Category Archives: Media

Media News Digest: Bell/Vice deal, John Bartlett jumps back to Sportsnet, Rogers wants to sell magazines

News about news

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Media News Digest: Supreme Court takes sources case, Attraction Radio sold, Saroja Coelho leaves CBC Quebec

News about news

At the CRTC

  • There was no public process, but the CRTC has approved the acquisition of Attraction Radio and its 14 radio stations for $21 million. The new owner is Sylvain Chamberland, who already leads the group and co-founded it with Attraction Media owner Richard Speer. He has 50.25% of the stake in the new group, with the rest going to the CSN’s Fondaction fund. The deal was announced in March, and means Speer’s Attraction Media will no longer have radio assets. (It also means Attraction Radio will need a new name and identity.) The CRTC had some issues with the agreement between Chamberland and Fondaction, and they agreed to changes in wording to ensure that Chamberland remains the person in effective control of the radio licenses.

Ethical reviews

Another dump of Quebec press council decisions:

  • A 2016 decision about a series of 2015 columns by La Presse’s Patrick Lagacé was appealed and then sent back to be reconsidered after the appeals committee found that they should be analyzed as factual journalism rather than opinion journalism. The review nevertheless maintained that as a columnist Lagacé is not bound by the same rules about balance and has leeway in his writing. This is a problem that I think needs further study. As newsrooms and particularly newspapers cut back on staff, we often see columnists doing original reporting, and newspapers doing away with companion factual news stories because they’re seen as redundant. In other words, they’re trying to have their cake and eat it, too. Columnists are considered journalists and their reporting treated as front-page scoops, but when they’re called out for any bias in their stories, they hide behind their columnist logo. (I’m not speaking about Lagacé here — I haven’t read the stories and have no opinion on their potential bias.) We need new rules to reflect this new reality.
  • Stéphane Thibodeau vs. Le Soleil: A complaint about a story on the ridiculous pseudoscience of “electromagnetic hygiene” was dismissed because the story was found not to be a de facto advertisement for the company mentioned in the story, and the complaints about impartiality were not specific enough. The story is single-source and presents absolutely no skepticism about the idea that electromagnetism is dangerous to your health, that fluorescent light bulbs pose a risk of mercury poisoning or that LED light bulbs create “dirty electricity”, whatever that is.
  • Union des producteurs agricoles vs. La terre de chez nous: A complaint about a story critical of the UPA was judged to be outside the press council’s jurisdiction because it was in the form of an opinion piece submitted by the public.
  • Jimmy Girard vs. La Presse: A story about an investigation into a man who allegedly encouraged people to not pay taxes based its reporting on information submitted to court to obtain a warrant, and made that clear in a story that accurately reflected its contents, and so Girard’s complaints as to accuracy were dismissed.
  • Autobus Dufresne vs. Le Soleil de Châteauguay: The bus company subcontracted by the Conseil intermunicipal de transport du Haut-Saint-Laurent (CITHSL) complained about the Soleil story about a lawsuit because it believed the word “transporteur” could have been construed to refer to it rather than the transit agency. The council found that was not the case, because, among other things, Autobus Dufresne is never mentioned in the article. Dufresne also complained about the photo used, because it shows a bus with the word “Dufresne” clearly visible. The council was split on this, with 4/5 finding no fault in presenting a story about a transit agency with a photo of a bus being used on one of that agency’s routes.
  • Josée Couture vs. Le Soleil: A François Bourque column about Frédérick Tétu, who resigned from his teaching job after a radio appearance as a CHOI-FM contributor sounded like he was drunk on-air (he said he was just extremely tired) found no fault, and the complaint that bringing up his teaching job was an invasion of privacy was dismissed because it’s relevant, he’s a public figure, and he himself had brought that up publicly in the past.
  • Marc Plamondon vs. 24/60: A TV interview with far-right French party leader Marine Le Pen was not unfair or unduly hostile to her.
  • Julie Lévesque vs. La Presse: A François Cardinal editorial that mentioned an attack on Khan Shaykhun in Syria was based on reliable sources and, while it could have been less firm about assigning responsibility for the attack, did not violate the ethics code.
  • Huguette Poitras vs. La Presse and Le Soleil: A story about disputes between neighbours was criticized by Poitras for not getting her side of the story after speaking with the neighbour she was in conflict with. The story did not name Poitras, but she said people close to her recognized her from the description in the story. La Presse had already apologized for not getting the neighbour’s side of the story. The council said it’s not enough that people close to you recognize you, but strangers must be able to easily identify you based on what’s in the story for it to violate your privacy. As for the lack of balance, 4/6 panel members dismissed that complaint because that particular conflict was not the focus of the article.

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“Expert reacts” videos and accuracy in TV and movies

I’ve recently stumbled on a new trend in YouTube videos: experts taking popular movies and TV shows and reviewing scenes from them for accuracy. Wired and Vulture have done several of them, and some educational YouTube channels have found that they’re very popular with viewers.

I’ve watched dozens of them over the past few weeks, and many of them are fascinating, not only for people who like to nitpick about fiction as presented on screen, but because they demonstrate how hard it can be to get things right, and how great it is to see when they do.

If this kind of thing interests you as well, I’ve compiled the ones I’ve found below, grouped by topic. Enjoy.

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Major cable TV companies’ licences renewed: What the CRTC decided

On Aug. 2, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences of most of Canada’s major cable TV companies, including Videotron, Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Eastlink, Telus, VMedia and Bell MTS.

Though it wasn’t technically a policy proceeding, the omnibus licence renewals allowed the commission to impose a bunch of de facto policies, or clarify existing ones, on everyone at the same time. (Licenses for Bell’s Fibe TV operations, Bell satellite TV, Shaw Direct and some other distributors weren’t part of this proceeding, and smaller distributors who are exempt from licensing aren’t affected.)

Here’s what was decided:

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Atikamekw communities have no use for CBC North’s Cree programming

CBC and Radio-Canada have radio transmitters across the country, but most of them don’t have original programming. So often the question has to be asked: which local station should they retransmit? In some cases it’s easy — just pick the closest one — but in others it’s more complicated.

In the Atikamekw communities of central Quebec — roughly halfway between Lac Saint-Jean and Val-d’Or — there isn’t a Radio-Canada Première originating station anywhere close. Between Saguenay, Rouyn-Noranda, Trois-Rivières and Quebec City, the distance is about the same.

But these stations aren’t serving francophone Québécois audiences, they’re serving First Nations communities. So it made sense that the station it would retransmit would be none of these. Instead, Wemotaci (Weymontachie), Manouane (Manawan) and Obedjiwan retransmit CBFG-FM in Chisasibi, a community along James Bay that is the base for stations in northern Quebec. That station mainly rebroadcasts CBF-FM Montreal, but broadcasts three one-hour shows a day in the Cree language, produced by CBC North.

A recent consultation with the Atikamekw communities showed that there’s little interest from their members in that programming. In an application to the CRTC, Radio-Canada says it’s because there is a negligible number of Cree-language speakers in those communities. Atikamekw (which is well spoken in the region) is considered a Cree language, but is a different dialect from the James Bay Cree spoken in Chisasibi.

A letter from Constant Awashish, Grand Chief of the Atikamekw council, says only that the communities felt that the Mauricie station would be a more appropriate source of programming, without explaining why.

So the CRTC has approved the application (without a public comment period) and transferred the retransmitters to the Mauricie station CBF-FM-8 Trois-Rivières — between 200 and 315km away. The change reduces the network of CBFG-FM from ten stations to seven, the furthest south being Waswanipi, 135 kilometres northwest of Obedjiwan.

Media News Digest: Press council reverses Homolka blame, the Roast of Tony Marinaro, Celine Cooper ends Gazette column

News about news

At the CRTC

  • The commission has published the applications for the acquisition of Évasion and Zeste by Quebecor and Newcap by Stingray. The deadline for comments is Sept. 4.
  • Looks like no public comments were filed with the CRTC about the proposed licence renewal of CFNV 940.
  • The proposed acquisition of RNC Media radio stations by Cogeco prompted only two comments, one by ADISQ questioning Cogeco’s plans for expanding the Rythme FM network and suggesting closer monitoring of licence compliance, and one by District Média seeking assurances that Cogeco won’t abandon its affiliation agreement for Rythme FM in Saguenay now that it will own stations in that market.
  • The commission has denied an application by Bell Media to boost the power of CKKW-FM (KFUN 99.5) in Kitchener. Bell argued that thermal ducting was causing interference to the signal and that people in Kitchener were getting the HD Radio signal of WDCX-FM Buffalo. The CRTC said CKKW adding HD Radio to its own signal would probably solve the HD Radio interference, and analog interference problems it reported were not from people in its primary service area.

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CHOC-FM in St-Rémi to shut down

After 19 years on the air, and only months after a $220,000 upgrade to boost the power of its transmitter, community station CHOC-FM 104.9, which serves the MRC des Jardins de Napierville, announced on Friday that it is shutting down on Monday.

The station had exhausted both human and financial resources, leading to the decision, the announcement said.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. After about a decade of trying solutions including adding two retransmitters, the station had finally succeeded in getting a power boost that allowed it to be received through its licensed area. The boost, approved in 2016, allowed the station to increase its maximum power from 250W to 1,714W (though in reality the previous transmitter was putting out much less power than that because of technical issues).

The station also worked on the marketing side, organizing a “Tournée CHOC” in 2016 with 50 events over 50 weeks.

And it was also getting its regulatory affairs in order, after the CRTC called it to a hearing to deal with issues of licence compliance. It hired a new general manager, Serge Paquin (who spent 17 years at the Alliance des radios communautaires), to put its administrative affairs in order. In June, he appeared before the CRTC to try to reassure commissioners that the station was on the right track.

Though he didn’t give any hint that shutting down was a possibility, Paquin did foreshadow one of CHOC-FM’s major mistakes: a single-minded focus on dealing with its signal problems, saying it was their “absolute priority.”

Friday’s announcement called this project, which was finally completed in February, its “swan song” and said the many delays and costs associated with it had a major impact on its finances and pushed back other projects that could have helped financially, such as the launch of a radio bingo program and local ad sales.

The station told the CRTC it cost $220,000 to implement the transmitter upgrade.

And now, mere months later, that transmitter is being shut down.

Three permanent employees will lose their jobs as a result of this, including Paquin. The station had about 50 members, of which about half were considered active volunteers.

Should the CRTC allow an English-language commercial radio station in Quebec City?

For at least the third time, the CRTC is about to make a call on whether Quebec City should be allowed to have an English-language commercial radio station.

An application by Evanov Radio subsidiary Dufferin Communications, which also owns stations running the Jewel format (including 106.7 in Hudson), plus CFMB 1280 and CHRF 980 in Montreal, prompted a request for comment by the commission in 2016 about whether a general call for applications should be issued. So far two applications (the other one for a French station) have been filed for the use of 105.7 MHz, considered one of the last available usable frequencies in the city.

On Wednesday, the CRTC issued another notice of consultation, effectively reopening the file. It never came to a decision in the case, ironically because of a lack of francophone commissioners. With recent appointments that problem has been solved.

This is Evanov’s second attempt to do this. In 2010, the CRTC denied a previous application by the company, ruling by majority vote that because the English-speaking population of Quebec is so small (1.1% speak it most often at home), “for all practical purposes there is virtually no advertising market in Québec for an English-language station” and “its service is almost entirely dependent on Québec’s French-language audience.”

In 2006, the CRTC similarly denied an application by Standard Radio (which at the time owned Mix 96, CHOM and CJAD, before it was bought by Astral Media the next year).

Why does it matter that an English station would attract a francophone audience? (After all, Montreal’s English-language music stations have larger francophone audiences than anglophone ones.)

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Media News Digest: White House bars CNN reporter, layoffs at NY Daily News

News about news

At the CRTC

Ethical reviews

TV

  • Roku has launched a free ad-supported streaming channel in Canada. The selection is pretty weak — highlights include the 1995 Will Smith/Martin Lawrence movie Bad Boys, 12 seasons of Unsolved Mysteries, some John Wayne movies and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • Bell signed a content deal at Just For Laughs with Jae and Trey Richards of 4YE, to produce an eight-part comedy web series called Judge Tyco for Much Studios.
  • Speaking of Just For Laughs, there was a lot of TV taping going on there. I don’t have an exhaustive list, but the ones I’m aware of:
    • The galas, as usual, recorded in both languages for various uses
    • France’s Canal+ at the Quebec/France show at Cinquième Salle, for broadcast this fall
    • An Amazon Prime Video documentary series following some of the New Faces at their Monument National and Katacombes performances
    • Netflix taping solo shows in French and English at Club Soda and Monument National
    • Comedy (soon to be CTV Comedy) recording the Katherine Ryan standup shows and Homegrown Comics show at L’Astral
    • Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud recording LOL Live at Théâtre Berri
  • HBO will broadcast a recording of a live Flight of the Conchords special this fall.
  • OMNI begins the second season of scripted comedy series Second Jen on Aug. 4.
  • A plan is in place to bring back Buffy The Vampire Slayer to TV. But don’t worry, they’re not replacing the characters.
  • Hearst Television in the U.S. has shut down the transmitter for WNNE, its 40-year-old station in Hartford, Vt., which has sold its spectrum for $50 million for wireless companies to expand. WNNE, a sister station (and de facto retransmitter) of WPTZ in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has moved its city of licence to Montpelier and is sharing a channel with WPTZ. The net effect is virtually unnoticeable for viewers in the north of the state and in Canada, as digital channel 5.2 will still carry CW programming, with CW now the primary network of WNNE.

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Media News Digest: KIC Country licence renewed, Mulcair in and Farber out at CJAD, Tenneriello leaves City

News about news

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TTP Media’s CFNV 940 plans to change format as it seeks licence renewal

CFNV 940 logo

The process to launch TTP Media’s talk radio stations in Montreal has taken so long that they’re now in the process of getting their licences renewed after the end of their initial seven-year term. And the publication of the application for the first of those stations suggests that the company may be moving away from its proposed news-talk format and toward health and wellness, which sounds like the kind of thing that has been tried on other AM stations in the market.

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Media News Digest: La Presse officially nonprofit, Comedy Gold sale approved, Globe hiring pot reporters

News about news

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Citytv to launch local evening newscasts in Montreal Sept. 3

More than a year after it was announced that Citytv is creating local evening newscasts in markets including Montreal, we finally have a launch date: Sept. 3.

On that date, CityNews launches newscasts at 6pm and 11pm in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

Rogers has also announced staffing for those newscasts. In Montreal, the anchorless newscasts will be staffed by the following reporters (bios from the press release):

  • Akil Alleyne – Alleyne is a graduate of Princeton University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he studied constitutional and international law. His previous experience includes stops at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as a Research and Program Associate; and CBC where he assisted with production, and writing.
  • Andrew Brennan – A newly-minted reporter with Breakfast Television Montreal, Brennan will continue to engage Montrealers with the local buzz on CityNews. For the last five years, Brennan has been a news anchor and reporter at CJAD 800. He graduated from Concordia University with a double-degree in Communication Studies and Journalism. (He announced his move last week.)
  • Emily Campbell – Campbell is an experienced video journalist, most recently having worked in reporting and as an anchor with CJAD 800 News and her work has appeared on CNN.
  • Giordano Cescutti – With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Concordia University, Cescutti is a recipient of the Sportsnet Scholarship in Sports Journalism for excellence in journalism and sports reporting. His previous experience includes MAtv, Montreal Gazette and CJLO 1690AM, where he was co-host and producer of award-winning sports talk show The Starting Rotation.

They will work under Supervising Producer Melanie Porco, who has been with Citytv Montreal since its launch in 2013. Two people have also been hired to work behind the scenes with the newscast in Montreal, which will be directed out of a centralized control room in Vancouver.

Last fall, Citytv hired two reporters in Montreal in preparation for the new newscasts: Tina Tenneriello and Cora MacDonald. MacDonald left Citytv recently to join Global Montreal. (UPDATE July 20: Tenneriello is also gone. She’s leaving to host a web series about “inspiring people transforming their communities through social initiatives”)

As previously announced, the newscasts will be an hour long, at 6pm and 11pm, seven days a week.

When the announcement was made, the plan was to have the newscasts running in the winter. Rogers wouldn’t say what caused the delay, beyond this: “The fall launch is reflective of our commitment to ensuring we are delivering a gold standard of local news in these markets.”

In Vancouver, the staff is:

  • Ashley Burr, formerly of CKPG in Prince George, Alta.
  • Kyle Donaldson, producer and on-air personality with Breakfast Television Vancouver
  • Travis Prasad, formerly a news writer at CTV Vancouver
  • Isabelle Raghem, formerly of CHEK News and CHCH
  • Tom Walsh, Breakfast Television reporter since 2017
  • David Zura, formerly of Roundhouse Radio in Vancouver
  • Mary Cranston, Thor Diakow and Greg Harper, existing Breakfast Television Vancouver reporters

In Calgary, the newly announced staff is:

  • Kristen Fong, formerly of Global News Radio
  • Kendra Fowler, formerly of 660 News
  • Crystal Laderas, formerly of 660 News.
  • Michael Lumsden, reporter for Breakfast Television Calgary since 2017
  • Jonathan Mumam, formerly of 660 News
  • Brittany Rosen, formerly of CTV Regina

CityNews launched in Edmonton and Winnipeg last fall (those stations had dropped their Breakfast Television programs, so launching newscasts became a requirement to meet new local news quotas). Once the new newscasts are running, City will be able to meet its local programming and local news conditions of licence with just the evening newscasts, meaning Breakfast Television will no longer be required.

“There will be no changes to BT as a result of the launch of CityNews Montreal,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Lomack tells me, repeating what has been said previously. But that could always change as the decline of ad revenue puts more pressure to cut costs.

Four years later, from Toronto, it’s Parc Avenue Tonight Season 2

This post has been corrected.

Dimitrios Koussioulas interviews comedian DeAnne Smith during the CBC taping of Parc Avenue Tonight in 2013.

Remember Dimitrios Koussioulas? He was a flash in the pan around 2013. He had a web series called Parc Avenue Tonight, in which he interviewed locals late-night-talk-show style in his apartment, and CBC Montreal created a one-hour TV special out of that. That same summer, City TV aired a local lifestyle series called Only in Montreal in which he was one of three hosts.

And then, nothing. A second season of his show was filmed in 2014, but never got released. Only in Montreal was never renewed (though its timeless episodes spent a long time in reruns). And Koussioulas seemed to move on with his life.

And then, last Friday, this:

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