Report: Internet threat to TV not imminent


TORONTO -- The emerging Internet may be turning traditional broadcasting upside down, but it won't kill the TV star anytime soon.

That's the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Banff World Television Festival to spur debate during this year's TV/new-media gabfest, which gets under way Sunday.

The report, titled "The Future of Television in Canada," argues that traditional TV is experiencing an "intense mutation," and yet will keep its position as the main screen for watching video for some time.

The report's conclusion that the Internet and TV -- after initial industry turmoil -- will "settle into a co-existence with one another as they evolve to fulfill different roles," was accepted by Banff festival CEO Robert Montgomery. He likens the Banff event to an increasingly useful talk shop for U.S. and other international broadcasters and digital producers looking to do business together.

"These days, everything has to have an Internet and mobile strategy. Every TV concept pitches one," Montgomery said Wednesday (June 6). "To harness new technologies, there needs to be a more comprehensive understanding of (digital) products and ideas. So we're bringing different universes of people together."

The list of Hollywood heavy-hitters bound for Banff includes showrunners Jenji Kohan ("Weeds"), Chuck Lorre ("Two and a Half Men"), Carol Mendelsohn ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation") and Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars").

And veteran packager Ben Silverman ("The Office") was slated to attend Banff before he was recently named co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. Silverman is expected to participate in this year's festival via satellite.

On the new-media front, senior Joost executive Stacey Seltzer will be in Banff to fly the flag for the upstart Web TV player, set to launch shortly.

Seltzer, who will address the NEXTMedia conference, will face an audience divided between new-media players that regard Joost co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom as rock stars and traditional broadcasters nervous that the upstart Internet-based TV application may eventually eat them for lunch.

"It (Joost) is a young service. We're a young company. So we'll be in Banff to educate the market about what we're doing," Seltzer said.

Other new-media executives booked for Banff include Ben White, chief creative officer at Sling Media, and Joanna Drake Earl, president of new media at Current TV.

The NEXTMedia conference is set to run Friday-Sunday, while the main BWTF event will run Sunday-Wednesday in the Canadian Rockies.