How to tell if the publisher is angry.

The best gauge newspaper people have to tell the publisher’s mood is by the placement of his signed editorials. If it is on the editorial page, he probably has just a mild case of heartburn. If it is on page two of the paper, this is serious dyspepsia. And if it is on page one, save the women and children first. This came up yesterday when Publisher John Cruikshank used page two of the Toronto Star to rail against Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He feels that the PM is mistreating Cruikshank’s telecommunications friends at Bell, Rogers and Telus.

Of course, Cruikshank discloses that he owns shares in Bell Canada. (Doesn’t everybody?) What he fails to add is that the three cell-phone purveyors are also currently spending an inordinate amount of money on full page advertising in the Toronto Star to vent their spleen at Stephen Harper for being an ideologue. Being somewhat out of touch with display advertising rates, we can only suspect that these ads are paying the publisher’s salary each month with money left over to pay half the Star’s editorial staff.

Frankly, Cruikshank is behind the curve on this subject. Mr. Harper has passed the baton in this relay to Industry Minister Jimmy Moore. The nice young man from B.C. has been sharpening his teeth to take on Canada’s telecoms. Like Shakespeare’s three witches toiling over their cauldron of trouble, Bell, Rogers and Telus have brought this on themselves. Yes, they will tell you that they love Big Brother but that is not going to make them better citizens.

What Moore and his boss understand as well as most Canadians is that our three home-grown telecoms have been screwing their Canadian customers for far too long. Their collective greed is the stuff of legends. If one does not get you, one of the others will. They conduct a triumvirate of terror in the cell-phone industry.

But, to be fair, Harper’s choice of Verizon to whip the Canadian telecoms into shape is not Cruikshank’s choice, nor is it ours. Bell, Rogers and Telus might think they are the experts at rape and pillage in the telecom business but Verizon leaves them in the dust. The company is neither a better corporate citizen, nor any cheaper in price, nor does it have better technology nor does it do any better at customer relations. As we have explained before, Verizon is the Walmart of cell-phone sales. It might be five times as big but it is also five times as ugly.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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