On October 22, 2010, the Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the purchase of CanWest Global Communications by Shaw Communications, the Western-based cable giant. The $2 billion deal gives Shaw ownership of the national Global Network and CanWest’s specialty channel holdings, including Showcase, History, Slice, HGTV and the Food Network.
At the same time, another major transaction is before the federal regulator. BCE Inc., the parent company of Bell Canada, made a bid to purchase the 85% of CTVglobemedia it doesn’t already own. For a cool $1.3 billion plus debt, BCE would take control of the CTV national television network and a stable of specialty cable channels, including TSN, Discovery Canada, the Comedy Channel, and Bravo! This deal would make BCE one of the biggest media conglomerates in North America.
Within the space of a year, the majority of Canada’s television assets have been consolidated into the hands of two large media corporations, one a cable company and one a phone company. There’s an irony in there somewhere, especially given the nasty and very public fee-for-carriage battle that ensued last year between conventional broadcasters and these cable/satellite companies.
It seems these corporations are betting on the value of merging content and distribution across their various platforms. It had been tried before by BCE in 2001, and it failed. Maybe the timing is better this time round.