The news broke as I was busy preparing for and going to the annual shareholders meeting of Cogeco: Shaw Media is being sold to Corus Entertainment for $2.65 billion. The people who own Teletoon and YTV will now also control Global TV, Showcase, Food Network and other channels.
But as huge as the purchase figure is, the deal itself is more of a corporate reorganization than a major media merger. Here’s why:
Corus was formed in 1999 as a Shaw spinoff company. Shaw put all its media assets in the Corus portfolio and created a separate, publicly-traded company. But through Corus and Shaw are publicly traded and have their own boards of directors, both are still under the control of the Shaw family.
For this reason, the CRTC considers that they’re related companies. That means they probably won’t oppose the deal. And it means Corus is probably not going to be asked to pay a tangible benefits package to secure the deal, so there won’t be millions of dollars going to various production funds or content development initiatives.
Here’s how the assets will break down once the deal is completed (assets changing hands in bold):
- Shaw Communications:
- Shaw Cablesystems
- Shaw Direct satellite TV
- Wind Mobile (once that transaction is complete)
- Shomi (50%, with Rogers having the other half)
- Corus Entertainment:
- Global Television Network
- Three CTV affiliates in Ontario
- Specialty channels Action, BBC Canada (80%), DejaView, DIY Network, DTour, Food Network, FYI, Global News BC1, History, H2, HGTV, IFC, Lifetime, MovieTime, Crime + Investigation, National Geographic Channel (80%), Nat Geo Wild, Showcase, Slice
- Kids specialty channels Disney Channel (fr/en), Disney Jr, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Teletoon (fr/en), YTV, Cartoon Network, Treehouse
- Specialty channels ABC Spark, CMT Canada, Cosmo TV, OWN Canada, Sundance Channel, W Movies, W Network, Historia, Séries+
- Pay TV channels Movie Central and Encore Avenue (until Bell replaces them with a national Movie Network), including 50% stake in HBO Canada
- Telelatino Network and its associated third-language channels
- Production company Nelvana
- 39 radio stations
- Kids Can Press
There are some minor assets whose eventual owner is unclear right now (TV station CJBN in Kenora, Ont., is owned directly by Shaw and isn’t part of Shaw Media), but these are the basics. Notably, Shaw will have a 39% stake in Corus directly as a result of the stock portion of this purchase. That might make it easier down the road for Shaw to take over Corus and make it a real subsidiary.
Combined, Corus and Shaw have about a 35% share of viewing to English-language television in Canada, which is the same as Bell Media and about as much as the CRTC is comfortable giving any one group. Rogers and CBC have about 10% each, and the rest is everyone else.
The big question is what changes as a result of this transaction. On one hand, the ultimate owner of these assets is the same. But on the other hand, because the companies are run separately, they haven’t taken advantage of centralization or things like collective bargaining with TV providers to get a better deal.
Practically, this will probably mean that:
- Instead of ads for Shaw TV on Global, we’ll see more ads for YTV, Teletoon and OWN.
- In markets where Corus will own both a Global TV station and a news-talk radio station (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto), there could be cross-promotion or even content partnerships of some sort. We could see a rationalization of news-gathering staff and people asked to report for both TV and radio.
- Those three CTV affiliates in south/eastern Ontario (Peterborough, Oshawa and Kingston) will probably eventually become Global TV stations.
- Maybe more programming aimed at children and families on Global TV.
Beyond that, the concentration of media ownership already happened (the biggest step was when Shaw acquired Canwest’s TV assets in 2010), and this is really only a minor step in that process.
Which is why despite a $2.65-billion transaction, my media ownership chart doesn’t change.
so dejaview still won’t run any good old shows like simon & simon, dragnet, adam-12, the avengers, charlie’s angels, cagney & lacey, starsky & hutch, kojak, the streets of san francisco, bionic woman, diagnosis murder, hart to hart, knight rider, return of the saint, the equalizer, the six million dollar man, baretta, police story, “newer” versions of perry mason originally shot in colour, banacek, columbo, mrs. columbo … ?
The reality here is it’s another step in not only media consolidation in Canada, but also opens the doors for yet another round of “let’s share resources and fire lots of people”. Effectively, it makes it easier from a corporate standpoint to do these things in their various markets. It also tend to dovetail nice to Global’s attempts to consolidate local news into a single national source.
White it’s not a big change on paper, it’s a big change in the potential future of consolidated media in Canada.
Hopefully, this is another move that will push the CRTC (and the Canadian government) to look into a forced breakup of media in Canada. The whole situation is spiraling out of control towards a situation where only a handful of companies will own most of the TV, Radio, news sources, and the all important analog and digital distribution networks. We see more and more layoffs, more and more people losing their jobs due to lack of competition in the marketplace (don’t have to keep so many staff when you aren’t competing against anyone except yourselves) and more and more moves towards nationalization of local programming. This isn’t in the public’s best interest, nor for that matter the Government, who risk facing a few companies that are “too big to fail” and “too integrated to break up”.
Time for Our Young Mr Trudeau to get working!
Global transmitters in Peterborough 41, Toronto 27, and Bancroft 2 (analog) already cover Peterborough, Oshawa, and Kingston, so they might as well keep the CTV affiliations.
Peterborough, Oshawa and Kingston are all also already covered by CTV rebroadasters too, so they’re essentially duplicating service either way.
Bancroft 2 is only receivable in Kingston with a huge rooftop VHF antenna. It’s B-grade and exists primarily as a means of scamming a good spot on cable TV systems without serving most of the communities in its coverage area adequately over the air.
Bancroft’s signal almost reaches a lot of places: Peterborough, Pembroke, Belleville, Smiths Falls/Perth, Kingston, Ottawa – but without serving any of them particularly well. If this station goes digital (and the US FCC still shows it reserved “4700 watts, digital VHF 8” for international co-ordination) it likely won’t reach most of these ‘rimshot’ destinations over-the-air. Some (like P’boro and Bytown) eventually got their own CIII-TV transmitter, but Kingston? Either one watches Watertown NY stations or lives with CTV on every channel.
Let’s break up Canadian Media once and for all! (And let’s see if we can break up IHeart in the USA before it gets its hands on Bell Media’s radio stations in the Great White North.