Shaw Media: coveting the cross-platform crowd

With the $2 billion deal now closed, the new mediaco's president, Paul Robertson, tells MiC about the company's content strategies and vision for the future.

2010 has been a pretty wild year for Canwest, but the highs and lows finally evened out yesterday with the announcement that the company emerged from bankruptcy protection and Shaw’s $2 billion purchase of the company is final.

The former broadcasting arm of Canwest will now be called Shaw Media, led by former Corus exec Paul Robertson and a team of management executives carried over from the former media giant.

‘Today marks the successful emergence of Canwest broadcasting assets from creditor protection and represents a major milestone in the evolution of broadcasting in Canada,’ Brad Shaw, EVP, Shaw, said in a release.

Shaw’s intention to purpose Canwest’s diverse content portfolio across its growing stable of distribution platforms – which sparked fears that the company would restrict content against competing mediacos, a concern it flatly rejected in CRTC hearings – is where the company’s vision is focused for the near future, Paul Robertson said in an interview with MiC late yesterday.

‘One of the most exciting aspects of the combined organization is the ease with which we’ll be able to move the content through the technology and to the multiple platforms,’ he said. ‘So much of the rationale for Shaw wanting to get into that side of the business was to be able to have the top-quality content through VOD, through broadband, and then on to mobile as we get into the mobile business as well.’

News will be a focus, he said, highlighting the recent hire of Dawna Friesen and reiterating the company’s promise to the CRTC of new morning news shows in Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal. Here, he said, the merging of Shaw’s new media assets and its distribution channels will be especially prominent, as the company seeks to capture more Canadian eyeballs throughout the day.

‘We want to create a franchise that connects with them not only first thing in the morning, but throughout the day. So we really do believe that Global News is positioned for great things in the future.’

Robertson also poured cold water on speculation that Canwest content assets could be transferred to Corus Entertainment, a separately owned public company in which the Shaw family has controlling interest.

‘We see ourselves as competitive with Corus. We’re both looking at the women’s market as key areas of focus and our core programming people want to get the highest ratings night in and night out and I’m sure the Corus people do too. They really operate as separate entities. It’s the same on the air time sales side. Our sales people are trying to gain share versus the Corus people trying to gain share, so they just continue to be walking in the door with a competitive frame of mind.’

Shaw Media’s newly formed executive team, announced yesterday, includes Barbara Williams, SVP, content; Andrew Akman, VP, planning; Paul Burns, VP, digital media; Errol Da-Re, SVP, sales; and Troy Reeb, VP news.