World Media 2007: Canada

Rising oil prices are set to change the Canadian economy for good, as its extensive bituminous fields become economical to exploit. Expect a more bullish, more right-leaning nation in future.

Not many people outside of Canada have heard of Fort McMurray. Not yet. It won't be long, however, until the town becomes notorious the world over, seeing as it has just become the centre of the biggest black gold rush in living memory.

Canada's bituminous oil fields have been known about for years but when world oil prices were under $30 a barrel, they were uneconomical to exploit. No longer - and Canada has found itself sitting on viable reserves almost as large as Saudi Arabia's.

Much of that oil is destined to make it way south across the border and Canada's increasing economic muscle could add new complexities to its relationship with the US.

In recent times, diplomatic tensions have surfaced episodically, largely due to qualms about the war in Iraq - Canada has, for instance, denied requests to send troops. That issue came into starker focus than ever back in June when Canadian security services foiled an al Qaeda plan to attack the Toronto Stock Exchange and the headquarters of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A hawkish US Republican administration is, at the best of times, anathema to Canada's traditionally Liberal instincts - and this latest scare may help cool the relationship further.

Some commentators counter by arguing, however, that we might be witnessing a generational change in Canadian political sensibilities - in January, Stephen Harper became the country's first Conservative prime minister in 12 years. On the other hand, he has an extremely slender majority, and that was arguably handed to him when the previous Liberal administration collapsed following a series of corruption and mis-spending scandals.

Talking of which, the Conrad Black saga has dragged on, with suits and countersuits keeping battalions of Toronto's lawyers fat and happy.

But the real media story of 2006 was continuing consolidation of Canadian media, notably the acquisition of CHUM, a radio and local TV network owner, by Bell Globemedia.

Intriguingly, the telecoms company Bell Canada, which was a prime mover in constructing the conglomerate when it acquired CTV and The Globe & Mail in 2000, chose this opportunity to cut its stake to 15 per cent. It has effectively relinquished management influence - although Bell's internet properties will still source content from its former subsidiary. To reflect this power shift, Bell Globemedia has changed its name to CTVglobemedia.

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
C$1.21 *Estimated
Total Newspapers Magazines TV Radio Outdoor/ Online
2000 6,245 2,805 424 1,870 837 217 91
2001 6,137 2,732 446 1,771 875 232 80
2002 6,293 2,747 460 1,814 901 225 145
2003 6,788 2,781 503 2,095 979 234 196
2004 7,440 2,913 534 2,445 998 250 300
2005 7,837 2,974 549 2,486 1,080 284 464
2006 8,344 3,023 563 2,623 1,168 306 661
2007* 8,748 3,065 577 2,681 1,241 326 859
2008* 9,175 3,102 592 2,748 1,313 346 1,074
2009* 9,604 3,133 611 2,816 1,389 366 1,289

Adspend notes 1) Excludes agency commission. 2) Excludes production
costs. 3) Includes classified advertising. 4) After discounts. 5)
Magazines exclude trade titles.

Newspaper: Toronto Star (daily, 436,000 copies)
Business magazine: Canadian Business (fortnightly, 82,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: TV Times (weekly, 1.6 million copies)
Most-watched TV programme: American Idol 5
Best new TV format: Surreally satirical sitcom called Little Mosque on
the Prairie
Circulation: Canadian Newspaper Association, CARD
Readership: NADBank, PMB
TV viewing: BBM Infosys
Newspapers: Torstar, Quebecor Media, Transcontinental
Magazines: Transcontinental, Osprey
TV: CTVglobemedia, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CanWest MediaWorks


- Media topic du jour

The growing importance of user-generated content on the internet.

- Reigning media guru and why

Don Tapscott, Toronto-based consultant and author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Leonard Asper, the chief executive of CanWest Global Communications. CanWest is the frontrunner to acquire Alliance Atlantis Communication, the owner of several cable networks and a prominent programme producer, for a rumoured C$2.1 billion.

- Car to drive: Toyota Prius or anything hybrid.

- Phone to carry: Nokia 6265i.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Freedom for Quebec.


Dove's 75-second "Evolution" video produced in Toronto and posted on YouTube. It showed how advertisers use digital editing to enhance the images of fashion models. Its success around the world gave a boost to Canada's creative talent and strategic thinkers in the digital space.