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Canada’s Wave of Media Consolidations Hot Topic at Whistler Fest

There’s a wave of consolidation moving through Canada’s media landscape.

On Dec. 6, at the Whistler Film Festival, Variety’s VP-executive editor Steven Gaydos will lead a panel, “The View From the Top — Consolidation in the Media: Is There an Upside?,” that will feature execs from eOne, Cineplex and Bell Media.

Canadian Radio and Television Commission spokeswoman Celine Legault says one plus from consolidation is the scale of vertically integrated companies “facilitates the creation of diverse and high-quality Canadian programming” and helps it find distribution.

Canadian Media Production Assn. prexy Michael Hennessy says, “If you have strong distributors and broadcasters, then there’s more likely going to be a willingness to license and support (original) television and film projects.”

Hennessy says, “Everybody is trying to get to a scale where it’s easier to manage their costs and where they are able to acquire rights across all platforms — particularly new digital rights.”

But Hennessy also notes that each time a broadcaster or distributor vanishes, the market shrinks. “The less buyers you have, the less willing they are to pay a competitive rate,” he says.

In the U.S., says former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, the media industry is captive to Wall Street’s expectations, a bottom-line mentality and special interest lobbies in Washington.

“The FCC is a huge part of the problem,” Copps says. “It rarely meets a deal or transaction that it doesn’t like, so that has encouraged the consolidation trend.”

Copps believes that consolidation often leads to cuts in newsrooms that aren’t in the best interest of the American public.

“I think we’ve dumbed-down our civic dialogue because the news isn’t as wide or as deep as it used to be,” he says. “The whole role of the press is to hold power accountable, and I just don’t think that’s being done.”

Tipsheet

WHAT: Whistler Film Festival
WHEN: Dec. 4-8
WHERE: Whistler, Canada

Festival Highlights

Dec. 4

Opening Screenings & Gala “Cas & Dylan” (two screenings), 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.

Dec. 5

China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition reception and winner announcement, 4:30 p.m.

World Premiere: “Afterparty”, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 6

“In Conversation: The View From the Top — Consolidation in the Media: Is There an Upside?” Patrice Theroux, eOne; Michael Kennedy, VP of film entertainment, Cineplex; Kevin Goldstein, VP of regulatory affairs at Bell Media; Moderator: Variety VP & executive editor Steven Gaydos, 3:15 p.m.

In Conversation Richard Dreyfuss, 8 p.m.

Dec. 7

Panel Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch, 4 p.m.

In Conversation Jason Priestley with George Stroumboulopoulos, 8 p.m.

Dec. 8

Awards Brunch 10 a.m., Whistler Conference Centre

Closing Screenings & Gala “The Crash Reel” (two screenings), 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.

For more information go to whistlerfilmfestival.com

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