decision by the magazine, for a special issue reporting the views of the "smartest people in the country" on America’s future, to put Gerald Levine, head of AOL Time Warner, (which now owns Fortune) on the cover. True, he shared it with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Michael Eisner, head of Disney, and Bill Joy, chief scientist at Sun Microsystems. But there were several critics who questioned the magazine’s judgement – among them Jim Michaels, who edited Fortune’s biggest rival, Forbes, for 38 years – who said: "They are shattering every moral rule on the separation of business promotion and journalism." Fortune’s managing editor, Rik Kirkland, countered by saying: "Gerry is one of the smartest people we know. He’s a media visionary."