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Media News Digest: Journalists shielded, CRTC launches consultation, TVA president retires

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What TSN broadcast tonight instead of the Canadiens’ home opener pregame show

The Canadiens aren’t the best hockey team in the world. After losing most of their preseason games and all but one* of their regular season games so far, that much is obvious. But where the team excels is in its ceremonies. And the biggest one of those (at least when there’s no obituary or jersey retirement) is the home opener.

TSN, in the first year of its five-year regional rights deal and only the second broadcast under this deal, had a great few minutes of go-Habs-go content they didn’t even have to produce.

Except they didn’t air any of it. A couple of short clips of two player introductions (one without audio) and the national anthems. I’m not sure if there was a technical problem (more on that later), but there were 10 minutes of player introductions that didn’t make it to air. Instead, here’s what TSN2 showed tonight:

7:00-7:30 pm: An episode of TSN’s That’s Hockey. Mostly panel discussions, but includes some pregame hits from reporter John Lu, including a quick chat with Karl Alzner. Ends with a 20-second wide view of the Bell Centre with no audio — instead we hear host Gino Reda saying the Canadiens game is next.

7:30: Promo IDs, intro montage and intro theme.

7:31: Tessa Bonhomme begins the regional broadcast over video of players in the dressing room and introduces Pierre LeBrun.

(Meanwhile, pregame ceremony at Bell Centre begins with introduction of Canadiens staff.)

7:32: TSN airs pre-recorded discussion with the broadcast team of John Bartlett and Dave Poulin.

7:34: Bonhomme presents graphic showing Canadiens lineup.

(Pregame ceremony introduces head coach Claude Julien.)

7:35: Prerecorded video of Lu interviewing Claude Julien.

(Pregame ceremony begins introducing players.)

7:36: More discussion between Bonhomme and LeBrun in studio.

7:38: Bumper to commercial break with five-second video of Charles Hudon coming onto the ice during player introductions as Bonhomme mentions puck drop coming next. Ads.

(Pregame ceremony ends with introduction of captain Max Pacioretty.)

7:40: Return from commercial break with 25-second video of Jonathan Drouin being introduced “just moments ago”. Video switches to live shot of Bell Centre as Bonhomme awkwardly throws it to Poulin. What follows is 25 seconds of no one speaking until Brigitte Boisjoli begins singing the national anthems. (There’s no graphic or announcer statement to identify her to TSN’s audience, just muffled audio of arena announcer Michel Lacroix.)

7:41: This.

The audio switches a few times between sources that are obviously not in sync, resulting in echoes and jumps during both anthems. Throughout it all you hear booth audio, including some breathing sounds.

7:43: Starting goaltender introductions, listing of officials.

7:44: Puck drop.

Considering what happened with the anthems, maybe it was a technical issue that prevented TSN from getting proper audio from the ceremony. But either way, we expect better from TSN. A lot better.

RDS, of course, broadcast the entire ceremony.

*Correction: I forgot about their win against Buffalo. The Canadiens are 1-3, not 0-4.

How would you schedule Hockey Night in Canada?

Hockey Night in Canada begins its 2017-18 season tonight. And that means another 26 Saturday nights where fans complain about what channel their team’s game is being shown on.

When Rogers acquired national rights to the NHL in 2014, the plan was to give Canadians more choice on Saturday nights, to make use of the multiple Sportsnet channels as well as CBC and City to let a Canadiens fan in Moose Jaw, a Leafs fan in Corner Brook and a Flames fan in Sarnia watch their team’s games. This differed from the previous system, where CBC split its network geographically and decided for each station which NHL team it wanted viewers to see.

The downside to this new system is that not all games are free. With as many as seven Canadian teams playing on a Saturday night (though the HNIC schedule never has more than five games on any night this season), only three broadcasts are on free over-the-air channels: early games on CBC and City, and a late game on CBC. And generally Rogers respects a pecking order: Leafs almost always get priority on CBC, and the Canucks generally get the 10pm game if they’re playing then.

Though it has in the past put Habs games on Sportsnet to try to drive subscriptions, so far this season it looks like the Canadiens are headed to City on Saturdays, except when they’re playing the Leafs. Mind you, Sportsnet is busy with baseball playoffs, so it may not be an entirely altruistic move. But even if it stays that way, that means the Senators and Jets get moved to Sportsnet channels, along with the Oilers and Flames.

Scheduling Saturday nights is so delicate that Rogers doesn’t pick channel assignments before the season except for the first month. Instead, the assignments are chosen a week or two in advance. That way, a team that is getting popular later in the season, or faces a highly anticipated matchup, might get a more prominent channel than one that’s fading.

So, confident in the knowledge that you know better than they do, how would you schedule Hockey Night in Canada? Give it a shot below.

The rules

Create your own procedure for scheduling Hockey Night in Canada games. The rules have to involve all seven Canadian teams, and should be applicable to as many as three early games (7pm) and two late games (10pm).

The rules are subject to the following technical abilities and limitations:

  • The CBC network can be split geographically, but only with 14 stations: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton, Charlottetown Halifax, St. John’s and Yellowknife. If you split the network, assign a game to each station.
  • The City network can also be split geographically, with stations in each Canadian NHL market except Ottawa, which is a retransmitter of City Toronto and can’t carry a different game.
  • OMNI, which carries Hockey Night in Punjabi, has stations in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. If you ask nicely maybe you can convince Montreal’s ICI to join.
  • Most people don’t get out-of-market CBC, City and OMNI stations, or if they do, it’s not in high definition.
  • Sportsnet can be split up between East (Montreal, Ottawa), Ontario (Toronto), West (Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton) and Pacific (Vancouver). Most people now do get the four channels, but some still only have their local one, or just the local one in HD.
  • Sportsnet can’t always be monopolized for hockey. The baseball playoffs are on right now, and the main Sportsnet channels are showing that tonight, so they’re not usable for HNIC. There are also Toronto Raptors games to consider.
  • Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet One are also available, but can’t be split geographically. They have fewer subscribers than the main Sportsnet channels.
  • The Sportsnet One overflow channels, Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet Oilers are also available, though they’re not distributed outside their teams’ regions and not everyone gets them inside their regions either.
  • FX Canada is available (Rogers’s original plan was to use it for a U.S. team matchup), but it doesn’t have many subscribers and its audience doesn’t overlap with sports lovers very much.
  • Any channel with both an early game and a late game has to have a plan in case the early game goes past 10pm. Do you stick with the early game and join the late in progress? Do you start the late game on a backup channel?

There are also economic considerations to take into account:

  • Like it or not, the Maple Leafs are the biggest draw on English TV. Your biggest ad revenue will come from the Leafs game.
  • As someone who spent $5.2 billion on NHL rights, you want to drive subscriptions to Sportsnet, particularly for teams like Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal where you don’t have the regional rights to those teams’ games.

And finally, you need to keep it relatively simple. If you split the CBC, City and Sportsnet networks and what channel a team’s game is on varies by city, you risk making it so complicated for people to watch that they just give up.

So how would you make it work?

My suggestion

Here’s one plan I would offer for consideration:

  • Go back to splitting the CBC network geographically. All seven NHL markets get their local NHL team. The other seven stations could have viewers decide which team they want. (Windsor getting the Red Wings would be great if possible.) Markets where the local team plays at 10pm ET get an early Leafs or Canadiens game but cut to the local team when their game begins.
  • Put the Canadiens on City coast to coast. Just cuz. Consider putting a late game on City, too, if there’s more than one that night.
  • Split Sportsnet: Senators on Sportsnet East, Leafs on Sportsnet Ontario, Flames, Oilers or Jets on Sportsnet West and Canucks on Sportsnet Pacific. Offer local pregame and postgame shows on those channels.
  • Sorry, Jets, you get bumped to Sportsnet One if there aren’t any free channels up the food chain.
  • If you don’t need it to show a full game, turn Sportsnet 360 into an on-the-fly channel checking in on various games at key moments. Maybe even do split-screen. See what works. It can also be used for pregame and postgame shows while the other channels are showing early and late games.
  • Use the Canucks/Flames/Oilers SN1 channels for alternative feeds of some sort when those teams are in action. Star cam, goalie cam, shaky ref cam? Go nuts.
  • Keep HNIC Punjabi going, but don’t limit it to Leafs and Canucks games. Mix it up a bit. Consider translating into other languages (Mandarin, Italian, Arabic) through partnerships with Canadian broadcasters in those languages.

So for tonight, it would work out like this:

  • CBC 7pm: Leafs, Canadiens or Senators, split regionally. 10pm: Oilers/Canucks or Jets/Flames, split regionally.
  • City 7pm: Canadiens. 10pm: Jets/Flames.
  • OMNI 7pm: Leafs. 10pm: Oilers/Canucks.
  • Sportsnet: MLB playoffs.
  • Sportsnet One: Leafs, followed by Oilers/Canucks.
  • Sportsnet 360: Senators, followed by combined Sens/Leafs/Habs postgame show.

If Sportsnet were available, it would be this:

  • CBC 7pm: Leafs, Canadiens or Senators, split regionally. 10pm: Oilers/Canucks or Jets/Flames, split regionally.
  • City 7pm: Canadiens. 10pm: Jets/Flames.
  • Sportsnet East: Senators, followed by Senators postgame
  • Sportsnet Ontario: Leafs, followed by Leafs postgame
  • Sportsnet West: Jets/Flames pregame, game and postgame
  • Sportsnet Pacific: Oilers/Canucks pregame, game and postgame
  • Sportsnet One: Other programming until 9:30pm, followed by Montreal postgame
  • Sportsnet 360: Live look-ins across the league

The big advantage is that every market gets their local team. The big disadvantage is that it’s more complex, and there’s duplication. (Montreal gets the Habs on both CBC and City, for example.) I’m not sure it’s much better than Rogers’s current system for anyone living outside their local team’s market.

But maybe you have a better solution. Go ahead and try. Offer your suggestions in the comments below.

Videotron customers can finally livestream TSN and RDS

The day we’ve been waiting years for has finally arrived: Videotron customers can finally stream TSN and RDS online and on mobile apps.

The news was just announced via text message. Not only can people watch both Bell Media services through the Videotron website and Illico app, but Videotron customers can also login through TSN.ca and watch the network there. And it’s available through the RDS Go app.

Both of these systems are authenticated, which means you need to be a subscriber to the channels you want to watch, and whether you’re watching through a Videotron platform or a TSN/RDS one, you need to login with your Videotron username and password when prompted. But otherwise there’s no additional fee for watching them online or on mobile (except mobile data charges if you’re using mobile networks).

But it means if you want to watch the Canadiens this season (and what a coincidence, their season starts tonight), you can finally do so on the go legally as a Videotron subscriber.

(For whatever reason, Videotron is offering livestreaming of only TSN2 and TSN5 through its platforms, but all TSN’s Canadiens games are on TSN2.)

Unfortunately, the deal doesn’t include Sportsnet, which still isn’t available this way. Maybe someday…

Options for watching TSN and RDS live

Luc Lavoie and the old boys club

Dec. 18, 2011: North Korean state television announces the death of its dear leader, Kim Jong-Il. On a Sunday evening past 10pm, LCN anchor Melissa François announces the news on air, but (probably in part because of how much a lowercase L looks like an uppercase I) she pronounces his name as “Kim Jong Deux”. A clip of this is posted online and spreads around the French-speaking world, much to LCN’s ridicule.

François was pulled off the air and reassigned to a desk job. Her union defended her and asked TVA to put her back on the job, which in turn caused the president of the union to be suspended. She eventually left and got another job at Radio-Canada.

Oct. 3, 2017: On the LCN politics show La Joute, the three hosts are discussing a less serious story than most: Petitions to the National Assembly about the hunting of squirrels. One petition calls for it to be banned, the other for it to be protected.

Luc Lavoie tries to add a joke about legalizing such hunting (with firearms) in urban areas, because they’re a nuisance. He adds:

In fact, I would have liked to be able to hunt separatists, but it seems it’s not possible.

His cohosts, Paul Laroque and Bernard Drainville, immediately tell him he shouldn’t joke about that, as Lavoie lets out a laugh, apparently amused by his own joke.

It’s too late. A few of the people watching hit rewind on their PVRs, record the exchange and post it to social media, where it goes viral.

Lavoie later posts an apology on Facebook (saying he did so without being asked), and the 11pm rebroadcast of the show is spiked, replaced by a rebroadcast of the 10pm newscast.

The next day, the statement becomes even bigger news. La Presse reports the SQ is investigating. Politicians issue statements condemning the remarks.

Groupe TVA issues a statement that says the comments are unacceptable and Lavoie has apologized. But it mentions no sanction, despite calls from various directions that Lavoie be fired. Three hours later, it issues another statement, saying Lavoie is being removed from the air because of the SQ investigation. The existence of a complaint to the SQ seems like less of a triggering factor than TVA perhaps realizing that people are reacting negatively to their earlier non-firing of him.

Deux poids, deux mesures

So what’s the difference between these two cases? Well, a lot. One was an honest mistake that resulted in mockery. The other was a bad joke that resulted in condemnation. Both were mistakes made by people who should have known better.

But the difference in reaction doesn’t have to do as much with what happened or the amount of reaction to it. Rather, it’s who they are. François was a junior anchor, hired only the previous year, doing a weekend shift. Lavoie is one of the faces of LCN, a former executive vice-president of Quebecor, a deputy chief of staff to Brian Mulroney when he was prime minister, and a friend and sometimes spokesperson for Pierre Karl Péladeau.

One is an expendable employee (who couldn’t be dismissed outright because she was in a union). The other is one of the boys-will-be-boys boys, who gets the benefit of the doubt when he jokingly suggests shooting separatists two days after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

(And, as has been pointed out, this isn’t the first time Lavoie has had to apologize for putting his foot in his mouth on the air. Or the first time he’s said something stupid.)

So it’s entirely understandable in this context to expect that Lavoie’s suspension will be temporary. Maybe he’ll need to find another job, lay low for a while and do something less in the public eye, but his friend PKP won’t abandon him unless he has no other choice.

I generally don’t believe in firing people for single mistakes like this. I find the punishment over-the-top, and ineffective as a deterrent. I’d rather people be required to make some form of restitution and learn from the experience.

So I don’t necessarily want Lavoie to lose his job. But he owes people a more serious explanation than what he posted on his (since-deleted) Facebook page. He needs to explain what he could have been thinking that would lead him to believe that hunting separatists with guns was funny.

And maybe the producers of La Joute can consider that having three well-paid middle-age-or-older white guys hosting a political discussion show comes with an inherent lack of perspective that leads to people being comfortable with speaking before they think.

Media News Digest: Global Montreal hosts municipal debates, Groupe Capitales Médias cuts ties with La Presse

News about news

  • Tom Petty died, then undied, then died again within 24 hours. The confusion began when CBS News reported Petty’s death, citing the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD later apologized for “inadvertently” presenting false information to journalists. Petty had suffered a heart attack, but was technically still alive. The error prompted the usual holier-than-thou handwringing scolding journalists to get it right (without of course setting any standard for when you consider something “right”). The lesson to take out of this, once again, is that even official sources can be wrong.
  • The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has come out with decisions against Global News BC and CTV News Vancouver over their decisions to air video of a stabbing at a school in Abbotsford, B.C. Though both broadcasters were aware of the sensitivity of the video, issued warnings about their broadcast (though Global failed to do so in one instance) and even blurred parts of it, the CBSC found that “the video, even in its edited form, did not contribute to the story and therefore showed inappropriate editorial judgment on the part of the broadcaster” on top of being disrespectful to a young victim. Both were required to issue on-air apologies.
  • In a decision that is for some reason undated, the National Newsmedia Council has dismissed a complaint against the National Post that accused it of stealing a Blacklock’s Reporter story without credit. The council found that both organizations reported the same story independently, with the Post publishing a day after Blacklock’s.
  • TVA has suspended Luc Lavoie after he made a joke on LCN about hunting separatists with guns.
  • The Assemblée francophone de l’Ontario has made propositions to protect francophone media in the province, among them requiring the provincial government to devote 5% of ad spending to francophone media.
  • The heads of francophone media outlets in Quebec gathered for a panel discussion about the future of media. Le Devoir summarizes how it went.

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Media News Digest: CBC Montreal open house, EBOX complains about Bell Media, Mercer Report starts final season

News about news

At the CRTC

  • The Globe’s Christine Dobby sits down with new CRTC chair Ian Scott.
  • Michael Geist points out an order in council issued last week that requires the CRTC produce a report about how programming is distributed and how that will change in the coming years. This sounds a lot like work the commission has already done in its Let’s Talk TV process and discoverability conferences.
  • EBOX, an independent Internet provider in Quebec and Ontario, has decided to enter the TV distribution industry in Quebec’s major cities, but has run into a wall negotiating a distribution deal with … oh, go ahead, guess … yup, Bell Media. According to EBOX’s complaint of undue preference at the CRTC, Bell cut off negotiations, citing something about EBOX’s behaviour, and said it was no longer interested in allowing any Bell Media channels (TSN, RDS, Discovery, Space, Bravo, D, Vie, Investigation, CTV News Channel, Comedy, Much, Z, TMN, HBO) to be distributed by EBOX. Bell’s initial response says it has done nothing against the rules and will explain its dealings with EBOX.
  • Michael Geist notes (and CBC picks up) that Bell argued at a committee hearing into NAFTA renegotiations that there should be criminal provisions to prevent piracy and a CRTC-managed list of websites that Canadian ISPs should block for piracy violations.

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MAtv season begins with new interview series Montrealers

In the spring of 2016, a young eager TV producer named Leah Balass asked me out to coffee to pick my brain about finding a way to sell a series she was working on that featured long-form interviews with interesting people. It was called Curiosity Craves.

Unfortunately there aren’t too many places to sell those things to these days. Local commercial television stations don’t commission local TV series for local broadcast anymore (City’s short-lived Only in Montreal was the last series done this way). So I suggested, since her interview subjects were in Montreal, that she try going to community television, either Videotron’s MAtv or Bell’s TV1, which have budgets for local community productions.

More than a year later, her project has been repackaged as Montrealers, an eight-episode half-hour series that debuts today on MAtv. (Its first broadcast was actually this morning, but its advertised debut is at 7:30pm).

Here’s what the official description of the show says:

MONTREALERS focuses on the art of conversation, creating an environment of open dialogue; for both the interviewee and the interviewer. With characters from an array of backgrounds, including Greek, Indian, Brazilian, Japanese, Egyptian, Iranian, and French – MONTREALERS is an all-inclusive show that gives all voices meaning. In this intimate interview series, the most inspiring stories can be found in the lives of everyday people. Leah Balass sits down with Montreal’s most colorful personalities to uncover their captivating life stories and to celebrate the various cultures that make up this unique city. Each episode features personal stories on immigration, love, identity, struggle, culture  and tradition.

The series is well shot and the interview subjects interesting. (One of the people featured in the first episode, Dave Arnold aka Mr. Sign, was also featured on an episode of Only in Montreal.) It goes for being touching and uplifting with calm sit-down interviews.

Mike Cohen at the Suburban talked with Balass and co-producer Christos Sourligas.

Also this fall are new episodes of Urban Nations by Lachlan Madill and CityLife hosted by Richard Dagenais. Returning in December is Culture Zone, a bilingual program featuring stories produced by volunteers, and an English version of the magazine show Ma curieuse cité (My Curious City).

The programming for this year, which also includes existing series Studios, Lofts & Jam Spaces, The Street Speaks and Jazz Yoga Ayurveda, doesn’t change the linguistic balance of the station, which is 21% anglophone.

But with a 25% budget cut, it means less money overall, and the Montrealers-making-a-difference series Montreal Billboard had to pay the price for that.

 

Tootall’s last day

It’ll be weird not hearing Tootall’s voice on the radio. You won’t notice it at first — after all, everyone takes vacations — but eventually, a subtle void will develop, a silence where there used to be this calm voice welcoming you to the Electric Lunch Hour and

The man who never tells you his real height or his real age said his final goodbye on the air yesterday. The video is above and the audio is posted on CHOM’s website. It features thank-yous from music director Picard and Bell Media executive and former CHOM boss Martin Spalding.

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Media News Digest: Bad Blood debuts, Randy Renaud replaces Tootall, The Bridge replaces Cinq à six

News about news

At the CRTC

  • Evanov Radio has proposed a way out of its Toronto problem: A station licensed to the suburb of Orangeville (CIDC-FM Z103.5) that’s being prevented from formally expanding into Toronto, and another licensed in downtown Toronto (CIRR-FM Proud FM 103.9) that for technical reasons can’t expand its signal beyond 225W. Under the proposed changes, Z103 increases power but adopts a directional lemon-shaped signal that avoids Toronto, while Proud FM goes from 225W to 10,000W and changes frequency from 103.9 to 103.7 to greatly expand its reach in Canada’s largest city. The applications are posted here and accepting comments until Oct. 16. The CRTC has screwed over Z103 by on the one hand preventing it from offering a better signal in Toronto because it’s licensed to Orangeville, but on the other hand licensing another station in Orangeville because it determined that Z103 was too Toronto-focused.
  • Maclean’s has a story about how RT (Russia Today) is still available on Canadian TV providers, usually for free or at very low cost. (Videotron is not one of those providers.) The CRTC says its status is not under review. But as Greg O’Brien notes, someone could file a complaint.
  • The commission has denied a request from Canal Évasion to lower its Canadian programming expenditure quota from 46% to 32%. The commission found holes in its reasoning (comparing Évasion to Astral channels without taking into account changes since their purchase by Bell Media) and determined it would be better to ask for such changes when their licence is up for renewal.
  • The commission has denied a request from the CBC to offer an analog subchannel of CBL-FM (CBC Radio Two Toronto) to a Tamil-language service. The commission felt such a service would compete with a recently-licensed ethnic station and an existing Tamil subchannel service.

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TSN to air 50 Habs games on TSN2, hires John Bartlett for play-by-play

With just three days to go until the first preseason game, TSN has finally announced broadcasting details for the Canadiens this season, the first after re-acquiring regional rights from Sportsnet.

TSN will air five of the eight preseason games, and all 50 regular-season games it has rights to, on TSN2*, which solves the issue of possible scheduling conflicts on TSN5, which is the main channel in the shared region of the Senators and Canadiens.

The remaining 32 regular-season games, including all Saturday night games, are national games that will air on Sportsnet-controlled channels.

TSN2 is a good solution to scheduling, offering a consistent channel without having to expand to a sixth feed. It does mean that anyone in eastern Canada who only has one TSN channel won’t see the games, though the number of people in that situation is pretty small these days. And it means TSN2 will be blacked out in the rest of Canada for 56 three-hour periods of the season, mainly in primetime on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that’s not the end of the world. TSN has four other channels and the Jets, Leafs and Senators won’t all be playing at the same time very often.

*Two of those preseason games are against the Senators, and will air on TSN5 instead for both markets.

Bartlett is back

After spending weeks, even months, choosing not to comment about his future, even after stripping Sportsnet from his Twitter profile, John Bartlett can finally announce he will continue to be the voice of the Canadiens on television. Bartlett, who used to be the voice of the Habs on TSN 690 until he was hired by Sportsnet, goes back to TSN to call its regional games this season.

Assisting Bartlett are three analysts:

  • Dave Poulin, former NHL player for the Flyers, Bruins and Capitals, and former VP of Hockey Operations for the Maple Leafs
  • Mike Johnson, a one-season Canadiens player and analyst who was one of the cuts at Sportsnet last year
  • Craig Button, a Montrealer and veteran TSN and NHL Network hockey analyst

The broadcasts will be hosted by Tessa Bonhomme, star women’s hockey player and TSN broadcaster, and Glenn Schiiler, host of TSN’s That’s Hockey 2night.

The full schedule is here.

Also announced today are the regional schedules for TSN’s other teams. TSN will broadcast:

Media News Digest: Complaints about OMNI, Global Quebec turns 20, L’Actualité changes format

News about news

At the CRTC

  • New chairman Ian Scott has issued a statement as he begins his mandate. It’s brief, but seems to focus on the consumer-oriented mandate of his predecessor Jean-Pierre Blais. It also continues Blais’s tradition of referring to himself as “chief executive officer”, though not his tradition of beginning every statement by paying tribute to the elders of the closest indigenous people.
  • Unifor has announced it will file a CRTC complaint against Rogers’s OMNI over its decision to outsource the production of its Mandarin and Cantonese newscasts to Fairchild, which owns Canada’s biggest Chinese television channel and runs the main competitor in providing Canadians with news in these languages. Unifor argues this goes against the licence granted to OMNI and the accompanying must-carry order, which says “the licensee shall produce and broadcast” daily newscasts in the four languages (it produces the Punjabi and Italian newscasts in-house). The commission may have to split hairs on what the word “produce” means in this context.
  • Speaking of OMNI, Rogers filed a request to amend the licence for its new OMNI regional feeds to correct what it saw as a typo: It required ICI in Quebec to produce 14 hours of original local programming a week for the Quebec OMNI feed, when Rogers says it meant to say 14 hours a month. But intervenors including Quebecor, Cogeco and the Community Media Advocacy Centre strongly objected to this, saying it amounts to getting a licence under false pretences. Complicating matters is that the conditions of licence first imposed on ICI in 2012 contain an inconsistency between French and English versions. The French version says “le titulaire doit, au cours de chaque semaine de radiodiffusion, diffuser 14 heures d’émissions locales originales à caractère ethnique, calculées mensuellement”, while the English version says “in each broadcast month, the licensee shall broadcast 14 hours of original local ethnic programming, calculated monthly.” (Emphasis mine.) The preamble in both languages makes clear that ICI’s commitment was 14 hours a week of local ethnic programming, but didn’t specify that this commitment was for original programs. It’s also redundant to say “each broadcast month” and “calculated monthly.” Until this application is approved, ICI’s original condition of licence remains.
  • The commission has approved a request by CHOD-FM Cornwall, a francophone community station serving eastern Ontario, for another transmitter farther north in Dunvegan (I first reported on this in April). The new transmitter is on the same frequency, 92.1 MHz, so they’ll either need to synchronize the two (which is tricky) or there’s gonna be interference for people between the two transmitters.

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First look: CTV News Montreal at 5

For the past two weeks, CTV Montreal has had an additional hour of local news on weekdays. First announced in June, the new newscasts precede the usual 6pm news on most CTV stations, including Montreal’s.

Two weeks after they launched on Aug. 28, I’ve watched several of them and can start to piece together a picture of what they generally look like, and the strengths and weaknesses of the format.

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Montreal radio ratings: The Beat crows after its best book ever

Total audience listening share percentage among anglophones in Montreal, from Numeris top-line ratings.

Numeris has released the summer ratings for Montreal radio stations, and though there isn’t much new here, it’s more good news for The Beat 92.5. Its 21.1% share of tuning hours among anglophones is the best it’s gotten since the station launched out of the ashes of The Q in 2011.

The new report widens the lead it had over direct competitor Virgin Radio 96, which appeared to narrow slightly in the spring. As the chart above shows, Virgin hasn’t been ahead of The Beat in this category by any significant margin since 2012.

For much of that time, Virgin did claim the lead among the adults 25-54 and women 25-54 demographics that appeal to advertisers. But The Beat has since won in those categories, too. Steve Kowch has some numbers compiled from Bell Media that show The Beat winning in every demographic.

Of course, The Beat can’t claim to be Montreal’s most popular radio station (that would be 98,5 fm), its most popular station among anglophones (that would be CJAD, though its lead has dropped off significantly), or its most popular music station (that would be Rythme FM).

It also can’t claim to have the most popular morning show, so it did the next best thing and claimed to be the fastest growing one:

Bell Media did something similar on the French side, claiming Rouge FM 107,3 is the most improved radio station over the summer. But among all francophones, Cogeco’s Rythme has 50% more listening hours.

Like Virgin, CHOM is also experiencing a long-term downward trend from its high in 2013.

In commentary online, it seems the station anglos want to talk about is TSN 690, predicting doom over a drop from the spring as well as last summer that is certainly rock-solid evidence that the on-air personality they don’t like is awful and should be fired. I don’t know why the ratings are down (though the P.K. Subban trade probably had people tuning in last summer), but the station’s ratings fluctuations don’t seem out of the ordinary for me.

As usual, take these numbers with a grain of salt. Summer is different from the other quarters, there’s less news and no Canadiens games, so CJAD, CBC Radio One and TSN 690 usually dip while the music stations peak.

Among francophones, talk radio actually did better during the summer, with 98,5fm still ahead at an 18.6% overall share, followed by Rythme FM (13.6%), ICI Première (12.7%), CKOI (10.4%), Rouge (8.8%), The Beat (6.3%) and Énergie (5.8%).

The new kids on the Numeris block, CHRF 980 and CIBL 101.5, are about the same, with 900 and 100 average listeners a minute, respectively.

91,9 Sports had a 2.3% overall share among francophones, its best result since launching that format, putting it just behind ICI Musique and Radio Classique in terms of listeners.

The Athletic Montreal unveils most-star lineup of contributors, launches Monday

The Athletic, an expensive experiment into whether people will pay for quality sports journalism, is getting more expensive.

After its recent announcement that it’s expanding to Montreal in both English and French, and to every other Canadian city with an NHL team, it has announced a full lineup of staff and contributors, led by editor-in-chief Arpon Basu.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Staff

  • Arpon Basu is the editor in chief. The former managing editor for LNH.com, he introduced himself last month.
  • Marc Antoine Godin is the senior writer and managing editor at the French version of the site, Athlétique. He was a sports writer at La Presse since 2000, and at Presse Canadienne before that. Godin introduces himself here.
  • Emna Achour is the associate editor of Athlétique. As a freelancer, she’s worked for the NHL, the Rogers Cup/Tennis Canada, reported on the IIHF World Championship and did research for a KOTV documentary on the Canadiens’ 1970s dynasty.
  • Marc Dumont is an editor and primary Laval Rocket reporter. Dumont is a popular guy on Twitter and contributor to and managing editor of the Habs blog Eyes on the Prize.

Contributors

  • Mitch Melnick, who presumably shouldn’t need introductions but is the afternoon host at TSN 690, is moving his day-after blog The Good The Bad and The Ugly to The Athletic. He introduces himself here.
  • Olivier Bouchard will write a similar column in French. He’s a contributor to LNH.com and the guy behind En attendant les Nordiques.
  • Serge Touchette, former columnist for the Journal de Montréal, and the lockout website Rue Frontenac, “will be writing a weekly column for the French site about whatever he wants.” So probably the Canadiens, but expect some baseball in there as well.
  • Robyn Flynn will be covering the Canadiennes de Montréal CWHL team. She’s a producer at CJAD and host of weekly hockey show Centre Ice on TSN 690, and has been actively following and reporting on the Canadiennes for years. (Dumont and Achour will also cover the team for the French site, Basu says.)
  • Lloyd Barker will be writing weekly about the Montreal Impact. Barker is a former Impact player and commentator in several media including until recently a regular column in the Montreal Gazette. Barker’s columns will be translated into French.
  • Joey Alfieri will be writing weekly about the Montreal Alouettes. Alfieri is a contributor to TSN 690 and several other outlets. His columns will also be translated for the French site.

The lineup is pretty impressive, and certainly anyone who listens regularly to TSN 690 will recognize most of these names. It’s also nice that women’s hockey is going to be covered on a regular basis by a professional journalist, which we haven’t seen much up until now.

Will that be enough for people to pay $10 a month or $70 a year for a subscription? We’ll see. The Athletic is funded mainly by reader subscriptions (it has no ads) but is still going through startup financing, so it’ll be a while until we know if this business model works.

But it’s apparently working enough that the founders of the site are doubling down on their investment, so that’s a good sign.

The Athletic Montreal launches Monday, Sept. 11.