The first Media Democracy Day was held in 2001, organized by local Toronto and Vancouver members of the Campaign for Press and Broadcast Freedom (CPBF), an organization modeled after the British group of the same name. CPBF Canada was a coalition of concerned citizens, researchers, academics and activists that emerged in 1996 in response to Hollinger Inc.’s takeover of much of the Canadian press and the threat to diversity of content posed by such an unprecedented concentration of ownership.
Since then the media landscape has changed. Concentration of ownership trends have continued including the convergences of media and telecommunications companies, and the current issues related to media policy have become even more crucial to the potential for democratic communication, as we will note below. The CPBF has since been reorganized and renamed as OpenMedia.ca and has been advancing media reform issues related to net neutrality, fair and balanced copyright, mobile Internet and phone services, and online privacy.
Since 2010, MDD has been led by the School of Communication at SFU, OpenMedia.ca, and the Vancouver Public Library. Since those early days, our annual conference, Media Democracy Days (MDD), has become the signature event for alternative, independent, and democratic media in Canada and expanded in a multi-day event of screenings, workshops, and public lectures. Each year, close to three thousand people get to know their local media makers and participate in seminars on topics such as communication and copyright policy, media representation of the environment and gender, and documentary film production.
In 2012, we launched The CounterCulture Speaker Series in partnership with SFU’s Institute for the Humanities and School of Communication to extend our reach beyond the annual MDD conference. CounterCulture engages the public in critical debate on issues relating to art, media and politics through free bi-monthly film screenings and lectures. Throughout our history, our advocacy is backed by our rich history of research into media reform, through projects such as NewsWatch Canada and the Global Media Monitoring Project.
As a result of this expansion, MDD underwent a re-branding into The Media Democracy Project. The goal was to create a new structure to fully encompass and reflect the breadth of our work, from our annual MDD conference, CounterCulture series, and research initiatives. As we look forward, we are excited about helping to build connections, coalitions, and a sense of community for democratic media in Canada. We hope you’ll join us.