Shaw Media Shakes Up Content Group

Canadian broadcaster selects three senior execs to commission, schedule and acquire content across all networks.

TORONTO -- Shaw Media has put Christine Shipton in charge of its original programming lineup after parent Shaw Communications rescued the Canadian broadcaster.

Shipton’s promotion from senior vp of drama and factual content to vp of original content follows the pre-Christmas departure of senior vp of lifestyle content Karen Gelbart, who shared content creation duties with Shipton.

The restructuring is also part of a long-awaited content group shakeup that has Shaw Media fixing on three main divisions -- series acquisitions, original content commissioning and scheduling -- each headed up by a senior executive reporting directly to senior vp Barbara Williams.

Shipton will head up original content commissioning, with Daniel Eves put in charge of scheduling all cable channels as vp of programming and specialty scheduling, and Phil Piazza acquiring content for all networks and scheduling the over-the-air Global Television network as vp of content acquisitions.

The new management lineup follows parent Shaw Communications acquiring the former Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s TV assets for $2 billion, pulling them out of voluntary bankruptcy protection and rebranding them as Shaw Media.

Shipton, Eves and Piazza emerge as ultimate winners in the post-merger management lineup as they take on acquisition, commissioning and scheduling duties previously performed further down the food chain by senior execs of individual cable channels, including Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada.

“As we face an ever-changing and fragmenting broadcast environment, the content group is challenged with finding new ways to compete on the linear television level, while developing content strategies for the exploding platforms around us,” Shaw Media said in a pre-Christmas announcement to employees signed by Barbara Williams. “To that end, we will be reorganizing our core team to emphasize and give maximum support to the key functions that drive our business – the acquisition of shows, the commissioning of original programs, and the scheduling of our content to maximize audiences,” the internal note added.

The management shakeup also comes as Shaw Media’s Global Television network continues to play catch-up with Canada’s top-rated conventional TV network, CTV, which itself is subject to a pending $3.2 billion takeover by domestic phone giant BCE Inc. CTV just before Christmas claimed victory over Global Television during the Canadian Fall 2010 TV season. To bolster its mid-season campaign, Global Television has picked up the Fox crime drama The Chicago Code and ABC’s Off The Map