L.A. Screenings: Canada

Competish between CanWest, CTV, Chum expected to raise prices

MONTREAL — The main Canuck players don’t want to tip their hands going into the L.A. Screenings, but the buzz in the TV biz in the Great White North this year is that the competition is going to be fiercer than usual among the three main broadcasters.

CanWest Global — which owns the Global Network, its main web, and the smaller CH weblet — is expected to be even more aggressive than usual because the company is keen to chip away at CTV’s current market dominance. Global had a better season this year thanks to perennial blockbuster “Survivor” and newer hits “House” and “Prison Break,” and CanWest Global programming boss Adam Ivers wants to build on those successes.

Chum Television also is going to be chasing the hot new shows with more enthusiasm this year as the Toronto-based broadcaster continues to expand its reach across the country. Chum’s City-tv, previously only in Toronto and Vancouver, began operating in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg this season, and Chum also has to feed its seven A-Channel outlets in southern Ontario and British Columbia.

“Last year, you saw us step up to the plate a bit (at the L.A. Screenings),” says Roma Khanna, who took the newly created position of senior VP of content for all the Chum channels last year. “It’s simple math. If you have a third player stepping up to the plate, it’s natural that it makes it a more competitive market.”

CTV has the nice problem of trying to manage too many returning hits, including the three “CSI” series, “American Idol” and “Corner Gas,” the top Canadian-made sitcom. But CTV does have holes to fill, including finding a replacement for “Alias.”

“We’re focused on finding the hits,” says CTV programming prexy Susanne Boyce. “We’re looking for great stories, for the next great water-cooler show, for the next national experience.”

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