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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice


Canada’s media merger activity has continued over the past year with the mega-deal of AT&T and Time Warner in June 2018 representing vertical integration, while highlighting industry competition and regulation.

AT&T has completed its acquisition of Time Warner in a USD85 billion deal. The transaction received court approval on 12 June and completed two days later, after a six-week trial and opposition from president Donald Trump.


The Justice Department ruled that the deal is legal under antitrust law. The ruling is expected to spur merger activity in the media sector.


Commenting on the merger, Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO, said: “This is a perfect match of two companies with complementary strengths who can bring a fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.”


Other notable developments include the continued importance of the gaming industry for the country’s economy, as one of the strongest segments of the industry. PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media

Outlook 2018-2022 states that eSports is

expected to reach a total revenue sum of

CAD40 million and a CAGR of 22.7% in the next five years.


The report highlights that: ‘Canada’s eSports market has been building strongly with total revenue in the sector greater than that of Italy and Spain combined.


The past year also highlighted concern over

the regulation of online streaming services as

well as their role in producing local content. In May

last year, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission published a report that recommends legislation to regulate online video and music services.


The report states that online streaming service providers, such as Netflix and Spotify, should pay for the creation of domestic content or better promote it to reduce pressure on funds.



Cassels Brock & Blackwell is one of the most established entertainment and copyright law practices in Canada. The firm is appointed by publishers, producers, broadcasters, animators and concert promoters. Among work, the team assisted Canadian Football League with Grey Cup performance agreements for the Black Eyed Peas and Shania Twain. Other focus areas include gaming and sports law.

Gowling WLG is an established leader in the area of media law. The firm works across several service areas that include entertainment, defamation, gaming, advertising and social media. Each division is managed by a dedicated partner, which means in-depth industry knowledge and broad expertise. The firm’s size and scale amplified after Gowlings merged with UK firm Wragge Lawrence Grahman & Co in January 2016, creating double the capacity nationally and abroad.

The Stikeman Elliott media team specialises in entertainment and sports law and has extensive experience in the financing of films and television programs. Other focus areas include licensing of intellectual property including publicity rights and rights of personality. The team also advised on competition issues arising from the purchase of a newspaper chain and advise on the sale of sports franchises.


Dentons advises several Hollywood studios, US-based independent production companies and television networks on communications and entertainment law. Vancouver-based Gordon W. Esau manages a practice that is visible across a range of cases that include mergers and acquisition. The team also assists US-based animation and visual effects companies on establishing Canadian studios. Well positioned nationally, the firm has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Goodmans has a high profile portfolio of clients from the entertainment sector. The practice specialises in film, television, digital media and book publishing. The entertainment law group is managed by David Zitzerman who has practiced entertainment law exclusively for 25 years. Working with his team, Mr Zitzerman represents American and Canadian studios, broadcasters, independent producers, game companies and talent agencies.

Lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault have in-depth knowledge of cyber security, privacy, data protection and copyright. Montréal-based Véronique Wattiez Larose is one of the firm’s key contacts with experience advising clients from the video game and music industries.

With a cross-border focus, Torys regularly advises international clients in a range of service areas, from traditional media and corporate transactions to commercial exploitation. In representative work, the team acted for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in its USD 142.4 million acquisition of a 17.9 per cent stake in Entertainment One from Marwyn Value Investors.


DLA Piper has seven offices across Canada with diverse market coverage. The firm’s capacity was expanded in March 2015 after the firm merged with Vancouver-based law firm Davis. Leading practitioner Chris Bennett works with regional partners representing the sports and entertainment industries. The firm represents local and international clients on finance, corporate issues, production and rights acquisition and competition law.

McMillan’s media work ranges from financing, syndication and sponsorship through to securing international production and distribution rights. The media, communications and entertainment team, managed by Desmond Balakrishnan, advises recording artists, gaming companies, film and television producers and multimedia companies.

Toronto-based Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond specialises in entertainment, marketing and copyright. Diana Cafazzo and Ron Hay are highlighted by peers who say both partners “are active in media and entertainment law and have been opposite us on numerous transactions in recent years.”  The firm acts for clients in the film, music, broadcasting, publishing and sports industries.

Ranking and editorials


Cassels Brock  

Gowling WLG  

Stikeman Elliott


Baker McKenzie   



McCarthy Tétrault   



Blake, Cassels & Graydon

DLA Piper


Norton Rose Fulbright  

Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond


Bennett Jones

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt


Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh


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