The number of independent commercial television broadcasters in French Canada can be counted on one hand, and soon that number will decline even further as Bell and Quebecor gobble up whatever they don’t already own.
As Bell’s proposed purchase of Corus’s Historia and Séries+ awaits CRTC approval, TVA announced Tuesday it has agreed to purchase Serdy Media’s specialty channels Évasion and Zeste for $24 million.
The transaction requires CRTC approval, and we’ll learn more when that application is posted. Generally the purchase of TV assets requires a tangible benefits package of 10% of the value of the transaction, which means at least $2.4 million going to production funds or other independent initiatives that benefit the broadcasting system.
Évasion is profitable, with almost $10 million in subscription revenue, $2.6 million in ad revenue and $10 million in expenses in the year ending Aug. 31, 2016. But in 2015 and 2016 it lost bout 5% of subscribers a year. Zeste does not have full financial information published by the CRTC, but had $6.6 million in revenue and $3.8 million in Canadian programming expenses in 2016, which suggests a similar level of profitability.
This is yet another step in the consolidation of French-language television in Canada in two hands: Bell and Quebecor. Each is bulking up to compete with the other, convincing the CRTC that their purchases are necessary because the other has gotten bigger. If the Corus and Serdy sales go through, it would leave only V, children’s channels, non-profit services, some local stations and a handful of others (MétéoMédia and Frissons TV) not controlled by the two giants.
Here’s what Canada’s French-language television landscape looks like:
Quebecor (Groupe TVA):
- Moi & Cie
- Prise 2
- TVA Sports
Bell Media (*former Astral channels):
- Canal D*
- Canal Vie*
- RDS Info
- Super Écran*
- Historia (pending sale to Bell)
- Séries+ (pending sale to Bell)
- Chaîne Disney
- Évasion (pending sale to TVA)
- Zeste (pending sale to TVA)
- DHX Media: Télémagino
- Frissons TV
- Pelmorex: MétéoMédia
- RNC Media (regional affiliates)
- Télé Inter-Rives (regional affiliates)
- TéléMag (Quebec City)
- ICI Radio-Canada télé
- ICI ARTV
- ICI Explora
- ICI RDI
Other public and non-profit broadcasters:
- AMI Télé
- Canal Savoir
- Community channels
It’s time for the CRTC to “grow a pair” and say no to this stuff. It’s also time for the lazy ass political hacks in Ottawa to get to work on dismantling the media giants before they crash land and take out all of Canadian culture.