Marketing community’s early response to BGM/CHUM deal is mixed » Media in Canada

Marketing community’s early response to BGM/CHUM deal is mixed

Ask Fred Forster what he thinks about Bell Globemedia swallowing up CHUM and you get an earful.

'I think it's bad for advertisers, bad for marketers, and ultimately it's going to cost consumers because advertising prices will go up and get passed on. Nothing good can come of this,' fumes the president of Toronto's PhD.

Why exactly does Forster say he's so 'alarmed'? And why has he been getting calls from 'very concerned' clients ever since the surprise announcement last week?

'Because our own quick analysis of the situation indicates that, if the CRTC approves this deal, then for adults 25-54, BGM will control 54% of conventional ratings in primetime in Toronto and 36% of total purchasable ratings,' he explains. 'And for total English Canada, it will be 51% of purchasable ratings in primetime.

Ask Fred Forster what he thinks about Bell Globemedia swallowing up CHUM and you get an earful.

‘I think it’s bad for advertisers, bad for marketers, and ultimately it’s going to cost consumers because advertising prices will go up and get passed on. Nothing good can come of this,’ fumes the president of Toronto’s PhD.

Why exactly does Forster say he’s so ‘alarmed’? And why has he been getting calls from ‘very concerned’ clients ever since the surprise announcement last week?

‘Because our own quick analysis of the situation indicates that, if the CRTC approves this deal, then for adults 25-54, BGM will control 54% of conventional ratings in primetime in Toronto and 36% of total purchasable ratings,’ he explains. ‘And for total English Canada, it will be 51% of purchasable ratings in primetime.

‘The other thing I can envision is a bundled selling scenario,’ Forster continues. ‘What’s to stop BGM from saying, ‘if you want CSI, you’ve also got to take a bunch of other stuff’? So all of a sudden we won’t have a whole lot of ability to go elsewhere.’

The timing of BGM’s big announcement also got Forster’s goat. ‘It was just brilliant because it limited the negative fallout that would obviously have come from the marketing community if everyone wasn’t either on vacation or so busy buying for fall,’ he notes.

‘I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was deliberate, but it was a perhaps unintended advantage that they gained. Still, I believe people are going to come out and be vocal against this.’

David Cairns, DR communications & planning at Toronto-headquartered Dentsu Canada, isn’t any happier about the implications of the mega-deal.

‘The cultures of Bell Globemedia and CHUM could not be more different,’ he says. ‘One of the things that’s always defined CHUM/Citytv is the multicultural makeup of their reporters. Comparing that to what we see on CFTO is like comparing rye bread to white bread.

‘All that energy and vibrancy that made Citytv might well be replaced with more bland American programming, and then advertisers will chase those audiences and all there will be on television are the sorry excuses that pass for programming these days – somebody putting in a new garden plot or people weeping because somebody has surprised them with a new rec room.’

A similarly gloomy outlook comes from Theresa Treutler, SVP media director, Doner Canada.

‘Whether it’s good or bad depends on your point of view, obviously. For BGM, their bargaining position with the U.S. suppliers will be good when they go shopping for programs in L.A. because they’ll do so with much more money and clout.

‘But as far as pricing is likely to go for our clients, this puts more power in the hands of fewer people, so negotiability will probably be more difficult for us.’

Nick Barbuto, DR of interactive solutions in Cossette’s Toronto office, is less pessimistic about the long-term picture.

‘Our opinion is that media consolidation usually equals less room for negotiations. But in regard to executional creativity, we don’t anticipate having fewer opportunities than before to find creative ways of putting our messages in front of consumers. In fact, we hope that this new (conglomerate broadcaster) will move from just adopting things that are successful in other parts of the world to becoming a trail-blazer in bringing new stuff to market.’

A provocative opinion on another aspect of the BGM/CHUM hook-up was expressed to Media in Canada by Brendan Calder, adjunct professor of strategic management at U. of T.’s Joseph Rotman School of Management.

‘This (deal) just might be the death knell of CRTC because it’s so big and so complicated that the regulators might not be able to figure out how to regulate it. So we could end up with an open market and a whole bunch of people providing broadcasting in Canada … with the consumers deciding how many stations they want and what they want to see (broadcast) on them.’