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"FEC" 2003 Obituary


FECAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-10-08 published
Shock, sadness over ASPER
Former movie ticket taker rose to prominence as one of Canada's biggest media moguls
By Richard BLACKWELL Media Reporter Wednesday, October 8, 2003 - Page B1
Canada's business, media and political elite expressed shock and sadness at the death of Izzy ASPER, the colourful Winnipeg media mogul who died yesterday at the age of 71.
Mr. ASPER built CanWest Global Communications Corp. into a national television and newspaper powerhouse, and more recently spent some of his fortune on charitable and philanthropic causes.
Israel ASPER, known to everyone as Izzy, was admitted to St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg at 9: 30 yesterday morning, and died soon after, surrounded by his wife and children.
CanWest spokesman Geoffrey ELLIOT/ELLIOTT said he had no information on the cause of Mr. ASPER's death, although it was "obviously sudden."
The funeral is set for tomorrow.
Mr. ASPER smoked heavily for years and had a serious heart attack at age 50.
A tax lawyer who for a time was leader of the Liberal Party in Manitoba, Mr. ASPER built CanWest Global from a single television station in Winnipeg into its current status as one of Canada's biggest media empires.
Colleagues and Friends praised him for his business successes and community work.
Conrad BLACK, who sold Mr. ASPER the Southam newspaper chain in 2000 to cement CanWest's position as Canada's leading media company, described him in an interview yesterday as "a charming informal character [with] never a hint of self-importance despite his great success." And that success was legendary, Lord BLACK said.
"The man started out taking tickets in a cinema in Minnedosa, and he, as of this morning, was the premier figure in the Canadian media. That's quite a career."
Lord BLACK noted that Mr. ASPER "had a reputation, in some circles, for being very litigious [but] I always found him a joy to deal with."
"We never had any difficultly reaching an agreement, and you never had to worry for an instant that the agreement would be followed up by him to the letter. "
Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN issued a statement in which he called Mr. ASPER "a great personal friend and one of the finest and most able individuals I have ever had the privilege of knowing."
Ivan FECAN, president and chief executive officer of Bell Globemedia and Chief Executive Officer of CTV Inc., described Mr. ASPER as "a great entrepreneur, a brilliant competitor, and a true original."
Onex Corp. chief executive officer Gerald SCHWARTZ, who was a protégé of Mr. ASPER's and helped found the CanWest empire, said he "left a legacy of pride for his family, a television network for all Canadians, and a business empire for his colleagues. His leadership in the Canadian Jewish community is a loss that will not easily be overcome."
Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT, who has worked with Mr. ASPER for the past four years, described him as "a visionary, but at the same time he was very human and very approachable."
Mr. ASPER's death raises questions about the future of CanWest Global, the conglomerate that owns Southam newspapers, the National Post, the Global television network, specialty television channels, and broadcasting operations in New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.
While Mr. ASPER was chairman of CanWest, he had given up the chief executive officer responsibilities to his son Leonard ASPER in 1999, and retired from day-to-day management responsibilities earlier this year.
His main preoccupations were two charitable foundations, the ASPER Foundation and the CanWest Global Foundation.
Still, Mr. ASPER was seen as the driving force behind the company's strategy, right up to the end.
Some people close to the company said yesterday that Mr. ASPER exercised so much strategic control, even in retirement, that the company could be plunged into turmoil. Operations could be restructured, and new partnerships and financings put in place.
CanWest's Mr. ELLIOT/ELLIOTT said a succession plan has been in effect for "quite some time," and there are unlikely to be any significant changes in the strategy of the company because of Mr. ASPER's death.
"There's a strong depth of long-term management at CanWest at the corporate level," he said.
The CanWest world
-National Post
-CanWest Publications (Incl. 16 daily newspapers and 50 other publications)
Media Marketing and Sales
-CanWest Media Sales
-Integrated Business Solutions
Entertainment - Production and Distribution
-Fireworks Entertainment (film and television production)
Television Broadcasting
-Global Television Network (Incl. 11 television stations across Canada)
-independent stations (Incl. Hamilton, Montreal and Vancouver Island)
-Canadian Broadcasting Corporation affiliate stations (Incl. Kelowna and Red Deer)
-Specialty Television (Incl. Prime TV, Fox Sportsworld Canada, Mystery -45% Xtreme Sports, Men television - 49% Deja View, Lonestar)
Radio Broadcasting
-CJZZ FM Winnipeg
Production Services
-Apple Box Productions (commercial production)
-StudioPost Film Labs (post-production services)
-CanWest Studios (sound stage)
-WIC Mobile Production (live event mobile units)
New Media
-CanWest Interactive Interent Portal
-Financial Post Data Group
Entertainment - Production and Distribution
-Fireworks Pictures (U.S., feature film distribution)
-Fireworks Television (U.S., television production)
-Fireworks International (Britain, International television distributor)
-CanWest Entertainment
International Distribution
(Republic of Ireland)
New Media
-Internet Broadcasting Systems (U.S. - 18%)
-LifeServ Corp. (U.S. - 25%)
Television Broadcasting
-Five stations in: New Zealand (2); Australia 57.5%; Northern Ireland 29.9%; Republic of Ireland 45%
Radio Broadcasting - New Zealand
-More FM (five stations)
-Channel Z (three stations)
-The Breeze (Wellington)
-4 National FM Networks
Out-of-Home Advertising - Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam
-Eye Corp. (100% owned by Network Ten)

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