Media News Digest: Committee report, 32 Habs games on Sportsnet, Tom Buddo let go at Virgin

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Quebec Press Council

The Press Council has released a batch of decisions made in the past few months. Here are the ones that were decided in favour of the complainants:

At the CRTC

  • Jean-Pierre Blais stepped down as chairman of the CRTC on Saturday after completing his five-year term and a few final decisions including the elimination of phone unlocking fees. He gave one final speech to staff on Friday, in which he said he saw the CRTC as an institution trusted by Canadians (which really depends on who you ask). No permanent replacement has been announced, so the government has appointed Judith LaRocque to a four-month term as interim chairperson. LaRocque had previously been appointed to a six-month term as vice-chair broadcasting so the commission could deal with French-language TV licence renewals.
  • Speaking of Blais, Paul Journet in La Presse argues with the chairperson’s criticism of French music quotas,
  • Wawatay, the group behind one of the denied applications in the urban indigenous radio station proceeding, has asked the government to overturn that decision and award them the stations in Ottawa and Toronto that they asked for but were given to APTN instead. The group’s application had a higher quota for indigenous languages and more local indigenous content, plus the support of local indigenous leaders, but was rejected because the CRTC found their business plan speculative. The group also argues Blais was in a conflict of interest because earlier last week he took credit for helping APTN get the funding from mandatory distribution necessary to launch and grow.
  • The commission has approved another AM-to-FM low-power conversion, this one a Radio-Canada transmitter in Parent, a village northwest of La Tuque.
  • CJTK-FM in Sudbury, a Christian music station, has been given approval to set up retransmitters in Northern Ontario: Iroquois Falls (105.9 MHz, 540 watts), Sault Ste. Marie (106.5 MHz, 2,300 watts), Englehart (105.7 MHz, 5,100 watts), New Liskeard (100.9 MHz, 530 watts), Sundridge (98.3 MHz, 540 watts) and Spring Bay (104.9 MHz, 530 watts). Rogers, which operates stations in northern Ontario, wanted the CRTC to impose conditions limiting the station to its Christian music format and preventing any sale of the stations. The CRTC found those demands were unnecessary.
  • CHRY-FM, one of many small Toronto-area radio stations with limited coverage, tried to get approval for a retransmitter in Scarborough to improve its signal. The CRTC countered that the request was to expand coverage beyond the original application, and denied the request.
  • The commission has extended Videotron’s deadline to end its Unlimited Music offer to Aug. 4, but has denied Videotron’s request to allow them to grandfather existing users. The regulator said Videotron was well aware this offer would be challenged and could be shot down. (In fact, I asked them about it at the press conference when they first announced it.) Videotron will now have to deal with how they break contracts signed with users.
  • A bunch of radio licence renewals this week, for a full seven years until 2024:
    • Corus:
      • CFPL London, Ontario
      • CFNY-FM Brampton, Ontario
      • CKDK-FM Woodstock, Ontario
      • CFPL-FM London, Ontario
      • CHQT Edmonton, Alberta
      • CHAY-FM Barrie, Ontario
      • CISN-FM Edmonton, Alberta
      • CHED Edmonton, Alberta
      • CJOB Winnipeg, Manitoba
      • CKNG-FM Edmonton, Alberta
    • Golden West Broadcasting Ltd.:
      • CHRB High River, Alberta
      • CHBO-FM Humboldt, Saskatchewan
      • CKSE-FM Estevan, Saskatchewan
      • CKFI-FM Swift Current, Saskatchewan
    • Newcap:
      • CJYQ St. John’s, N.L.
      • CILV-FM Ottawa, Ontario
      • CIGM-FM Sudbury, Ontario
      • CIZZ-FM Red Deer, Alberta
      • CFXH-FM Hinton, Alberta
      • CKDQ Drumheller, Alberta
      • CFCW Camrose, Alberta
      • CIXF-FM Brooks, Alberta
  • On the telecom side, the commission has approved the recommendation of a steering committee on telephone numbers about the use of 555 numbers. They found that with the exception of 555-1212 for directory assistance, numbers in this special exchange had gone out of use. The FCC approved the same conclusion in the United States in September. No new use has been determined yet for the block of numbers, and it’s unclear if they might be released to the general public in the future or reserved again for some other use. Numbers starting with 555-01xx are reserved for use in fiction and will remain so.

TV

Radio

  • 600 AM in Montreal has finally come to life, intermittently anyway, as the TTP Media station begins pre-launch on-air testing. It has until June 30 to inform the CRTC that it is ready to begin operation. The 940 AM station has had its transmitter shut down while workers on site in Kahnawake work on the transmitter. I’ll have much more on this in the coming days.
  • Stingray, which runs those digital music channels on your TV but has operations around the world, plans to hire 400 people in Montreal, doubling its staff.

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