Upstart Paper Cracks Irving Media Monopoly
By Chris Arsenault
HALIFAX, Nov 7 (IPS) - For more than two years, the Irvings -- the 129th richest family in the world, with interests in energy, construction, forestry and transportation -- owned every single English language newspaper and magazine in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
In 2006, a Canadian senate report called the Irving monopoly a "media-industrial complex that dominates the province."
That total dominance ended on Oct. 30, when, after a court overruled an Irving attempt to halt its publication, the first issue of the Carleton Free Press hit news stands.
"I'm just a guy who wants to serve his community," William Kenneth Langdon, the independent paper's publisher, told IPS. But observers around New Brunswick are casting Langdon and his newspaper as a symbol of something more powerful.
"David fought Goliath and David won," said Erin Steuter, a professor at Mount Saint Allison University who has studied New Brunswick's media monopoly. "The Irvings lost this latest battle about crushing the alternative publication," Dr. Steuter told IPS.
The battle over the Carleton Free Press started on Sep. 27, when a team of four forensic accountants hired by CanadaEast News Inc., a media holding company owned by the Irving family, barged into Langdon's home in Woodstock, New Brunswick, a small town of about 5,300 people.
Under a little known criminal code provision related to industrial espionage, the private agents scoured Langdon's residence. "They even rooted through my wife's lingerie drawer," Langdon told IPS.