Canada’s cultural capital rocks on

With a population over one million and a media machine that operates in two languages, it's a no-brainer that Montreal would rank as one of this country's busiest marketplaces.

With a population over one million and a media machine that operates in two languages, it’s a no-brainer that Montreal would rank as one of this country’s busiest marketplaces.

Almost half a decade of media mergers and acquisitions are winding down, but Canada’s culture capital is never a boring place. In fact, say some buyers, things have become even more interesting now that the players are done shuffling. Or, as LXB Communication-Marketing media director Yves Michel puts it, ‘It’s been interesting to follow the industry for the past four or five years. But now it is coming to an end and we see everybody’s cards.’

Radio

With two tongues to chatter in, it’s expected that Montreal radio would be thriving. A January move by Corus station CKOO (FM 98.5 Longueuil) to go from French rock to all news and talk has buyers a-buzz over what promises to be a more modern talk format. CKOO appears to be ramping up to take a run at the doyenne of the French talk scene, CKAC (AM 730), and has even gone as far as picking up CKAC veteran morning man Paul Arcand.

The CRTC has given the nod to an application for a new digital audio broadcasting (DAB) digital station associated with CBF-FM, allowing the digi to air weather, traffic and news. Says Hennessy & Bray Communications SVP David Bray, ‘The station marks a breakthrough in terms of DAB services, because it is a DAB-exclusive channel and it is the first of its sort on air in Canada…. I think it will set a precedent for all of Canada.’

With Cogeco expanding its network into both Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, and the pending launch of a new jazz station, some outlets are experiencing a high demand for their inventory in this busy market. Sell-outs, however, are rare and buyers can usually find the time they need.

Television

The biggest talk in TV surrounds the pending move to the BBM portable people meter as a minute-by-minute method to track francophone viewing habits. How the PPM will impact clients with calendar-year commitments to broadcasters is still to be determined in some cases and it will lead to a few interesting discussions. (See ‘Will PPMs mean higher rates?’ on page 2 for more on the PPM debate.)

On the screen, reality programming is the big news in Montreal. The scourge of the airwaves has hit La Belle Province like Bonhomme on payday.

TVA began the craze with the hit Star Académie – which drew a jaw-dropping three million viewers – and followed up with Occupation Double (one house full of guys, one full of girls, with the expected angst and sexual tension resulting). Star Académie 2 will hit screens this month. For its part, TQS countered with Loft Story and is making some headway of its own.

On the nation’s station, SRC is getting attention with Les Bougon, a dark comedy about a welfare family trying to beat the system. Pulling in over a million viewers an episode, the odd title is certainly capturing some buyer’s attention.

Despite the rash of hits, the fall was soft for most Quebec broadcasters. Things appear to be heating up however, with spring likely to sell out soon and the Olympics definitely having an impact on the coming fall season.

Print

With the M&As finally over, print is a relatively quiet place to be in Montreal.

La Presse’s revamp last year has given the title some steam in its race with Le Journal for first place, but the latter still holds the Monday-to-Friday numbers solidly.

The subway papers – Transcontinental’s Métro and Quebecor’s Montréal Métropolitain – are also making some noise in their quest for reader and buyer attention. Métro is being praised by buyers for being innovative in finding solutions to advertiser needs. Métropolitain, while it has gone glossy, has yet to become a must-have for buyers.

Above ground on newsstands, some new launches have caught buyer attention in the last year. One of which is Summum (translates into something like ‘Maximum’…not Maxim), a French-language men’s mag for the 18-to-34 set. The title is published 10 times a year by Genex Communications with a print run of about 50,000.

Out-of-Home

For those willing to risk the frigid cold of a Montreal winter, outdoor can be an especially challenging medium.

Says BBDO Montreal media planning manager Kathy Gingras, ‘We have to book six months before for the 10 or 20 [prime] locations – the big boards – because there are not a lot of those in Montreal. When we book for the average location, three months in advance is fine.’

It doesn’t help that the government recently stepped in to remove some boards it deemed too close to roadways, but Gingras says inventory isn’t a problem if you’re timely.