Ah, convergence. It’s a word fraught with different meanings, competing motives, and opinions up the proverbial wazoo. To some, convergence is a paradise of synergy, cross-promotion, and massive profits. To others, it’s confirmation that more and more information is being disseminated by less and less people. Wherever you stand, however, the world of Toronto media overlords might be on the verge of becoming a whole lot smaller, as Alliance Atlantis confirmed today that one of the companies it is in exclusive talks to sell itself to is none other than Canadian broadcasting and publishing behemoth CanWest Global.
To give you an idea of what that would mean as far as television ownership, if the sale were to go through, Global, CH, TVTropolis, Showcase, Showcase Action, Showcase Diva, IFC Canada, BBC Canada, BBC Kids, Discovery Health, The Food Network, HGTV, History, The Life Network, National Geographic Canada, Cool TV, DejaView, Lonestar, MenTV and the Xtreme Sports channel would all be provided by the same massive media conglomerate. Toss in the National Post and ten other city dailies, a smorgasbord of smaller dailies and weeklies, a whole host of movies in Alliance’s distribution catalogue, and, to top it off, the CSI franchise, and you’re looking at one hell of a massive media power.
The merger would solidify CanWest Global as one of only four real players in the Canadian cross-media heavyweight division, along with Rogers Communications (Sportsnet, Omni, cable television, broadband internet, home and wireless telephone service, CHFI, 680 News, Maclean’s, Chatelaine, the Toronto Blue Jays, etc. etc.), Bell-owned CTVglobemedia (CTV, TSN, MTV Canada, Discovery Canada, The Comedy Network, OLN Canada, Viewer’s Choice Pay-Per-View, the Globe And Mail, a 15 per cent ownership stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, etc. etc.), and CHUM Limited (CityTV, A-Channel, MuchMusic and its offspring, Bravo!, CourtTV, Space, CHUM FM, CHUM AM, The Learning Annex group of schools [go figure], etc. etc.).
Oh wait, CTVglobemedia already announced their acquisition of CHUM Limited. And then there were three…
Read on for our picks of what to watch this week.
What To Watch This Week:
Tonight: George W. Bush – Dubya unleashes his plan for Iraq. Since the details of his expected decision to send 20,000 more troops to the troubled region have been leaking since yesterday, you won’t learn anything new here. Recommended purely for the comedic value of watching him stumble through yet another “everything is going to be okay” address to his nation. Bonus drinking game – do a shot every time he gets that “I-know-more-than-you” grin on his face and bobs his head like a chicken, and see if you can get through his speech before alcohol poisoning sets in. All of the American networks, 9 PM
Thursday: End Of The Century – Truly excellent, revealing documentary about punk rock founding fathers The Ramones, from their inauspicious beginning in Queens to their eventual demise more than 20 years later, and all of the turmoil in between. Includes interviews with late founding members Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee, as well as the various others who wore the surname Ramone, contemporaries like Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop and John Lydon, and a host of current rock stars. Documentary, 8 PM
Friday: Radio Days – Once upon a time, before he married his daughter and lost touch with the times, Woody Allen was a very talented writer and director. Anyone under the age of 25 might have a difficult time believing this, but we swear it’s true. If you want proof, watch this 1987 nostalgia piece about the golden age of radio, which is a far cry from the hacky, paranoid, unfunny drivel he’s put out recently. Bravo!, 9 PM
Saturday: Hockey Day In Canada – If all of those Canadian Heritage commercials had sex with each other, Hockey Day In Canada could very well be their love child. For 13 hours on Saturday, CBC will be making love with all things hockey and Canada. Broadcasting out of tiny Nelson, British Columbia, the festivities include dispatches from high-level CBC Sports employees from such outposts as Regina, Whitehorse, and Tignish, Prince Edward Island; a build-your-own-backyard-rink contest; and of course an all-Canadian triple-header, with Montreal at Ottawa at 2, Vancouver at Toronto at 7, and Edmonton at Calgary at 10. If you’re not in a tattoo parlour getting the Maple Leaf tattooed on your chest by midnight after watching all of this, you have a heart of stone! CBC, Noon
Sunday: 24 – The first half of the four-hour season premiere of the most badass show on television (the second half of the marathon opener airs at the same time Monday night). Season six starts with terrorist attacks, lots of stress, and Jack Bauer doing really terrible things in the name of national security. So what else is new? With Bauer you really never know. Every season of 24 is like the best action movie you’ve ever seen extended over a 24-hour period. Global, 8 PM
Monday: Ultimate Super Heroes – If you’ve just finished watching the second half of 24’s four-hour season premiere, you’re going to want something a little lighter to prevent having a coronary due to the inevitable cliffhanger. You’re in luck, because starting Monday Space is airing this 2005 miniseries featuring a top-20 countdown of the greatest superheroes of them all, and it’s narrated by the one and only Adam West (he of the all-natural, un-rubberized pecs and fantastic dance skills). Space, 10 PM
Tuesday: American Idol – Okay, by week four this show always really, really sucks. But the early episodes are great for a laugh as Randy, Paula and Simon (you know, the guy behind Il Divo) rip into some of the worst singing you’re ever likely to hear on a major network. This has become doubly entertaining since William Hung had his 15 minutes and a slew of auditioners all decided to try and be so horrid that they’d be chosen to sing at Blue Jays games too. Warning: This is another two-day, four-hour premiere (Fox really likes milking that concept), with the second half airing at the same time Wednesday. CTV, 8 PM