Media News Digest: Supreme Court to hear Vice case, changes at the Globe, Gregg Zaun and Matt Lauer fired

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At the CRTC

  • We have a new commissioner. Mélanie Joly announced the appointment of Monique Lafontaine as the new Ontario commissioner, to take effect Jan. 2. That’s too late for her to sit on the panel that held a hearing this week to decide who can start new radio stations in two Ontario communities. The hearing panel was instead composed of the vice-chair broadcasting and the commissioners for Atlantic Canada and Alberta. Lafontaine replaces Raj Shoan, who is still fighting to reverse Joly’s decision to re-fire him after a court found in his favour judging that the previous disciplinary case against him was improper.
  • The commission has published licence renewal applications from most independent television stations and specialty channels not owned by Bell, Rogers, Corus, TVA and V. Among the highlights:
    • Télé-Québec admits failing to meet its 60% Canadian content requirement for 2015-16, reaching only 58.76%. It doesn’t explain why, but does say it was unintentional and in other years it well exceeded its obligation. It also requests that its licence condition requiring 21 hours a week of programming for children 2-11 be expanded to children 2-17 in light of new competition from channels like Quebecor’s Yoopa, DHX’s Télémagino and Corus’s Disney.
    • CHEK in Victoria, which was purchased by its employees in 2009 from Canwest, had only 45% Canadian content in 2012-13, well short of the 55% (and 50% primetime) quotas. It says this was a lack of oversight when “the viability of the station was in issue.” It has since put measures in place to add more monitoring. CHEK says it plans to invest $250,000 in the coming years to upgrade its master control to “current standards and to prepare for 4K.” The station reports spending $2.5 million a year on local news.
  • In the licence renewal application for CHCH in Hamilton, I learned that TV stations and distributors use Slack to communicate about time-sensitive simultaneous substitution issues like live programming and reported errors.
  • The commission has approved a new French-language community station in Gatineau using the transmitting facilities of the former Radio Ville-Marie retransmitter: 1000W daytime and 180W nighttime at 1350 AM.
  • CKJS, an ethnic station in Winnipeg owned by Evanov, has been approved for conversion to the FM band, despite the objections of an unprotected low-power station that will now have to vacate their frequency.
  • TVA has requested a change to its new licence, which requires that all prime-time documentary, drama, comedy, variety, reality, general entertainment or children’s programming have described video as of Sept. 1, 2019. TVA wants that to apply only to new programming, rather than have to pay to add video description to programs from its library if it wants to re-air them in primetime (7-11pm).
  • TVA is also proposing to move the transmitter for TV station CFCM-DT in Quebec City, from a tower it owns to the Marie-Guyart building further east near the parliament buildings. The new transmitter, on the same tower as the V and Télé-Québec stations, would be 80kW, down from 210kW, and 174.6m high, up from 117.1m. The result would be a similar signal to the existing one. TVA says it needs to liberate its tower at Université Laval because of a residential development project.

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  • Chuck Chandler (a.k.a. Charles P. Rodney Chandler), radio host at several stations including CFOX and CKGM in Montreal in the 1970s.

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