Astral Media

CMW speakers: "As an industry, we need to embrace digital media... the opportunity is now for radio to reinvent itself"

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

Canadian radioCanadian radio's digital future is coming and, though what that future may be remains unclear, it's up to broadcasters to shape it. That was the "big idea" put forward by broadcasters -- most of whom have launched some type of new Internet service -- at last week's Canadian Music Week in Toronto.

Digital music is "a very important space," said Bell Media Radio president Chris Gordon. "We don't know which way it's going to go at any time, but these are valiant efforts that are going to be invested in, until they prove that they're profitable or not." Bell Canada is acquiring Astral Media (RAIN coverage here), which recently launched a new on-demand web music service, offering "niche format channels" and "personalized streaming music" (more here). 

Astral Media VP Rob Farina said the company has hired more than 100 new staff members to tackle such digital endeavors. "As an industry, we need to embrace digital media to strengthen the relationship and value of our brands to the consumer," he said. "I don’t believe it will always be towers delivering our signal, with more audio and streaming options heading to the dashboard. The opportunity is now for radio to reinvent itself."

Daniel Anstandig recently argued Bell's acquisition of Astral would result in "a more integrated media hub than anything the world has ever seen before" (RAIN coverage here). That mimics thoughts shared by CBC Music executive director Chris Boyce, who said, "We think our biggest opportunity is music content across all of our platforms: TV, radio, digital... Our goal with CBC Music is really quite simply to connect Canadians with the music that they love." CBC in February launched a new online music service featuring 40 web-only radio stations (pictured; more coverage here.)

CBC Music's recently launched music service

"We continue to learn about this digital space. Anybody who says they are an expert in this digital space is lying," said Corus Radio VP Dave Farough during CMW's "Social Radio" panel. Farough said Corus recently merged its interactive and radio divisions ("We realized that we’re not radio and interactive – we’re ‘this’ now. It really is all one big pot, if you will."). To illustrate that focus, he said Corus now expects on-air talent to be content creators, too, especially online.

"To those old dogs that refuse to learn the new tricks in our business, I say to them: Get another job. Go find another industry, because this is the way it is," Farough said. "The Internet is here to stay, and let’s embrace it and use all of the tools at our fingertips, instead of fighting against it." has more coverage here.

Canadian media merger may result in an unprecedented combo of content and distribution in electronic media

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 11:45am

Last week we reported on Bell Canada's $3.38 billion acquisition of Astral Media (here).

The deal (if fully approved by regulators) would bring together the power of Astral's content (it operates 22 television services, 84 radio stations in 50 markets, and more than 100 digital media properties) with the distribution muscle of BCE (which also holds various television and radio properties, but also owns major local telephone and DSL services, and is one of Canada's "big three" mobile providers).

This week, Daniel Anstandig (in his Connected column for Radio-Info) analyzed the merger, which he thinks could very well result in "a more integrated media hub than anything the world has ever seen before."

This assembled team would have a formidable electronic media reach (subscription and broadcast television, radio, web, mobile) across most of the country. And what a stock of content to distribute: Television like HBO Canada, MusiquePlus, Family, Disney Junior, the CTV network, and BNN. Radio like CHUM-FM/Toronto, NRJ, EZ Rock, Boom, and Virgin Radio. And as Bell Canada holds a stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, count pro sports among that.

"This merger creates new possibilities for media innovators," Andstandig writes. "Future 'programmers' at this company will have the opportunity to create dynamic multi-dimensional experiences for consumers. With so many distribution channels on the same ledger, future brands at Bell can easily be transposed across multiple media."

Read Andstandig's Connected column in Radio-Info here.

Internet and telecommunications giant Bell Canada buys Astral Media for $3.38 billion

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 12:00pm

AstralBell Canada -- the provider of Internet, mobile phone, TV and home phone services -- has acquired Astra Media for $3.38 billion (Canadian dollars).

In February Astral launched a new on-demand web music service, offering "niche format channels" and "personalized streaming music" (more coverage here).

Astral is also Canada's largest radio company, controlling 84 stations in 50 markets. Bell owns 33 stations. Radio Intelligence has more coverage here.

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