Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Canadian TV Now Controlled By the Very Few

This isn't the way Canadian TV was supposed to evolve.
I should know --during the 1970s as the kid TV critic from The Hamilton Spectator I was obliged to sit through hundreds of CRTC meetings about the future of Canadian TV.
Even then the failure of the private networks and stations to come up with adequate Canadian content. was the big talking point.
CTV for example in those days had such "Canadian" series as Stars On Ice, Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour, Definition and Police Surgeon.
CHCH countered with Ein Prosit, Pierre Berton interviews and The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein.
Not good enough railed powerful CRTC president Pierre Juneau (later head of CBC).
He worried too much power was being placed in the hands of a few broadcasters and that American cheap programming was driving away quality Canadian TV fare.
When cable came along Juneau wanted a diverse landscape. For example the CRTC originally licensed the W network because it promised to be based in Winnipeg.
Similarly CBC Newsworld promised to use Calgary as the hub for all its production.
But these days while the number of cable networks has grown the number of owners has shrunk.
These days the big players are perfectly few: Shaw Media which gobbled the old Global network; Bell Media who owns the old CTV chain; and Rogers which has most of the old CHUMCity stations.
Rogers Media's capture for $5.2 billion of rights to most NHL hockey games is a stunning game changer.
Veteran TV scribe Bill Brioux has the best take on his .com TVFeedsMyFamily --he notices the old Hockey Night In Canada jingle is now owned by CTV but its sister cable weblet TSN will have few occasions to run the song in the futre.
CBC gets the rights to four more years of Saturday Night hockey but in a form where the production and the profit is controlled by Rogers.
That's a whole lot of change and makes me fearful Rogers may make future cuts in its Canadian content shows. to pay all for this.
Remember Rogers already dumped Murdoch Mysteries as too expensive and currently has very little scripted Canadian drama at all --it's simply cheaper to import inane Canadian fare.
In this latest round of acquisitions it's you the customer who might suffer the most --the options are dwindling to just a few players at best.

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