Saturday, October 24, 2009

 

FADE TO COLOUR BARS

The "Toronto Sun" newspaper reported a couple of days back that CTV claims eleven of its twelve stations in Ontario are in financial jeopardy. Network representatives, along with some from Global television, had participated in an editorial board round-table with the newspaper in support of their argument to access cable fees: "The Save Local TV" campaign which mercifully will end-up off our television screens and before the CRTC in just a few days.

CTV claims only it's flagship CFTO-TV in Toronto is actually making money...which begs the question why does CTV own 12-stations in Ontario to begin with? To some degree:- Either each was a going, occasionally growing, community business (mostly owned by local entrepreneurs) before the network began its acquisitions...Or:- Business pressures would have ensured its eventual demise anyway. Although it's the country's largest province, the Ontario market cannot; should not; support twelve seperate stations owned by one single network in an ultra-competitive environment. It makes no sense. In contrast, although it is no poster child for broadcasting management (management of any business really); Global has one TV station in Ontario...the Public Broadcasters: TVO - One station; the CBC, three (Toronto-Ottawa-Windsor).

Although very much different as a model, and unlike the CRTC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United-States discourages network ownership of local TV and the regulator actually limits the number of stations a business may licence. The problem here it seems evident is that greed fueled the virtually uncontrolled acquisition by CTV of just about every single television outlet in this province (as elsewhere), eventually sucking-out their life-blood to feed an apparent desire to dominate the airwaves. How else to explain that in addition to the 12 Ontario stations over which it now pleads poverty, CTV also owns more than 30 Specialty Television channels; and outbid its nearest rival by a claimed $50-million for the rights to broadcast the Vancouver Games ($150-million)...a commitment which now given the economy it is nearly unable to sustain.

That the flagship station CFTO-TV is the network's sole source of positive cash-flow in its local station business should be of little concern to cable television subscribers, and most certainly of no concern to Canadian taxpayers. It does however speak volumes about greed which has been anchored on a foundation of "maxed-out" lines of credit and somewhat limited business sense. CTV and the other proponents of "Save Local TV" are right...the model is broken: I've concluded that it would not be broken if they had not meddled with it in the first place, and I'll be damned if I am expected to pay for their greed, ill-conceived planning and incompetence.

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