Questions that remain unanswered as we enter 2015

As I write this we’re a week into the new year. I’d do a recap of 2014, but I figure you’re tired of reading those by now, and it would be redundant. If you’re interested, spend a few hours reading old posts.

But it is easy to forget a lot of the stuff that happened, and in particular a lot of the stuff that hasn’t resolved itself yet. So here are some questions that haven’t been answered yet, and may or may not be by the time this calendar year finishes.

Television (national)

What decisions will come out of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV process?

The hearings happened four months ago, but in a way they seem like a distant memory. We’ve only seen a minor decision come out of the process so far (banning the practice of requiring 30 days notice for a cancellation of TV service), but the new year should have several more that could dramatically change the way TV works in Canada. Among them:

  • Whether regulation should require all television services be available for sale individually
  • Whether specialty channels should still benefit from genre protection
  • Whether local television stations should be allowed to shut down their transmitters but still keep all the benefits of being a local TV station
  • Whether simultaneous substitution should continue to happen, or some other alternative (like blacking out distant signals) should be adopted instead
  • What regulations if any should be imposed on online services like Netflix
  • Whether all-news channels should be held to a minimum standard of coverage in exchange for a license that gives them certain rights
  • Whether ratings information should be collected from set-top boxes and how that information should be collected and used
  • Whether higher quotas should be established for described video programming

These decisions could have profound impacts on what TV channels look like in the coming years.

Will Global’s all-news channel plan work?

After a passing mention in a CRTC filing in the summer, Global TV gave some details last fall about its proposal for Global News 1, a national 24-hour news channel that would actually be composed of up to 28 regional feeds that would be a mix of national and local content.

The CRTC has yet to publish the application. Usually for a major application there’s a lot of back and forth correspondence with the applicant to answer questions and clear up any inconsistencies before the complete application is published.

The CRTC opened up national news channels to competition years ago, but as part of that policy it didn’t allow multiple feeds of those news services as it did to sports channels like TSN and Sportsnet. The commission will have to decide if it wants to make an exception for this inventive proposal, or if it wants to rethink that policy. Global has said that for its plan to work it needs to be able to accept local advertising, which is usually not allowed on national specialty channels. It has promised to work with local independent TV stations instead of competing with them, which may also sway the decision.

Then, of course, even if it is approved, Global has to make it work as a business. The channel probably wouldn’t launch in 2015 but maybe in 2016.

Will OTA TV stations have to undergo another transition?

I spent a good deal of the holidays arguing with people in the comments section of a post about Industry Canada’s proposal to match a U.S. move to reallocate TV frequencies to wireless services. I don’t necessarily support the move, but it seems inevitable since there’s been no demand for more television stations and a big chunk of valuable spectrum has gone unused for many years. It could be a couple of years before we see this happen, but stations like City and ICI might have to change channels (and possibly antennas) if this reallocation happens.

What happens to Sun News Network?

The Postmedia/Sun Media deal (see below) doesn’t include the Sun News Network, which is closely tied to the Toronto Sun and Sun chain. Quebecor said the channel was not for sale, but it turns out they’re in discussions with Moses Znaimer, owner of Vision TV, for a sale to him. If that happens, what would the channel look like? Would it keep its right-wing political stance? Would it be turned into Zoomer News, consistent with Znaimer’s focus on the boomer-but-we’ll-call-them-something-more-fun demographic? Zoomer has some television properties, but no newsgathering facilities to speak of. It’s hard to see how this could turn into serious competition for CTV and CBC’s news channels (or even Global’s), so what else could they do with it?

Will V send MusiquePlus and Musimax into the gutter?

The purchase of the former Astral French-language “music” channels by V could be seen as a positive move from a youth-focused independent broadcaster who could revitalize the money-losing services. Or it could be seen as a devastating blow to these services by a company that completely eliminated the TQS news department in a desperate move to reach profitability.

The cancellation of shows like M. Net gave a boost to the latter interpretation. I heard from quite a few people who said they removed MusiquePlus from their cable packages after the last episode of the technology show hosted by Denis Talbot. Maybe that’s anecdotal, and the changes won’t make a big difference. Maybe there’s some short-term pain needed for long-term gain, such as there was with V. We’ll see. But V needs to give people reasons to subscribe to these channels, and I don’t think subtitled American reality shows will be it.

What happens to Bio, G4, Book Television and other neglected specialty channels?

I’m on press release lists for the major media companies, and I haven’t seen anything announced for any of these channels. They might, like in the case for Book Television, just sit there, zombie-like, collecting subscription fees from people who happen to have them in their packages but never watch them. But that loophole might be closed in a pick-and-pay world. Rogers’s Bio faces the additional challenge that its U.S. counterpart rebranded to FYI (and Shaw has the Canadian rights to that brand). I’ve been trying to get some news on what their plans are for the channel, but no response yet.

Will Avis de recherche survive the year?

The public security channel that lists people wanted by police and those who are missing got a guaranteed revenue stream thanks to an order requiring mandatory distribution in Quebec, and a mandatory per-subscriber fee. That expires at the end of August, thanks to a 2013 CRTC decision that decided it no longer met the criteria for such mandatory distribution. A year ago, the channel’s owner tried a hail Mary and applied for a three-year extension of the mandatory distribution. The CRTC pulled that application, saying there was “no material change in circumstances” that would warrant reopening the file. As of Sept. 1, 2015, ADR.tv will get no guaranteed income, and its owner has said there’s no chance of surviving without it.

Will the English version of 19-2 break away from the French?

The cop series set in Montreal, originally produced for Radio-Canada and adapted into English for Bravo, begins its second season this month, as the French original begins its third. The first season seemed to be almost a shot-by-shot remake, and the second season begins the same way, with a realtime scene of a school shooting.

But there have been hints that the English 19-2 might take on a life of its own, and change the plot a bit. Will the spy, who French audiences already know the identity of, be different in the English version? Will there be other surprises from people like me who have already seen dix-neuf-deux?

How long does analog cable have left?

I heard a few complaints from some Videotron analog cable subscribers that the provider cut the number of PBS stations distributed on the analog system from two to one. That’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen when analog cable disappears entirely. Videotron has already started eliminating the service in some sectors near Montreal — like Laval. Places like the West Island might last longer, but by the end of this decade, and likely long before then, analog cable will disappear to give more room to digital channels and data services.

Is radio-on-the-TV a fad, or a concept that’s here to stay?

It’s not new. We have Tim and Sid and Bob McCown on Sportsnet. We have Dave Naylor on TSN. Both concepts basically involve setting up TV cameras in a radio studio and broadcasting in both media simultaneously.

But we’re seeing more of it. TSN proposed adding cameras to more stations to provide programming to its five feeds, but we haven’t seen that done yet. CBC is going to air local radio shows on local television for an hour in the mornings, to compensate for the drop in local TV newscasts (after trying it out in Calgary). City has killed Breakfast Television in Winnipeg to replace it with a hybrid show that’s part radio simulcast, part TV talk show.

There’s no denying that the main advantage of this is reduced cost. But will it find an audience, or is it just a transparently pathetic attempt to meet CRTC quotas with the fewest resources possible?

Television (local)

Will ICI’s business model work?

The little ethnic TV station that could just marked its first anniversary on the air. It now boasts a schedule filled with local weekly ethnic TV shows in a variety of languages, most of which are produced on a virtual set. It’s very low-budget, but it’s more local programming than any other TV station out there, and for many of these communities it’s the only local TV programming they have.

The station’s business model is based on selling airtime to independent producers, who create the shows and sell their own advertising. It offloads the financial risk of running a station, but in exchange requires finding enough independent producers who can either make enough advertising revenue to make a profit or be willing to bankroll losses. So far, enough have stepped up to the plate, but if they’re not making money, their patience might start being tested after a year and a half.

Will MYtv see the light of day?

Videotron’s application for an English version of its MAtv community channel has been put on hold while the CRTC deals with a complaint from an independent group that says MAtv is not meeting its mandate. Nothing has happened on the file since the spring, but the commission is going to have to decide sooner or later. It plans to review community television policy in 2015-16, so it could also decide to kick the can down the road until then, officially or unofficially.

Who will win the battle of the morning shows?

We’ve gotten to the point where Global’s Morning News and City’s Breakfast Television have hit their stride. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but both have a long way to go to catch up to CTV’s national Canada AM. Will the Montreal audience start moving toward getting more local information in the morning, or will their habitual preference for the slicker Toronto-based morning show continue to take precedence?

Will CBC Montreal’s newscast cut be another Canada Now-style disaster?

You could see the corporation’s decision to cut local newscasts as a common-sense way to shift the focus from evening newscasts to new technology. Or you could see it as slicing into one of its most important mandates. What’s clear is that this is a money-saving move and CBC Montreal doesn’t have that much of an evening newscast audience to begin with anyway, though it’s still the closest thing that CTV Montreal has to direct competition.

Will the 12 job cuts at CTV Montreal affect the quality of its product?

Management says no, the union says yes, I say I’m not sure. Aside from the loss of Andre Corbeil, there isn’t much of an obvious change as a result of the voluntary retirements that decimated the station’s workforce. Jobs like evening assignment editor and news archivist won’t make a difference in the short term, but what about in the long term? And even if it does, will it be enough to matter?

Radio (national)

Will HD Radio take off in Canada?

The CRTC decided to continue a wait-and-see approach to using the digital technology here. There’s some interest from broadcasters in using it, but after their experience with DAB, they’re not eager to jump on it. Will there be more of a movement from the industry to adopt it, or would it make more sense to focus on Internet-based ways of delivering content, which will probably make traditional radio more and more obsolete in the future anyway?

Will Jian Ghomeshi be convicted of assault? Will executives be forced to walk the plank? And will anything change?

Ghomeshi faces criminal charges of assault because of allegations he abused women. The prosecutor has to prove he’s guilty, which is a high bar. The CBC, meanwhile, is in the middle of an independent investigation, but has put two executives on leave as an apparent result of how they handled the affair early on. And it’s unclear if we’ve learned any real lessons from what happened here. More women have come forward to make allegations against men in power, but what concrete steps will be taken to ensure our workplaces are safer? How will we prevent men in power from abusing their positions in the future?

Will NRJ go all-talk?

Rumours have run wild that Bell could turn the NRJ network into an all-talk network similar to Cogeco’s. In Quebec City, which already has CHOI Radio X and FM93 talk stations, the NRJ station has brought in former CHOI shock jocks Stéphan Dupont and Jeff Fillion to host their morning and noon shows, respectively. These are talk shows and contain no music.

The addition of Fillion led to a huge ratings spike for NRJ.

The Montreal NRJ station hasn’t gone this route yet, though it did reduce the number of songs being played this spring to give more place for talk.

On the flip side, CKRS-FM in Saguenay went from talk to music to become a Rythme FM affiliate. There doesn’t seem to be much of a trend either way.

And Quebec City’s Leclerc Communication has decided its two stations CKOI and WKND would remain music stations.

Radio (local)

Will TTP Media’s radio stations ever see the light of day?

An organization that first surfaced half a decade ago proposing to take over Corus’s radio stations in Quebec instead of Cogeco, TTP Media has since applied for and been granted licenses for three new talk radio stations in Montreal, none of which has gone on the air. The first station, a French news-talk station on the clear-channel frequency of 940 AM, has until November to begin broadcasting, and the company cannot seek another extension beyond that. If it fails to get the station on the air, the license becomes void and the frequency available.

In its latest extension request, the company has said the two news-talk stations are six to nine months to launch, which would put it somewhere around April to July. I’m skeptical, but we’ll know for sure by the end of 2015 whether their years-long silence is just about protecting competitively sensitive information or if it was more about shielding some serious organizational issues.

Will Evanov Radio become a major player in the Montreal market?

2015 will be the year in which this Toronto-based company goes from having no radio stations in the Montreal area to having three — CHRF 980 AM (Radio Fierté) and CHSV-FM 106.7 Hudson/St-Lazare (The Jewel), both in on-air testing mode, plus the proposed purchase of CFMB 1280 AM. Evanov has experience in urban LGBT radio, small-market easy-listening radio and ethnic radio, but these will be its first stations in Quebec, and the Montreal market has some very entrenched players in both languages. We’ll see what kind of splash gets made then the two new stations go on the air officially.

Will CJLO get permission to interfere with Vermont Public Radio?

The Concordia radio station’s application for a low-power retransmitter on 107.9 FM caused a firestorm from Montrealers who listen to Vermont Public Radio on that frequency. But while the U.S. station comes in quite strong here thanks to its antenna position atop Mount Mansfield, it doesn’t benefit from protection across the border.

Going strictly by policy, the CRTC would likely rule in CJLO’s favour, deciding that a Canadian station has more of a right to a frequency in Canada than an American station. But could public pressure over a non-profit public radio station be enough to force an exception?

Will The Beat and Virgin remain in a deadlock?

The past few ratings periods have shown that The Beat has a larger audience among anglophones, but Virgin is better among the key demographic that brings in advertising revenue. Both claim to be No. 1, but the reality is that they’re effectively tied.

The Beat brought in a new program director, Sam Zniber, who might turn things around. On-air personalities, many of whom his predecessor hired away from Virgin thinking that they might bring some listeners with them, are being heard less on the air as break times are shortened. The numbers certainly seem to show that music is what people care about on a music station. Will Zniber’s changes put The Beat ahead?

Will new ethnic stations be a success?

In addition to the commercial music and talk stations, there are also newly approved ethnic stations serving the south Asian community that haven’t launched yet: Radio Humsafar on 1610 AM, and ITR on 102.9 in Ahuntsic, both of which currently broadcast using other methods. They will have loyal audiences within their communities, but will suffer from reception problems because of their imperfect signals.

Will AM music stations survive?

CJMS 1040 AM has a new owner who promises big things but has already raised eyebrows by simulcasting rush-hour programming from the Haitian station. CJLV 1570 AM in Laval has been on the air two years since the CRTC refused a demand from its owner to make it an ethnic station, calling its bluff that the station might shut down. (The owner, Radio Humsafar, has since said it plans to keep it running and make it successful.)

Both stations have recently rebranded, CJMS to “Le 1040” and CJLV as “Radio Mieux-Être” and both have programming that’s a bit eccentric and I have my doubts about their long-term viability.

What will Gregory Charles do to Radio Classique?

The change in ownership of Radio Classique stations in Montreal and Quebec still requires CRTC approval. Prospective owner Gregory Charles says he doesn’t plan to take away what makes those stations unique, and there’s no reason to doubt him. But questions still linger. Will he be a personality on his own radio stations? Will he make any changes or leave it as status quo? Does he have any ideas to revitalize the stations?

Will Radio 9 succeed where Radio X didn’t?

RNC Media delared the Radio X Montreal project a failure when it rebranded CKLX-FM 91.9 as “Radio 9”, complete with new personalities. By looking at the ratings through the year, we should get an idea of whether the rebranding worked, and whether this station can suck away some of the audience of market leader CHMP 98.5.

Print

Will the Competition Bureau approve the sale of Sun Media to Postmedia?

Some year-in-review stories have described the $316-million sale of the Toronto Sun and other Sun Media papers outside Quebec as a done deal, but it’s anything but. The Competition Bureau must approve the sale, and a major stumbling block will be the fact that this will create monopolies on paid daily newspapers in cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

Will the bureau do like it did with the Quebecor-Transcontinental newspaper deal, and force Postmedia to offer at least one newspaper for sale in each market? Or will it side with Postmedia’s argument that newspapers compete with all media and there will still be plenty of competition?

Whose tablet strategy will come out on top?

April will mark two years since La Presse launched La Presse+ and deemed the tablet app to be the main publication. Going on a hiring spree while other newspapers were cutting staff was a bold move that drew a lot of attention. And though it caused readership numbers to soar, other publications weren’t quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Recently, the La Presse+ model got a major boost with the Toronto Star’s decision to duplicate it, including hiring 60 new staff.

But other publications have decided to go their own way. Le Devoir recently launched a paid app that essentially duplicates the print paper. Postmedia has developed apps for the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and Calgary Herald that are part of a four-platform strategy, each platform having its own team. Sun Media doesn’t seem to have a strategy yet, beyond the e-reader that replicates the print edition.

The La Presse+ model is popular, since it’s free and it looks nice. But it’s also expensive, and whether it can be successful will depend on whether it can sustainably demand print-level ad prices on the tablet.

Will TVA Publications rationalize its magazine portfolio?

While it sold major dailies and community newspapers, Quebecor also acquired magazines, through a deal that still needs approval. As a result of this and other deals, the company has a lot of magazines that seem to have the same or similar mandates, such as celebrity gossip or lifestyle. Does it make sense to keep so many different titles?

Is the Hudson Gazette gone for good?

The newspaper, which changed its name to the “Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges“, stopped publishing in October, and nobody knows why. Global’s Tim Sargeant tried to track down the owner and staff to find out, but was unsuccessful. The website makes no mention of anything. It’s like time just stopped.

Online

Will Ricochet become a major media outlet or just another outlet for left-wing opinion?

When the bilingual media site launched its fundraiser in the spring, I expressed skepticism that it would be effective in a way that Rabble, The Tyee and other left-wing media outlets aren’t. I worried that by having serious news mixed in with opinions, columns and blogs, the opinion would drown out the news.

The site launched in the fall, and perusing the front page of the English and French versions, I’m seeing a lot of stories marked “op-ed” or “column” or “blogue”. It’s actually a bit hard to figure out what in there is opinion and what is news. And the stories that do seem newslike tend to be one-sided.

A few major scoops would go a long way to establishing their credibility. But it has failed to generate much buzz that I can see. Maybe 2015 will be the year the website gets itself noticed outside of the activist community.

Other

Where will orphaned media personalities end up?

A bunch of people have been fired, resigned or otherwise left unemployed by their jobs, and many of them seem to have disappeared since, at least as far as the Internet is concerned. Mary-Jo Barr, Alyson Lozoff, Catherine Sherriffs, Andre Corbeil and a whole bunch of other people who are unemployed or underemployed. Some could end up back in media. Others could decide to pursue careers in other fields if they haven’t already.

Stuff I forgot

I went back over the past year, but I’m sure there are other developing stories that I either forgot about or was unaware of. And there are always surprises. I doubt very much I’ll be struggling to find story ideas in the new year.

81 thoughts on “Questions that remain unanswered as we enter 2015

  1. MBR

    In light of Breakfast Television’s cancellation in Winnipeg, is BT on the verge of being scrapped across the entire Citytv network?

    Reply
  2. Media Man

    Steve, this might be minor, but not for those affected…But do you know who , or the names of those that were laid off or ” Early retirement” as the station showed on end of show credits recently..to wish them luck.. one of the names I caught was their fulltime makeup person..Thanks..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Steve, this might be minor, but not for those affected…But do you know who , or the names of those that were laid off or ” Early retirement”

      Yes. I don’t have all the names with me offhand, but they included a robotic camera operator, an assignment editor, the news archivist, the overnight cameraman and several other technical positions.

      Reply
  3. Dilbert

    So many thngs, so little time. Let me take a solid kick at the broadcast side (ready, you know the tune, you can sing along!).

    The answer to almost all the question lies in the if the CRTC will change the ownership models and the financial models between broadcast, cable, and radio properties. Many of the problems you see today I think are entirely related to media concentration and the lack of true competition in the marketplace.

    The problems in Canada (in almost all of the areas you list) are related to that concentration of ownership. They keep proclaiming that integration will improve the bottom line, but instead they are doing the same death spiral that newspapers have done for almost two decades, trying to shrink back to profitability and looking for synergies and costs sharing to fix the bottom line. As they do it, they harm the product more, more people and more advertisers turn away from the product, and so they cut again. The recent layoffs at CTV Montreal (there is no more CFCF12 anyway) is just an indication of where this goes until there is a change.

    Sadly, the CRTC doesn’t have the “attachments” to do the job, nor does the Conservative government have the desire to fix the problem. They would essentially have to tell the big boys that they need to break up their companies, either getting more people involved or closing up shop and opening the market for new competition. That won’t happen, the CRTC is entirely about maintaining the status quo and only performing lip service to reform. Regulatory capture pretty much assures that.

    More later on the other topics.. (I know Steve, ya hate it!)

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The answer to almost all the question lies in the if the CRTC will change the ownership models and the financial models between broadcast, cable, and radio properties.

      This is unlikely to happen, since the CRTC doesn’t tend to go back on its decisions about change in ownership. It can (and has) created rules to limit the ability of large media companies to abuse their positions of power, but it won’t break them up.

      They keep proclaiming that integration will improve the bottom line, but instead they are doing the same death spiral that newspapers have done for almost two decades, trying to shrink back to profitability and looking for synergies and costs sharing to fix the bottom line.

      These things are not mutually exclusive. The argument isn’t necessarily that there will never be cost-cutting under a vertically-integrated model, but rather that a vertically integrated company can put more of its money toward content and less toward overhead.

      Whether vertical integration is a better model than independent broadcasters is a good debate to have. The plus side can be seen on the air. CTV airs a lot more high-budget Canadian content than it used to. But the downside is that lesser properties don’t get the attention they deserve.

      the CRTC is entirely about maintaining the status quo and only performing lip service to reform.

      The Let’s Talk TV proceeding would seem to suggest otherwise, though we should wait until the decisions come out of that. But the commission’s strategy for dealing with the big guys isn’t to try to break them up, it’s to encourage competition and establish a regulatory framework to make the playing field fair.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        Steve, your answer are all good and fine, but they are “deck chairs on the Titanic” material.

        Seriously, if this is where the CRTC is at, then they are missing the bigger issue. Encouraging competition between very large companies who are interested in the overall bottom line but not as much the individual case ones is leading to a disaster in Canadian broadcasting.

        It is hard (if not impossible) to create a fair playing field when the first three or four teams can afford to operate in the red or at break even endlessly, because they make up the income in other steps along the food chain. Quite simply, Bell could focus last years BILLIONS of profits onto any one of it’s properties, and buy everyone else out of the game. For many, that is what Rogers has done with the NHL contract, paying well beyond it’s worth just to push others out of the game. On a strict business case for Sportsnet or whatever, it’s a loser at least for now. However, increasing the number of channels and increasing the income from cable subscriptions (including their double dipping in their own cable system profits) makes it possible. Having multiple channels and multiple outlets and the ability to spread the costs over those outlets means anyone with less cannot compete.

        There is never a level playing field when one team get to choose the size of the goals, and fields 5 times as many players as everyone else. There is never a level playing field when one of the teams provides the refs and runs the sports federation and controls the media that reports on the games.

        So if the CRTC thinks that promoting competition inside the current situation is the solution, then all I can say is “good luck with it”. The Titanic has a date with an iceberg, no matter how the deck chairs are laid out.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          For many, that is what Rogers has done with the NHL contract, paying well beyond it’s worth just to push others out of the game.

          Since Bell isn’t about to go bankrupt for lack of national NHL games, who exactly is being pushed out of the game with this move?

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            WHo got pushed out?

            Let’s see… no local channel can bid for the games – (A) because they are mostly owned by the majors and wouldn’t do it and (B) because they wouldn’t have the money to compete.

            Rogers has already shown the numbers, and it’s very unlikely they are going to even break even on Hockey in the first few years of the contract. Only having very deep pockets (and near assured income from a cable channel duopoly) would allow them to be there.

            The CBC was clearly pushed off of Hockey by private cable broadcasters with deep pockets flush with the public’s money.

            So if CFCF-12 Montreal (as an independently owned station) wanted to carry Montreal hockey games, there is no way they can afford to complete with the national player. It’s not because of viewership in the area (CFCF would get as many viewers if not more than Sportsnet) and it’s not a lack of advertisers (they would fill all the space without issues, providing the pricing is reasonable. They cannot do it because they are not collecting 50 to $1.50 a month per household over and above the ad revenues.

            It’s why the OTA local channels don’t matter – they don’t have the income to do the job when they are trying to compete with cable.

            So when you say “Since Bell isn’t about to go bankrupt ” you are failing to address the issue – it shouldn’t be Bell against Rogers… that is way too much media concentration and it’s a false dichotomy. The real question is why the most watched OTA channel in the local market can’t even bid for the games to start with.

            Bell versus Rogers? Deck chairs here or here?

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Let’s see… no local channel can bid for the games – (A) because they are mostly owned by the majors and wouldn’t do it and (B) because they wouldn’t have the money to compete.

              These two things are related, no? Nothing stops an independent TV station for bidding for regional rights to NHL games. On the radio side, there are plenty of smaller independents that carry NHL games outside of the major markets. And Rogers’s acquisition of NHL rights hasn’t stopped Bell Media from getting regional rights to Jets, Leafs, Senators and Canadiens games.

              Rogers has already shown the numbers, and it’s very unlikely they are going to even break even on Hockey in the first few years of the contract.

              Fortunately for them the contract isn’t just a few years long. I don’t disagree that this is a huge financial gamble for Rogers, and one many people are skeptical they can make a profit off of. (Ditto RDS overpaying for regional Canadiens games.) But I don’t see where overpaying for NHL rights is some anti-competitive conspiracy.

              The CBC was clearly pushed off of Hockey by private cable broadcasters with deep pockets flush with the public’s money.

              Exactly. And not just money, but the resources to do more with those hockey rights.

              So if CFCF-12 Montreal (as an independently owned station) wanted to carry Montreal hockey games, there is no way they can afford to complete with the national player.

              I guess it depends if they’re bidding for national or regional rights. Presumably they would be the regional rights. And as you point out, the lack of access to subscriber revenue would prevent them from bidding as high as the sports channels. Plus CFCF-12 wouldn’t be a sports channel, so wouldn’t be able to maximize the return on investment for those rights.

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                “I don’t see where overpaying for NHL rights is some anti-competitive conspiracy.”

                It’s pretty simple really. In a competitive marketplace without intense vertical integration and regulatory capture, Sportsnet would not be in the financial position to take such a risk. Sportsnet can lose their asses on the NHL and the mothership will cover the losses – and in the end make a profit anyway through the cable side.

                When the financial choices aren’t made at the level of the station but are instead made at the level of the overall conglomerate, you have anti-competitive actions being taken. The only ones who can compete would be another similarly built conglomerate, aka Bell.

                “And not just money, but the resources to do more with those hockey rights.”

                Do you think sportsnet alone has that ability? Left alone, they do not. They are having to use all of the Rogers tools and outlets to try to find a way to break even. Without the Rogers network, Sportsnet wouldn’t be able to pay anywhere near what they have, plain and simple. They aren’t doing more because Sportsnet is better, they are doing more because they have to in order to break even. There is every indication that this could in fact backfire, as consumers tire of having the NHL product jammed down their throats 24 hours a day in an attempt to make the bottom line work out.

                Simply, Sportsnet as Sportsnet alone cannot afford or justify what they are doing. Their conglomerate ownership puts them in a position to overpay and unfairly compete with both local OTA channels and network TV for the rights to the NHL. Vertical integration means that Bell made one submission for NHL national, where as perhaps things would be different if TSN and CTV were not owned by the same people. Might CTV as a network tried to get Saturday night hockey? It might have been good for them as an OTA network, but that isn’t Bell’s goal, is it?

                Anti competitive… vertical integration kills competition.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                In a competitive marketplace without intense vertical integration and regulatory capture, Sportsnet would not be in the financial position to take such a risk.

                Sportsnet paid what it did because there *is* a competitive marketplace. There were three bidders for NHL rights. If there hadn’t been the price wouldn’t be nearly as high.

                Sportsnet can lose their asses on the NHL and the mothership will cover the losses – and in the end make a profit anyway through the cable side.

                How does losing money generate profit? Getting more people to subscribe to Rogers cable and wireless services is part of Rogers’s strategy, but you seem to be suggesting that even taking that into account it would lose money as a way to spite Bell or something.

                When the financial choices aren’t made at the level of the station but are instead made at the level of the overall conglomerate, you have anti-competitive actions being taken.

                How are large companies more anti-competitive than smaller ones?

                Do you think sportsnet alone has that ability? Left alone, they do not.

                Rogers certainly has more resources than the CBC as far as sports broadcasting.

                Without the Rogers network, Sportsnet wouldn’t be able to pay anywhere near what they have, plain and simple.

                No one is arguing this isn’t true.

                There is every indication that this could in fact backfire, as consumers tire of having the NHL product jammed down their throats 24 hours a day in an attempt to make the bottom line work out.

                The NHL was locked out twice and kept coming back. Rogers isn’t going to change anything there. As for being jammed down our throats, I don’t see how that’s happening unless that’s what you want to happen.

                Vertical integration means that Bell made one submission for NHL national, where as perhaps things would be different if TSN and CTV were not owned by the same people. Might CTV as a network tried to get Saturday night hockey?

                Probably not. And for the same reason that Global didn’t try to get Saturday night hockey.

              3. Dilbert

                “Sportsnet paid what it did because there *is* a competitive marketplace.”

                They paid that much in a duopoly, not in a competitive marketplace. How many companies could bid for the national games? Answer is 2, Bell and Rogers.

                A competitive marketplace would not have restrictions on entry and wouldn’t force you to deal with the incumbent player’s companies in order to get distribution.

                “How does losing money generate profit?”

                For every dollar you spend to subscribe to sportsnet, a percentage of that stays with the cable company as profit. Generally offering channels is a “cost plus” situation so every new subscriber past a base level is generating income. So even if sportsnet loses money as sportsnet, there may in fact be a net Rogers profit on operating the service.

                What that means is that it would be impossible to enter the market place as a non-Rogers non-Bell sports channel and be able to truly compete.

                “How are large companies more anti-competitive than smaller ones?”

                See above. Both Rogers and Bell can operate channels at a loss for extended periods of time without true concern, where as any new players without such deep pockets could not. On a pure operating basis, there is little chance that Sportsnet alone could afford the price they are paying for hockey, so no other company could expect to either.

              4. Fagstein Post author

                So even if sportsnet loses money as sportsnet, there may in fact be a net Rogers profit on operating the service.

                So what you’re saying is that Rogers *does* in fact expect to make money on this deal. We can debate whether doing so through increased revenue in cable, wireless, magazines or elsewhere is a good thing, but if they can expect to make a profit, then almost by definition they’re not overpaying.

                What that means is that it would be impossible to enter the market place as a non-Rogers non-Bell sports channel and be able to truly compete.

                The only non-Rogers non-Bell mainstream sports channel right now is TVA Sports. It has NHL rights through sublicensing with Rogers. It’s true that it would be hard to compete for sports TV broadcasting rights without a sports TV channel. But the only real barrier to entry is money. And that’s the case for a lot of industries that deal with large-scale things.

                Sure, when the financial barrier to entry is high, it’s more difficult to start up a new competitor. But that’s not corruption, it’s just a fact of the market.

              5. Dilbert

                “So what you’re saying is that Rogers *does* in fact expect to make money on this deal. ”

                Maybe I should type more slowly for you so that you can catch the subtle message:

                given A: Rogers will likely profit in the end through all of their various businesses.

                and give B: Sportsnet will likely never make a profit on the NHL for the term of the contact.

                Sportsnet as a sports channel cannot afford to pay what they are paying. TSN couldn’t afford it either. However, the massive conglomerate vertical market machines CAN afford it, which means that there is no hope for competition for the NHL rights.

                Let me try this again so you get it: Sportsnet alone could not do this. They bid way beyond the likely income for the contract period. They can only do so because Rogers is taking profits elsewhere on other businesses that benefit. That is anti-competitive in nature, because it allows their sports channel to do what other channels could not do – it’s not a fair and level playing field.

                “CFCF-12 wouldn’t be a sports channel, so wouldn’t be able to maximize the return on investment for those rights.”

                Remember when it was OTA on Saturday and cable during the week? CFCF (and local channels all over Canada) would love to have something on a Saturday night that could draw in better ratings. As independent stations in a community you could be sure they would want to be part of and engage that community. They would love to be “part of the team”. They can’t do it because they are not on a level playing field and cannot bid enough for them, and their owner, Bell, doesn’t want to change that situation at all.

                It’s all anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

                Did I type slowly enough this time?

              6. Fagstein Post author

                Sportsnet alone could not do this.

                No disagreement here. Large companies have more resources.

                That is anti-competitive in nature, because it allows their sports channel to do what other channels could not do – it’s not a fair and level playing field.

                I don’t think being able to do things that other people can’t makes you anti-competitive, but obviously you disagree.

                Did I type slowly enough this time?

                I have no idea since the speed at which you type does not relate to the clarity of your words.

              7. Dilbert

                “I don’t think being able to do things that other people can’t makes you anti-competitive, but obviously you disagree.”

                The point is that Sportsnet can only do it by losing money but being supported by it’s parent company. If you did that in almost any other market (selling a product) it would be called dumping.

                Having a rich parent company pay off your losses so you can buy market share at the expense of others is anti-competitive. It means that unless you are one of the majors (Rogers, Bell, etc) then you better not consider ever having a sports channel (or for that matter an OTA channel) because you cannot afford to pay what they pay for content.

                The Sportsnet bid harms and possibly destroys any potential for a competitive marketplace. It’s pretty simple stuff, really. Economics 101. Did you take that in school?

              8. Fagstein Post author

                Sportsnet can only do it by losing money but being supported by it’s parent company.

                Right. Since the games don’t just air on Sportsnet, I don’t see why Sportsnet should have to shoulder all the costs. Separating between individual channels is meaningless because it’s Rogers that’s footing the bill and taking in the revenue.

                If you did that in almost any other market (selling a product) it would be called dumping.

                That would make sense only if Rogers thought it could run Bell or some other company out of business with such a pricing scheme. There’s no evidence of this, and it seems unlikely.

                Having a rich parent company pay off your losses so you can buy market share at the expense of others is anti-competitive.

                How does one buy market share not at the expense of others?

              9. Dilbert

                “How does one buy market share not at the expense of others?”

                Har-har. The point is that it’s not market share gained by being better, only that you spent significantly more than makes sense on programming in order to get people to switch – certainly much more than a stand alone sports channel ever could.

                ” Since the games don’t just air on Sportsnet, I don’t see why Sportsnet should have to shoulder all the costs. ”

                This is again a form of unfair competition. A stand alone sports channel could not afford to compete, making for a market that is dominated by deep pocket, vertical market players.

                “That would make sense only if Rogers thought it could run Bell or some other company out of business with such a pricing scheme. ”

                In a duopoly, the objective is to push everyone else out of the game and to discourage any others from considering competing in the marketplace. You compete against the other player from time to time, but since you both share a lucrative pie, the competition is mostly to support high subscription costs and not to more the other out of the market.

                The point isn’t that Bell would suddenly go out of business, rather than a third party isn’t going to jump into the sports market because there is no way to make any money in it. As a pure sports channel, there would be no way to directly compete with the two existing players.

  4. Michael Black

    “What happened to Midnight Poutine?”

    The last entry was Dec 31, 2013, and the still have a notice saying something will happen soon.

    The motherblog in Toronto is still there, posting away like nothing happened.

    Michael

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      “What happened to Midnight Poutine?”

      Yeah, I don’t hold out much hope that it’s going to come back and be anything close to what it was.

      Reply
  5. Andy Reid

    “Going strictly by policy, the CRTC would likely rule in CJLO’s favour, deciding that a Canadian station has more of a right to a frequency in Canada than an American station. But could public pressure over a non-profit public radio station be enough to force an exception?”

    Nice summary! If memory servers, this didn’t work in Sherbrooke where listeners there lost access to the local NPR station [the same?], due to a new FM station that came on air.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If memory servers, this didn’t work in Sherbrooke where listeners there lost access to the local NPR station [the same?], due to a new FM station that came on air.

      That’s correct, though it was actually an existing station that changed frequency. The former CHLT moved to 102.1 FM in 2007, and then asked to move to 107.7 because of signal problems. Listeners to VPR on 107.9 complained this would cause interference, but the CRTC said it couldn’t consider that because VPR is an American station and doesn’t benefit from any protection in Canada.

      Reply
  6. pefder magfrok

    It would be nice if OTA tv would actually send a signal strong enough to reach my tv antenna 1 km from mont royal, I hate digital tv, sand cannot wait for those in charge of this transition to spend eternity in hades.

    Reply
    1. Media Man

      Steve, speaking of OTA, which I’m on these days and for a while now, due to budgetary constraints…Who can I write to at Global and City to get them to strengthen their signal…I get 12,6,and 10 clearly…and..2 is shaky.. but 15 and 62, forget it.. and you know who has hockey..

      Are they aware their signals are weaker than 12, and 6.. Thanks…

      I’m using an indoor antenna.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Are they aware their signals are weaker than 12, and 6

        Yes. Global and City have much less power, and City’s antenna isn’t even on the Mount Royal tower.

        Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            Anybody I can write to…or is their any incentive for them to increase their power..?

            If enough people write to them, maybe. Not sure who you’d write to, though, either the local station or the national network. Audience relations contacts are online for City and Global.

            Reply
          2. ClearChannel

            Try the Winegard FL-5000 or the FL-5500A indoor antennas. They have good reviews and are available at Costco online. The 5000 has 15 feet of coax for easy placement and the 5500 has 18 feet of coax and a greater range for reception but is also more expensive.

            Reply
            1. Media Man

              thanks, will look it up, been using an older antenna, but it goes through a digital converter, .6,10, and 12 come thru beautifully…City nothing and Global spotty…confirming my thinking that their signals are the weakest probably coming from someone’s chimney…

              But maybe a pure digital antenna should do the trick..

              Reply
              1. ClearChannel

                There is no such thing as a digital antenna, the antenna is designed to pick up certain frequencies and doesn’t care whether the signals are analog or digital. When the signals went digital my rooftop antennas which were put up when TV was analog picked up the digital signals just as easily as they were still on the same frequencies. Maybe your antenna was designed for channels up to 83, a newer model would be designed for either 7 to 69 or 7 to 51 and provide better performance. The Winegard FL 6550A is an outdoor model rated for 60+ miles. You can try that if you have the space or permission.

  7. Couillon anonyme

    While the CRTC normally refuses to approve more than two extensions for a single licence, they also normally identify a final extension as such in the relevant decision. As there is no such mention in the second extension for the 940 kHz licence, I would not exclude the possibility of a third extension being approved for that particular licence, should it be requested. I would add that TTP Media has always clearly stated that they want to launch both news/talk stations at the same time, and as the second licence was received one year after the first one, one could argue that TTP Media would in fact need a third extension for the 940 kHz licence in order to have the effects normally provided by a second extension.

    By the way, for what it’s worth, their domain name (ttpmedia.ca) has been renewed two months ago.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      While the CRTC normally refuses to approve more than two extensions for a single licence, they also normally identify a final extension as such in the relevant decision.

      Indeed. And it did so in this case. From the letter approving the extension:

      Le Conseil proroge le délai de mise en exploitation de ce service jusqu’au 21 novembre 2015. À défaut de respecter ce nouveau délai, l’autorité accordée dans la Décision 2011-721 deviendra nulle et sans effet. Cette prorogation est la dernière extension de temps accordée par le Conseil pour la mise en exploitation de ce service.

      That’s pretty clear to me.

      I would add that TTP Media has always clearly stated that they want to launch both news/talk stations at the same time, and as the second licence was received one year after the first one, one could argue that TTP Media would in fact need a third extension for the 940 kHz licence in order to have the effects normally provided by a second extension.

      TTP’s preference doesn’t really matter to the CRTC. And three years is plenty of time to launch a radio station.

      Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          AS mentioned above, does the fact their domain TTP.CA having been renewed, is that good news..?

          It means they’re still alive. As does the request for an extension last fall. But it’s no guarantee of anything.

          Reply
      1. Couillon anonyme

        I agree that the text you quoted is clear, but where does it come from? I have tried to find the letter you are referring to, and I am only able to find the application itself and the approval date.

        Am I right to assume that you are the member “fagstein” on the RadioQuébec forum?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I agree that the text you quoted is clear, but where does it come from?

          It’s the letter the CRTC sent to TTP Media. It’s not posted on the website, but I got it directly from the commission.

          Am I right to assume that you are the member “fagstein” on the RadioQuébec forum?

          Yep.

          Reply
  8. Dilbert

    Meanwhile…

    Will NRJ go all-talk?

    All signs point to yes. The music format(s) they have run have all amounted to about the same level of listenership, and there is no indication that any combination of those formats would suddenly unlock the key to ratings. At this point, the most popular musical formats aren’t in rock, pop, or top 40 but rather in the variation of “detente” formats, the Rhythm style. Other than that, music to the francophone market appears to be just as well served by the Anglo stations.

    Talk radio on FM in Quebec is proving to be very popular, and there would appear to be space in the marketplace for much more. However, the Radio X and Radio 9 situation shows that it’s not all clear sailing, only moving to talk for the sake of talk isn’t going to bring you ratings. Jeff Fillion may be a bit of an outlier data point, he is a true radio celebrity in the Quebec City market. It may not be so easy to reproduce that effect in Montreal.

    Reply
  9. Dilbert

    “What happens to Bio, G4, Book Television and other neglected specialty channels?”

    “that loophole might be closed in a pick-and-pay world”

    These channels will likely continue to exist even in a pick and pay world, because of the other key driver in the cable market, the 6 to 1 ratio of US to Canadian channels. Canadians are forced to pay for (Canadian owned) channels they don’t really want to see in order to get the US channels they do want to see. Some of these channels can continue to exist in a pick and play world by making sure their price is low enough to make them a valid “pick” to fill the needed ratios. Cable companies and distributors will always want to have these channels around if the margins to them are big enough as well.

    These channels aren’t the result of any one single stupid rule, they exist because of multiple stupid rules and intense media concentration. Changing the rules in one area alone (pick and pay) will not change the underlying situation too much. The CRTC is too scared to make real change happen and accept that we live in a much more global community. So these channels will continue to drag on making their high margins for low cost programming and sucking up money out of Canadian’s pockets.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Canadians are forced to pay for (Canadian owned) channels they don’t really want to see in order to get the US channels they do want to see.

      The CRTC is reviewing that rule as well. It could replace it with a rule that would only require cable providers to offer a majority of Canadian channels. Though in my experience, that rule causes few problems for most Canadians, since the number of American channels that are popular in Canada is pretty small: A&E, TLC, CNN, MSNBC, Spike, AMC, the big networks and a few others. I have a custom package and I’ve never once had it be an issue.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        “I have a custom package and I’ve never once had it be an issue.”

        It really depends on the channels you like and select, and the numbers. For the most part the first couple of US choices are easy because the initial layout is tipped to Canadian channels. However, beyond a basic point, you start to run into the issue of ratios. The solution on pick and play is a bit easier than in a package system. The packages are often sold cheaper on a “per channel” basis, but can be more expensive on a “per channel you actually watch” basis.

        All that aside, cable and sat companies will continue to offer packages that appear financially beneficial to consumers, and while time will tell, it’s likely that consumers will continue to purchase in a package manner for the forseeable future. Thus, channels like BookTV will continue to live on with phantom viewers and no real business plan beyond shearing the sheep to lazy to cut them off.

        Reply
        1. ClearChannel

          How about a Pay-per-View system where people pay their cable or satellite only when their television is switched on ? People save electricity by switching off a light when not needed, why can’t the same be done for Pay TV ?

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            How about a Pay-per-View system where people pay their cable or satellite only when their television is switched on ?

            I don’t see why a metered pay TV system would be embraced either by viewers, TV providers or broadcasters.

            Reply
            1. ClearChannel

              For the viewers it means saving saving money. Why pay for 24 hours service if you only watch TV for five ? Then again I would expect the Pay TV providers to come up with some new fees to make up for the difference.

              Reply
              1. Fagstein Post author

                Why pay for 24 hours service if you only watch TV for five ?

                You seem to be under the impression that watching a channel for only five hours means you’ll only pay a quarter of the 24-hour price. But it doesn’t work that way, any more than you can use Netflix for just three hours a day and only pay a dollar a month for it.

  10. Brett Morris

    If The Beat or Virgn Radio want o be different then maybe adding a little hip hop to their mix wouldn’t be a bad thing.nIt would take listeners from American station 94.7 Hits FM who can’t get a good signal in the city.

    Reply
  11. Robert Haslewood

    My hearts go out to Courtney Ketchen, Jeremy John and 12 others who lost their jobs on the account of the cancellation of BT Winnipeg. My friend Don who lives in Winnipeg who was a watcher of BT Winnipeg says he will not watch the new Wheeler in Morning show. Instead he will watch BT Toronto.

    Reply
    1. Brett Morris

      Hope the same doesn’t happen with BT Montreal if it does people would stop watching in the morning. I only watch because of the news and live their style.

      Reply
  12. Bill

    ‘You could see the corporation’s decision to cut local newscasts as a common-sense way to shift the focus from evening newscasts to new technology. Or you could see it as slicing into one of its most important mandates. What’s clear is that this is a money-saving move and CBC Montreal doesn’t have that much of an evening newscast audience to begin with anyway, though it’s still the closest thing that CTV Montreal has to direct competition.”

    I think cutting back the 90 minute broadcast was needed as it was basically just a repeat loop but what I don’t get is why CBC Mtl didn’t decide to do a Sunday evening broadcast. CTV carrying football essentially leaves the field open to Global on Sundays. If I were at CBC, I would experiment with that to see what numbers they could generate.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      what I don’t get is why CBC Mtl didn’t decide to do a Sunday evening broadcast.

      CBC Montreal doesn’t have much control over its schedule. Decisions over programming are made nationally. And the reason there’s no 6pm Sunday newscast is because CBC has its weekly family movie at that hour, and has for many years.

      Reply
      1. Bill

        I know that but if you’re trying to be competitive than maybe shake things up. Having the newscast 30 mins before the movie would still be a newscast that your main competitor isn’t carrying during football season.

        If CBC management, locally or nationally, is so stuck in their ways that they can’t contemplate news ways to remain competitive, then I guess they can always contemplate their fate.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Having the newscast 30 mins before the movie would still be a newscast that your main competitor isn’t carrying during football season.

          Sure, but a few things to consider:

          1. Football season is about 20 weeks during the year.
          2. Football preempts newscasts only in Eastern Canada, and only on CTV.
          3. CBC’s mandate isn’t to be competitive.
          4. CBC’s in the middle of a budget crunch right now. Adding a Sunday evening newscast would require adding a lot of shifts on both the editorial and technical side.

          Reply
          1. Bill

            3. CBC’s mandate isn’t to be competitive.

            Then maybe they should stop competing for advertising dollars because they appear to be unclear on the topic of competition.

            Maybe better just to turn the lights out at the CBC and refund me a few tax dollars that help subsidize my donations to VPR.

            Reply
          2. Dilbert

            1. American football, which is available on the US channels. Duplication occurs only because of SimSub. Otherwise, we would just watch the US channels and all would be good.

            2. see number 1. Apparently the priority for Canadian stations isn’t to provide unique programming or inform the people, just to make more money.

            3. CBC doesn’t know what CBCs mandate is. Nobody does.

            4. CBC has been in the middle of a budget crunch for 20 years. The failure in point 3 above is a big part of the issue.

            If the CBC had more than “test pattern” viewership in Montreal, they could probably do it if they wanted. But successive budget cuts and the now you see it, now you don’t nature of CBC news and programming means they have not cultivated a following.

            I was actually thinking of The City at 6 with Andrew Marquis the other day, and thinking we have come a long way from the time that CBMT was actually somewhat competitive with CFCF. Now we have CBC corporate versus Bell corporate, and the bigger pot of money wins.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              Apparently the priority for Canadian stations isn’t to provide unique programming or inform the people, just to make more money.

              Yes. It should come as no surprise to people that for-profit companies want to make profit. If that means creating original, compelling programming, that’s what they’ll do. If it means buying popular U.S. shows and maximizing simsub, that’s what they’ll do.

              Reply
              1. Dilbert

                Nobody is denying that for profit companies want to make a profit. However, if that profit is obtained by destroying a potentially vibrant marketplace by creating or allowing a monopoly to exist, then the CRTC has certainly failed in it’s mandate to bring a diversity of voices to Canadians.

                Also, let’s be fair here: the concentration of profits to a very small number of companies also discourages new investment and discourages new players from entering the marketplace.

                The choices in Canadian media (all media) is generally very limited because the CRTC and the competition bureau have allowed deals to go forward that cannot be truly justified, but that in the short term “save jobs” by not putting certain companies out of business. Instead, what happens is what we see with the Bell / Astral deal, which is “jobs were saved” and then slowly but surely jobs are disappearing.

                The stations and properties taken over are integrated into the whole in a manner where it would be almost impossible to separate them out in the future. This is everything from integrating studio space and back office staff to using other stations and media as service providers (like TSN radio as the sports department for other stations). It’s also something as simple as having all the switching for CTV local stations happen in Toronto. You quite simply cannot break off the pieces anymore, they are part of a bigger whole.

                The CRTC is supposedly going to release something this week about their future of media meetings. My guess is that they won’t have the balls to point to their own obvious failings in allow vertical integration to happen, and instead will concentrate of re-arranging the deck chairs for a better view of the icebergs.

              2. Fagstein Post author

                The stations and properties taken over are integrated into the whole in a manner where it would be almost impossible to separate them out in the future.

                Complicated, yes, but not “almost impossible”. Bell sold several of its own radio stations as part of the Astral divestments. That required service contracts and other agreements for the short term because they were so integrated.

                These days sales of these properties are more about brands and licenses than equipment. But it’s the brands and licenses that the buyers are interested in, anyway.

              3. Dilbert

                “Bell sold several of its own radio stations as part of the Astral divestments.”

                At the point of the legal gun, Bell did it. They basically got rid of the weakest station in each marketplace, with the least desirable brand or market. In many cases, those were not fully integrated into their network.

                When it came down to breaking up integration, we know exactly what happened in Montreal radio. Their exact excuse was the inability to break them up.

              4. Fagstein Post author

                In many cases, those were not fully integrated into their network.

                Where do you get this from? In any case, the debate is not about their motives. The point is they successfully separated the stations and sold them. It’s not impossible.

                When it came down to breaking up integration, we know exactly what happened in Montreal radio. Their exact excuse was the inability to break them up.

                Actually their excuse was that TSN 690 wouldn’t survive on its own if it had to assume the full cost of its overhead. Since it was owned by Bell and the other stations were owned by Astral, there was no integration before the deal.

    2. ClearChannel

      CTV could copy the American model and start using sub-channels, I emailed them last week after the ice storm but I’m not holding my breath waiting for answer. They dropped the ball last week on a very important local news and weather story, luckily Global saw fit to do what’s right.

      Reply
      1. Brett Morris

        If CTV used sub channels like they do in the US that would be good as it would allow for Montreal to get programming that is found only on CTV Two.

        Reply
          1. Brett Morris

            Law and Order: SVU, Anger Managment, How To Get Away With Murder, The Vampire Diaries, Reign and The Voice. That’s just to name a few TV shows not aired by the main CTV network

            Reply
              1. Fagstein Post author

                Way to explain why Simsub is stupid.

                Simsub is neither stupid nor intelligent. It simply is. People don’t like it, but it’s there to keep ad dollars in Canada, and Canadian broadcasters rely on it.

              2. Dilbert

                “it’s there to keep ad dollars in Canada, and Canadian broadcasters rely on it.”

                It doesn’t accomplish any of that in reality. The Canadian ad dollars do stay in Canada alright, for about 3 or 4 seconds. Then they are neatly packaged up and sent to the companies that produce the actual content in the US anyway, and the Canadian channels hold on to (reportedly) a very small percentage of it.

                Broadcasters in Canada rely on it like a heroin addict relies on dope. It’s not good situation, but apparently nobody wants the addict to go through withdrawal and have to learn to live without the junk.

  13. ClearChannel

    Maybe they could run an automated weather channel like WCAX-extra on channel 12.2 then cut-in with regular programming when showing an NFL football game or other major sporting event on channel 12.1 I have seen local area hockey games on channel 3.2 and other programming from time to time. I don’t think they like using sub-channels too much in Canada as it would take away viewers from their paid services. Since it’s the same owners they wouldn’t want to make over-the-air television too attractive.

    Reply
  14. ClearChannel

    I have received an answer from the Prime Minister’s office on this whole issue of broadcast television, and how we lag behind the Americans. The issue of the lack of sub-channels and the issue of spectrum reduction will be looked at. My questions and comments have been referred to another office that will examine these issues. Sit back and do nothing and watch broadcast television disappear to the absolute delight of pay TV. Speak up and let your thought be known has always been my policy.

    Reply
  15. ClearChannel

    I received a reply from Channel 12 about the other week while we had that ice storm and they had no newscast. This was their answer:

    “Thank you for your email regarding the preemption of our 6PM CTV News Montreal broadcast due to NFL football. We understand your frustration and apologize for the inconvenience.

    As an alternate, we invite viewers to visit CTV News Montreal online at montreal.ctvnews.ca at 6pm for our local newscast and headlines.

    We thank you again for taking the time to contact us.”

    Regards,
    CTV Montreal – programming.

    There of course is no mention about my suggestion that they could hold the newscast on channel 12.2 during the football game. They call themselves ” CTV News Montreal”, no mention at all of their call letters CFCF. The title CFCF channel 12 news is nothing more than a distant and faded memory now.

    Here is what I wrote them:

    “I’m rather disappointed that on Sunday January 4, 2015 during the current ice storm that instead of having the local news on at 6PM you were airing a football game instead. I think that an ice storm and power outages take priority over a football game. You could add a sub-channel to get around this problem and transmit the newscast on channel 12.2. The Americans do this all the time.”

    I don’t know about you, but staring at a computer screen at close range for too long my vision starts getting blurry. I don’t think it’s too healthy being at the computer all day. I much rather watch my “Pulse News from CFCF TV Montreal on channels 12.1 or 12.2” on my digital TV from a comfortable 8 feet away.

    Reply
    1. Brett Morris

      I agree with you watching news online isn’t something everyone wants to do. Older people who don’t use Internet much and only watch CTV Montreal news don’t get the news they want. I too was surprised that football took place of the ice storm.

      I would love 12.2 for when they can’t air news on the main channel.

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  16. ClearChannel

    One question that remains unanswered as we enter 2015 is whether or not the CRTC will act upon the comments it received during it’s “TalkTV” survey on the future of broadcast television and whether or not TV stations should be allowed to shut down. I followed that very closely and the majority, I would estimate about 99% of respondents were against that myself included of course. I don’t know if the survey results will be taken seriously or if the CRTC will only provide “Lip Service” to the public. I don’t have much confidence that the CRTC can make the right decisions and keep the public’s needs in mind. They relied heavily on that 2006 survey of only 8% of Canadians while omitting the fact that the majority of the people that responded who live in apartment buildings and condos are generally denied access to OTA – broadcast television through a rooftop TV antenna. I exclude indoor antennas because in most cases indoor antennas don’t deliver the number of channels as the outdoor variety. I ran a depanneur for two years and at first tried a Terk amplified indoor antenna and got 9 channels. I then went with an outdoor model and then got 20 channels including the all-important American channels.

    That 8% figure of people using antennas would have been much higher had there been no restrictions on outdoor antenna use on condos and apartment buildings. These “Archaic” rules do not apply in the United States however where residents are protected by the FCC’s “OTARD” rules. As a result, OTA is in much better shape there than it is here. The odds here at finding an outdoor TV antenna and knowledgeable sales staff at an electronics retail outlet selling the latest High Definition LED or 4K televisions are worse than winning the lottery.

    I have little faith in either the CRTC or Industry Canada that they will make the right decisions that will be of benefit to Canadians especially those of us that rely on our antennas. It is not a healthy climate in Canada when the whole subject of broadcast television and TV antennas and related information is being regarded as “TOP SECRET”.

    No doubt the Pay TV Industry is “Breaking out the Champagne” while the traditional watchdogs supposedly looking out for the Canadian public are either asleep or turning a “Blind Eye”.

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  17. ClearChannel

    There is one other point that hasn’t been mentioned, the Gazette TV times magazine. I have been subscribing to the Gazette for many years and when this new TV times first came out it was available for free for a few weeks. The first editions had no over-the-air TV channels listed. I emailed someone at the Gazette ( can’t remember who now ) and the OTA channels were added later. They still as of yet have not listed the sub-channels. Channels 22 and 44 are not worth listing their sub-channels as it is the same programming and channel 44 FOX has recently dropped it’s sub-channel.

    However, channel 3 CBS does have it’s main channel and a weather channel and channel 5 has it’s main channel along with the CW Network and MeTV. These extra channels are not listed. Then there is PBS Vermont with 4 channels with different programming two of which are in 1080i. And of course there is PBS New York with it’s 3 channels which are not listed including the MHz channel which PBS Vermont does not carry.

    So the TV times is being quite derelict in it’s duty to supply information to it’s customers that prefer to watch television over-the-air. Also, having a full list of OTA channels and their sub-channels printed in the paper will go a long way in advertising the fact to many people that OTA still exists and has progressed since the digital transition albeit more so in the United States than here in Canada.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      So the TV times is being quite derelict in it’s duty to supply information to it’s customers that prefer to watch television over-the-air.

      If you say so. The guide has limited space, so has to choose which channels to offer listings for. The WCAX weather channel isn’t a high priority.

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  18. Clear Channel

    No, the WCAX weather channel isn’t a priority, but listing the sub-channels would go a long way at informing the public about the changes in broadcast television over the last few years. I received another answer from the CRTC which basically passed the buck to Industry Canada again. They couldn’t give a direct answer to my inquiry as to why they quote that 2006 survey or census of how many people watch television via OTA when they know that a majority that live in condos and apartments are generally denied access to a rooftop antenna and that survey or census report would be skewed in pay TV’s favor. They did talk about “Vertical Integration” however and this is just a fancy way of saying “Monopoly” and of course the public loses in the long run.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      why they quote that 2006 survey or census of how many people watch television via OTA

      If you’ve done or are aware of a recent survey about how many people use over-the-air television as the primary source of TV viewing, I’m sure the CRTC would be happy to see it. Similarly, a survey on how many people would use OTA TV if building regulations permitted the installation of exterior antennas.

      The CRTC’s data shows that 85% of households subscribe to a television service.

      Reply
  19. Stéphane Dumas

    It might be off-topic but I spotted this French audio posted on Radio-ego from the FM-93 station in Quebec City who mentionned then Corus might but FM stations currently owned by RNC (formely known as Radio-Nord) http://www.radioego.com/ego/listen/17619 Corus had sold its former radio-stations in Quebec to Cogeco in 2010 but was back in Quebec from the sidedoor when Bell who acquired Astral had to sold Teletoon, Historia and Séries+ to Corus.

    Reply

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