Media News Digest: Tax breaks for journalism, Roundhouse Radio sold, more cuts at Bell Media

News about news

At the CRTC

  • The commission has begun its hearing into the various proposals to replace OMNI as a mandatory subscription channel. You can read the transcripts from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday here. The hearing concludes Thursday.
  • An application has been filed to purchase the corpse of what was once Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio, a serious talk radio that couldn’t find an audience and went out of business in May. The application is by South Fraser Broadcasting, owned by Sukhvinder Singh Badh, which also owns 107.7 Pulse FM. South Fraser proposes to buy the station for $600,000 and establish a 50/50 mix of music and talk (call-ins limited to an hour each on Saturday and Sunday), on condition that it be allowed to reduce its Canadian content obligations to something closer than the standard for commercial stations. The application blames Roundhouse’s failure on a lack of advertising and on Numeris’s small sample size. Over two years of operation, it had projected $3.7 million in local ad revenue, but got only $137,000. South Fraser is also asking to be relieved of Roundhouse’s Canadian content development contributions, though it will accept to buy the station even if that isn’t granted.
  • The CRTC has approved the sale of CJAN-FM in Asbestos, Quebec, to a cooperative made up of three employees of the station, for $103,715. The station is a money-loser, with its current owner taking only $12,000 salary and holding several roles. This transaction is seemingly its best hope of keeping it alive.
  • The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services has released its annual report, showing a 57% increase in the number of complaints. That increase affects all major telecom companies, though the vast majority of CCTS cases get resolved to the client’s satisfaction.
  • The Public Interest Advocacy Centre is so displeased with the CRTC’s proposed “Internet Code” consumer rights rules and its tight deadline to comment on them that it is boycotting the proceeding.

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9 thoughts on “Media News Digest: Tax breaks for journalism, Roundhouse Radio sold, more cuts at Bell Media

  1. media man

    This is awful about CTV,and their annual firings..

    1. Why are these firings always just before Xmas, do these heartless suits in Toronto have any feelings?
    2. Is Bell trying to run CFCF-12 into the ground with a shoestring operation?
    3. They were down to only one researcher after last year, is H H ,the one that’s gone.

    This is so sad..

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I actually think Bell as a company has identified that the Federal government will, at some point, try to regulate and dissolve the mega-media conglomerates. Bell is taking every step possible so that they can say “these stations couldn’t be profitable alone, so you have to let us keep them”.

      Bell isn’t stupid. They pulled the wool over the CRTC’s eyes for decades now, and they aren’t going to want to give that up any time soon. Massive integration into the whole is about the bottom line, and about the long term suitability of the concentrated media business model.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Bell is taking every step possible so that they can say “these stations couldn’t be profitable alone, so you have to let us keep them”.

        They don’t need to do this, since (a) CTV isn’t profitable as a network either, and (b) I’m not aware of any standalone television station in Canada that is profitable. Bell is doing what is expected of it as a for-profit enterprise — trying to maximize profits.

        Reply
  2. Dilbert

    Bell firing people is like Postmedia declaring losses and launching “new initiatives” that lead to job losses. They both seem to be seasonal and sadly predictable.

    The interesting question I guess is “will Bell hire new people for those jobs, or will those jobs just disappear into the head office?”. If you consider that most stations have on air jocks 18 hours per day or so (6 am to midnight, the “regulated hours” of radio), it’s not like they can really cut back much. Now admittedly, they can toss out the people who have been around for 10+ years and hire new recruits who will do the job for half the price to get experience, and that might be a plan going forward.

    Bell long since went past cutting fat, past cutting meat, and now they are scraping away the bones bit by bit.

    Reply
  3. Dilbert

    Different topic (but the same in many ways) is the government handout to the journalism industry.

    My thoughts are that this is perhaps the last step towards propping up what is more and more becoming a legacy industry. While collection and dissemination of news isn’t going to go away, much of the industry is still operating in a pared down version of the past methods – much of it attached to deals made during the salad and main course days of feast and plenty.

    Want to see how bad? Consider the CBC contract with the media workers. It’s pretty damn expensive for the CBC to produce anything in house with rules like these.

    http://www.cmg.ca/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/CMG-CBC-collective-agreement-2014-2019-ONLINE-141214.pdf

    … and they are somewhat better than they were!

    Tax breaks do little except perhaps prolong the suffering a little bit more.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    re: the journalism tax breaks.
    I’m sure many on this board recall when a $2 coffee was the limit reporters were permitted to take from someone they were interviewing.
    Forget impartiality: when media outlets avail themselves of taxpayer largesse, how critical of the Liberals can they be?
    Consumers, not government, should decide what companies and products survive. And it’s become a vicious circle as cost-cutting erodes news coverage and social media erodes readership and interest in news.

    Reply
  5. Benjamin

    That article about AJIQ and pay rates….

    First, they only have 125 members, which seems hardly representative of the Quebec journalism sphere as a whole.

    Second, their listed highest rate – $175 – is significantly lower than the lowest rate I’ve accepted as a freelance journalist living in Quebec in quite some time. In fact, it’s close to half.

    But the weirdest part is that that rate is linked to a 250 word article. Which is really stretching the definition of the word ‘article.’

    Anyways, bottom line for me is that the members of this organization seriously need to broaden their markets. If they can’t survive in a market of 8 million, look elsewhere and buttress their client list accordingly.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      First, they only have 125 members, which seems hardly representative of the Quebec journalism sphere as a whole.

      It’s about a third of the total number of freelance journalists in Quebec according to the AJIQ, which is not bad as far as I’m concerned.

      But the weirdest part is that that rate is linked to a 250 word article. Which is really stretching the definition of the word ‘article.’

      In the Quebec francophone market, the rate is described as being per “feuillet” or sheet of 250 words. That doesn’t mean the article is only 250 words. So $175 per 250-word sheet would work out to, say, $700 for a 1,000-word article.

      It’s definitely not a lot of money, but neither the $175 nor the 250 words are upper limits.

      Reply

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