Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asper: Recession Not to Blame for TV woes

In a Report on Television report CanWest CEO Leonard Asper is quoted as saying that neither the recession, nor debt is responsible for the current woes of broadcast television.
" Neither the bad economy nor debt taken on by broadcasters are to blame for profit declines at Canada's major television networks, the head of CanWest Global Communications Corp. [CGS-T] told the federal broadcast regulator Tuesday.

Instead, chief executive officer Leonard Asper said the cause of the problem is a regulatory system that has allowed cable companies to get rich while network television erodes. The other forces are making the problem worse, but they are not the culprit, he said."
This is of course a political statement. CanWest Global, like all broadcasters in Canada, would like cable companies to pay carriage fees to broadcasters. Cable companies aren't interested and the CRTC doesn't appear to be interested either.

The recession has certainly had a profound impact on ad revenues which has hurt broadcasters. They have certainly taken on too much debt - CanWest recently bet the house on an acquisition of Alliance Atlantis: a move that was widely regarded as suicidal. So Aspers statement were certainly disingenuous but there is some truth to them.

The problems of broadcast television did not begin with the recession. It is primarily a refusal to adapt to the world of media as it is. A world that means smaller, fragmented audiences who insist on convenience and choice. Canada's television broadcasters have not made good choices, they have not tried to understand the audience or adapt to changing conditions and, although the writing has been on the wall for over a decade, none of them have taken more than baby steps toward the inevitable future.

From a 'vision' perspective, television is in much the same boat that auto manufacturers were a year ago. I have heard, from several different people in the last few years the statement "television is for boomers" (or statements to that effect.) and until that perception is corrected and steps are taken to adapt to the new environment all the carriage fees in the world will not save them.


Downes said...

They also haven't made good choices with their money, spending (and borrowing) millions to acquire the competition instead of producing compelling media channels. Now they're stuck, unable to pay the interest on their debts, and blaming Canadians for not supporting their divine right to own everything.

Edmonton Small Press said...

What typical Asper horseshit! Whose been 'getting rich'? People are rightfully opting out of CanWest's garbage 'news' because people have finally started to acknowledge their socially-bankrupt, biased, corporate circle-jerk programming content and the thinly-disguised racism of its owners. It's about time!