The Midas Curse: Nine out of 10 affluent families will lose their wealth in three generations.
“The offspring of riches: Pride, vanity, ostentation, arrogance, tyranny.” Mark Twain
With Shaw acquiring Global TV and investment groups arm-wrestling over Canwest Metro Newspapers, Vancouver’s media scene is soon to change. Not necessarily for the better, unfortunately. Global TV loses its direct connection with the dailies and the community papers but it is unlikely the Shaw family will commit more resources to Global’s news department.
Global TV BC already broadcasts little hard news, despite almost 40 hours of broadcasts labeled news each week. Removing duplications, commercials, promos, sports, weather, human interest and other soft news leaves less than 90 minutes a week of hard news that includes the five Ws: who, what, when, where, why. And, that’s during a busy week for the news department.
We can safely bet that Shaw Communications will now be amenable to carriage fees collected from cable subscribers and paid to over-the-air broadcasters. This broadcaster acquisition reminds us that, over time, cable providers have been among the greatest beneficiaries of influence peddling in Ottawa. Even before companies eliminated bothersome competition by dividing Canada into agreed zones for each to dominate, they rode government regulated monopoly to high prices and great wealth accumulation.
The Shaw Family, in addition to the Shaw cable and Internet access empire and now Global TV, also controls Corus Entertainment, operators of about 50 Canadian radio and TV stations, including including former top-dog CKNW and three others in Vancouver. The more instruments of information a cartel controls, the greater their political influence becomes. That’s convenient and rewarding for them, dangerous and costly for citizens.
One potential bit of good news for senior executives at the newspaper operation is that Shaw pays reasonably decent compensation, at least to those at the very top of the chain. (I wonder if the Shaw folks favor continuation of the 10+ year freeze on the $8.00 BC minimum wage.) Forbes reports the following total compensation for 2009 earned by the top boys at Shaw Communications:
- JR Shaw, $9.11 million
- Jim Shaw, $11.56 million
- Bradley S. Shaw, $10.85 million
- Peter J. Bissonnette, $11.75 million
- Steve Wilson, $6.01 million
Corus Entertainment is less comfortable for sisters Shaw, Heather and Julie. Neither breaks the $2 million level.