The big media news in Canada this week was a $1.7 billion buyout offer of CHUM Ltd. by Bell-Globemedia. This continues the consolidation of Canada's boadcast media industry, and promises to further dilute a medium that's already been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. Broadcast excellence has become the new Canadian media oxymoron.
London's sole broadcast television station, now known as A Channel - a name which will likely change yet again in the months to come - is/was part of CHUM, and its future is now in doubt. Maybe it'll be sold off by its new owners. Maybe it'll be turned into a media training lab for Weather Channel wannabes. Whatever...a whole lot of people are about to lose their jobs thanks to shareholder-driven decisions made by complete strangers in faraway places. In the process, television just got worse in our country.
So I published this in today's paper:
Media buyout bad news in LondonYour turn: Is television turning into a vast wasteland? What's driving it? Do deals like this help or hinder? Tell us what you really feel about TV today.
Published Friday, July 14, 2006
The London Free Press
Competition is always a good thing. It forces players to fight harder to raise the level of their game.
Canada’s media landscape became a much less competitive place yesterday. Bell Globemedia’s proposed $1.7 billion takeover of CHUM Ltd. will further reduce the number of unique voices on Canada’s airwaves.
We’re now down to two major private broadcasters in Canada. CHUM had always been a leading edge, slightly irreverent voice. Soon, that voice will be silenced.
Yesterday’s announcement was followed almost immediately by news of 281 job losses across Canada. London’s A Channel will lose 32 employees as automation renders their production-related roles obsolete. Management claims these changes will enhance the quality of local coverage, but you’re forgiven for believing that viewers, employees or local markets aren’t the execs' top priority.
What ultimately matters to the conglomerates that consummate these mega-deals is shareholder value. Maximize profits, squeeze costs to the bone and hope no one notices.
Competition, diversity of opinion and broadcast excellence seem to be forgotten in the process.