Does Brampton Spend Too Much Money on One Media Outlet?

It’s no secret that even before Rogers TV pulled out of Peel Region, local media in Brampton and Mississauga has been surprisingly deficient, which is perplexing when you consider the fact that it's one of the largest regions in the country. Winnipeg has less people than Mississauga, and yet they have more radio and newspaper outlets than either of Peel Region’s big cities.

And yet, there is life beyond Rogers, and it’s not just Quickbite News (insauga, inbrampton and inhalton) that has provided news and content in Peel Region. There are now a slew of local news providers that are popping up, and well as existing ethnic media focused on the region's diverse array of communities.

But it’s not as though these are big organizations that have tons of advertising revenue.

One can’t blame municipal government for trying to provide some money to struggling local media outlets. There is a quid pro quo involved here: the city needs local media in order to get the word out on the initiatives they are undertaking, and local media needs content and news to cover and the closest level of government that they scrutinize is the city.

So you would expect the city to have an advertising budget and communications policy geared towards local media vendors, but would you expect Brampton or Mississauga to provide majority funding to just one media outlet?

A Committee of Council report, introduced at Brampton city council on June 20, revealed that the City of Brampton pays a hefty amount for local media to advertise their public notices, promotions and advertisements, totalling $2,063,393. However, one outlet amongst them all received much more money than the others.

As the list shows, over 50 per cent is going to the Brampton Guardian, while other local media get less than 10 per cent. Brampton Guardian is owned by Metroland Media, a division of Torstar Corporation, most known for distributing the Toronto Star.

The full list of local media outlets getting city money are:

  • BRAMPTON GUARDIAN $1,081,921
  • ABC PORTUGAL $ 2,646

  • ACCUTRAC CAPITAL $5,444

  • AJIT WEEKLY $12,415

  • AKHBAAR E PAKISTAN $3,918

  • ANS PROMO $1,087

  • ASIA METRO WEEKLY 2297524 ON $4,732

  • ASIAN CONNECTION $7,988

  • ASIAN WORLD $4,884

  • ATTRACTIONS ONTARIO $5,602

  • AXN MEDIA $5,241

  • BELL MEDIA $7,911

  • BOOM 97.3 $2,931

  • CALEDON PUBLISHING $10,461

  • CANADIAN A-012 Total $5,953

  • CANADIAN M-009 Total $1,221

  • CANADIAN P $9,464

  • CENTRAL ONTARIO BROADCASTING $17,808

  • CFNY-FM $3,053

  • CIAO-AM $26,010

  • CILQ-FM $7,937

  • CITY PARENT $5,442

  • CORREIO DAMANHA $6,665

  • COYLE PUBL $3,082

  • DAILY COMMERCIAL NEWS $61,825

  • DESI EXPRESS $3,460

  • DREW MARSHALL $17,482

  • DUFFERIN COMMUNICATIONS $17,716

  • DURHAM RADIO $25,192

  • EASTERN NEWS $8,497

  • ETHNIC MEDIA $3,663

  • EVANOV RADIO $282

  • EXCLAIM! $7,734

  • FACEBOOK (INSTAGRAM) $15,884

  • FOREVER YOUNG $4,857

  • GLOBAL MEDIA $20,403

  • GLOBE AND MAIL $3,663

  • GOOGLE ADWORDS $28,729

  • GUJARAT AB-001 $814

  • GUJARAT AB-002 $6,360

  • HAMDARD MEDIA 1136811 ON $10,074

  • HINDI ABROAD $7,428

  • HINDUSTAN $5,546

  • HORIZON ON THE GO $19,538

  • IGNITE MAGAZINE $4,650

  • IN THE HIL $30,470

  • JANG CANADA $6,411

  • JAZZ FM91 $21,530

  • JEWEL 88.5 $70,710

  • LE METROPOL $2,137

  • MILENIO ST $1,577

  • MISAFF $1,000

  • MONTREAL WEDDING PLANNER $11,891

  • MZ MEDIA $113,534

  • NEWAD MEDIA 4,547

  • NOW MAGAZI $3,806

  • ONTARIO SUMMER FUN GUIDE $4,904

  • PAKISTAN POST $9,413

  • PARVASI WEEKLY $11,728

  • PERFECT WEDDING GUIDE $509

  • PROUD FM 1 $2,137

  • PUNJAB STAR $13,127

  • PUNJABI DAILY $3,002

  • Q107 $9,158

  • RETAIL MEDIA $1,832

  • SIKH SPOKESMAN $12,415

  • SNAPCHAT $2,743

  • SNAPD $45,006

  • SOUTH ASIA-004 $6,004

  • SOUTH ASIA-005 $5,444

  • SOUTH ASIA-006 $4,732

  • T. LESTER $9,080

  • THE CONTACT $5,088

  • TORONTO BLUES SOCIETY $535

  • TORONTO CARIBBEAN NEWSPAPER $1,781

  • TORONTO STAR $73,685

  • TWITTER $3,263

  • UPDATE SOUTH ASIAN WEEKLY $1,350

  • URDU KHABA $9,158

  • URDU POST $9,413

  • URDU TIMES $8,497

  • WEEKLY TIMES OF INDIA $4,070

  • WEEKLY VOICE $5,342

  • YORK FEDER $14,750

As the list shows, over 50 per cent is going to the Brampton Guardian, while other local media get less than 10 per cent. Brampton Guardian is owned by Metroland Media, a division of Torstar Corporation, most known for distributing the Toronto Star.

But Mississauga also appears to invest heavily in a long-standing news organization, and boasts a four-year sole sourced contract with the Mississauga News.

The City of Mississauga has been working on developing a modern communications and advertising strategy for residents. Back in the fall of 2016, Mississauga councillors asked city staff to present a report updating them on this strategy, which was outlined in this corporate report.

According to city staff in an email to insauga.com, paid advertising in the Mississauga News, or other media, is handled by each business services area based on their operational needs and objectives. In addition, advertisements for mandatory public notices are largely driven by the amount of activity, events and applicable public notices that are required in any given year.

City councillors were asked to approve the following in a May 2017 Committee meeting.

  • That City Council receive and endorse the corporate report entitled "Communicating City Information and Mississauga News Advertising", which outlines the proposed communication plan including a 2 year pilot to print and distribute a city-wide newsletter.

  • That the Purchasing Agent be authorized to execute a contract with the Mississauga News for a 5-year period beginning July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2022, with an annual upset limit of $410,000 for city-wide communication and advertising.

  • That the Purchasing Agent be authorized to add $50,000 to the contract with the Mississauga News in 2018 for the purposes of election advertising.

So this is a sole sourced contract, and the justification the city presented for it was based on a survey conducted by Forum Research in December 2016. Their results indicated that Mississauga residents preferred to receive city information through the following channels:

Normally you'd expect some debate over a sole source contract going to only one news publication, essentially giving them advertising revenue for four years. But when you go back and watch the meeting, all the items on the 'Matters To Be Considered' (Section 8) were approved unanimously in one vote by all members of council, including the sole source contract. There was not much discussion from anyone or objection raised from any of the city councillors.

While it makes sense to recognize long-standing publications, it’s important to cities to analyze their growing media landscapes and, perhaps, distribute advertising funds more equitably—especially with digital news becoming more popular than ever.

Do you think that Brampton and Mississauga should be providing city funds to more than one major media outlet in 2018?

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