The Canadian TV landscape is set to be radically rearranged yet again in the coming months if Bell Canada’s proposed deal to take over rival broadcaster Astral Media is given regulatory approval
That decision from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is expected within a couple of months.
If the CRTC greenlights the $3.4 billion acquisition, it will continue a trend toward greater consolidation that’s been going on for the past few years in Canada.
There are just four major broadcast players: Bell, Shaw Communications, Rogers Communications and Quebecor.
This consolidation accelerated in recent years thanks to a number of major deals, notably CTV taking over Chum in 2007, then selling off the Chum-owned City-tv stations to Rogers.
Meanwhile Shaw — one of the country’s largest cable operators — snared the CanWest Global TV properties in 2010 for $2 billion.
Quebecor dominates the French-speaking Canadian TV market via the top-rated TVA network and a slew of cable channels.
The result is that there are fewer buyers from Canada for American programming, but at least all four remaining players have deep pockets. All are also distributors, involved in cable, telecom and the Internet.
The problem in Canada remains that homegrown shows have little traction. In a recent week, only four of the top 20 series were Canadian and three of those were CTV news shows.
It’s the exact opposite in Quebec, where local French-language shows dominate the ratings.
STRENGTHS: TV networks owned by large, financially solid companies.
WEAKNESSES: English-Canadian shows still having trouble finding audiences.
SHOWCASE SHOW: “Flashpoint.” The top-rated cop series just started its fifth and final season on CTV.