New media pundits applaud BCE's proposed purchase of CTV BCE Inc's $2.3 billion bid for CTV Inc will jump-start new media content production in Canada, industry leaders and analysts say. But the new entity that emerges from the Bell-CTV deal is unlikely to look outside its organization for content and production. Instead, new media companies are more likely to pick up business from CTV's competitors. "The stimulus will be for other companies to move faster, rather than for a Bell-CTV combination to start outsourcing a lot of work or supporting the creation of independent companies' content," predicts Steven Forth, chair/CEO of Vancouver-based DNA Media Group. "It will help galvanize investment and thinking. It really serves as a call to action for other companies." Tristan Goguen, president of Internet Light and Power, a Toronto-based new media content and consulting company, says he believes the BCE-CTV deal will jump-start the Canadian new media content industry. "It sends a signal to Canadian business that this is an area of the economy that it's smart to invest in. Bell Canada has the resources to take on big projects, and, if they don't work, to try something else. They are the first huge company to make a big commitment to new media, and it's bound to echo through the industry," he says. Despite some analysts' warnings that Bell may not be able to capitalize on the potential of CTV, Forth says of all the telecommunications companies, BCE has the most coherent convergence strategy. "I think these people have the ability to move fast. And I think that they will," he told Canadian NEW MEDIA. BCE president Jean Monty told a Toronto press conference that his company must have web content if it is to maintain its dominance of the ISP market in Canada. "Our customers do not want to connect just to a network. They are looking for connections to destinations and experiences ." One person who doesn't share that view is Ted Rogers, who, at the announcement of his company's alliance with Excite on March 1, said he didn't see CTV as content for BCE's Internet holdings. Internet analyst Rick Broadhead, author of the Canadian Internet Handbook, disagrees. "BCE and Lycos have forged an alliance, but what they didn't have, and what AOL-Time Warner had, is the link to all of the broadcasting property that Time Warner owns. If convergence is going to happen, you need to have broadcast assets," insists Broadhead. "They'll need to have that broadcasting arm in order to be successful formulating their e-commerce strategy. Anyone who wants to do well in this industry has to have their feet in all of these areas: in wireless, as well as in traditional e-commerce." Broadband says TV networks in the U.S. have been able to exploit the Internet by creating web content based on their most successful shows. For instance, visits to the ABC.com web site were up 60% in January because the site had been re-made to feature the TV network's hit show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? "CTV has the rights to broadcast Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and there are rumors going around that CTV wants to make its own Canadian version of that show," says Broadhead. "If they create a Canadian version, are you telling me that's not content? ABC has, in effect, re-invented itself with this show. Their web site is benefiting: all the licensing that's going on, all the products, the online version of the game. So I think CTV brings a lot to the table." CTV has already begun rolling out some of its new media production machinery. In early March, it announced the creation of Landscape Entertainment Inc, headed by Robert Cooper, a Canadian who produced successful movies for theatrical distribution and cable. His most recent job was at DreamWorks, where he was head of feature development and production. The creation of Landscape silenced rumours that CTV was in the market for existing production companies, such as Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. Landscape will produce films, television programming and web content. An announcement about the Internet portion of the venture is expected in April. "My interest is to create a company that is diversified in the TV business, Internet business and feature business ... and to find talent that has not yet been tapped," Cooper told reporters during the launch of Landscape. Combating Canada's media "ghettos" It's highly unlikely that either the Competition Bureau or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will have any reason to scuttle BCE's buy of CTV. But the thought of Canada's largest telco buying the country's only national commercial broadcaster is causing some anxiety in the senior ranks of the public service. The lack of a coherent and modern cultural policy has left the government with few tools by which to measure whether the BCE-CTV merger is a good thing for Canadian culture. Forth suggests that it's time for the government to "re-think its cultural policy from the ground up". "The fact that mergers like this are happening are part of the reason why they have to," he says. For the government to establish an effective cultural policy, Forth says it must first break down the artificial policy barriers that currently exists between various media, including book publishers, music, film and television production, research and development, and financing. "All of these things have to be broken down and put back together in a way that reflects the actual structure of the emerging media industry." Forth refers to that division as the "ghetto-ization of media". "The Bell-CTV consolidation means they really have to do this by the next budget. They don't have two or three years."