The Toronto Star
Saturday, June 28, 1997

Dish ruling riles Copps' pal

by Robert Brehl,

A close friend of Heritage Minister Sheila Copps says Ottawa is acting like Communists by telling him what he can watch on TV.

Ron Foxcroft owns a DirecTV satellite system - like 300,000 other Canadians - and he's mad as hell following yesterday's ruling by the Federal Court of Canada that deemed ``gray market'' satellite TV dishes illegal.

He said he doesn't feel like a criminal for having a U.S. satellite dish at his home.

``I feel the government is the criminal for suppressing our rights to live the way we want'', Foxcroft said.

``Canada isn't Communist, is it? What's next? Will they stop us from subscribing to U.S. magazines?''

A successful entrepreneur who owns both Fluke Transport trucking in Hamilton and the Fox 40 Whistle company, which sells 40,000 whistles a day worldwide, Foxcroft has known Copps for years.

``Sheila's my friend. I refereed Sheila in high school basketball. She's a dear, dear friend of mine.''

``I respect her tremendously and I donate to her campaign. But on this issue, she is misguided'', he said.

``I think it is just disgraceful and (the government) should grow up and move into the 20th century.''

It is ridiculous, Foxcroft said, that he will have to drive his 4-year-old son to another grown son's house in Lewiston, N.Y., 50 kilometres away, just to watch the Disney Channel, if there's a government crackdown on U.S. satellite dishes.

``I'll have to drive to my son's house for freedom of choice'', he said.

Foxcroft said deregulation came to the trucking business years ago and, in the long-term, made Canadian firms like his stronger, even if they underwent short-term pain.

``If these Canadian satellite companies and broadcasters were more efficient they wouldn't need government protection.''

Besides, Foxcroft said, the Canadian satellite firms are not exactly pikers.

ExpressVu Inc. is controlled by BCE Inc., the phone giant that is one of Canada's largest corporations.

Star Choice Television Network is controlled by Shaw Communications Inc., Canada's third-biggest cable company.

Canadian broadcasters have long argued that without regulation, Canadian TV and culture would be even more swamped by Hollywood programming. As it is, American programs dominate Canadian television, they say.

A government official said he was pleased with yesterday's decision but said Canadian dish owners should not fear police knocking on their doors.

Copyright © 1997 by The Toronto Star. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.