Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shaw "extremely disappointed" he can't bring U.S.A. to CAN

Shaw Communications disappointed with CRTC denial of access to USA Network

CALGARY - Cable TV company Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) says it's "extremely disappointed" with the federal regulator's decision to deny access to the USA Network, the major basic cable programming service in United States.

"The CRTC is continuing on a path of protectionism for the benefit of certain Canadian programmers at the expense of Canadian television customers," Peter Bissonnette, president of Shaw Communications, said Tuesday.

"Shaw strongly believes that Canadians deserve access to the best national and international sources of programming - that is what the Broadcasting Act promises."

In January, Shaw applied to add USA Network to the lists of non-Canadian services that Canadians are allowed to receive. The CRTC turned down the application on Sept. 19, citing the need to protect the niche Canadian digital service Mystery TV, which airs three of the same programs.

Shaw said CanWest Global (TSX:CGS), which owns Mystery TV with TVA, acknowledged in its intervention on the issue that "USA Network is truly a general-interest service. It does not limit itself to any one particular genre but is rather a leading provider of original series, off-network television shows, sports events and blockbuster theatrical events."

The CRTC's decision "is particularly surprising given its statements in recent speeches and proceedings about the need to focus on consumers and respond to the challenges of black market satellite, the Internet and other new technologies," Shaw said in a release.

Shaw Communications is a diversified communications firm with 577,000 kilometres of fibre, whose core business is providing broadband cable TV, high-speed Internet, digital phone, telecommunications services and satellite direct-to-home services through Star Choice.

On the Toronto stock market Tuesday, Shaw shares rose 15 cents to close at $25.25.

It's all about the "brand".

Corus revamp includes 53 layoffs
Canadian broadcaster offers 'focused' changes

TORONTO -- Toronto-based Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment issued 53 pink slips Tuesday as part of a streamlining process that began in July.

Changes include the merger of Corus' interactive team with Nelvana Studios, its animated division; cuts to broadcast and post-production departments; and the combining of acquisitions and original production at the pay channel Movie Central and its Corus Kids division.

In addition, the company's ad sales group has been retooled with the creation of a "platform innovation team" and a post, VP of non-linear business development, as well as the merger of kids' ad sales teams.

"These changes ensure a strong, brand-focused approach for creating superior content for audiences across all platforms," said a release from the company, whose cable channels include YTV, Treehouse, W Network, and pay channel Movie Central, as well as radio interests.

A publicly listed company, Corus is controlled by the Shaw family, which owns Shaw Communications, Canada's second-largest cabler.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Buy Low/Sell High

Friday, September 14, 2007

Subprime and the Alliance deal take 2

Though this article from the Globe and Mail briefly touches on the issue of the junk bond crisis (Subprime in other words), it's another glimpse into the reality of Leveraged Buyouts (LBO's), and how these nasty little schemes end up enriching the investment bankers who make the deals and hurt those who have no clue (the investors, the little the pensioners who unwittingly hold CanWest in their portfolios).

An excerpt (from Globe & Mail):

If there's a crisis brewing in the markets, CanWest always finds a way to step in the middle of it. After it bought Hollinger International's Canadian newspapers in 2000, it got caught in a credit squeeze, resulting in a horrible bond deal at usurious interest rates. When the company decided to float those papers as an income trust in 2005, it got hurt again; the deal closed just as it began to look like then-finance minister Ralph Goodale was going to tax trusts (he didn't). When it went to finance the Alliance deal this summer ... well, you know - it ran full-speed into the junk bond meltdown.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What Price Salvation?

This is an article that I wrote for on current industrial relations....

What Price Salvation?
by: Jason Chesworth

While reading the latest report on the Canadian Television Fund (CTF), I was reminded of a friend who put herself on a personal weekly “point system” as a way to reward herself for accomplishing certain daily tasks. If this friend got out of bed before 10 a.m. and made the bed, she received one point. Working on her art that day got her five points. She even had a score for making love to her husband (I don’t know the score of that particular). Throughout the week, she was able to “redeem” certain accumulations of points for prizes, like the latest issue of Wallpaper (25 points) or a new CD (50 points). This scheme had the effect of controlling her personal finances and motivating her at a particular moment in time. However, the CTF report isn’t inspiring, and it isn't a story of self-motivation, unless you view beaureaucratic bodies such as the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) as an integral part of the Canadian identity. Regulatory boards such as these can often seem like nagging moms reminding you to eat your broccoli or brush your teeth before you go to bed, and most debate on media regulations is sure to be intensely boring to someone in Anytown, Canada eating a bag of Lays in front of the latest episode of CSI: NY.

click here
to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kim Hume new Director of Policy at ACTRA

From Playback Magazine:

Kim Hume has been promoted to director of public policy and communications at ACTRA National, effective immediately, where she takes over from Ken Thompson.

Hume, who has been with the organization for six years and most recently served as public relations officer at ACTRA Toronto, will oversee all aspects of public policy and communications. Thompson, meanwhile, has been hired as the new director of copyright and broadband law at Rogers Communications.

"Hume brings a wealth of experience in communications, organizing and lobbying to her new position, along with extensive involvement in arts advocacy and the union movement," according to Wednesday release from the office of executive director Stephen Waddell.

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