Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mayor gets publicity only $1.1B could buy

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WASHINGTON -- The Rob Ford saga has received more intensive media coverage in the United States than any other Canadian news story since the turn of the century, newly released media-monitoring figures suggest.

If the Toronto mayor were an advertiser trying to buy all the global media space he occupied in November, it would have cost him $1.1 billion, says the Influence Communications analysis, released to The Canadian Press.

Ford's headline-making streak continued Wednesday. Newly released court documents suggest Toronto police overheard alleged gang members on wiretaps suggesting they had images of Ford using drugs that could be used for blackmail.

That revelation capped a day in which Ford landed a weekly gig on a U.S. radio show titled Sports Junkies, commented on the controversy over the Washington Redskins' NFL team name and made a Time magazine list of the year's most memorable apologies.

"No story in the 21st century has given Canada this much exposure," said Jean-Francois Dumas, president of the Montreal-based media monitoring firm. "It's not just the tabloids, it's not just People, it's the New York Times, the New York Post. All sorts of media covered this. It became a social phenomenon... It's truly exceptional in terms of coverage."

Ford became internationally notorious last month when he admitted having smoked crack cocaine, "probably in one of my drunken stupors," while apologizing and insisting he's not an addict.

According to the Influence calculations, Rob Ford was mentioned in 14,385 stories on U.S. TV, radio, websites and newspapers between Nov. 4 -- the day before his fateful admission -- and Dec. 1.

Dumas said the story appeared in 75 countries and was the third most-covered story in the world on Nov. 6, when nearly 80 per cent of the foreign coverage occurred in the U.S.

The Ford brothers are well aware of their growing celebrity. They say they've turned down reality-show offers from "everyone from Oprah to Dr. Phil," according to Coun. Doug Ford, although word emerged Wednesday the mayor would soon be heard in a weekly CBS Radio sports segment.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2013 A13

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