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CMNS 333 (Catherine Murray):Broadcasting Policy and Regulation Research guide


If you need help, please contact Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Communication & Contemporary Arts at SFU Vancouver: 778.782.5043 (main) SFU Burnaby: 778.782.3681 or or Ask a librarian.

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Before you begin your research, you must choose the perspective that you will bring to your case study:

Step 1:  Adopt a stakeholder perspective (creator, business/finance, sales/marketing, policy/regulatory)

Step 2:  Decide on a sub-sector:  radio, TV (conventional broadcast, satellite specialty channel, cable provider, wireless provider, television/film producer (conventional) and new media/interactive/mobile format producer

Step 3:  Select your broadcast case study option, consistent with your stakeholder perspective:

Option 1:  Creator's profile

Option 2: Corporate Business / Finance Case

Option 3:  Marketing and Promotion Case

Option 4:  Broadcast Regulation or Policy Case

Creator Research

What do you know about the creator that you have selected?  Start by noting what you know, whether it's where they have worked, the names of productions, affiliations with organizations or other companies, etc.  These can serve as leads to other information.

The following sources may provide you with leads to biographical and professional information, articles discussing their career (reviews, news about industry affiliations, economic, technological or political factors), interviews and other related information.

Search Google or your favourite search engine to find:

  • "Official" web sites produced for the program or production company / creator
  • Fan websites - search for artist's name combined with terms like "fan", "fan club", "blog", "blogger"
  • Social networking sites -  MySpace, Facebook
  • Interviews - search for the creator's name combined with "interview"
  • Reviews or profiles of their works that might provide professional details
  • Web sites for prizes / awards earned by the creator

Search News and Trade publication articles to identify other pertinent information. 

You may also find records of government funding to these productions, in annual reports and other publications of the funding agencies, such as the Canadian Media Fund.

Organization or corporate research

Start your research by asking "Is it a for-profit organization or non-profit?"

This information can often be found on the organization's web site. Non-profits frequently put this information on their homepage or under a link labeled "About" or "Mandate", etc. If it's a for-profit organization, there is often a link that is labeled "Company information" or something similar.

Non-profit organizations are usually incorporated under legislation which dictates their structure and reporting requirements, for example, in BC, the Society Act.  Non-profit organizations generally hold annual general meetings and publish annual reports of their activities and finances. However, these may not be easy to find on the web. 

You can try looking at the organization's web site for this material. Alternatively, you may find copies available at the physical business office of the organization or in the municipal public libraries where they are located.

The Central Branch of Vancouver Public Library often holds copies of annual reports for well-established non-profit organizations in their collection which you can consult on site. Many of these are in the Social Science division.

If the organization is Canadian and has charitable status (meaning you can get a tax deduction for donations to them), you may be able to find useful financial information in the forms submitted annually to Revenue Canada. Use the Registry of Charities to search for your organization by name and then view the forms. The number of employees and other useful information is contained in these forms as well.

To find other information about local non-profit arts organizations, search in newspaper databases, particularly Canadian Newsstream and the Vancouver Public LIbrary created database called the BC Index because these index community newspapers which are more likely to cover smaller local organizations.

If you search the web for your organization, you may also be able to find references to them on other organization's web sites, for example, if they're received funding from government agencies or participated in public programs.

If it's a for-profit organization, your next question should be "Is it a public company or a private company?"

Public companies invite investment by selling shares to the public on the open market via a stock exchange. Public companies must operate within strict rules and regulations set by the jurisdiction where their stock are traded, such as the requirement for governance by a board of directors.

Public companies are also required by securities regulatory agencies to publish and distribute certain types of documents to investors, such as annual and quarterly financial statements. Increasingly these documents are also found on corporate web sites, linked from financial investment sites such as Yahoo Finance, in a database at the web sites for securities regulatory agencies, etc. This makes it reasonably easy to find financial and other information you need for your company profile.

Individuals are far less likely to be incorporated as public companies, though that may change in the future.

Private companies are held privately, by one or more parties, and do not trade in the open market. Thus, in general, these companies are not required to publish public financial statements. While you may be able to determine some of this information based on what you find on the company web site, news & business press articles, business directories or from a personal contact within the company, this may make researching a private company more challenging.

How do you find out whether a company is public or private?

There are far more private companies than public companies: about 98% of all companies are private. Start by searching some of the sources listed under the Annual Reports section to see if your company has been required to file documents with the securities regulatory agency.

NOTE: Your company may be a subsidiary of a larger or foreign company, which owns at least 50% of your company. If the parent company is a public company, the annual report for that company may contain information about your company.

To find the parent company name, check for the name of your company in these sources:

  • MINT Global Information - including ownership charts and subsidiary lists - on over 50,000 publicly-traded companies and 5 million private companies from around the world.
  • LexisNexis corporate affiliations [print]
  • Who owns whom: North and South America [print]
  • Inter-corporate ownership on CD-ROM  Statistics Canada publication available in Maps room, 7th floor, Bennett Library

Remember it will be easier to find information on a public company, especially if that company trades on a stock exchange. Because public companies are regulated by the jurisdiction of the stock market where they trade, it's also important to know where your company's head office is located.

Company web sites can be an excellent information resource about the company, including mission statements, press releases, and annual reports.

Company web sites are used as one-stop shopping for current & potential investors, consumers of the company's services or products, employee recruitment, etc. As well as browsing the company homepage to get a sense of the content of the site, look for links labelled "About Us", "Our company", "For investors", "Corporate information", "Investor relations", etc. These often lead to detailed information about the company's history, type of business, financial performance, recent initiatives, etc. Look for links to financial information, annual reports, press releases, recent initiatives, corporate social responsibility, etc.

If your company is a subsidiary, you may need to go to the parent company site for complete information.

NOTE: When using information from a company web site, consider the promotional nature of these pages and be sensitive to any evidence of bias. Ensure a balanced picture by seeking out additional, more objective sources of information.

Annual reports are good sources of information about a company's current performance and strategies for the future. The annual report also contains detailed information about company operations for the year, often outlining activities in specific industry sectors or international operations as appropriate. Detailed financial statements and analysis are provided for the most current year and often for prior years, to allow the reader to make a comparison. 

Annual reports often begin with a letter from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and/or Chairman. GE’s letter is called the “Letter to Stakeholders” or "Letter to Shareholders". This letter includes an assessment of the prior year and a discussion of future plans, including management's priorities for the coming year.

Annual reports can often be found on the company web site under a link labelled "For investors" or "Investor information."  If your company is a subsidiary of another company, you may have to go to the annual report for the parent company to find information.

NOTE:  If you need help with interpretation of the annual report data, try these sites for some basic tips:

The security regulatory agencies may provide access to the documents which publicly-traded companies are required to file, such as annual reports and financial information:

  • EDGAR for companies traded on American stock exchanges
    The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) database of corporate filings. Contains annual reports, press releases, and other public documents for most public companies in the US. Search by company name and then select documents according to the description and release date. Note: 10-K are annual financial statements, 10-Q are quarterly statements, if you want to limit your results by form number
  • SEDAR for companies traded on Canadian stock exchanges
    The system used to access reports on public companies who are required to file with Canadian Depository for Securities. Includes annual reports, interim financial statements, press releases and prospectuses. Search by company name.

Corporate reporting services produce reports to support the business of investment. The following sources provide information about public company's history, current activities and financial performance, produced by independent business publications.

  • Datamonitor company reports in Business Source Complete database
    In-depth reports : choose Company Profiles link in the right side-bar
    Provides profiles of selected Canadian companies' history, current operations, developments, finances, directors, and other pertinent information.  Choose your company's name and view PDF versions of the historical and investment reports.
  • MINT Global
    Information on over 50,000 publicly-traded companies and 5 million private companies from around the world.
  • LexisNexis
    Enter the company name or stock ticker symbol in the company search. Use the options in the sidebar to view different types of information. The link to financial information is particularly useful, providing useful overviews of company operations, revenues, etc., with links to other company reports linked at the bottom
  • Factiva newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, company reports

Corporate / Organizational History

Look for overviews in books, both those that deal with your chosen organization and those discussing the history of television or broadcasting in a specific country or region. In more general texts, use the table of contents or back-of-the-book index to find relevant pages within.

To find books and reports that focus on your organization, do a subject search, in the SFU Library catalogue, for the full formal name (e.g. use Canadian Radio Television And Telecommunications Commission instead of CRTC).  You can also find annual reports and other documents issued by your organization, if you use their name as an author search.

Annual reports provide a snapshot of the year's activities of the organization, including mandate, major initiatives, future plans, finances, etc.  You can look at these over time to track changes.  More recent annual reports may only be found on the organization's web site.  The organization's web site contains other useful information that can be found by looking at the "About us" link and for press/media releases.

Corporate web sites usually include annual and quarterly reports, news releases, history and other pertinent information, often under links labelled "About" or "Investor Relations" (if a public company).

Remember that information about competitors or the industry can provide information you can use, if you can't find much about your specific organization.

Policy Research

To identify policy issues that affect your artist or organization, use the Canadian Encyclopedia or search for articles in journal or news articles that provide you with the name of the policy, jurisdiction, interested organizations and other details.

You can find discussions of academic and legal research related to broadcasting policy in Canada and other countries in these databases:

  • ECONLIT economic aspects of public policy
  • HeinOnline  law and law related research
  • LawSource includes the Canadian index to legal literature

Try searching the following databases to find reports relating to broadcasting policy in Canada:

  • Canadian Electronic Library contains the full text of reports from a variety of Canadian public policy institutes, research institutes, think tanks, advocacy groups, government agencies and university research centers.  Search this database for reports by or about your institution.
  • Canadian Research Index includes records for policy documents from all levels of Canadian government.  Many of these records include URLs for the full report. If not, you can search the web for the document title. Failing this, most reports are available on microfiche , filed by the Microlog ID number in the record (green box in the example above). The microfilm collection is housed on the 6th floor of the Bennett Library. 

As well as databases, check out the web sites for federal government and parliamentary bodies, for example:

There is a long list of additional cultural policy resources on the guide for CMNS 334. The links might not all work but you can search the Internet by the name of the organization to find their current web site.

Industry Research

No corporation or organization operates in isolation.  All players in the broadcasting industry operate within a regulatory, economic and technological environment.  Learning about the industry will enable you to identify past, present and potential issues affecting your organization.

Some of the most useful sources for Canadian industry are:

To find books and reports that focus on your industry, search the SFU Library catalogue.  Start with a keyword search to identify books that refer to your industry and then use these relevant records to identify the correct subject heading for your industry.

For example, the results of searching for "television broadcasting and canada" included the following record.

This relevant subject headings might not be the first words you consider using to search.  Subject searching limits your results to those books or reports that have a major focus on your topic:

Relevant subject headings for television broadcasting include:

  • Television Broadcasting
  • Television Broadcasting Canada
  • Television Broadcasting Policy
  • Television Broadcasting Policy Canada History
  • Cable television
  • Direct broadcast satellite television
  • Ethnic television broadcasting
  • Public television
  • Television Northern Canada
  • Television Law And Legislation

To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

Subject headings often have geographical subheadings, such as Canada or British Columbia, to help you find books that focus on a specific region.  

Books that provide the global history of the television or broadcasting industry or the history of Canadian mass media or cultural industries may also be useful.  Discussions of the global technological, economic or social environment will apply to Canadian industries. Discussions of the broadcasting industry in other countries may also apply to Canada.

Use the table of contents or back-of-the-book index to identify specific pages that discuss Canada or other topics of interest.

Industry associations serve as advocates, educators and negotiators on behalf of their members, usually corporations or professionals working in a specific industry.  Web sites for these associations can provide information about policy issues, industry news and submissions to policy consultations.

Search the Associations Canada directory to identify industry or professional associations relating to your media industry.

Other research...

As well as looking for academic, trade publication and news articles on your industry, consider researching corporations who are key players in your industry. 

These companies may serve as a case studies of the environmental factors (such as regulations, technological or economic changes) affecting the industry.  See the section on Organization and Corporate Research for research sources & strategies.

Trade publications

Trade publications, also called trade journals, trade magazines or professional magazines, are like news magazines directed at readers with an interest in a specific trade or industry.  Trade journals may be published by professional associations or by commercial publishers.

Trade publications include articles that discuss developments related to that field, both at the industry level and about specific companies.  As well as articles discussing issues of interest to this specialized audience, trade magazines contain advertising, announcements and job ads targeted for this audience.   Surveying these over time will contribute to your understanding of the industry. 

Examples of major trade magazines  (with links to our digital subscription) in the broadcasting industry include:

You may also find some of these discussions in more general business and news magazines, such as:

Use the following indexes to find articles in news and trade publications: 

  • CBCA Complete Canadian newspapers, newswires, newsmagazines, as well as television and radio transcripts, and Canadian trade publications.
  • Communication & Mass Media Complete indexes significant trade publications for related industries, such as Broadcasting & Cable (television) and MediaWeek (advertising and communication). You can limit your search results to Trade Publications (select under Source Type on the main screen) or use the Source limiter (in the left sidebar) on your results to limit to magazines. 
    ** Note: You may also find that some scholarly journals include a news section to highlight current events and issues in the cultural industries.**
  • Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text  includes trade publications from broadcasting and television production industries
  • Business Source Complete content is predominantly American but does contain important trade publications and business magazines for the Canadian cultural industries, such as Billboard (music)
  • LexisNexis provides good coverage of trade publications, strongly American with good coverage of Canadian sources & topics
  • Factiva  includes full text news and industry publications, company reports and other business sources from Canada and around the world


Newspapers and news magazines contain articles directed at a general audience.  Because these are focused on current events, rather than an in-depth treatment of a topic, news articles are best used to establish context and to give leads (such as names of significant organizations and people) for further research.

Canadian sources

  • CBCA Complete  Canadian newspapers, news magazines, trade publications, scholarly journals, with links to full text
  • Canadian Newsstream major Canadian daily newspapers and Western Canadian weeklies

International coverage

  • Factiva newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, company reports, and more from 200 countries, in 26 languages.
  • LexisNexis international news coverage, strongly American with good coverage of Canadian sources & topics
  • Academic Search Premier indexes both scholarly and popular articles
  • PressReader  current issues (1-3 months) of newspapers from around the world

Academic articles

Journal articles provide research outcomes, discussions and leads to additional sources cited in the reference lists.

For details on recognizing the characteristics of scholarly journal articles, see our guide to What is a Scholarly Journal?

Articles discussing the Canadian and global television industry can be found by searching these key databases:

Multidisciplinary indexes for the social sciences & humanities may also be useful as television and broadcasting research happens beyond business, policy and legal disciplines.

NOTE:  If the full text for the article is not included as part of the database, use the Where can I get this? link to find full text in other databases or to the online journal subscription available at SFU Library.