When Bell tolls, Chum no longer in the mix

Territory report: Canada

TORONTO — The big fish continued to get bigger in 2006 with the announcement in July that Chum, Canada’s third-largest broadcaster, is being swallowed up by Bell Globemedia, parent company of rival web CTV.

Down the road, the engulfing of one of Canada’s three major private broadcasters by another promises to bring significant change to the Canadian program-buying landscape. CTV is likely to divest itself of a handful of stations, which spells opportunity for another smaller broadcaster, such as Alliance Atlantis, Astral, Rogers, Telus or Quebecor.

But since the greenlight isn’t expected to make its way down the regulatory pipe for a year, everyone is saying that at Mipcom, it’s business as usual.

“It has to be that way for legal reasons and for practical reasons,” says Ellen Baine, VP of programming for Chum. “You need to put programs on the air.”

Canada’s proximity to the U.S. means the majority of buying is done with syndication in mind at the L.A. Screenings. Traditionally, most of the Mipcom buying takes place for smaller specialty channels, such as Chum’s Bravo.

“We’re interested in anything with Pavarotti or anything like that,” says Baine, “and we’re always looking out for the next ‘Sex and the City.’ ”

Global has been buying aggressively in L.A. to try to gain ground on ratings powerhouse CTV. And although CTV continues to take 15 of the top 20 spots on the Nielsen ratings, Global appears to be making some headway with buys like “Prison Break,” “Vanished” and “House,” and homegrown fare “Rock Star: Supernova.”

Still, CanWest’s Global Television programming VP, Adam Ivers, calls Mipcom “a crystal ball into the midseason.” Last year’s smart buy was “Deal or No Deal.” “That’s been incredibly valuable to us and to NBC,” he says.

For CTV’s Susanne Boyce, Mipcom is a good place to get the ball rolling.

“You’re looking for trends. What’s the next genre? What are people doing, what kind of formats are out there?” she asks. Mipcom discussions with Fremantle got “Canadian Idol” off the ground, as well as 19 Entertainment, whose format is “So You Think You Can Dance.”

1. “Canadian Idol,” CTV
2. “CSI,” CTV
3. “Prison Break,” Global

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