Monthly Archives: January 2012

Should the CBC dump TV?

Recently I’ve been thinking about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and how it spends the billion dollars a year it gets from the Canadian taxpayer. It’s not just because Sun Media is on a mission to have it shut down. There’s also a debate over whether it should be exempt from cuts the federal government is imposing on all its services.

And there are people who think the CBC should be doing more than it does right now. OpenMedia.ca has a project called Reimagine CBC in which people are asked to pitch ideas to transform the public broadcaster and make it more relevant in this new media universe. There are things the CBC does already, like be active on social media. There are ideas that are so vague they sound like they came out of management.

Then there’s Kai Nagata, who is suggesting the CBC get out of producing television entirely and shift all those resources to the Internet so it can become an online news and cultural leader. He even spiced up his submission by posting a video to YouTube parodying the Rick Mercer rants in which he explains his reasoning.

Nagata, you’ll recall, is the former CBC and CTV television reporter who did not own a television.

His reasoning is interesting. He points out that people are moving away from TV and toward online these days, and suggests that abandoning television and focusing on online will give it more bang for their buck.

But I’m not convinced. For one thing, if the CBC succeeds in making killer web videos, wouldn’t it just make sense to put that kind of stuff on television, where it can make more money? The CBC does have a lot of infrastructure, including hundreds of television transmitters, many of them in small communities where the CBC is the only over-the-air television. It also has regional control rooms and studios for newscasts that might be less important if everyone was getting their news from the web.

I think Nagata underestimates the power of television. Canadians still watch it, and many supplement it with online consumption of media. CBC’s ratings may be low compared to CTV and Global, but they’re still high when compared to most cable networks, and more people watch television shows on TV than online.

And that’s assuming we forget all about Radio-Canada. Nagata points to the success of its Tou.tv online video website, but seems to ignore that the thing that makes it so popular is that it has a bunch of television series on it.

What should the CBC get out of?

Still, I like Nagata’s suggestion because it gets us thinking. I don’t want to start sounding like Pierre Karl Péladeau, but it annoys me a bit that the CBC competes directly with private broadcasters in some areas. Particularly areas where the private sector does a better job.

Like local news. In Montreal, the market leader among anglophones is CTV’s CFCF. It kills in the ratings. It has more hours of original local news than its competitors combined. It has more journalists, and more of its news is local.

So why is CBC trying to compete? More importantly, why is the CBC trying to compete by doing the same thing? Why not abandon the supper-hour newscast and do something else, like local cultural programming?

On the French side, it’s a bit more complicated because Radio-Canada is so popular and because the main private broadcaster already produces so much original programming. On one hand, there’s a good argument that the culture is healthy enough that it doesn’t need the CBC’s help, and that removing the public broadcaster would make the private broadcasters healthier and encourage them to invest more in original Canadian programming. On the other hand, shutting down Radio-Canada would lead to having only one major television player in French, and that’s very worrisome. It would also be a net loss for original Canadian television no matter how you slice it.

CBC television can be thought of in two ways: a creator of television programming and a conduit for that programming. For scripted series, “creator” usually means that the CBC hires a production company to produce a TV series and it airs episodes of that series. A scheme could be conceived in which those series are still produced but air on private television, on cable or online.

Or what if the funds that went into the CBC were instead transferred to the Canada Media Fund, which helps fund television series no matter what network they air on? What if we focused our money more on creating better Canadian television series, ones Canadians actually wanted to watch? What if we got rid of the overhead and gave all that money directly to the people who actually produce Canadian television programming?

And what if, instead of a network that carries the CBC network to distant communities, infrastructure was used to bring both private and public Canadian programming to them? What if CBC’s production facilities were made available to ordinary Canadians to make their own television, which could then be uploaded to YouTube or the CBC’s website for people to see?

I don’t think anything like that is going to happen. Even if we establish that it makes sense, there’s still too many unanswered questions. Cutting local stations would seriously affect CBC News Network. And communities will resist efforts to take away their television stations, even if they’re just low-power retransmitters of distant CBC stations.

But this discussion needs to start somewhere. And that means we have to figure out exactly what we need the CBC for, and what we’ll need it for in 10 or 20 years. I don’t have all the answers, but I think technology has changed enough that we don’t need the CBC to be doing the exact same things it was doing 30 years ago.

Montrealers still screwed for Super Bowl XLVI ads

For information about the latest Super Bowl, click here.

Not much has changed since last year, so I’m sorry to report that Montreal TV viewers will, once again, be largely forced to endure simultaneous substitution during Sunday’s Super Bowl and watch commercials from CTV instead of the originating American network. And cable and satellite providers will have to continue to calmly explain to irate subscribers that they’re only doing what they’re required to do by the CRTC, who will have to explain what “simultaneous substitution” is and why it’s there.

CFCF’s digital transmitter closed the loophole where the high-definition feed wasn’t substituted in Montreal, and now Videotron and other cable providers must replace the WPTZ feed with CFCF in standard and high definition.

Here’s how it works for the various options of getting television:

Over the air

This method gets a significant boost this year, because the Super Bowl is being carried by NBC instead of Fox. Montreal antennas can pick up WPTZ Plattsburgh (650kW) much better than WFFF Burlington (47kW), so more people will be able to watch the Super Bowl this way. But it’s still difficult to capture American stations if you have cheap indoor antennas.

This is the best method (and the only legal one) for Montrealers to get American ads in high definition live, along with the Super Bowl itself.

CFCF will be carrying the Super Bowl, but obviously it has the Canadian ads.

Videotron (analog and digital)

Videotron has resisted substitution, especially for the Super Bowl, and does so only when absolutely necessary. Still, it is required to substitute both the standard and high-definition feeds in the area covered by CFCF.

This means all customers in the following areas will see their signals substituted:

  • Montreal and on-island suburbs
  • Laval
  • The north shore
  • The south shore
  • Joliette
  • St. Jérôme
  • Montérégie
  • St. Jean sur Richelieu
  • Vaudreuil-Dorion

Quebecers outside of Montreal (as defined above) and the Gatineau region (which is part of the footprint of CJOH Ottawa) will not have their signals subtituted and will be able to watch the American ads on NBC channels.

Other cable providers (including Bell Fibe)

Same as Videotron, I’m afraid. They don’t have a choice in the matter.

Bell Satellite TV

Because Bell feeds the same data to all its customers via satellite, it is required (as of 2009) to substitute American feeds with Canadian ones nationwide. So even if you’re in an area not covered by a CTV station, you’re still going to see the CTV ads.

Shaw Direct

Because Shaw Direct includes technology allowing the provider to control what signals individual clients receive, it can implement simultaneous substitution selectively. The result will be similar to cable: substitution in areas covered by CTV stations, no substitution elsewhere.

American satellite providers (DirecTV, Dish Network)

These are technically illegal in Canada, but many people have found ways to get service north of the border, either by pirating them or using fake U.S. addresses. Since these are American providers, they are not subject to simultaneous substitution rules.

Online

There’s no legal way to get the Super Bowl itself online except through ways sanctioned by CTV (they’re not streaming it, but it is available on mobile). There will probably be black-market feeds, but why bother when you can get it in HD on cable or over the air?

The ads are another story. Expect all the good ones to be online shortly after broadcast. In fact, many are already online and creating buzz. YouTube has a special site devoted to Super Bowl ads that you can watch whenever you want, in high definition.

Bars

Because most of the loopholes have been closed, there aren’t many bars advertising the American version of the game anymore. To provide a high-definition feed in Montreal, they would either have to set up an antenna capable of receiving the American station or subscribe to an American satellite service and hope nobody notices.

If you spot one that promises to show American ads, let me know in the comments.

Other loopholes

There are also methods that have no guarantee of success. You could try watching west-coast feeds. Some cable companies offer Seattle stations as a way to time-shift, and then forget to do substitution for live events like this. But broadcasters have become wise to people using this loophole and I suspect the chances of it working is low.

You could also, I suppose, just go to Vermont for the weekend and watch the Super Bowl there.

UPDATE (Feb. 3): The Globe and Mail’s Susan Krashinsky explains the reasons why U.S. ads don’t air on Canadian networks. I’d also add that some are for products that simply aren’t available in Canada.

Dave Bronstetter retiring from CBC Radio

Dave Bronstetter (CBC photo)

Dave Bronstetter, the veteran CBC Montreal personality who was most recently the host of radio’s All in a Weekend, is hanging up the microphone after more than three decades in broadcasting.

The announcement was made Saturday morning on his show by Sonali Karnick, who has been replacing Bronstetter. Bronstetter has been on leave from his show since last fall for reasons that haven’t been made very clear publicly.

Karnick said Bronstetter will return to do one final show with her on Feb. 18. They will be running some best-of clips between now and then, and have asked listeners to send in their favourite memories and leave goodbye messages for him.

Most Montrealers will associate Bronstetter with his long stints as host of weekday shows Homerun (in the late 80s) and then Daybreak, from when Royal Orr left 1996 until 2006, when he stepped away from a five-day-a-week job to take the reins at All in a Weekend.

At the time, Bronstetter said burnout and fatigue we having serious effects on his health.

I’ve been asked a few times over the past few months about why he’s been on extended leave. Bronstetter himself has been asked about it a lot as well, at least through posts on his Facebook wall. In response, he’s been mostly vague, saying he hopes to come back soon and he’s getting better by the day.

Bronstetter just celebrated his 59th birthday, though his Facebook profile has him listed as being born in 1905.

The announcement didn’t include news about Bronstetter’s permanent replacement at All in a Weekend. Karnick left her job as sports reporter for Daybreak to take up a job at CBC Sports in Toronto. She was recently brought in as the interim host of All in a Weekend, supposedly until the end of the season. Karnick would be an obvious choice, assuming she’s interested in staying.

UPDATE: A story from The Gazette, which confirms no permanent replacement has been chosen but Karnick will continue until the end of the season. The news was also mentioned on CTV’s local newscast.

UPDATE (Feb. 6): Brendan Kelly, who worked with Bronstetter as a regular contributor to Daybreak, talks to Bronstetter, who confirms he’s leaving on the advice of his doctor because he’s burned out and depressed.

Tales from Cogeco

Cogeco President Louis Audet

On Thursday, I got up early (meaning: before noon) and went to the annual shareholders’ meeting of Cogeco, the cable company that is also a big player in the Quebec radio industry.

I covered the meeting for Cartt.ca, the online publication about the broadcasting and telecom industry run by Greg O’Brien. If you’re a subscriber, you can read my report here. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Much of it is industry stuff you probably don’t care about that much.

The stuff you might care about is repeated below:

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Fertility gods open jobs at The Beat

There must be something in the water at CKBE-FM, or maybe a delayed (and unusual) reaction to Aaron Rand’s departure last year, because both the morning and afternoon traffic announcers are pregnant.

The video above is from morning traffic announcer Natasha Hall. She’s been keeping a blog at The Beat’s website chronicling her pregnancy and all the stuff that a first-time mother learns that isn’t in the guidebook or in the movies. (It’s similar to Lisa’s Wedding Blog, a video series done by former CJAD promotions director Lisa Fuoco in 2009-10.) As Natasha’s video title says, she’s got about a month left before that thing the size of her head gets pushed out and she can go back to walking instead of waddling.

The afternoon announcer, Claudia Marques, has a bit more time to wait. She’s at about 30 weeks now.

Cogeco has posted part-time, temporary positions to fill both of their jobs. Requirements include three years of on-air experience and knowledge of Montreal’s road network, along with the usual qualities needed to be an on-air talent at a radio station.

The deadline is Monday.

CHMP beefs up weekend lineup

Weeks after ratings showed a surprising surge for CHMP 98.5, which suddenly vaulted into the top position among Montreal radio stations, the Cogeco-owned talk station is beefing up its weekend lineup slightly.

The company announced this week it is adding three new hosts for weekend programming on the station: Eric Arson, who will host music programming in the afternoons, Mario Langlois who will host an hour-long sports talk show on Sundays, and Isabelle Ménard who will do overnights Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Though 98.5 has a strong lineup on weekdays, as well as weekday evenings since sports programming moved there from CKAC, its weekends are mostly music, which competes poorly with established music stations.

The new schedule doesn’t change that much. Guy Simard and Sylvain Ménard keep their weekend shows as is, and much of the schedule is still devoted to music (particularly when the Canadiens aren’t playing).

One would think there would be more sports or talk programming they could air on weekends, rather than continue to leave it to mostly music.

Here’s how the schedule change compares to what it was previously (changes in bold). The new schedule took effect Jan. 21.

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CFCF GM Don Bastien signs off

UPDATED Jan. 21 with comments from new CTV Montreal GM Louis Douville.

Don Bastien speaks at a recent CTV Montreal upfront presentation to advertisers

While viewers concern themselves with a high-profile change behind the anchor desk, there’s another, perhaps more important, staffing change happening behind the scenes at CFCF.

Don Bastien, who as you can see from the photo above has been general manager of CFCF/CTV Montreal since 2001, is retiring. Today, coincidentally the 51st anniversary of the station, is his last day.

Louis Douville, the general manager at CJOH (CTV Ottawa), takes over starting Monday.

Bastien described his retirement to me as having “a touch of sadness” because of all the people he would be leaving. He’s been with CTV and related company Baton Broadcasting since 1972.

“That’s probably the most difficult part, when you’ve been interacting with them on a daily/weekly basis for all this period and all of a sudden that’s going to come to an end.”

Bastien’s planning to take it easy for a while, taking some time to catch up with life and family. They’re going to a ski trip in France next week, and he jokes that he might be playing golf “a little more than I did”. Beyond that, he plans to keep up with various philanthropic activities, and he’s been appointed to the board of St. Elias Mines of B.C., and he’ll be looking for other opportunities to keep active. But he says the days of a Monday-to-Friday 9-to-5 job are over.

The decade under Bastien was transformative for CFCF, in good ways and bad. When he was appointed to the position in 2001 after being CTV’s national sales director based in Montreal, the station had just been bought by CTV from WIC when WIC was bought by Canwest Global. CTV imposed a common brand for all its television stations, and the “CFCF-12” and “Pulse News” brands that had existed for decades were eliminated. A few years later, even the call letters were gone and everything became “CTV”. Many viewers still resent this stripping of the station’s identity.

A few years before the acquisition, the station cut just about all programming except for the newscast. What little additional programming remained would eventually be cancelled as well. The telethon, the morning newscast, Entertainment Spotlight and Sportsnight 360 all disappeared under Bastien’s watch. Some elements of the latter two have been incorporated into the weekend newscasts, but to a large extent CFCF is just a CTV rebroadcaster with a local newscast.

It’s a popular newscast though, with ratings that continue to obliterate the competition, and a high percentage of local news content. Bastien said maintaining this dominance, particularly in the face of increasing pressure from specialty channels, will be a challenge for his successor.

More recently, there has been significant technological change at the station. It began transmitting in high definition, later swapping out its analog transmitter and 50-year-old antenna on Mount Royal. Just last September it moved into its new studio, a million-dollar investment as it prepares to upgrade its newscast to high definition.

But when asked what his biggest challenge was in his decade here, Bastien points to the 2003 move from 405 Ogilvy Ave., where CFCF had been based since just after its launch in 1961, to 1205 Papineau Ave. in what has become the city’s broadcasting neighbourhood.

“The relocation project was a huge undertaking,” Bastien said. “Not necessarily from a technical point of view. But it was an opportunity for us to upgrade technology. When we went from tape-to-tape editing to linear editing. The real challenge in the relocation project was not moving from one building to the next. We were not moving technology, we were moving people, who had worked in a single building all of their career. We were changing areas of the city. That was huge, working with entirely different facilities.”

The move meant CFCF’s master control was moved to Toronto. Though the newscast itself is controlled from their building, advertisements and network programming are handled way down the 401.

The technological change is still ongoing. CTV is moving ahead with upgrades to equipment to prepare for the newscast moving to high definition. This will require new studio and field cameras (scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks) and new editing equipment and servers, which represents a substantial investment. Bastien said it will be dependent on how CTV authorizes capital expenditures. No date has been set, but Bastien said he expects it to happen either this year or next. Hopefully the recent upgrades of both CBMT and CKMI’s newscasts to high definition (or at least partly HD) will put more pressure on CTV to follow suit.

Asked what advice Bastien had for his successor, Bastien said Douville will need to “maintain our connectivity to our viewers, to our market, to our community.”

It’s a connection Montreal anglophone television viewers take very seriously.

Louis Douville

Douville comes back home

“It’s always been a dream to come back home,” says Douville, who takes over as CFCF’s general manager starting Monday. At that point, he said during a phone interview on Friday, he will be introduced to the staff and learn about things like where the photocopiers are. “Monday is mostly going to be about passing the torch,” he said.

But the training should be short. Douville has a lot of experience as general manager of a CTV station and said he’s very familiar with CTV Montreal.

Douville grew up in Montreal, attended Concordia University, and his family lives here. But his 30-year career took him to Edmonton, Saskatchewan and Ottawa before coming back home.

Douville described CFCF as the “crown jewel” of CTV, mainly because it’s the only station covering all of Quebec, while much smaller regions have multiple CTV stations.

“I’m fortunate that I’m taking over a station in good shape,” Douville said. With the station’s ratings dominance, “there are no pressing issues” and he reassures that “I’m not coming in to make many changes.”

Douville recognizes that the conversion to high definition is a priority. “It’s a situation we face in all our CTV stations” outside of Toronto, he said.

But he also said that it’s the content, not the resolution, that matters most. The market share is holding even though the newscast is still standard-definition, he said, and “those numbers speak for themselves.” Douville also said the technical quality is still very high (the lighting, the set design, etc.) and if it wasn’t for the 4:3 aspect ratio people probably wouldn’t notice it wasn’t HD.

CTV Montreal’s 6pm newscast on Friday ended with a brief goodbye to Bastien.

CFCF makes Paul Karwatsky permanent co-anchor

Paul Karwatsky can put the reporter microphone away for good.

When Todd van der Heyden left CFCF for CTV News Channel, the speculation on who would replace him really came down to one choice: Either it’s Paul Karwatsky or it’s not Paul Karwatsky.

Karwatsky was the only other male anchor at the station, and while it wasn’t impossible that a woman would be picked to sit beside Mutsumi Takahashi, managers in TV news are still concerned enough about how things look that such a selection would seem unlikely.

Karwatsky was a great idea on paper. He’s a Montrealer, was already working at CFCF and had anchoring experience. The only strike against him was that he was young. And when your viewers have grown up with people like Bill Haugland and Brian Britt, going young presents a risk. (A risk that has already blown up in their face once.)

But when Karwatsky was selected to be “interim” co-anchor with Takahashi after van der Heyden left, it was just a matter of time before the position was made permanent. Barring some dramatic failure, he was clearly up to the job. And it would have taken a lot for them to decide to go with someone from the outside who CTV Montreal viewers are unfamiliar with.

As it turns out, it required only two weeks. CTV announced on Wednesday evening that Karwatsky has been made a permanent co-anchor with Takahashi. What was essentially a probation period or tryout has clearly been successful.

And being young isn’t the worst thing in the world. Andrew Chang at CBC is younger, and although his appointment as anchor of CBMT’s supper-hour newscast seemed similarly risky back in 2009, he’s fit into the role remarkably well.

The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein has the story, which has many of the same platitudes contained in the CTV story but also some colour about Karwatsky’s background.

What about weekends?

Now that Karwatsky’s position on the weekday desk has been made official, there’s the question of what to do with his former post. Before moving to weekdays, Karwatsky did weekend newscasts at 6pm with Tarah Schwartz and solo at 11:30pm. Schwartz has been doing both newscasts alone, which means her shift starts much later than it used to and the lineup editor has to do more of the work to setup the 6pm newscast.

CTV could choose to continue this way, or could hire someone else to take over Karwatsky’s old job. (UPDATE: News Director Jed Kahane confirms he will be hiring another anchor for the weekend desk.)

Either way, they could probably use another backup anchor. Caroline van Vlaardingen has been substituting on occasion as needed, and Cindy Sherwin has also done some anchoring, but other than that the cupboard is pretty bare.

Six years later, security

WARNING: This post is about me. If you don’t care about me, stop reading. Here, you can watch this YouTube video of a cute cat thing and browse from there.

It was so long ago that it’s hard to remember what it was like back then.

It was seven years ago this month that, while attending a national student journalism conference in Edmonton (thankfully that year there were no debilitating illnesses), I got a call on my cellphone from the city editor at the Gazette offering me a paid internship that summer.

My reaction was subdued. The man who offered me the job even remarked on that point. It’s not that I wasn’t happy – I was over the moon – but for some reason the only thing that I could think of was how much this conversation was going to cost me in roaming charges.

Though it occurs to me now that I’m not the kind of person who pulls out the theatrics when someone gives him really good news.

After a short, unpaid internship at the West Island Chronicle that I actually enjoyed even though it wasn’t exactly hard-hitting journalism, and another at CBC Montreal that resulted in a few paid shifts at CBC Radio over the previous holidays (which in turn convinced me that being a guest booker wasn’t quite my cup of tea at the time), I was really excited at the idea of working at a major newspaper in my home town.

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CTV’s Express feels like anything but

Monday marked Todd van der Heyden’s debut at Express, the afternoon show on CTV News Channel with Amanda Blitz.

Because he’s from Montreal, because he’s a nice guy and because he’s a geek at heart, I wanted to be encouraging and wish him well in his new job.

Unfortunately, after sitting through the first three-hour program, I was left frustrated, both at what CTV seems to be doing with its all-news network and at how that industry is changing in general.

When it launched in 1997, what was then called CTVNews1 was licensed as a continuous 15-minute news wheel, repeating the headlines four times an hour. This was to distinguish it from CBC Newsworld, at a time when all cable channels had genre protection.

But as the CRTC came to realize that cable news was healthy enough to warrant direct competition, restrictions on the CTV network became relaxed, and now the two are effectively head to head in terms of format. This is a good thing.

What’s not good is that rather than focus on more news to keep people better informed, CTV seems to be relying more on pointless, time-wasting banter that just wastes viewers’ time.

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RNC wants to turn Planète Jazz into Radio X

Update (March 14, 2013): The application has been denied.

If owner RNC Media gets its way with the CRTC, Montreal could soon be getting its own “radio poubelle” station by next fall.

CKLX-FM 91.9 has applied to the CRTC for permission to change its format from jazz to talk radio, citing its poor financial situation and the lack of francophone talk radio options in Montreal.

You can download and read the application here (ZIP).

Planète Jazz, which launched Dec. 14, 2004, is the last commercial jazz radio station in Canada, its owner says, after similar formats in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Winnipeg abandoned it for other more popular formats. Though it won’t release full details to the public, RNC says CKLX has revenues “well below” $1 million a year, about 18% of what was forecast in the station’s business plan.

It has come to the conclusion that the format does not work, and it must either change formats or consider shutting down the station.

Though it’s not stated explicitly in the application, it’s hinted that the new format would be similar to that of CHOI-FM in Quebec City, a station also owned by RNC Media that has controversial opinionators who talk more than they think (people like Stéphane Dupont). It’s been dubbed “radio poubelle” and compared to right-wing talk-radio stations in the United States, but it’s popular, with more than 200,000 listeners.

RNC Media also owns the similarly-styled CKYK-FM in the Saguenay region, as well as music stations Capitale Rock in Gatineau, Planète-branded stations and other Radio X and Radio X2 stations across Quebec.*

CHOI is so controversial, in fact, that the CRTC ordered it be shut down because of its comments. Only the sale of the station from Genex Communications to RNC Media (and the issuing of a new license) saved it from going dark.

RNC conducted a survey of Montreal listeners to gauge their interest in a new station “that would have a style that discusses subjects in the news, that asks real questions and isn’t afraid of its opinions”. Based on that, it predicts a new talk-radio station would have a 10% market share, and 20% among the key demographic of men 25-49. It also sees its revenues going from $2.6 million in the first year to $8.2 million in the seventh year of its license, far above what they could have hoped for Planète Jazz.

The market for French-language talk radio has been open for opportunity, particularly since CKAC turned into all-traffic last September. Other than Radio-Canada and community/campus stations, the only talk radio station is CHMP 98.5, which has shot to the top of the ratings. It also has to do double-duty as a sports station in the evenings.

The application, survey and other documents curiously make no mention of the license for a talk-radio station recently given to the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy media group. That station is also expected to launch next fall. It’s unclear if they’re unaware of the license or if they’re just ignoring it in their projections.

RNC Media President Raynald Brière declined to comment on the application, saying “le dossier n’est pas complet.”

The application, which would see the license changed from requiring 75% jazz to requiring 50% talk, is a Part 1 application, which means the CRTC has not called a hearing to discuss it, and if there’s no significant opposition it could be approved without the owners having to appear in front of the commission.

The deadline for interventions is 8pm on Feb. 13. You can file an intervention or comment here, by clicking “submit” next to the item about RNC Media.

*UPDATE: This move is strangely the opposite of one being done in Abitibi, where RNC Media is abandoning the Radio X format in favour of Capitale Rock, replacing talk radio with music. (Thanks Psychodork for pointing this out.)

Reaction

UPDATE (Jan. 20): The Journal de Québec reports about this move, getting the manager of its Quebec City stations to comment. The company wants to export the CHOI format to Montreal, but adapting to the market. Less talk of bringing back the Nordiques, more talk about traffic. (Is this really what separates Montreal from Quebec City?) The paper also talks to André Arthur, who thinks they should put Stéphane Dupont (the guy who told Haiti “fuck you” after the earthquake) in Montreal.

There was also a discussion on Tuesday on CHOI itself about the application, with an interview with Patrice Demers. They even discuss potential hosts, saying Patrick Lagacé is unlikely and Jeff Fillion is very doubtful, but nothing is set in stone.

The proposal also was discussed on Radio-Canada’s Les Lionnes, which prompted not one but two discussions on CHOI. You can imagine how Radio Poubelle and a public broadcaster TV show hosted by three women think about each other.

La Presse covers this in the form of a column from Marc Cassivi. There are also blog posts at Voir from Sportnographe’s Olivier Niquet and journalist Fabien Loszach. Each of these got criticized on CHOI, which blasted Cassivi for being uninformed about what can be heard on CHOI, and said Voir’s complaints that CHOI’s programming is sexist, racist or homophobic are simply false.

Stéphane Gendron reacted to the news on Radio X, in which he said he would be interested in an on-air position at the station, because he’s more of a radio guy than a TV personality.

Jeff Fillion himself also comments the news on his Radio Pirate.

At least one blogger has called for people to rise up against this move, and another defends the sophistication of Radio-Canada against its Radio X-supporting critics.

Quebec’s FM93 wants to go mostly-talk

Coincidentally, the application from RNC Media comes about the same time as one from Cogeco Diffusion to change the license of CJMF-FM (FM 93.3) in Quebec City to allow for more talk. Currently the station offers a hybrid format of talk and music, but its survey numbers show more than 60% of its listeners tune in only for talk programming.

The new schedule would see talk programming in the mornings and evenings on weekends (noon to 4pm would remain music) and weekday evenings. Weekday mornings and afternoons are already all-talk.

As an added bonus to Quebec City listeners, the change would mean the station broadcasts all Montreal Canadiens games. Currently it offers only a selection. This will be welcome news to Canadiens fans in the region who may have been able to tune in to the bleu-blanc-rouge on AM station CKAC but have no hope of listening to 98.5.

The deadline for interventions or comments in the CJMF-FM application is Feb. 6. It is also a Part 1 application and can be seen on this page.

Terry DiMonte’s first day at CHOM … again

There are some things at CHOM that will always be constant: The name, the format, the listeners complaining that the same songs get played over and over, and every decade or so the program director deciding to shake things up by putting Terry DiMonte back on mornings.

DiMonte began his first shift back at Montreal’s Spirit of Rock on Monday, and I managed to score an invitation to see it from the studio (even if it meant pulling an all-nighter after a late shift at work). This is the story of that day.

Terry DiMonte reads the paper just before he starts his first show. (And by "the paper", I mean the section in Saturday's Gazette seemingly devoted to him)

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CHOM’s new schedule adds Terry DiMonte, Heather Backman in mornings

UPDATE (Jan. 13): Read more about DiMonte’s first day here. Updates below with more coverage of DiMonte’s return and comments from Chantal Desjardins about her new job at CJAD.

Terry DiMonte does his first show back at CHOM on Jan. 9.

The news that Terry DiMonte was coming back to CHOM came out all the way back in June. The date was set and publicized in November. But details on such things as who his cohosts would be and what happens to the rest of the schedule were kept under wraps until Monday when DiMonte started his first show.

Here’s the details of its new schedule:

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