November 6, 2008

The Cable World is Changing

This week, the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission announced that it plans to allow satellite and cable content providers and suppliers the right to revamp their revenue models.

In a recent Globe & Mail article, reporter Grant Robertson writes; “A plan being put in place by federal regulators will let cable and satellite distributors offer up commercial time - something they were previously prevented from doing - on U.S. cable channels carried in Canada, such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and others.”

I’ve been in the media for a long time and sadly my brethren are reluctant to embrace change or worse yet something foreign. For instance, of all the great cable channels in the U.S., it is only now that Canadians can have access to HBO. We are expecting running water and paved streets any day now.

If you are in Canada, you may have noticed local commercials on American networks. That’s called “commercial substitution” or “local avails”. The new and more relaxed rule stipulates that the cable provider may no longer be the only stop for advertisers to go. If you want your local commercials on CNN, you may be able to buy the airtime directly from the content providers.

Robertson adds; “In cases where the shows are provided by a Canadian broadcaster, the distributor must work out a deal to share the money. But if the cable company starts buying shows directly from the producer - something Rogers Communications has done in the past for its on-demand channel - it pockets all the money.”

I am not being glib when I say that these things take time, it is important because as many have mentioned this week the rules will be near impossible to reverse. I guess I'm still innocent after all these years to think that the focus should be more on content creation than the aging content-commercials-content model. There are better ways to tell stories through fully integrated models and product plots.

More on that tomorrow.


p.s. I received a excellent comment about a recent posting from Keith on the west coast. Thank-you, Keith! For some reason your comment disappeared. Technology at work again.

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