Banff World TV Festival kicks off Sunday

Event draws Yanks despite higher loonie

TORONTO — Kudos, kibitzing, and consolidation will be front and center as television execs converge on this resort town for the Banff World Television Festival, which kicks off Sunday.A trip to Banff is dearer than it has been in the fest’s 28-year history, with the Canadian dollar trading north of $.94. on the greenback, a 30-year high that is expected to put a dent in service production here, but according to fest exec director Jennifer Harkness appears not to have dissuaded U.S. delegates.

Canadians for their part will be buzzing about a continuing trend toward industry consolidation, most notably with the proposed acquisition of Chum by CTV for C$1.7 billion ($1.6 billion) and of Alliance Atlantis by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs for $2.2 billion, promising to keep tongues wagging.

Several high-level Canadian industry policy- and decision-makers are speaking, including Heritage Minister Bev Oda, who on June 11 may unveil the results of a study she ordered last year on how technology is affecting the biz and/or launch a long-awaited review of pubcaster CBC’s mandate, and the new, no-nonsense CRTC topper Konrad von Finckenstein, who on June 11 could throw caution to the wind and announce the regulator’s decision on the proposed CTV/Chum deal.

Von Finckenstein may also address the ongoing battle between the Canadian Television Fund and the cable companies that are mandated to help support it, with rabble rouser Jim Shaw of Shaw Communications, Canada’s second-largest cabler, complaining most recently about the manner in which the CTF is overseen. The regulator is in the midst of an examination of the CTF, but its plain-spoken topper could step in, once again, to diffuse the situation.

This year there will be a particular focus on the U.K. industry, with keynote speaker Dawn Airey, and on-stage interviews and panel participants including Jon Plowman, Wayne Garvie, Antony Thomas, Paul Abbott and Michael Carrington.

Fest ends Wednesday.

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