Monthly Archives: June 2013

CRTC allows Bell to buy Astral, keep TSN 690

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg, left, with BCE CEO George Cope at May's CRTC hearing

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg, left, with BCE CEO George Cope at May’s CRTC hearing

Fans of TSN 690 are cheering now that the CRTC has approved Bell’s acquisition of Astral Media, and allowed the combined company to keep four of the five English-language commercial radio stations in this market, despite the fact that this goes beyond limits set in the commission’s common ownership policy.

You can read my story explaining the station’s future in The Gazette, read Bell’s press release announcing its acceptance of the decision, or get nerd-level detail below.

The decision makes Bell a dominant player in the television and radio markets in Montreal, owning the top-rated TV station with by far the top-rated local TV newscast, as well as the largest English-language radio newsroom and both English-language commercial talk stations.

In radio, Bell’s commercial market share reaches 76%, with the remaining quarter held by CKBE (92.5 The Beat). That might change once a new talk-radio station owned by TTP Media goes on the air, but we don’t have a date for that yet, and it could be as late as November 2014.

Perhaps even more troubling than the market share of Bell and Astral combined is what happens when you consider Bell and now-rival Cogeco. The two players will have a 96% commercial market share in Montreal’s French-language market (Radio Classique and Radio X are the only others big enough to subscribe to ratings agency BBM) and a 100% commercial market share in English Montreal.

The CRTC cited a few factors that swayed its decision to grant the exception: TSN 690’s niche format, the thousands of submissions it received asking for it to remain on the air, and the fact that the combined company would own only two French-language radio stations in Montreal.

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Mountain Lake PBS off air after lightning strike

UPDATE (July 31): It’s back on. See below.

If you’re wondering why you’re tuning into PBS and getting nothing, it’s because the station is off the air.

WCFE, the PBS station based in Plattsburgh, N.Y., announced on Wednesday that its transmitter was off the air after a power transformer at its transmitter site on Lyon Mountain was struck by lightning, causing it to catch fire. (This was after a separate lightning strike Tuesday night that hit the transmitter itself.)

The end result is that the transmitter isn’t running because it doesn’t have power, and the difficult-to-access transmitter site won’t be easy to repair. (UPDATE June 28: The station says the transformers were destroyed, and it could be about three weeks until repairs are complete.)

Most cable providers get the signal from Mountain Lake PBS by simply capturing it off the air with an antenna. Canadian cable companies don’t pay over-the-air American television stations for distribution (something that some U.S. TV stations have been lobbying to change recently), so they don’t really need to have a relationship at all between them.

Videotron in Montreal actually distributes two PBS stations, both of whom are near the Quebec border: WETK, the Burlington transmitter for Vermont Public Television, is the other. But WCFE is the only one distributed in high definition. (Interestingly, the HD feed of WCFE is offered for subscribers to WETK, which means if you choose WETK à la carte but not WCFE, you can have access to WCFE in HD but not SD.)

So until this situation is resolved, or Videotron decides to substitute WETK’s HD feed for that of WCFE, Montrealers wanting to watch PBS will have to settle for doing so in standard definition.

UPDATE: The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports that the transmitter won’t be running again for some time. But service to Videotron cable will be restored in “the next couple of days” and was back on Time Warner Cable in the U.S. on Wednesday night.

UPDATE (July 2): Videotron has put WETK HD on channel 650. We’ll see if they switch it back when WCFE is back on the air.

UPDATE (July 31): The station’s transmitter went back on the air a week ago. Videotron has switched back to using WCFE HD on channel 650.

The “Lori said it would rain!” umbrella

Canada AM’s Jeff Hutcheson shoots a promo with the umbrella

Just after shooting the last Montreal special episode of Canada AM, showing off Gregory Charles at his Vintage theatre in the Old Port, Jeff Hutcheson shot a promo outside for CTV Montreal. It was kinda lame, a fake telephone conversation whose contents I don’t even remember, but had to do with the weather. But the punchline was Hutcheson opening up a CTV News umbrella and turning it around to reveal the words you see above: “Lori said it would rain!”

He shot a bunch of takes of the promo, and had trouble locking the umbrella open each time. Eventually, as they were doing extra takes to fine-tune various points of the bit, it broke:

CTV Lori umbrella broken

I guess we have it, the producer said to a laugh. They didn’t have a back-up umbrella.

I was fascinated by this umbrella. Was it a one-off? Are there piles of them in a promotion office somewhere? Can you buy one?

Louis Douville, CTV Montreal’s general manager, said they’d ordered about a dozen of them. But my query apparently made him think about “wider distribution, maybe even as contest giveaways.”

He also said I could have one. But blasted journalistic ethics mean I have to turn him down. (I don’t keep swag of non-trivial value unless it’s given away to the general population or was acquired in a non-journalistic context from someone who doesn’t know I’m a journalist.)

I like the idea of popular but local references like this. And I’m sure people would be interested in owning an umbrella like this. But I wonder how many.

My blog’s readers are obviously not a representative sample of the population, but definitely a good cross-section of hard-core fans. (Do local TV stations have those?)

So I put the question to you: Would you buy this umbrella? Or would you enjoy winning one in a contest? Or is it just a bit too cheesy for you to be seen walking around in the rain with?

UPDATE (July 6): Here’s the promo ad Hutcheson was shooting:

It’s just as cheesy as I had thought it would be.

Andrea Collins joins CTV Montreal as fill-in weather presenter

Andrea Collins

You’re going to see yet another blonde on CTV Montreal. Andrea Collins, who hosts the late morning show on Virgin Radio and the weekly Dinner Rush show on CJAD, has been added as a fill-in weather presenter. Her first shift was on the late show on Tuesday, and you can see her do the online weather update.

The station has been pretty light on the position for some time now. It needs to be done seven days a week, and besides Lori Graham on weekdays and Lise McAuley on weekends, there was just Randy Renaud (and he has other responsibilities). The situation was pressed even more because Graham is taking an extended summer vacation and only returning in August.

Andrea Collins CTV weather

Funny how pretty people inevitably find their way onto television…

Paul Hayes says goodbye to The Beat

Paul Hayes makes off with the merch (photo via Paul Hayes's Facebook)

Paul Hayes makes off with the merch (photo via Paul Hayes’s Facebook)

While the public and the media was hyperfocused on René Homier-Roy’s final morning as host of C’est bien meilleur le matin on Radio-Canada (see audio, photos, video, Gazette story, HuffPost Québec story), there was another emotional goodbye on Montreal radio just a few hours earlier.

Paul Hayes, who we learned last month was leaving 92.5 The Beat to return to the U.K., hosted his final show on Thursday night. He had been the host of Heartbeats, from 8pm to midnight, since shortly after the station launched in 2011.

If you missed it, no worries. He recorded his final message on air and posted it online. He says it’s the first time he’s ever cried on air.

“Over the last few years, I can honestly say that I’ve had the biggest career high of my life. It simply won’t get any better than this for me,” Hayes said, struggling through tears as he thanked his bosses and coworkers and listeners, and promising to come back to visit often.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll be back on the radio here one day too. I’d like to think it’s a possibility,” he said.

He also posted a note to his Facebook page thanking Montreal listeners:

CKBE FM – 92.5 The Beat – OK, so tonight is my last show on 92.5 and on Sunday I return to the UK to live after 3 years of being away.

It was the most impossible decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.

I cannot put into words how totally incredible this experience has been – It’s the biggest highlight of my career to date. To be broadcasting in North America and to have felt so welcomed by the people of Montreal has been amazing.

The Beat is the most fun and enjoyable place I’ve ever worked, full of talented people – a creative, relaxed, encouraging environment, and the best bosses anybody could EVER wish to have, in Leo Da Estrela Mark Dickie and Andre St-Amand.

I will always have a place in my heart for this city and the radio station, and I take away some of the most incredible memories. I don’t know if it could ever be better than it’s been here.

I felt the need to re-connect with the UK, friends, family, and have some time to catch up with myself a bit, as the last 3 years have been a total whirlwind.

I will be back to visit (probably in the summer months) and I know I’ll keep in touch with a lot of people from here, who have become very important friends in my life.

Thank you everyone in MTL! Much love. XX

Jeremy White

Jeremy White takes over

About the same time Hayes was saying his goodbyes, Jeremy White announced on social media that he’s taking over Hayes’s former timeslot. White, a Kahnawake native, started working at K103 while he was still in high school, and has been at The Beat for a little more than a year, doing those thankless overnight shifts.

White’s enthusiasm for music quickly earned him high praise from his bosses at The Beat, who see a lot of potential in him, so this promotion makes a lot of sense.

CRTC approves TTP Media’s French-language sports radio station at 850AM

Proposed propagation pattern of station at 850AM

Proposed propagation pattern of station at 850AM

Two years after CKAC abandoned the all-sports format to switch to a government-subsidized all-traffic station, Montreal is one step closer to getting a French-language all-sports radio station again.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved a licence for 7954689 Canada Inc. (Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media) to operate a French-language sports-talk radio station in Montreal at 850 AM.

The station, whose transmitter would be in a field on Ile Perrot and be pointing toward Montreal, would operate at 50kW daytime and 22kW nighttime, which as the graphic above shows would pretty well cover the Montreal area and its shores.

Its format is a bit unclear. The CRTC decision describes it as “among other things, debate programs, sports news, live games, interviews and open-line programs.”

The “live games” part will be difficult, at least at first. Canadiens games air on Cogeco’s CHMP 98.5FM, and Cogeco retains Canadiens French-language radio broadcast rights until the end of the 2013-14 season. The station also airs Alouettes games. And it’s unlikely to easily give up on either.

This leaves Impact games which could be picked up by the new station. The Impact doesn’t have an official French-language radio broadcaster. And there’s plenty of out-of-market programming like tennis and golf and baseball. But the lack of other French-language sports radio stations in North America means it will have to at least translate all the coverage itself, unless it does something weird like sharing play-by-play guys with RDS.

The commission evaluates a market before awarding a licence for a new radio station to determine if the market can sustain it. In this case, the CRTC did not find any evidence that other stations could be threatened by this new one (competitors didn’t write to the CRTC to oppose this application), but did raise a concern that it “may face significant challenges when attempting to establish its presence in the market.”

But, taking into account the two existing licences and the potential for cost-savings by sharing resources, the commission felt it had a good chance and “would be a valuable proposition for listeners and small advertisers in Montreal” now that the market lacks a French-language all-sports radio station.

The CRTC has given the group exactly two years to get the station on the air, though it can grant an extension if necessary.

The 850AM frequency in Montreal has been silent since CKVL (which was started by Paul Tietolman’s father Jack) went off the air in 1999, replaced by Info 690.

TTP Media has licences for English- and French-language news-talk radio stations at 600 and 940AM, respectively. Neither has launched, but the French one at least is expected to be on the air by its deadline in November.

The group has promised an announcement within the next few weeks outlining its plans.

Statistics also released on Wednesday show that the three French-language AM stations in Montreal collectively (CKAC 730, CJMS 1040*, CJLV 1570 and CJWI 1610/1410) were back in the black for the first time since at least 2008. But that came at a price. From 86 employees when Info 690 still existed, to 47 after it shut down, it now has only 27 spread across the three remaining stations.

*CORRECTION: It turns out CJMS didn’t report financial figures, so it’s not included in the list of stations. That leaves CKAC, CJLV and Haitian station CJWI as the only French-language commercial AM stations in Montreal.

Midnight Poutine turns 300 (Thank you, Jeremy Morris)

The Midnight Poutine crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Gregory Bouchard

The Midnight Poutine crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle Lefort, Gregory Bouchard

When I asked the current team behind the Midnight Poutine podcast why they do what they do, they all had the same answer: Jeremy Morris.

Morris started the podcast in 2006 with John MacFarlane, a former Gazette writer and editor who I worked with briefly (and was one of the key figures in the early days of what was then Habs Inside/Out).

After MacFarlane moved to the other side of the world, Morris continued the podcast every week, a lot of times by himself. Eventually he brought along some other Midnight Poutine contributors to join the podcast — Greg Bouchard during Pop Montreal in 2009, Amie Watson in 2010, Gabrielle Lefort soon after that, and Theo Mathien in 2011, and when Morris left himself for Madison, Wis., last summer, he left the podcast in their hands.

“We all feel like we owe it to Jer to continue,” said Mathien. “We were infected by Jeremy’s enthusiasm,” added LeFort. “It’s partially his level of devotion that causes us to keep this thing going,” said Bouchard. “If we stopped doing this, I would be annoyed that there isn’t another podcast like this to listen to.”

I wanted to write about Morris and the podcast when Morris left, but never found the time. Now, as the show hits its 300th episode, I made the time to head out to Pointe St-Charles and profile it for The Gazette.

You can read the Gazette story here. I’ll add some detail below.

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Caroline van Vlaardingen in the big chair

Caroline van Vlaardingen

Caroline van Vlaardingen shouldn’t be nervous about being an anchor. She’s been an on-air figure at the station for … you know, I think you could actually measure it in decades, even though she doesn’t look that old.

Part of her experience at CFCF has included some hosting duties, too, including the series “On-Line Montreal” in the 1990s, a one-hour live talk show. (Ad-lib for a minute on live TV? Ha! Try doing that for a whole hour, she says with a laugh.) She’s also hosted the station’s telethon, and she’s been a reliable fill-in anchor for many years now, in addition to some part-time teaching at Concordia’s journalism program.

Still, she’s stepping a bit out of her comfort zone this weekend. Van Vlaardingen is taking over the weekend newscast from Tarah Schwartz, who’s leaving the country for seven months for personal reasons. (I won’t say why, but let’s just say there were lots of crossed fingers from her colleagues at Thursday night’s upfront presentation.)

Van Vlaardingen has the anchoring thing down pretty well, but she got some pointers from Schwartz about some things unique to the weekend newscasts. Among them is that, because the schedule runs from 3pm to midnight, the weekend anchor comes in with little time to familiarize herself with the news before the 6pm newscast. And the weekend anchor lines up her own late-night newscast, which is something that Van Vlaardingen is new to.

I asked her on Thursday whether she’d see herself permanently in the anchor chair. She said she enjoys doing reporting, getting out into the field. The weekend anchor job, which includes three reporting shifts during the work week, is a good mix of both roles, and one Van Vlaardingen is excited to do.

But Schwartz has no reason to worry. Van Vlaardingen is happy to go back to being a reporter once Tarah comes back. “I’m just happy to hold down the fort until she returns,” she says.

TUM TUM TUM TUM, TUM TUM TUM TUM TUM!

TUM pager

In our office, there are a few relics of the pre-Internet era, including pagers similar to the one pictured here. They’re called TUMs, which stand for téléavertisseur d’urgence médiatique. The idea is actually pretty smart, if antiquated: Quebec media are assigned these devices, and all emergency services, whether SQ or local police or fire departments or Transport Quebec or transit agencies, can send short messages about emergency events to everyone at the same time. The messages, written in all-caps, will alert the media to a breaking story, say where it’s happening and give a phone number to call for more information. They even have codes, “rouge” for deaths or life-threatening events, “jaune” for major events that are not life-threatening, and “vert” for information that usually doesn’t relate to an emergency. (You can find the full instructions on its use here)

As the Internet has taken on a larger role, the system has shown its age, and emergency services don’t seem to use it very reliably. So reporters call them up anyway at regular intervals to ask what’s up.

Recently, the group behind this system started emailing those alerts out to journalists using a distribution list. (They’re also on Twitter.) The messages are identical (even still being in all-caps), but email is more reliable, because you don’t forget where you put your email or realize three days later that its battery is dead.

At 1:22pm on Wednesday, an alert went out that said this:

SPVM JAUNE COLIS SUSPECT AU CUSM NON FONDE INFO 514-280-2777

This alerts journalists that a suspicious package found at the MUHC construction site was, in fact, a false alarm.

Two minutes later, journalist Maxime Deland of QMI did a reply-all to the message, apparently accidentally, saying “Je m’occupe de la mise à jour du txt.” Clearly a message that was supposed to be internal to QMI. Except, because it was replied to both the sending address and the receiving one, it went through the distribution list. Which is fine because that list is only one email address.

Normally, a distribution list like this would have protections so that only authorized messages would be sent out. A list run by emergency services that goes out to journalists you’d think would be very concerned about such security. But apparently this one allows any email (or any email from a list member) to be sent through the list to everyone else on it.

You can imagine what happens next: Three minutes later, a Reuters journalist says “Please take my name off these messages.” Ten minutes later, one from Le Droit: “Moi aussi SVP. Je suis en Outaouais… Veuillez me retirer de votre liste d’envois.” Two minutes after that: “Moi aussi svp. Je suis à Québec.”

By 2:12pm (the messages abruptly stop at that point), I count 38 messages sent to this list, including about half a dozen reply-all messages asking people to stop doing reply-alls, a few jokes about how technologically illiterate we all are, and one reply from CJAD asking to ignore a previous reply from CJAD asking to remove it from the distribution list.

Annoying as hell for a bunch of journalists, but for most it gives them something to talk to each other about around the water cooler. (Do they still have water coolers?)

Mohawk Girls get noticed

Mohawk Girls, a “dramedy” produced jointly by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Rogers’s OMNI television, wrapped up shooting last week in Kahnawake.

Since Rogers sent out a press release a month ago announcing the series, it’s gotten some decent attention in the local media. Enough that I don’t feel compelled to repeat their work. Here are links to the coverage the series has gotten:

The seven-episode, 30-minute series will air on APTN and OMNI in 2014. You can follow it through social media. It’s on Twitter and Facebook.

CBC jumps into semantic nightmare with “ICI” debacle

I thought nothing short of an alien invasion would unite the country. Heck, even then I’m sure the PQ would blame the federal government. But the CBC managed to do so last week when it announced that it was rebranding all its French-language services as “ICI”.

But the move has been so universally condemned, from the left, from the right, from its enemies and its friends, that I feel the urge to play contrarian and find some reason to support it. But I can’t.

The reasons to dislike it just pile up:

  • It’s confusing. Are they changing the name Radio-Canada? No. Except yes. They’re not changing their name, but just adopting a new “brand identity”, or using a “term”, or “denominator”. Just the list of synonyms for the word “name” they used (including the word “name” itself) created needless confusion. Even CBC and Radio-Canada journalists couldn’t figure out what “ICI” was, exactly.
  • It’s expensive. This rebranding exercise cost $400,000. You can see that as a tiny part of the corporation’s $1-billion annual subsidy from the Canadian government, or you could see that as a handful of well-paid full-time jobs for a year. Rebranding is an expensive endeavour that does little to further the CBC’s mandate.
  • It’s unnecessary. The closest thing I got to a reason for this whole thing in the first place is a video (now deleted) in which someone put a confused look on their face when explained that “Radio-Canada” means both radio and television. I get that, in a sense. You’ll recall that Télé-Québec used to be called Radio-Québec. But is this really a problem for a brand that’s existed for 75 years? Does anyone who lives in Canada and speaks French actually get confused?
  • It’s consultantism at its finest. The CBC loves consultants. People who tell them that newscasts have to look a certain way, or that Peter Mansbridge should stand at all times. Some consulting is good. You want to focus-group television shows or expensive concepts before putting them into motion. But consultants are also good at convincing people to buy things they don’t need. I don’t know if that happened in this case, but it certainly gives that impression.
  • It’s abandoning a strong brand. Rebranding is something you do when your brand isn’t working. Maybe you’re involved in a scandal, or your name doesn’t reflect what you do anymore, or it’s not politically correct. But Radio-Canada is a very strong brand. People know what it is and expect good things from it. Why would you mess with that? Even the federal government got involved to complain.
  • It’s anti-patriotic. Fuelling the exaggerated notion that Radio-Canada is filled with separatists (as if half of Quebec wasn’t), cutting “Radio-Canada” in favour of “ICI” has been seized by some in English Canada has a political move. “ICI” is also being seen as reinforcing the Quebec-centric view of Radio-Canada by groups that feel the corporation all but ignores francophones in the rest of Canada.
  • It’s a generic word with little meaning. The Abbott and Costello routine from Jean Lapierre and Mario Dumont might be a caricature of the problem, but there’s a very serious lack of meaning in the term “ici”. It’s a generic word, an adverb, and they’re trying to use it as a noun. “ICI” has been the name of a bunch of things, including a weekly alternative newspaper in Montreal. “ICI Montréal” was even registered as a trademark by Télé-Métropole, which is now TVA, in 1985.

But the biggest problem with this rebrand is this: It’s screwing the little guy.

Sam Norouzi

 

Here’s that little guy. His name is Sam Nowrouzzahrai, but he does business as Sam Norouzi because he wants to save people the trouble of always looking up how to spell and pronounce his name. He’s the man behind a new ethnic television station in Montreal. It’s a mom-and-pop shop, owned by his family and run as a producers’ cooperative. He’s not looking to get rich off of this, just find work for some ethnic broadcasters and bring local ethnic television back to one of Canada’s most diverse cities.

He wanted to call the station International Channel/Canal International, or “ICI” for short.

As I explain in this story in The Gazette, Norouzi did his homework, applying for a registered trademark and waiting for it to get approved as the CRTC application process followed its course. Now, weeks before the station is set to go on the air, he has to deal with the CBC’s lawyers who are trying to take his name from him. And while he has a legal team to deal with that, it’s taking up a lot of his time too. “There’s not a day that goes by that there’s not an issue I have to deal with” involving the case, he said.

I first wrote about this story in March, but now Norouzi has decided he’s ready to play offence in his David-vs-Goliath battle. Articles in the Journal de Montréal, La Pressethe Globe and Mail, the National Post, even the New York Times. An interview on CBC Radio’s As it Happens. An angry column from Sophie Durocher. And while he told me back in March that he didn’t have the funds to take this matter to court, he now says he’s ready to fight.

“We have full rights to go forward with the name and we intend to do so,” Norouzi told me. “We will defend ourselves. For us it’s really a question of principle.”

CBC by a technicality

So what kind of case does the CBC have here? Can they really force Norouzi to give up his name?

Companies don’t have to register their trademarks for them to be legal. They just have to use them. Same thing with government bodies and their “official marks” according to the Trade-marks Act. But it helps. And Norouzi’s application for ICI came a year before CBC’s 31 applications for ICI-branded services. (The only CBC mark that predates Norouzi’s is one from 1969 for “Éditions Ici Radio-Canada”.)

I spoke with Pascal Lauzon, a lawyer and trademark agent with BCF. He said most of the case is “very debatable on both sides.” He pointed out that the registrar of trademarks looks through the database when a trademark is applied for. The process also includes a two-month waiting period so opponents can file oppositions to proposed registrations.

But Lauzon also said that there’s a five-year period during which someone can apply to the federal court to expunge a trademark.

Obviously not in a position to prejudge a case like this, Lauzon said the CBC has a strong case, not so much because it can prove it used the name first, but because of what amounts to a technicality.

Part of the trademark registration process is the filing of what’s called a “declaration of use.” This tells the Canadian Intellectual Property Office that you have actually used the trademark you’ve applied for on a good or in connection with a service. Norouzi filed this on Aug. 20, 2012. But his station wasn’t on the air at that time. We didn’t even know it existed because the application for it wasn’t published until a month later.

The CBC alleges in its lawsuit that, because Norouzi did not appear to be actually using the trademark, his declaration of use was “materially false.”

That, Lauzon said, is enough to have the entire trademark registration thrown out. If that happens, Norouzi would have to file for a new one, but that would put his application behind those 31 marks of CBC-Radio-Canada, and would weaken his case considerably.

“He should have waited” until the station was on the air, Lauzon said. He had three years to file a declaration of use, and waiting would not have made his initial filing date of August 2011 any less valid. “If he had waited, he would be in a much better position,” Lauzon said.

An amicable solution is the best solution

There is another way for this to end: The CBC could see the error of its ways and abandon the whole “ICI” plan entirely. Or it could offer to pay the costs associated with Norouzi’s station taking another name. I don’t know if either of those are likely.

Norouzi tells me he has had no communication with the CBC other than through its lawyers, who first contacted him last November complaining about possible confusion. (Norouzi dismissed those claims since they came long before anyone had any idea that Radio-Canada would be rebranding.) The CBC won’t comment except through written communication that goes through its legal department. Which means I didn’t get a response from them by press time. (I’ll update this post with what I hear back.)

The CBC has already started to back away from ICI. On Monday, president Hubert Lacroix apologized for the “confusion” and announced that some services, including the main TV and radio networks, would retain the Radio-Canada name. You can see a full list here (PDF). Names like “ICI Radio-Canada Télé” and “ICI Radio-Canada Première” sound like awful compromises, taking names that were long and making them even longer.

This backtrack was after days of trying to re-explain a move that should have been self-explanatory.

It hurts to throw away a $400,000 project. But sticking with a bad idea isn’t a better option.

UPDATE: I asked for additional comment from CBC about this case. Hours after the request, I was asked to submit written questions. Almost 24 hours later, I finally got this as a response from Radio-Canada’s Marc Pichette:

In response to your questions sent yesterday (and I apologize for the delay), the term “ICI” has been closely tied to Radio-Canada’s identity for over 75 years. That it has risen to increased prominence recently is only a reflection of the close association our audience makes between that word and our brand.

Confusion is in no one’s interest. That’s why the matter to which you refer is part of an ongoing legal process which is before the Federal Court. I hope you will understand that I cannot comment on the specifics.

Montreal radio ratings: Not much new here

BBM Canada put out its ratings for spring 2013 on Thursday. The top-line data is here (PDF), and as usual the various radio stations did their best to spin things in their favour (see 98.5’s here).

The big picture is that not much has changed. On the English side, CJAD is still the most-listened-to station among all listeners, and The Beat is ahead of Virgin for the second straight quarter. They’re followed by CHOM, CBC Radio One, Radio Two, TSN 690 and classical station CJPX, followed by the French stations.

But while The Beat lays claim to “MONTREAL’S #1 MUSIC STATION”, it’s not the one with the most listeners. When you count the francophone audience, Virgin comes out way ahead. Virgin also claims just about every advertiser-friendly demographic, including ones like people with children at home and people looking to buy a new or used car.

Virgin also claims to be gaining in those demographics.

Among francophone audiences, the top stations among 2+ audiences are 98.5, Rythme FM, Première Chaîne, Rouge FM, NRJ, Virgin, CKOI and CHOM in that order. Nothing surprising here.

Astral crows that Rouge FM has its best showing ever in a PPM survey, including a win For Joël Legendre over Rythme FM’s Véronique Cloutier at lunch hour among adults 25-54 and women 25-54. Overall, the station is still third in adults 25-54, but only one point behind Rythme FM. The only other station to show two straight quarters of audience growth in adults 25-54 is Radio X, but that was a growth to a 2% share (3% among men 25-54).

Broken down by time period, Rouge has gained in weekday mornings, late mornings and early afternoons over two straight quarters. Others have stagnated or dropped. Isabelle Maréchal at 98.5fm has lost almost a third of her 25-54 audience from 10am to noon on weekdays in the past year. Eric Duhaime saw a spike in his noon-hour audience at Radio X, more than doubling since last fall, but still behind Radio Classique among adults 25-54. Virgin has taken the lead back from The Beat among adults 25-54 during the three periods of the workday.

Analysis

Spring 2013 ratings by time period, weekdays, adults 25-54, by Cogeco Force Radio

Spring 2013 ratings by time period, weekdays, adults 25-54, by Cogeco Force Radio

Infopresse has Cogeco Force Radio’s analysis, which includes the above chart showing ratings by time period.

You can read Astral’s ratings analysis here. You can also read their analysis of Quebec City, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke and Gatineau markets, which are measured by semi-annual surveys.

In Saturday’s Gazette, Brendan Kelly looks at the phenomenon of more French-speaking listeners tuning into English radio stations than English-speaking ones, and a bit of history that explains why Montreal doesn’t have any bilingual stations. A sidebar to it looks at the latest ratings, and notes a boost for Virgin in Andrea Collins’s new time slot of late mornings. (There’s also a recovery in early afternoons when it’s Ryan Seacrest on the air.)

The Journal de Montréal also has a ratings story focused on 98.5fm.