Cirque du Soleil and Bell Media partner in a new Québec-based content development company
As part of Bell’s commitment to invest in Québec content and culture, Bell Media and Cirque du Soleil have partnered in a new Montréal-based company that will create innovative and breathtaking media for television, film, digital, and gaming platforms for sale and licensing around the world. To be called Cirque du Soleil Media, the partnership is a great opportunity to develop and promote world-class Canadian content. Read More
Did You Know?
- Astral’s French-language specialty television services broadcast more than 2,300 hours of Québec-produced programs every year.
- CANADA AM has been providing Canadians with the first news headlines of the day for the past 40 years.
- TSN produced more than 700 hours of live game coverage in the 2011-12 hockey season.
- In 2011, local morning shows called CTV MORNING LIVE were launched in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, producing more than 20 hours of local programming every day.
- In 2012, Astral launched the first Canadian on-demand music streaming and music video service.
- Bell Media donates over $15 million dollars through in-kind promotional resources to local charitable and community initiatives on an annual basis.
- Bell Media invests almost $600 million each year on Canadian content, more than any other private broadcaster.
- In 2011 and 2012, Astral’s financial support of more than 600 organizations across Canada exceeded $40 million.
- Bell Media greenlit more Canadian programs in the past 18 months than CTV did in the previous three years.
- Bell Media’s DEGRASSI is the longest-running Canadian drama ever with over 400 episodes.
- Viewers watch way more Canadian content on CTV than any other channel, including CBC/SRC.
- Apple has recognized CTV News for its innovative newsgathering technology, using iPhones to capture HD video on location and send it for TV or web broadcast.
- Bell Media Radio reaches 7.8 million Canadians every week. More than 220,000 listeners are unique users online, listening to 850,000 streams per week.
- Astral-backed films and documentaries received 80 out of 94 nominations for the 2012 Genie Awards.
- Bell Media is Canada's top sports radio brand with six sports stations featuring NHL play-by-play of the Montréal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and soon, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- MuchMusic’s original series DISBAND and DISCOVERED helped launch the careers of successful Canadian bands Stereos, These Kids Wear Crowns, and Nightbox.
- Astral’s French-language specialty channels have acquired more than 1,000 hours of Canadian independent productions, including 350 hours of documentaries.
- Every year, Bell Media Radio stations support new and emerging Canadian artists with airplay, financial assistance, promotional exposure and live concerts.
- Bell Media has increased its Canadian programming expenditure by more than $100 million, compared to what CTV spent two years earlier.
- MuchMusic proudly supports and broadcasts WE DAY, the largest youth-empowerment event of its kind.
- Bell Media is the first conventional broadcaster in Canada to offer a simulstreamed television lineup for mobile with its CTV Mobile service.
- To date, Astral’s French-language specialty channels have invested more than $40 million to support and develop Canadian programs
- The Bell Media Prime Time TV Program is recognized as an essential source of trained writers and newly developed projects for the TV marketplace.
- BACKPACKERS is Bell Media’s first broadcast-quality, stand-alone digital series, created specifically for digital platforms.
Two of Canada’s greatest media organizations are seeking approval to join together as a truly national, private, bilingual media group – all in an effort to provide MORE to Canadians:
Canadians want more choice, and more Canadian investment. Astral and Bell Media will be able to do more together, and more efficiently, improving what you see on-screen and what you hear on the radio.
A combined Astral and Bell Media will invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Canadian productions, the cultivation of Canadian talent, and the launching of new television channels, radio formats, and brands. This increases the breadth of options for Canadians to enjoy - in both official languages, and across a wide variety of programming and platforms.
Canadians also want affordably-priced, multi-platform viewing choices – when they want it, and where they want it – on any device, and from any provider. The union of Astral and Bell Media will allow Canadians to access the two companies’ film and television content together on one new service, uniting some of the strongest brands in the country, as a whole new choice for consumers in both official languages. Similarly, radio listeners will benefit from increased options to experience Astral and Bell Media radio brands on digital platforms.
Québec media is dominated by two major players, Cogeco and Vidéotron, of which the latter is by far the largest French-language operator with 16 programming services, and the largest content owner. Needless to say, this benefits only Cogeco and Vidéotron, not Québec consumers. Together, Astral and Bell Media can build upon the Québec-based legacy that Astral has established to ensure the presence of strong French-language broadcasters in the Province of Québec. The enhanced competition in the French-language radio and television market will significantly benefit Québec consumers and advertisers. Together, we can create a serious rival to the existing integrated distributing and broadcasting companies in Québec, and meet the needs of Québecers like never before.
Additionally, the emergence of foreign broadcasters like Netflix has quickly and dramatically altered the broader Canadian broadcasting landscape. Netflix has grown to over one million Canadian subscribers, and has outbid established companies like Astral and Corus for Canadian rights to programming. While these competitors provide additional choice and convenience for viewers, they are free of any requirement to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system, and do not showcase Canadian content.
Astral combined with Bell Media will provide increased competition with its advantage of showcasing Canadian content in a convenient, flexible, and affordable manner. The resources both companies bring to the table will create a truly national, bilingual, multi-platform experience for viewing film and television. Featuring a range of home-grown programming unavailable from the current offerings of foreign over-the-top broadcasters, our multi-platform offerings will provide a proud home for Canadian film and television programming, and competition like never before.
Bell Media invests nearly $600 million each year on Canadian content. Since Bell bought CTV, the company has increased its Canadian programming expenditures by over $100 million more than CTV spent two years earlier. Bell Media has also launched 11 new HD channels and green-lit more Canadian programs in the past 18 months than CTV did in the previous three years, including SAVING HOPE, MOTIVE, ORPHAN BLACK, ENGRAVED ON A NATION, and BITTEN.
Meanwhile, each year Astral invests $190 million in the development of original high-quality film and television productions in the support of artists and songwriters across Canada. In Québec alone, more than 2,220 hours of programs produced in the province are aired every year by Astral’s French-language specialty television services. As well, Astral’s popular pay television networks The Movie Network and Super Écran together invested more than $60 million in financial support of Canadian film in 2011 and 2012.
With the union of Bell Media and Astral, even more will be invested: on the creation and broadcast of new radio, television, film, and digital content; on the launch of new television channels, radio brands, and websites, and in the cultivation of Canadian radio, television, and film talent on our many platforms.
Already, Bell Media has invested in a new Québec-based joint venture with Cirque du Soleil to create television, film, digital, and gaming media content for worldwide distribution. We will showcase Québec-based talent in Québec, across Canada and, indeed, throughout the world.
Local radio and television is the cornerstone of communities from coast-to-coast. We know local stations matter to listeners and viewers, and they matter to us. Local radio and television brings communities together – it keeps local residents informed and conveys the circumstances, successes, and hardships of our fellow citizens, community groups, and local leaders and businesses. And local radio and television explains to us all how regional, national, and international events relate to and affect our local communities – all presented with local flavour.
Bringing together Astral and Bell Media comes with our firm commitment to ensure listeners and viewers continue to receive their local radio and television news from the brands they trust. As a new company, we commit:
- that your local radio and television station will remain open, despite a very challenging economic situation that sees many of these stations remain unprofitable;
- to maintain the current hours of local programming in your local television markets;
- to preserve the level of excellence that has made our news properties the most respected in the country;
- and to uphold journalistic standards of objectivity, balance, and accuracy, devoid of any influence.
It’s a promise that builds upon our demonstrated commitment to local news. Since Bell bought CTV, the company has invested in an additional 100 hours a week of local content in western markets, and has committed to keeping open the local CTV Two stations in Ottawa, Barrie, London, Windsor, and Victoria. Now, the union of Astral with Bell Media creates a national, bilingual, radio and television broadcaster with a renewed commitment to news and spoken word programming of particular relevance to the communities we serve. With combined resources, the new company allows us to broaden the range of news available on radio and television, and ensure its continued presence in both English and French from coast-to-coast.
Astral and Bell Media will have the scale necessary to increase their support for the production, promotion, and exhibition of Canadian content of all types, including a significant commitment to Canadian feature films.
Canadians have an insatiable appetite for, and are immensely proud of Canadian content that features our talent and tells our stories, whether television drama, comedy, film, factual and documentary, news, or sports. Our commitment to Canadian content runs deep. Scripted series like CALL ME FITZ, FLASHPOINT, THE LISTENER, LESS THAN KIND, and CORNER GAS. News programming, from CTV NATIONAL NEWS WITH LISA LAFLAMME to QUESTION PERIOD and W5. Awards shows like THE JUNO AWARDS and THE MMVAS. Local programming, from CTV MORNING LIVE to ALBERTA PRIMETIME and PRAIRIE FARM REPORT. The world’s best sports productions, ranging from THE IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP and THE GREY CUP, to SPORTSCENTRE, L’ANTICHAMBRE, and SPORTS 30. And, of course, Québec hits like Séries+’s VERTIGE, Ztélé’s JOBS DE BRAS and LES NERDZ, and VRAK TV’s MIXMANIA.
Both Astral and Bell Media have a long-standing history of supporting and believing in the significant value of Canadian content. We enjoy great relationships with both French and English producers, and are committed to the talented independent production community in Canada. Canadians watch more Canadian content on Bell Media channels than anywhere else, including CBC/SRC. Together with Astral, this new company can create even more content, produced by Canadians for Canadians – and for audiences around the world. And Astral and Bell Media combined makes our Canadian content megaphone even louder - letting more viewers and listeners know how to find the great content we produce right here at home, through industry-leading promotion and marketing efforts executed on our wide-ranging platforms.
Canadians want affordably-priced, multi-platform viewing alternatives. Viewers and listeners want to be able to access what they want, when they want, where they want – on any device and from any provider. That’s why after Bell bought CTV, Bell Media launched CTV Mobile – one of the world’s most advanced mobile television offerings – and made it available to everyone.
Astral and Bell Media already have a deep commitment to outstanding content. Combined with Bell’s leadership in platform and network innovation, this new company will have the resources to develop truly Canadian, movie and television, over-the-top offerings to compete with foreign broadcasters like Netflix, which have quickly and dramatically altered the broader Canadian broadcasting landscape. And unlike foreign services, ours will contribute directly to the growth and sustainability of the Canadian broadcast system, while providing a proud home for Canadian film and television programming in both official languages.
Similarly, radio listeners will benefit from the innovation and resources offered by a combined Astral and Bell Media, with increased options to experience Astral and Bell Media radio brands on digital platforms.
Canadians take great pride in the success of our own Canadian artists, locally, nationally, and internationally. As Canadian broadcasters, so do we! Astral and Bell Media understand our responsibility and integral role in providing a showcase for our talented homegrown artists on the local, national, and international stage, starting with our radio and television properties. But we also understand it takes more than exposure for emerging artists to realize their potential – it takes money. Which is why, through the significant tangible benefits investments we have proposed to the CRTC, we intend to invest significantly in Canadian arts and culture funding, including the promotion of Canadian content through direct investment in key English- and French-language Canadian film festivals. We believe that Canadian culture is celebrated and cultivated through our artists, and we are committed to ensuring the vitality and sustainability of this important community.