This post was updated Oct. 30 with some new information that has come forward.
When news broke on Friday that Jian Ghomeshi, one of CBC’s biggest personalities, was taking a leave for unspecified “personal reasons”, it seemed suspicious. When news broke on Sunday that the CBC had terminated its relationship with him, it seemed unbelievable. And then it got worse: a $55-million lawsuit, and reports of eight women (oh wait, make that nine) coming forward and saying he abused them, with stories that seem disturbingly similar.
I don’t have any exclusive reporting on the subject — Toronto media personalities are not my specialty and there are plenty of Toronto journalists covering that — but I’ve been seeing so many misinformed comments on social media that I thought it would be useful to round up what is being said and make a few points to better educate those who are talking about this. I’m not an expert in employment law, human sexuality or most other fields, so I’ll try to link to experts where possible. Feel free to suggest other points or improve existing ones if you’re more of an expert than me.
Montreal’s newest radio station, and its first new general-interest commercial AM station in just about forever, is now transmitting as it undergoes the final stage before launch.
For a couple of weeks now, radio watchers have been noticing an open carrier — silence instead of static — on 980 AM. Now that signal is starting to carry music as the station begins its on-air testing in preparation for launch.
Radio Fierté CHRF is owned by Evanov Radio Group, which also owns Proud FM in Toronto, and the two have the same purpose, to serve the local LGBT community. Fierté will be Evanov’s first French-language radio station. Evanov told me last month that the station is expected to be on air by mid-November, so it’s a bit ahead of schedule. The actual launch is expected in January.
Evanov hasn’t announced hires yet, but Marie-Noëlle (Marino) Gagnon has announced she will be the station’s music director and one of its hosts.
The station’s application to the CRTC proposed a format of half music, half talk. The proposed program schedule was vague, but indicated mainly music on evenings and weekends. Though it would be mainly directed at the estimated 5-10% of the population that is gay (Evanov believes it could be even higher than that), its music and information is also designed to appeal to a wider audience.
Its application promises some shows “will take a deeper look at issues of a more serious nature such as relationships, sex, health, politics and current events” with invited experts and call-in shows. Other shows will be music with “light banter.” It proposes 4-6 minutes of hard news an hour, and another 3-7 minutes an hour of sports, weather and traffic.
The application shows a projected annual budget of $1 million to $1.5 million a year, based on ad rates averaging between $42 and $72 a minute.
The station is playing mainly pop music in French and English (Tegan and Sara, Coeur de Pirate, Daft Punk, and a bunch of the songs you’d hear on The Beat or Virgin), but promises a mix of pop, disco and techno. Between songs, it’s airing several recorded messages noting the testing period, and identifying the station as “the first francophone LGBT station in North America” and “radio arc-en-ciel”. People who identify issues related to the transmission are asked to email email@example.com.
Fierté was approved by the CRTC in 2011, in the same proceeding that gave approval for CKGM (TSN Radio) to move to clear channel 690 AM. Fierté had originally been approved to take over the vacated 990 frequency and the same pattern as CKGM formerly had, but found that moving to 980 AM and adopting a less directional pattern at reduced power would result in better coverage at night. The CRTC approved a frequency and pattern change last December.
When combining print and digital readership, La Presse and the Journal de Montréal both reach 1.241 million people a week. The difference in the official numbers is only 300, or 0.02%, which is far below the margin for error in such a survey.
Even more surprising, the daily readership of La Presse, measured by asking survey respondents which papers/websites they read the day before, is significantly higher than the Journal de Montréal, at 750,000 to 582,000.
In fact, more respondents said they read La Presse on a digital medium the day before than read the print paper. Other than the national papers Globe and Mail and National Post, no other major-market daily has more daily readers online than in print.
Even more amazing, La Presse reported slightly more daily digital readers in Montreal than the Star did in Toronto.
This dramatic increase in digital readership — and the fact that it has resulted in an increase in readership overall instead of just cannibalizing print readers — is yet another statistic justifying La Presse’s new strategy. And as if on cue, publisher Guy Crevier has another interview, in which he says 35% of La Presse’s revenues come from La Presse+, and that he doesn’t expect the print edition to still be around (at least as a daily) by 2020, or maybe even 2018.
Other facts in the NADbank numbers:
More than three years after 24 Heures became the official newspaper of the metro system, Métro still has more readers overall (300,000 vs. 270,000).
Métro and 24 Heures both get more than 90% of their readership from their print product. Their online readership is so low NADbank warns the numbers are statistically unreliable.
Only two papers in Montreal had more than half their weekly readers reading on any given day: La Presse and The Gazette. Readers of these publications are more likely to be everyday readers, compared to occasional readers for the others. (The Gazette has more daily readers than Métro or 24 Heures, but fewer weekly readers, because of this.)
More people said they read The Gazette online the previous day than the Journal de Montréal, despite the Journal’s gains online. The Gazette’s weekly online readership is up 37% from the previous report.
The Globe and Mail beats the National Post in both print and digital in all major markets. (In Edmonton, the Post has more daily digital readers, but fewer weekly digital readers and fewer readers overall.)
This isn’t new, but I just noticed it now: The Journal de Montréal has more readers in its home market than the Toronto Sun, daily and weekly.
Was there a second shooter? Was there a shooting at the Rideau Centre? Was the victim dead? Was the gunman carrying a rifle or a shotgun? What was the name of the shooter? What was the name of the victim? Was it the sergeant-at-arms who finally took the gunman down? Was this an act of terrorism?
Throughout the day on Wednesday, these questions were asked, answered and in some cases those answers were retracted by the media. It’s the nature of the beast when dealing with a breaking emergency situation like this — nobody really knows the answers at first, even the authority figures you normally go to for those answers.
What does “confirmed” mean?
After these kinds of events, there are inevitably media criticism think pieces telling us that we need to verify facts before publishing them, that we can’t repeat rumours that are unconfirmed, that getting it right is more important than getting it first.
But those kinds of pieces always annoy me, because they assume there’s some standard of correctness that a piece of information can achieve, and once it has it’s guaranteed to be true.
As we learned in Ottawa, it’s a lot more complicated than that. It was the Ottawa police that said there was an incident at or near the Rideau Centre shopping mall, only to retract that statement later in the day. It was a federal cabinet minister who tweeted on his verified account that the victim in the shooting had died, only to later walk that statement back. In the end, one of those events turned out to be false and the other true.
But in both cases they were referred to as “confirmed” by the media. When those confirmations were walked back, the power of the word diminished.
As Craig Silverman (the local expert in media getting things wrong) would say, an important question to ask a source when compiling information is “How do you know this?” A source may seem official because they’re a police officer or an official spokesperson or a company CEO or an expert in the field, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their information is rock-solid.
In emergency situations, asking those kinds of questions is a luxury, and often impractical. But one thing that is neither is attribution, even when the information appears to be fully verified and unquestionably accurate.
Strictly speaking, the statement “Ottawa police posted on Twitter that there was an incident at the Rideau Centre” is correct, even though there was no shooting there. It’s not just about covering your ass; it provides a publicly verifiable trail of information, and breeds trust in the news outlet while it breeds skepticism in the news.
There’s a tendency for news organizations to want to seem authoritative, to say things like “we have independently confirmed“. But that statement is meaningless if the confirmation comes from the same anonymous source as the initial report, and just as likely to be wrong.
On the other hand, there’s a different tendency to be vague when referring to competitors, to refer to vague “reports”. This can give the illusion of authority, even when all the reports out there inevitably come from the same source.
These things cause facts to spread, and the more they spread, the more people believe them to be true.
Show your work
One way to avoid this is simple: everything should be attributed where possible. And that’s not just good advice in reporting on breaking news, it’s good advice in general. It may not look cool, but I’m more likely to trust a report that explains how it knows what it knows.
In math class, we’re asked to show our work, to prevent us from using calculators to find the answers to problems or simply asserting the conclusion without understanding how it got there. We should ask the same of journalists.
Rather than criticize the media with the benefit of hindsight, let’s use Wednesday’s events as an example of what to do. When the name of the alleged gunman came out from a CBS News report, many Canadian media attributed it to them. If CBS got it wrong, then we’d know the Canadian media got it wrong too, and there wouldn’t be “conflicting reports”.
I personally think more caution should be exercised before naming someone in a case like this — the media got the shooter’s name wrong in Newtown, remember, and getting this kind of thing wrong, attribution or no attribution, could have serious consequences for the person named, his or her family and people who know them. But if it has to be done, attributing it is the way to go.
That way, we can better evaluate the credibility of information, and just as importantly, so can other media, so we can all separate what’s been “confirmed” from what’s just been repeated. And we can give the audience as clear a picture of the facts as possible, even if the facts are murky.
I think, in times of emergency especially, that’s the least we can do. And kudos to those journalists who did exactly that.
One of Rogers’s attempts to use its $5.2-billion NHL rights purchase to drive subscriptions to its telecom services has prompted competitor Bell to file a complaint with the CRTC.
The complaint is about GamePlus, a feature of the new Rogers NHL GameCentre Live online streaming app. While GameCentre Live is available to anyone for purchase (though free for Rogers customers until the end of the year), GamePlus is exclusive to Rogers Internet, TV, home phone and wireless subscribers. It offers additional camera angles like the ref cam (a camera mounted on a referee’s helmet), sky cam (a wide-view camera that goes up and down the length of the ice at the Air Canada Centre) and star cam (a camera always focused on an individual player).
Two months after TSN expanded from two to five channels, and after a bunch of complaints from subscribers missing programming that didn’t air on TSN2 or TSN5, Videotron is joining all the other major TV providers in the country and offering all five feeds.
That problem, which generated a flood of complaints to both Videotron and TSN, has apparently pushed the former to move up the launch date of TSN1, which will now be added on Monday, in time for the next MNF game (even though that game will also air on TSN5, the main TSN feed in Quebec).
TSN3 and TSN4, whose main feature will be blacked-out Jets and Leafs games, and occasionally a different Premier League soccer match or college football on weekends, will be added on Oct. 29.
Some information for Videotron customers:
All five channels are free with TSN. And selecting TSN1-5 will count for only one channel in custom packages. So you won’t be paying any extra for these other channels.
All five channels will be in high definition. And they will be available in all regions.
The TSN channels will be moving to keep them together. Starting Oct. 29, they will be at 186-190 in SD and 786-790 in HD.
Analog subscribers will continue getting just TSN5, which includes regional Ottawa Senators games.
About the same time, TSN and RDS will be pulled from Videotron’s Illico TV mobile service. Videotron blames blackouts for making these channels less desirable. Though it is looking at alternatives.
Last week, I went to see Xavier Dolan’s new film Mommy at one of the Cinémas Guzzo megaplexes. I go there because it’s not far from home, and because it’s inexpensive (at least on Tuesdays), but also to send a bit of a message to Guzzo’s owner that some people do actually want to see arty homegrown films.
And though he could present his ideas with more tact, he’s not wrong on that point.
I like Guzzo because he’s the little guy, a local entrepreneur trying new things in an industry dominated by the Cineplex Odeons and Famous Players of the world, even taking them to court to try to break the oligopoly. And he speaks his mind and is accountable to the public, unlike the heads of those other cinema chains whose names we don’t even know.
But being the little guy also means saying stuff that is foolish, poorly thought out or downright stupid.
Before the screening of Mommy, I saw an ad for a new promotion: Hockey widows, the women left alone while their husbands or boyfriends watch hockey games, could get discounts on tickets at Guzzo.
It seemed like a good idea, though perhaps a bit sexist in its message. Surely there are hockey widowers out there, or other reasons why people might want to go out during a hockey game.
On the website, Guzzo specifies that the deal doesn’t apply Tuesdays or during afternoons (when prices are already discounted). And it says “Ladies only!”
That seemed unnecessary to me. Why impose such a by-definition sexist requirement? What’s the purpose of applying this discount only to women?
A first live newscast is usually a nervous, error-filled affair but Thomas barely missed a beat, looking like he’d been doing this for years. And really, he has, just not in front of a television camera.
Thomas’s debut earned quick and unmitigated praise from colleague Brian Wilde:
Been doing this job 30 years. That was best first cast I have ever seen from @ATL2MTL Congrats Eric. A bright TV career is yours to seize.
But when I asked the CBC what this new programming would entail, I was told they didn’t know yet. Which seemed odd to me, since it was the CBC that proposed this hour a week of programming. Surely they had something in mind.
Finally, on Oct. 12, 2013, a year ago this week, Our Montreal debuted on CBC Television. Hosted by Sonali Karnick, who is also host of CBC Radio’s All in a Weekend, Our Montreal was vaguely described, and I didn’t really know what to expect even after talking with its host and other people at CBC. Nor really why its first airing was Saturdays at 6am.
And then I watched it. And I was disappointed.
Not only is this weekly show a lazy repackaging of content previously aired on CBC, most of it is so obviously either not local or not non-news that I think a compelling argument could be made to the CRTC that the public broadcaster is violating a condition of its license in all its major markets.
Like much of the city, I spent Wednesday evening sitting in front of the TV welcoming the official return of NHL hockey, curious how it would look in the new TV environment. Unlike much of the city, I constantly switched between Rogers Sportsnet and TVA Sports to try to evaluate both networks at the same time. Here are some thoughts on how it went.
Note that I’m not a hockey expert, or an expert on hockey broadcasting. I can’t tell you which panelist’s comments were more insightful, or which play-by-play guy described the game better. I look at this with the eyes of the casual fan, and that’s how I’m evaluating this.
Both networks are just starting off 12-year deals that are costing them a nine-figure number. So naturally the season opener pregame started months ago. I only tuned in for the last 45 minutes or so, and both networks took advantage of this time to sell themselves and their plans for the coming season. Sportsnet was a mix of old faces from Hockey Night in Canada, new faces from Sportsnet that were less familiar to Canadiens fans, and faces from elsewhere like Darren Pang. There was Elliotte Friedman with his sit-down interview. And the $4.5-million studio and its bells and whistles saw some use, though not as much as we might have expected.
On TVA Sports, a new set that actually looked quite professional, and a panel of experts that when it comes down to it doesn’t strike me as much different from the panels you’ll find on Sportsnet or RDS.
At 7pm on Saturday nights was when CBC would give us a hockey montage to set the mood. Sportsnet didn’t go that way on this night, instead going with a monologue from Marc Messier about how great hockey is. It fell a little short to me, lacking emotion.
TVA Sports also had the better computer-generated graphics that followed, though everything repeatedly exploding and coming back together may have been a bit too much.
Rogers’s big new studio in the CBC building in Toronto didn’t get much use after the pregame show, and seemed to be limited to a desk with four chairs behind it. Maybe that will change on Saturday, but I felt they weren’t using it to its fullest potential.
TVA Sports’s studio looked quite nice. Not spectacular, but nice enough that it looks like they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it professionally.
Sportsnet viewers were treated to the recognizable voices of Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, who have done this countless times before and just picked up where they left off.
On TVA Sports, it was the first big night for Félix Séguin and his partner Patrick Lalime. Though Habs fans have gotten used to hearing Pierre Houde calling their team, I don’t think it’ll take that much getting used to the new voice.
Or at least I thought that until the first time Séguin said “lance … et COOOOOMPTE!” That’ll take some getting used to after years of Houde’s “et le but!” (Even Séguin needs to get used to it apparently. He let out an “et le but” when the Canadiens scored a surprise goal in the last minute of play.)
Sportsnet and TVA Sports clearly based their scoreboard graphics off the same software, with just the logo and the language different between them.
The graphics are block-ish, but they present the necessary information.
I should note that neither channel uses its own graphics for less important games. The late game on TVA Sports 2 just used the same Sportsnet feed with the same English graphics. Sportsnet One showed a late U.S. matchup that just piped in NBC Sports Network. It goes without saying that they don’t supply their own broadcast team either.
The giant Sportsnet hockey studio seemed pretty small during the intermission report, which mainly focused on a few talking heads around a table. Maybe it’ll be more impressive on Saturday nights, but I felt as though a first impression was wasted here.
TVA Sports didn’t wow me with its Coach’s Corner-style first-intermission starring Michel Bergeron. But it was better for the second, featuring Paul Houde talking about how many points the Canadiens should need at key points of the season if they expect to make the playoffs, and Joel Bouchard with a brief on-ice segment about goalie strategy. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of.
Sportsnet didn’t have much of a postgame. Five minutes after the end it had to tee up the late Canucks-Flames game. But the panel took a few minutes to discuss what happened and what it means for both teams.
At TVA Sports, the late game was moved to TVA Sports 2, allowing it to run Dave Morissette en direct, the postgame analysis show. It was fine, but talking heads who are experts on the NHL don’t wow me, especially when the same thing was happening on RDS and TSN.
But there were some odd moments. Like Sébastien Benoit in a bar in Boucherville passing the microphone around asking people what they thought of the game and getting two-word answers of approval. By all means show us reaction shots from Montreal bars, but no need to shove a microphone in their faces if they have nothing intelligent to say.
Overall, I’m hoping Sportsnet shows more pizzazz on Saturday and Sunday, but if not I think we can live with its broadcasts. TVA Sports clearly showed it put in the effort, and had some strong points that Sportsnet didn’t have, even though it has a smaller audience and budget.
But I’m just some guy on the Internet with an opinion. What did you think of the broadcasts?
Tonight, the new era of NHL broadcasting in Canada dawns, as Rogers presents its first regular-season games under its new $5.2-billion, 12-year deal with the league. As is tradition, the first match in Canada will be Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs. But while in past years this match was on CBC and RDS, tonight it will be on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
The change in TV channels is only part of the new reality. For the first time in a decade, RDS will be blacked out west of Belleville, Ont., during its 60 regional games (as it was, or should have been, during the preseason games). This has annoyed not only Habs fans in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but places like northern Ontario, which has a lot of francophones. (I discussed the blackouts in a radio interview with Radio-Canada aimed at that audience.)
And the new rules for the NHL GameCentre Live streaming service have even me confused.
For NHL Centre Ice, which fans in southern Ontario and western Canada will need to watch Canadiens games, we’re learning that most providers in those areas are offering a $60 RDS-only package, which means Habs fans in Toronto and Vancouver will get to pay just $10 a month or $1 a game to watch the 60 games that are being blacked out on RDS.
And the regular TV schedule has changed slightly, with two more games being moved from Sportsnet East to City Montreal to accommodate the baseball playoffs on Sportsnet.
There are other things that are still unclear, though. And I’ve just sent Rogers another list of questions that I’m hoping they can answer. It seems late in the process for such information to be unclear, and if I’m not entirely sure about some of it, you can imagine how confused your average fan must be.
The good news is that this situation shouldn’t repeat. Most of the rules will be the same next year as they were this year, and people should be used to the new reality relatively quickly. We’ll have another 12 years until this system dramatically changes again.
In the meantime, for tonight, the game is broadcast nationally in both languages, and the game begins at 7pm. On Thursday, the Canadiens play the Capitals at 7pm, and that game is national in English on Sportsnet 360 and regional in French on RDS. (Don’t ask me to explain that logic.)
The reasoning didn’t relate to interference with other stations, but rather the commission finding the station did not meet the requirement of showing a compelling technical need for a second transmitter. The commission found that many of the complaints about poor coverage came from areas at the edge or outside of CHOU’s secondary service contour, which were never expected to receive the station well, and that local interference to AM signals is to be expected.
The application only had one opposing intervention, from CHCR, the owner of FM ethnic stations CKDG 105.1 and CKIN 106.3. That group warned that the new transmitter would cause interference to CKDG and would impact their advertising. Both those arguments were essentially ignored by the commission because the two stations are far enough in frequency to not have any interference problems and because CHOU is already a licensed station and market issues have already been dealt with.
Interesting, though, is that the CBC, which owns CBME-FM-1 at 104.7, did not intervene in this case, even though there was a big potential for interference. This could open the door to another application for 104.5, provided it only interferes with 104.7 in the eastern part of the island where people could hear CBC Radio One better on 88.5 anyway. (Such a transmitter would still have to protect Boom FM at 104.1 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Espace Musique at 104.3 in Trois-Rivières.)