Monthly Archives: May 2017

Media News Digest: RTDNA and magazine awards, Blais responds to CRTC criticism, Mutsumi Takahashi profiled

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  • Bell has renamed the MTS Centre, home of the Winnipeg Jets, as Bell MTS Place.

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Could Canadiens games be moving to TSN?

UPDATE (May 30): Pat Hickey confirms the deal with his sources

UPDATE (June 13): The move has been officially announced.

We still have a ton of hockey games on our network, between … we have regional coverage of the Senators and the Leafs and the Jets and I think there’s another one on the way this year.

James Duthie may be regretting letting that one slip. Duthie, the TSN television host, said this during an appearance on the Sports Illustrated media podcast last week with Richard Deitsch, after being asked how the $5.2-billion Sportsnet-NHL deal has affected his network.

He didn’t elaborate on what “another one” means, but the process of elimination makes it pretty clear: Every Canadian team but one has English-language television rights locked up until at least 2020. The remaining team is the Montreal Canadiens.

In the months after the blockbuster deal for national NHL rights was announced in 2013, TSN and RDS scrambled to lock up whatever regional rights they could from individual Canadian teams. RDS paid a rumoured $1 million a game to buy rights to the Canadiens in French until 2026 (the same year the Sportsnet/TVA Sports/NHL deal expires), and Bell Media secured English and French TV and radio rights to the Ottawa Senators, also until 2026.

Before the 2014-15 season, Sportsnet announced a three-year deal for regional TV rights to Canadiens games. That deal expires this summer.

Sportsnet’s regional coverage of Canadiens games gets an average audience of 168,000, according to figures Sportsnet gave me a few months ago.

Previously signed contracts with the Jets (TSN), Flames (Sportsnet), Oilers (Sportsnet) and Canucks (Sportsnet) continue until at least 2020. Here’s how it breaks down per team:

Team English TV French TV English radio French radio
(National) Sportsnet (2026) TVA Sports (2026) N/A N/A
Vancouver Canucks Sportsnet Pacific (2023) None Sportsnet 650 (2022) None
Edmonton Oilers Sportsnet West (2020) None Corus/CHED (2020) None
Calgary Flames Sportsnet West (2020) None Sportsnet 960 (2020) None
Winnipeg Jets TSN3 (2021) None TSN 1290 (2021) None
Toronto Maple Leafs TSN4 None TSN 1050 None
Sportsnet Ontario Sportsnet 590
Ottawa Senators TSN5 (2026) RDS (2026) TSN 1200 (2026) Unique FM (via Bell)
Montreal Canadiens Sportsnet East (2017) RDS (2026) TSN 690 Cogeco (2019)

I don’t have end dates for the Maple Leafs regional rights contracts, but because team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is controlled in equal parts by Bell and Rogers, it has split its rights to Leafs and Raptors and Toronto FC* games down the middle, and there’s no reason to believe that situation would change any time soon. When the current MLSE was formed, there was also a 10-year extension to Leafs rights that should go until at least 2021.

With all the other teams locked up, the Canadiens would be the obvious choice here. The only other possibilities would be buying out an existing Sportsnet contract (which is extremely unlikely) or getting Canadian regional rights to the Detroit Red Wings or Buffalo Sabres, whose 50-mile zones extend into this country. (Bell TV already has the latter and distributes Sabres games in Niagara Falls, though it doesn’t produce its own broadcasts.)

It’s unclear if this is a done deal or if TSN is just really confident it can secure the rights to Canadiens games (its majority owner Bell is a minority owner of the team).

Asked about Duthie’s comment, TSN’s official response was very brief: “We have no comment (on this) at this time.”

I’ve asked Sportsnet and the Canadiens for comment, but haven’t heard back from either yet.

Logistical issues

If TSN does secure Canadiens rights, it wouldn’t be the first time. Before the 2014 deal with Sportsnet, which ensured that all 82 games would be broadcast in English for the first time, TSN carried a selection of Canadiens regional games on a special channel (that was available to Bell subscribers but not Videotron ones). Since then, TSN scrapped team-specific channels and put its regional games on one of its five TSN feeds.

With TSN already carrying Ottawa Senators regional games, this would present a scheduling problem, since the two teams’ regions are identical. They could share TSN5, but there would need to be an overflow channel for times when both teams are playing (much like Sportsnet uses temporary Sportsnet One channels when Flames and Oilers games conflict). TSN could just create a TSN6, or a temporary channel, or some other deal.

Another thing to consider is that such a deal would drastically reduce the number of nationally broadcast Canadiens games. Because Sportsnet was both the regional and national rights holder, it could upgrade regional games to national ones, and last season broadcast 44 of 82 regular-season games nationally. If the Canadiens sell regional rights to TSN, Sportsnet could be left with as few as 22 games (mostly Saturday nights), and all the ones carried on TSN would be blacked out west of Ottawa.

Then there are other issues like on-air talent (John Bartlett would probably be out of a job if Sportsnet lost Canadiens games, but that’s no guarantee TSN would want him back).

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Nothing is confirmed yet with either network and probably won’t be until an announcement is made.

Technically, the Canadiens’ English-language radio rights could also be up for grabs, but since Bell owns the only two English talk stations in the city, it’s highly unlikely they’ll leave TSN 690.

(Hat tip to Derek Climan for spotting Duthie’s remark.)

* CORRECTION: As a commenter points out below, TSN now has full rights to Toronto FC games.

The power struggle tearing Radio Centre-Ville apart

A protest outside Radio Centre-Ville’s office on March 29.

Montreal’s only community ethnic radio station is in crisis. It started as a financial one, without a major source of revenue to pay expenses. But since last fall it has turned into a legal one as well, with two stubborn sides fighting it out. And each side is willing to financially bankroll their legal battle, even though that money would be put to far better use rescuing the station directly, because they’re convinced that their victory is the only way they can truly save the station.

And neither side is willing to negotiate or compromise.

The issue has been getting some media attention, with articles in Métro and Le Devoir. I wrote about it as well for the Montreal Gazette. Here, I’ll lay out the issues in more detail, based on interviews with both sides.

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Radio ratings: Radio-Canada and FM93 tie for top in Quebec City

There are a couple of stories that can come out of the Quebec City page of the latest Numeris radio diary report released Thursday: One, that CHOI Radio X is no longer the powerhouse it once was (in large part because other stations in the market have copied its populist talk format), and two, that despite the “radio poubelle” reputation of the city’s stations, Radio-Canada’s ICI Première station is doing quite well.

Here’s how it breaks down (numbers are for 12+ listeners, 5am-1am for the whole week, Feb. 27 to April 23, 2017):

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CJMF-FM 93.3 FM93 Cogeco Media 15.7% 183,100
CBV-FM 106.3 ICI Première CBC 15.6% 154,600
CHOI-FM 98.1 Radio X RNC Media 12.7% 140,700
CITF-FM 107.5 Rouge Bell Media 10.1% 132,400
CHIK-FM 98.9 Énergie Bell Media 8.0% 132,500
CJEC-FM 91.9 WKND Leclerc 7.9% 111,100
CFEL-FM 102.1 BLVD Leclerc 6.9% 120,500
CFOM-FM 102.9 M Cogeco Media 6.8% 121,700
CJSQ-FM 92.7 Radio Classique Radio Classique 5.1% 51,900
CHXX-FM 100.9 Pop RNC Media 2.8% 44,500
CBVX-FM 95.3 ICI Musique CBC 2.3% 41,400
CBVE-FM 104.7 Radio One CBC 0.5% 10,100

As you can see, ICI Première is in a statistical tie with FM93 in terms of audience in all age groups (among advertiser-friendly demographics it’s another matter). Radio X is in third place, followed by the two Bell Media stations, and the two Leclerc Communication stations behind that.

CHXX’s change from rock-based Radio X2 to pop-based Pop has resulted in a drop in market share, but the company is optimistic it can rebound.

Le Journal de Québec breaks down the ratings for specific shows in various time slots. Le Soleil gets reaction from Radio X, which notes it does well among 25-54s, though some of their on-air personalities aren’t so diplomatic, taking shots at the competition.

Le Journal also notes that a host at Énergie wants Gilles Parent of FM93 to give him his house as promised, and Parent in turn took a swipe at BLVD’s Nathalie Normandeau. Other on-air statements are compiled here.

Here are what Quebec’s other markets look like. (Montreal is a metered market, and its next quarterly report is June 7.)

Sherbrooke

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIMO-FM 106.9 Énergie Bell Media 21.1% 70,900
CITE-FM-1/2 102.7/94.5 Rouge FM Bell Media 20.3% 61,000
CBF-FM-10 101.1 ICI Première CBC 13.0% 42,600
CKOY-FM 107.7 107,7fm Cogeco 10.6% 33,200
CFGE-FM 93.7 Rythme FM Cogeco 8.2% 26,100
CBFX-FM-2 90.7 ICI Musique CBC 4.3% 12,700

Bell owns the Sherbrooke market pretty well, with the top two stations representing more than 40% listening share. Cogeco’s two stations combined have half that. La Tribune notes there’s a decrease in overall listening over last year.

Trois-Rivières

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIGB-FM 102.3 Énergie Bell 16.4% 45,100
CHEY-FM 94.7 Rouge FM Bell 13.8% 29,400
CJEB-FM 100.1 Rythme FM Cogeco 12.8% 25,300
CBF-FM-8 96.5 ICI Première CBC 11.1% 20,600
CKOB-FM 106.9 106,9fm Cogeco 9.2 16,800
CKBN-FM 90.5 FM 90,5 Community 6.5% 10,100
CBFX-FM-1 104.3 ICI Musique CBC 3.8% 8,100

Bell also tops in Trois-Rivières, though the lead is not as large.

Saguenay

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CKYK-FM 95.7 Radio X RNC Media 21.2% 43,800
CFIX-FM 96.9 Rouge FM Bell 20.1% 50,300
CJAB-FM 94.5 Énergie Bell 17.3% 49,100
CBJ-FM 93.7 ICI Première CBC 10.2% 22,700
CILM-FM 98.3 Rythme FM Attraction 8.1% 18,800
CBJX-FM 100.9 ICI Musique CBC 5.0% 7,000

Radio X regains the lead in the heartland, after being in third a year ago. The Bell stations are also doing well there.

Ottawa-Gatineau (francophone)

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIMF-FM 94.9 Rouge FM Bell 16.5 79,200
CBOF-FM 90.7 ICI Première CBC 13.1% 70,000
CKTF-FM 104.1 Énergie Bell 11.7% 77,000
CKOF-FM 104.7 104,7fm Cogeco 10.0% 51,400
CIHT-FM 89.9 Hot 89.9 Newcap 5.9% 53,400
CFTX-FM 96.5 Pop 96,5 RNC Media 4.3% 27,300
CHLX-FM 97.1 Wow 97,1 RNC Media 4.2% 26,100
CBOX-FM 102.5 ICI Musique CBC 3.8% 22,200

Little change here over last year: Bell also has the two top private stations for francophone listeners in the national capital, while RNC Media’s new single-syllable music stations are more than a point behind the anglophone music station. (I’ve left out the remaining anglo stations.) Nevertheless, Le Droit notes that CFTX-FM’s change from Capitale Rock to Pop has meant a huge increase in ratings, from a 0.5% market share in September.

Media News Digest: Anger at CRTC, new series at CBC, Heather B joins The Beat

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Media News Digest: CBC and Le Devoir archives digitized, Als stay on TSN 690, Journal de Chambly sold

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  • The commission issued its licence renewal decisions on Monday for the big private TV broadcasters — TVA, V, Bell Media, Rogers Media and Corus. The headline is that OMNI will get what it wants: nationwide mandatory distribution at $0.12 per subscriber. But only for three years, as the CRTC offers the chance for others to offer something better. I’ll have more highlights from the decisions in another post.

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Media News Digest: National Newspaper Awards, Shoan fired again, Le Devoir archives online

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Media News Digest: Michener finalists, Shoan back at CRTC, mass resignations at K103

Happy World Press Freedom Day!

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  • He’s baaack! After he won a court challenge to the government’s decision to fire him as a CRTC commissioner (which was itself partly based on a report that was also overturned by a judge), Raj Shoan is once again listed on the CRTC website as the commissioner for Ontario. To say things will be awkward between him and chairperson Jean-Pierre Blais is an understatement, but presumably both will attempt to be professional about it. The judge’s decision wasn’t a complete victory for Shoan, and some of his actions (like meeting with groups that have business before the CRTC) are “troubling”, so another review could still find cause for his dismissal. Or maybe Blais just minimizes his involvement (the chairperson decides who sits on any panels, and Blais did not choose Shoan for anything important) until his term is up next year. (Assuming Blais is re-appointed — his own term ends sooner.)
  • CBC Quebec held its biannual public consultation on Tuesday. The video is here if you want to watch it.
  • The commission has approved the privatization of Sirius XM Canada. The biggest issue for the commission was determining whether the transaction, which would see the CBC sell its shares and three groups (including Sirius XM U.S.) have minority stakes in the company, is considered a change in effective control. The CRTC determined that yes, it is, which means a 6% tax on the value of the transaction to fund Canadian content development. That works out to $29 million, to be paid out over seven years.
  • CBC/Radio-Canada has asked the CRTC for permission to move its Radio One and ICI Première transmitters in Timmins, Ont., from a tower north of the city to its old TV tower much closer. It would be able to cover the same area better by using a higher antenna at lower power.
  • The commission said no to a proposal by Vista Radio to change the licence for CJLT-FM in Medicine Hat, Alta., so it could move from its Christian music programming to more mainstream indie/alternative music. The commission found that the change would have an undue financial impact on existing stations in the market.

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  • There’s more drama at K103 in Kahnawake. Four of the five board members resigned on the same day last week, leaving only Lance Delisle in charge. The people resigning gave various reasons, which they did not elaborate on, but it’s clear that at least some of them are fed up of whatever conflicts are going on at the station. Unfortunately we don’t have details because the people involved aren’t talking.
  • An entry in the Industry Canada broadcasting database has appeared for CFGL-HD, which means that Montreal’s Rythme FM station expects to begin using HD Radio soon. Station owner Cogeco Media also owns CKAC 730 AM, so an FM HD rebroadcast of Radio Circulation seems likely. Other possible uses include a niche music channel or a spillover channel for 98.5FM’s sports coverage. Cogeco also indicated to the CRTC that a move of CKOI-FM to the Mount Royal antenna could allow it to broadcast in HD.
  • CKLW 800 AM in Windsor was knocked off the air by a fire at its transmitter site. It quickly took over the transmitter of sister station AM 580 so people could get news-talk programming.

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