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TV holding its own in changing media landscape

Canadians increased their viewing time last year, CRTC annual report shows

Artur Marciniec/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Canadians' love affair with television programs remains undiminished, despite the proliferation of new online and wireless platforms that were supposed to threaten traditional media.

The federal regulator's new report on the communications industry shows Canadians watched an average of 28.5 hours of TV last year, up 30 minutes from 2010, even though they had more media choices than ever before.

In fact, Canadians increased their TV program viewing even more – if the 2.8 hours spent watching television shows online is included.

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Radio listening was also up only more moderately, from 17.6 to 17.7 hours a week.

"Canadians are enthusiastic consumers of creative content, whether it is offered on television, radio or through digital platforms," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, in the annual report from the regulator.

"The fact that they are spending more time watching or listening to programming is good news for Canadian creators."

It's also good news for communications companies.

Broadcast revenues climbed 5.5 per cent to $16.6-billion from 2010, and revenues from telecommunications services increased by 2.5 per cent to $42.7-billion. On average, consumers spent an average of $180 a month on services.

Overall, the communications industry accounted for about 4.6 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product in 2011.

The growth in the traditional media occurred even though, as the report shows, Canadians were expanding their use of computers and wireless devices, such as smartphones.

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By the end of 2011, 78 per cent of 13.4 million households had an Internet connection, and Canadians continued to migrate to faster services.

As well, there was a 6 per cent spike, to 27.4 million, in the number of Canadians subscribed to wireless services, as new wireless entrants doubled their market share to 4 per cent during the year, while the larger companies offered faster networks.

Meanwhile, 2.2 per cent more Canadians subscribed to basic television services, representing about 90 per cent of the population.

The only loser in the report was home phone subscriptions, which fell 2.7 per cent to 12.2 million in 2011, continuing a trend.

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