Competition heavy among Canucks

Reality has major impact on market

MONTREAL — Competition has heated-up considerably in the Canuck TV market thanks to the beefing up of the country’s two top broadcasters, CTV and Global Television.

Canada’s top telecom company BCE Inc., which controls Bell Canada, took-over CTV last year in a C$2.3 billion ($1.5 billion) deal.

CanWest Global, which owns Global Television, also strengthened its position last year by acquiring eight television stations to become a fully national web with stations in all Canada’s key markets.

The year also saw both BCE and CanWest Global acquire major newspaper and new media properties, which company execs say will help them promote their TV stations and take advantage of cross-media synergies, particularly on the Internet.

All of which will have CTV and Global fighting even more ferociously than usual over who gets which hot American TV properties. Both webs have schedules largely dominated in prime-time by imported U.S. fare.

Like the U.S., some of the hottest shows on Canuck TV are reality programs. CTV took an early lead in the reality sweepstakes by picking up “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” but Global followed suit by buying the rights to “Survivor.” The second season of “Survivor” has delivered boffo ratings for Global and helped the web’s already-strong Thursday night.

Doug Hoover, national veepee of programming at Global, says that reality shows have had a major impact on the Canadian TV market, noting that City-TV garnered stellar ratings with “Temptation Island” and that “Survivor” has helped add momentum to Global’s entire schedule.

“It’s been good but at some point the public will become disenchanted, the same way they did with game shows,” adds Hoover.

CTV and Global tend to buy most of their foreign programming from Hollywood at the L.A. Screening rather than at Mip. But the growing number of Canuck specialty channels will be out in full force at the Cannes mart.

Isme Bennie, director of programming and acquisitions for Bravo (Canada) and Space, will be at Mip looking to fill the small number of open slots on the two CHUM-owned networks.

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