Essay Proposal: Concentration of Media Ownership in Canada (TV vs. OTT)
Introduction & Key Questions
For this research paper, I will summarize the current state of television broadcasting and cable ownership in Canada and examine the challenges that this industry must overcome to compete with Over-the-Top broadcasters. These are the three main questions that I will address to establish an informative evaluation on this sector of the media landscape and develop a well-rounded thesis.
First, why is it that ownership in the Canadian Cable industry is so highly concentrated between a few companies? For example, the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project released a graphic which shows that Rogers, Bell, Telus, Quebecor, and Shaw make up 91% of cable provider market shares in Canada. Second, I would like to determine howthe CRTC and Federal parliament can work together to sustain the quality and quantity of Canadian television content. Also, are these regulators truly providing enough funding and support to the smaller media companies, so they can stay competitive? Thirdly, what will happen to Canadian television broadcasters and cable television providers as Over-the-Top (OTT) media broadcasters continue to expand their products and services? Will there be more convergence of legacy media (television) to digital media, or will tv broadcasters adapt a higher concentration on live programming that OTT broadcasters are yet to provide?
This essay will follow a structure that assesses Canada’s TV broadcasting and cable services to determine if they can prevent OTT broadcasters from taking over this platform of legacy media. First, I will explain what concentration of media ownership is, as well as how the media is regulated in Canada by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). My introduction will be followed by an overview of the main social and political issues for Canadian television broadcasters. This section has several factors to discuss, such as accessibility, affordability and the amount of Canadian content being offered by owners to consumers. Afterwards, I will include some background information on OTT broadcasters and look at how this digital form of media compares to television as a legacy type of media.
Finally, I will discuss how the few media corporations with control over broadcasting rights and cable subscriptions are limiting access to Canadian television content such as Sportsnet, TSN, Teletoon, YTV, and Much. I am planning to elaborate on this subject by referencing the case study of CBC’s ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ losing exclusive broadcast rights and advertisement revenue to Rogers. Once all these themes are covered, I can conclude with an informed opinion on what is going to happen to the Canadian television broadcasters and owners if they do not make any new adjustments to their services.
Cwynar, C. (2017). On thin ice: Hockey Night in Canada and the future of national public service media. International Communication Gazette, 79(2), 135–147.
This academic journal discusses the consequences of rising sports rights fees and evolving digital media technologies for legacy public service broadcaster. Cwynar analyzes a case study about CBC public broadcasting losing control of the sole rights to air Hockey Night in Canada on their television channel (the rights are now shared with Rogers). The Scholar implies that a solution for CBC would be to work on projects that do not involve commercialized broadcasting, since it will satisfy other areas of television content that need more attention. This case study is a great example for me to work with for my essay topic. It visibly demonstrates how changes in the concentration of media ownership can create social and political concerns.
Malkinson, A. (2019, January 7). Media and Internet Concentration in Canada, 1984 – 2017 (UPDATED). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from http://www.cmcrp.org/media-and-internet-concentration-in-canada-1984-2017-updated/
The Canadian Media Concentration Research Project (CMCRP) is an initiative dedicated to producing yearly reports which consist of a media market and industry analysis. This website contains an archive of all the recent reports, as well as infographics that layout the percentage of ownership divided between each competitor in the Canadian media industry. I will be able to use these reports to reference any significant changes in the concentration of media ownership that took place over the past couple of years. For my essay, my area of focus will be narrowed down to reviewing information about Canadian cable providers and television broadcasters.
Mingant, N., Tirtaine, C., & Wagman, I. (2017). Reconceptualising Film Policies (pp. 209-221).
In chapter 17 of this scholarly book, Ira Wagman provides his insight on the CRTC investigation of Netflix back in 2014, as well as the current television policies in Canada.
Professor Wagman describes the political and social challenges of regulating OTT broadcasters in Canada, specifically Netflix. For several years there has been on-going meetings to come up with a fair agreement that would allow local television broadcasters and actors from the Canadian Actors Union to compete in the market with OTT broadcasters. This section from ‘Reconceptualising Film Policies’ will provide me with a more thorough understanding of the story behind the conflict between legacy media (television providers) and digital media (OTT broadcasters).
Routledge.Spitz, D. J. (2017). U.S., Eh? Contrasting the Feasibility of À La Carte Television in Canada and the United States. ENTERTAINMENT LAW, 6(1), 31.
This academic journal suggests that North American Consumers are losing interest in television broadcasters and cable providers. The author discusses how this section of the media industry is trying to convince viewers to continue using their services by offering lower cost options and more channel choices. He goes on to describe the current solution being used, an a la carte television system with basic subscriptions and the option to purchase additional channels.
This source will help me with analyzing the accessibility and affordability of what Canadian cable providers are currently offering for consumers. Then, I will summarize this information in my essay, and compare it to the services being provided by OTT broadcasters.
Theckedath, D., & Thomas, T. J. (2012). Media ownership and convergence in Canada. Parliamentary Information and Research Service.
This source from the Library of Parliament summarizes all of the changes and convergences in media ownership that took place in Canada during 2012. In this brief document, the scholars explain how the Canadian Media landscape has progressed both politically and economically since the early 2000s. This information is useful for my essay because it will allow me to compare aspects of previous media ownership profiles against the report from 2012, and the current concentration of media ownership. This would give me a clearer understanding about the history of my topic, and then, I can also determine how legacy media has adapted to compete with the OTT broadcasters.