Defining events of the ’10s

Industry stakeholders and pundits weigh in on the decade's most crucial events, including major M&A moves and Netflix's arrival in the market.

The 2010s were a transformative decade for Canadian media, with a number of high-profile deals and controversial policy decisions impacting the future of Cancon. As the industry enters 2020, and with it the much-anticipated changes to the Broadcasting Act, Playback looks back at the moments that defined the past 10 years.


dc overview don carmody

2010: Netflix launches in Canada

Don Carmody, DCTV: The emergence of streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or others, created an entirely new way to produce and deliver content. Wider markets, less restrictive programming, shorter or longer cycles as demanded by the audience, and causing a crossover of talent from features to the small screen. The evolution remains an ongoing chapter.

Other big news of the year: Shaw Communications acquires full control of Canwest’s assets (approx. $2 billion)

reynolds m

2011: CRTC enshrines Terms of Trade; later reverses course

Reynolds Mastin, president and CEO, CMPA: The CRTC enshrining Terms of Trade as a condition of license in 2011 for broadcasters was significant, because these terms guarded against power imbalances that, until that point, resulted in too few concentrated voices, limiting choice and reducing access to Canada’s diverse, creative perspectives. Unfortunately, as part of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV decision, Terms of Trade were unjustifiably abolished. Four years later, in the face of even greater concentration, we look forward to seeing safeguards against these imbalances put in place as part of the ongoing legislative review.

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2013: BCE acquires Astral Media assets ($3.4 billion)

Industry veteran John Barrack: People recognized that to survive in broadcasting, you needed to be big and have those specialty assets. There’s no question BCE was stronger with those Astral assets. At that time, Corus was leading the specialty game, and that’s where the growth was. It put BCE on an even playing field, allowing them to go head to head [with Corus].

Other big news of the year: eOne acquires Alliance Films (around $230 million)

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2014/15: Let’s Talk TV
changes the game

Maureen Parker, executive director, WGC: The Let’s Talk TV decisions, such as the elimination of genre protection, misunderstood the market, misjudged the future, weakened the broadcasting system and reduced the diversity and value of Canadian television for consumers. To this day, the industry continues to reel from the knock-on effects.

2016: Corus Entertainment acquires Shaw Media assets ($2.65 billion)

Through the acquisition, Corus bulked up to include 45 specialty services and 15 conventional channels. The deal also allowed Corus to expand more forcefully into the international market, and further its strategy to own more content. Meanwhile, at the time, CMPA’s Mastin said the deal meant producers were being confronted with the “hard realities of a hyper-consolidated broadcasting sector.”

aisling chin-yee - after metoo

2017: Industry forced to confront unsettling truths as #MeToo movement begins

Aisling Chin-Yee, co-founder, #AfterMeToo: We started by asking: how can we ensure we have safer workplaces for women, vulnerable people and minorities? And then, how can we combine this with the discussions we’re having with psychologists, lawyers and the legal system to create resources for people dealing with harassment or abuse? Now the goal is to take this beyond just the entertainment sector. That’s where it’s moving in 2020.

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2019: Hasbro to acquire eOne (around $5.3 billion*)

David Zitzerman, partner, Goodmans LLP: Outside the broadcasting sector, it’s probably the biggest deal ever for a Canadian content company. One way to view this is as a great Canadian success story. From modest beginnings, they were able to build it up, get it to a certain size, and then ultimately sell it for $5.3 billion.

2020: Review of Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts enters its next phase

Many of the events of the next decade will be affected by the outcome of the joint reviews. Stay tuned.

*The deal had not closed as of press time

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Playback magazine