Wednesday, October 07, 2009

History of the CanWest collapse -- could History Television be saved?

Few who read or write in Canada will resist a touch of schadenfreude over the ongoing collapse of CanWest, purveyor of lousy newspapers and lousy television networks they contrived to bury under mountains of debt even with semi-monopoly situations and with almost comically horrible contract terms for those still obliged to work for them:
Freelancer hereby irrevocably grants and assigns to CanWest all rights of every kind in and to the Content (including copyright), and agrees that CanWest shall have the right to exclusively use and exploit the Content in any manner and in any and all media, whether now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity. For greater certainty, Freelancer shall have no right to re-sell or re-publish the Content without CanWest's express written permission. CanWest shall be entitled to edit the content, and Freelancer hereby waives in favour of CanWest and its assigns, all "moral rights" in and to the Content. Nothing herein shall obligate CanWest to use or publish the Content in any manner. The rights granted hereunder may be freely assigned or sub-licensed by CanWest to any third party.
(emphasis added -- it was that across-the-universe bit that always drew the laughter when writers gathered, though the quotation marks around moral rights were also evocative of the corporate culture.)
For the moment, CanWest's stable of specialty cable channels are not included in the bankruptcy protection filings, though the business press assumes they are likely to be disposed of.

Could we dare to dream that someone would acquire History Television who -- I don't say actually has an interest in history, that's too much to ask, but maybe someone who has a sense of the potential that a history television network could have. Probably not -- it's said to be profitable running old movies and CSI reruns. Pity.
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