Miércoles 20 de Junio de 2007, Ip nº 195

Internet won't kill the TV star, but it could cause disruptions
Por Grant Robertson

The Internet has been touted as a rival that could destroy network television, but a new report on the Canadian TV sector suggests the two are destined to live side by side - though not necessarily in harmony.

As the lines between the TV set and the Web blur over the next decade, traditional broadcasters may be forced to change the types of programs they show on air.

Sports will continue to draw big ratings for the networks, but news clips could find themselves relegated to the Internet, the report says.

Titled The Future of Television in Canada, the report will be debated by executives next week at the Banff World Television Festival, one of the industry's biggest annual gatherings.

It paints a picture of tough programming decisions for the networks in the future, particularly as TV shows become available on-demand through the Internet.

"In the future, linear TV may still be best for live programming, such as sports for example, while on-demand will best deliver a range of hit and niche programming in addition to movies, as it does now," the study says.

"The Internet may be best currently to deliver news clips, but your satellite or cable package [is] best to deliver Corner Gas in HD."

The 40-page report was compiled by the Nordicity Group Ltd., an independent consulting firm.

One hurdle holding back the change, however, is that Canadian networks have so far been unable to secure the online rights to the top prime-time shows, which are mostly U.S. programs.

Canadian broadcasters are unwilling to pay the hefty premiums U.S. producers want for the digital rights to top shows, since online advertising isn't as lucrative as TV audiences.

Though doomsayers argue the Internet will eventually kill TV, the report argues it is unlikely the Internet will kill broadcasting as we know it.

Just as TV didn't kill radio, the Internet will splinter television audiences, but it won't squeeze out mass broadcasting entirely.

"History shows that new media appears disruptive at the outset," the report says.

"Yet what we have seen happen is that they eventually settle into a co-existence with one another."

One troubling trend for broadcasters, though, is the emergence of cable distributors as a direct competitor.

When Rogers Communications Inc. signed a deal with CBS last year to buy episodes of the reality show Survivor on its video-on-demand channel, it marked a seminal moment for the Canadian television industry, the report says.

The agreement, reached last fall, was the first deal of its kind in Canada and could serve as a blueprint for the distributors to go around the networks to secure content.

"U.S. studios alarmed Canadian broadcasters by licensing some prime-time programming to Canadian cable operators," the report said, noting that "in some cases, U.S. studios have not licensed Canadian broadcasters the rights to on-line versions of the episodes they acquire for broadcast in Canada."

  06/06/2007. The Globe and Mail.