After a week off that we’ll pretend was planned all along, here’s what the media has been up to since the last time.
News about news
- CBC has announced the new hosts of The National: Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang and Ian Hanomansing. Chang is a former co-anchor of CBC News Montreal. The revamped national newscast begins Nov. 6.
- Wendy Mesley, who was another potential National host, moves to a new Sunday morning week-in-review talk show.
- The Canadian Press news service has joined the National NewsMedia Council, a national press council that replaces regional councils in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Atlantic Canada (but not Quebec). It’s the first time CP has joined such a council, and gives it significant standing as a respectable body that people can appeal to when they have issues with coverage. Other members of the NNC include the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Postmedia newspapers, Winnipeg Free Press, Victoria Times Colonist, Maclean’s, Glacier Media, TC Media and Brunswick News, representing most of Canada’s English-language dailies.
- BuzzFeed has a story about two producers at NBC News that have created a huge following for themselves on Twitter, and in the process annoyed some colleagues who say they’re getting all the glory for others’ work.
- The Economist sponsored a poll that shows more than 40% of Republicans in the United States favour allowing the courts to shut down news outlets that publish false or misleading news.
- Le Soleil, Le Devoir and La Presse have won an injunction in court to prevent the political news website La Dose from publishing excerpts of their stories online. The newspapers argued that La Dose is profiting financially from including headlines and lead paragraphs of news stories, even though they link to the original stories on those papers’ websites. Depending how the case goes, it could set a precedent for aggregators. La Dose is appealing the injunction.
- Halifax’s Frank Magazine is in some legal trouble, accused of violating a court publication ban. The magazine denies this is the case.
- The Quebec government has put its foot down on Montreal’s LaSalle borough, saying it cannot prevent people from recording its public council meetings.
At the CRTC
- The commission has published financial summaries for the radio and television sectors for the broadcast year ending Aug. 31, 2016. Info for individual specialty channels will come in August, but among the highlights I can see:
- Overall, the number of subscribers to pay TV (cable, satellite, IPTV etc.) is dropping by about 1% a year, even as the population increases. It’s a mature industry, and one where cord-cutting is a real problem, but the vast majority of Canadians still pay for CRTC-regulated TV.
- Average revenue per subscriber per month is down ever so slightly from last year after climbing over the previous four years, possibly due in part to new pick-and-pay rules:
- 2012: $61.88
- 2013: $63.63
- 2014: $65.25
- 2015: $66.08
- 2016: $65.44
- Private commercial over-the-air television lost $121 million last year, and $719 million over five years, though subscription and on-demand TV made $1 billion in profit last year. A separate set of disclosures allows us to break that down per major group (the numbers are a bit misleading — Bell actually showed a slight operating profit before depreciation):
- Bell (CTV and CTV2): $33M loss
- Corus (Global): $43M loss
- Rogers (City and OMNI): $35M loss, of which $24M is from City stations except City Saskatchewan
- Quebecor (TVA): $0.7M profit
- Remstar (V): $2M profit
- Rogers gets $8.9 million a year from distant signal retransmission royalties for City and OMNI.
- Private commercial radio nationwide made $436 million in profit (a 28% margin)
- In Montreal, the English and ethnic markets (which the CRTC groups together for these purposes) made money in 2015-16, though for AM stations it was a slight loss.
- Bell is trying again to get the commission to rescind its decision to eliminate simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl. Its application lays out real-world consequences of the action, that went into effect with the last Super Bowl in February: A 40% audience drop and $11 million in lost revenue compared to the previous year, which means $3.3 million less in funding for Canadian programming. It also argues that the decision goes against the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and even Canada’s trade agreements with the United States. And it confusingly takes the position that Canadians don’t care about U.S. ads even though 40% of Canadians decided to watch them. Finally, it promises to air a program of curated U.S. Super Bowl ads on CTV before the game, and launch a public awareness campaign, if the CRTC agrees to reverse the decision.
- The commission has approved the acquisition of Christian music station CFWC-FM Brantford by Dufferin Communications, a subsidiary of Evanov Radio Group, for $440,000.
- The CRTC has approved two more AM-to-FM conversions for CBC Radio One transmitters: Lebel-sur-Quévillon and Senneterre. The conversions will leave only two AM CBC transmitters in Quebec: CBMD Chapais (a retransmitter of CBVE-FM Quebec) and CBOM Maniwaki (a retransmitter of CBO-FM Ottawa).
- The CRTC is giving CBC another year on its licences, in order to allow a new chair to set a direction for the public broadcaster during that hearing. The current conditions of licence will continue until Aug. 31, 2019.
- The CRTC is giving another two and a half months for people to submit proposals for national ethnic television services to replace OMNI. OMNI is being given three years of mandatory distribution (and subscriber fees of $0.12 per subscriber per month) starting Sept. 1, but if another broadcaster can do better, they can propose to replace OMNI as of 2020. The new deadline for applications is Nov. 6, 2017.
- The St. John’s, N.L. market is not healthy enough to sustain another commercial radio station.
- CFTU (Canal Savoir), which was asked to file a licence renewal application by Aug. 31, has been given an extension until Jan. 31. The licence expires Aug. 31, 2018.
- Licence renewals:
- CJLL-FM Ottawa (CHIN 97.9): Seven years; reduces third-language programming quota from 92% to 70%, but ethnic programming still has a 94% quota; removes requirement for over-and-above $5,000-a-year Canadian content development contribution
- CFFR Calgary (660 News): seven years; removes unnecessary licence condition related to oldies music
- CICW-FM Elora, Ontario: seven years
- CIDI-FM Lac-Brome, Quebec: seven years
- CKBN-FM Bécancour, Quebec: seven years
- CFVD-FM Dégelis, Quebec: seven years
Canadian English TV markets, by size (Nielsen):
— Steve Faguy (@fagstein) August 1, 2017
- Two TV series shot and set in Montreal debuted on Monday: 21 Thunder, a series about a soccer team inspired by the Montreal Impact, on CBC, and the fourth season of cop drama 19-2 (the French original only lasted three seasons) on CTV. Links go to sites to watch the first episode online. The Gazette’s Brendan Kelly writes about 21 Thunder being set in Montreal.
- Global TV has uncancelled Big Brother Canada after a big online campaign, and renewed it for a sixth season.
- Global News is facing the possibility of strikes at several stations as contract negotiations continue with staff.
- NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone, services that allowed viewers to watch any NFL game instead of just the one for their region, will no longer be available on linear TV in Canada. That’s because a streaming service called DAZN has acquired the exclusive rights for these and won’t be distributing them that way. Instead, you can sign up for their service for $20 a month or $150 a year. Three journalists are out, and a fourth employee has been given other work in the company.
- Rogers has announced the news teams for CityNews in Winnipeg and Edmonton, which both start Sept. 4, drawing heavily on local talent in both markets. CityNews will run without anchors in these cities and in those launching next year: Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.
- Z télé is starting a new series called Comédie sur mesure where a series of comedians go to small towns and perform custom standup performances. Which sounds a lot like CBC’s Still Standing. That’s because the concept is based on a Danish series. The two Canadian versions are being produced by different production companies.
- CBC and Netflix have renewed Anne, the latest Anne of Green Gables series, for a second season.
- NBC has announced its national broadcast schedule for NHL games in 2017-18. They include nine regular-season games that will air on the main network (Toronto’s outdoor game in Washington is the only one involving a Canadian team), and 93 on NBC Sports Network, of which eight involve Montreal.
- Telus, which has purposefully stayed out of the content business as its competitors bulk up on media, has launched its first scripted comedy series, called Android Employed. The four-episode series can be watched online or through Telus’s on demand system.
- Love Nature has launched in 4K in Canada, with Videotron as the first distributor.
- Bloomberg Businessweek devotes a story to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a company in the U.S. that owns dozens of TV stations and is in the process of acquiring another similar company, which owns among other things Chicago’s WGN. The issue is that Sinclair is using its stations to push a conservative agenda, issuing “must-run” political opinion pieces and showing a disregard for the line between news and advertising.
- Discovery Communications has agreed to buy Scripps Networks for $14.6 billion. Discovery, which owns the U.S. versions of Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN, would buy the owner of Food, HGTV, DIY Network and Cooking Channel. It wouldn’t affect much in Canada, except that shows might promote each others’ networks. Discovery, Animal Planet and related channels in Canada are owned by Bell, while Canadian versions of Food, HGTV, DIY, Cooking and OWN are owned by Corus.
- Quebec production companies DATSIT and Sphère Média Plus are merging to form a new company called Trending Entertainment.
- The Wall Street Journal reports on the TV carriage dispute that has left many Los Angeles Dodgers fans without the ability to watch their team’s games. Despite the length of the dispute, the team seems to be doing okay.
- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has issued a ruling against HopeTV (CIIT-DT Winnipeg) after the station aired a sermon last September that, in the context of discussing transgender bathroom access, said things like this:
- “Because some of you congressmen are faggots yourself! [crowd applauds] Talk to me! You move quick. What it look like? A man dressed like a woman. Trying to share a toilet! Next to your daughter! And his genitalia is not the same! Thus opening the doors to rape! Yes, it is! You congressmen, you congressmen, and preachers that are endorsing. You are pedophiles!”
- “You men. You boys. Who say ‘I’m a girl inside’. That’s Satan inside of you!”
- “God is designing for straightness.”
Still unpacking. Found at the bottom of a box. Next to a rotary phone. pic.twitter.com/4aoqtHott5
— Mitch Melnick (@HunterZThompson) July 27, 2017
- Some Bell Media Radio stations have been made available again on the TuneIn app, including CJAD, TSN 690 and CHOM. My random selection of various Bell Media stations suggests that the only ones that are still unavailable are the Virgin Radio stations. It’s still unclear what the issue it. Bell had earlier said that it didn’t ask TuneIn to pull the stations from its app.
- Sportsnet 650 Vancouver has announced more hirings: Scott Rintoul and Andrew Walker host the drive show. The station, which has acquired Vancouver Canucks broadcast rights, launches Sept. 4.
- The Guardian has put out its financial results, which show 400,000 paying subscribers. But the company is still losing money, and wants to reduce its expenses by 20%.
- Newspaper companies have threatened legal action against LexisNexis because of the way its media monitoring service works. They say LexisNexis’s activities are beyond the scope of their copyright licence, and they want to see more money from them.
- Star Touch is done. The last issue went out July 31, with a thank-you note from the publisher.
- Some journalists in Toronto are planning a print-only community newspaper, to launch this fall and publish 10 issues a year.
- Steve Jobs’s widow is acquiring a majority stake in The Atlantic.
- The National Post and Calgary Herald are no longer available in print in Saskatchewan.
- Postmedia has sold its Islington printing plant in Toronto for $30.5 million, and will lease part of it back for up to 10 years.
- The Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language newspaper, is shutting down next month, less than a year after switching from daily to weekly publication.
- Patreon’s CEO has come out and explained why the crowdfunding site terminated the page of Lauren Southern, a former contributor to Ezra Levant’s The Rebel and a right-wing activist. Canadaland spoke to him to answer some questions, and if you really want an interesting discussion on content policy, you can sit through this hour-long interview with Dave Rubin.
- Snopes.com, the fact-checking and rumour-debunking website, is in crisis, the result of a messy divorce of its founders and a fight for control.
- YouTube has launched a CanCon channel called YouTube Spotlight Canada, devoted to exposing Canadian YouTube artists to a wider audience. The channel has a bunch of CBC videos, Heritage Minutes, Canada 150 stuff, and music from Canadian artists, including a special spotlight on Indigenous ones.
- Facebook is tweaking how its related articles feature works, in an effort to improve how it deals with fake news.
- TC Media has closed an office that provided content to its newspapers’ websites. As it undergoes a sale process, it has determined that the office is no longer needed.
- A blog post from CBC’s digital department on how it built its new website.
- In this totally unbiased news story, the company behind InHalton.com notes that the Toronto Star complained that its website is confusingly similar to Torstar’s Inside Halton website, and demanding it change its name. InHalton is from the same people that created InSauga and InBrampton, so the confusion was certainly not intentional. But you can kind of see Inside Halton’s point.
- The Women’s Tennis Association has launched WTA TV, a subscription streaming service of WTA events. Cost is $100 a year or $13 a month, it’s available everywhere except China, and it doesn’t cover all events (the major tournaments, or some events like the Quebec City one where there are rights issues).
- An Ontario woman has won damages from a company under anti-SLAPP rules after it sued her for comments she made on a local Facebook group about how the company’s actions could have potential toxic environmental consequences.
- A Montreal software developer of apps for TV streaming devices went through a long interrogation at his home by lawyers for major TV providers who are suing Android-based TV boxes for copyright infringement. A judge ruled the interrogation went on too long and elements of it were unlawful. His site was shut down, forcing him to create a new one. The key issue in the case is whether the apps are merely search engines for content, or whether they directly contribute to piracy.
- Adobe is slowly retiring Flash. That’s good news technologically, but it also causes problems for archival purposes. What do we do with all the content that was created using Flash?
- Former wrestler Billy Two Rivers is suing Van Morrison for using a photo of him without his permission on a new album cover.
- Apple is no longer selling the iPod Nano or iPod Shuffle, the last of the standalone music players.
- CBC has finalized the sale of the Maison Radio-Canada in Montreal for $42 million, as well as the building of a new broadcasting centre on another part of the lot, to open in 2020.
- Quebecor has finalized the sale of its wireless licences outside Quebec to Shaw for $430 million.
News about people
- Shannon Brooksbank, aka Brooksy, has left Montreal’s Virgin Radio for Kiss 92.5 in Toronto, a Rogers station. They interviewed her and got her to (reluctantly) pledge allegiance to the Leafs.
- Caroline Locher, who is leaving her position as general manager of the FPJQ, has been hired as secretary-general of the Quebec Press Council.
- TSN 690’s Tony Marinaro went on vacation, and showed off his dance moves on Live with Kelly and Ryan.
- Brian Wilde has put up a first video for his new website Recrutes. He also has a free Call of the Wilde piece up on the site, which is beginning to take subscriptions.
- More cuts in management at Postmedia: Calgary Sun/Herald editor-in-chief Jose Rodriguez and Bev Wake, senior executive producer for sports
- New hires at The Walrus: Hamutal Dotan as senior editor, Lauren McKeon as digital editor, and Judy Ziyi Gu as digital manager.
- David Perlman is retiring as science editor at the San Francisco Chronicle at the young age of 98.
- Sunny Freeman has been named business editor at The Canadian Press.
- Alexandra Posadski joined the Globe and Mail as a business reporter from CP.
- Chris Hanna, formerly of the Toronto Star (and a former Montreal Gazette intern), has been hired on the web desk at the National Post.
- Justin McElroy is the new municipal politics reporter for CBC Vancouver.
- Katie Couric is ending her interview show for Yahoo but will remain involved with the company on a project-by-project basis.
- Simon Houpt at the Globe and Mail on how Guelph is doing without a daily newspaper after the Mercury shut down.
- Herb Zurkowsky at the Montreal Gazette talks to Henry Burris about his new career as co-host of CTV Morning Live in Ottawa.
- La Presse on the state of anglophone standup comedy in Montreal. The money is really bad, which kind of makes me feel even more guilty for all the shows I’m squeezing out of a $100 pass at Just for Laughs.
- Data crunching shows how deaths are treated differently in the news media depending on where in the world they happen.
- CBC has a 5,000-word story on Ken Pagan, the former Postmedia employee who threw a beer can during a Blue Jays game last fall. While it goes into lots of detail about what a not-awful person he is, it doesn’t answer the big questions: He says he doesn’t know why he threw the can, and he can’t say why he no longer works for Postmedia.
- Bill Brownstein talks to Mike Paterson, the comedian who was busy performing on a small free outdoor stage during the Just For Laughs festival, and is trying to make a career as an anglo comic in Montreal.
- New York Magazine on Zoë Quinn, the game developer who was the first target of the GamerGate ridiculousness.
- Vanity Fair on the New York Times vs. Washington Post newspaper war.
- The Columbia Journalism Review talks to the people who have held the post of public editor at the New York Times.
- Bloomberg on the failed leveraged buyout of Bell Canada 10 years ago.
- Awful Announcing on whether play-by-play announcers should mention when a game is on its way to becoming a no-hitter. Broadcasters are split on the issue, but seem to favour letting the viewers and listeners know.