Category Archives: Media

Media News Digest: CBC’s new CEO, Workopolis sold, Michèle Ouimet’s final column

News about news

Continue reading

Toronto Star rebranding Metro newspapers to form pseudo national chain

Metro is dead. Long live StarMetro.

Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star and the remaining Metro newspapers in English Canada, announced Monday that it will be rebranding the Metro papers to StarMetro and bringing them closer to the Star fold, moving their websites to thestar.com and sharing stories between the two. At the same time it is adding 20 journalists to three of the Metro newspapers — Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

The Star’s story on the announcement, as well as nearly identical insert-city-name-here stories in each of the Metro papers (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax), don’t give much details beyond that, but expect to see more Metro content in the Toronto Star, and more Toronto Star content in the Metro papers.

Despite the this-is-good-news nature of the announcement, there are no plans to resurrect Metro papers that have been killed recently. Metro Ottawa and Winnipeg were sold to Postmedia in November to be shut down. Metro also previously had papers in London, Regina and Saskatoon, plus digital-only editions in four other cities.

Métro Montréal, Canada’s only French-language version of the paper, is owned by Transcontinental, which has put it up for sale.

The Torstar changes take effect on April 10. At that point, the Metro app will also be shut down, and visitors to the metronews.ca websites redirected to The Star’s new pages for each city.

Media News Digest: CAJ awards, Quebec budget goodies, details of the sale of Comedy Gold

News about news

Continue reading

Media News Digest: NNA noms, Attraction selling radio stations, feds probe Postmedia-Torstar conspiracy

News about news

Continue reading

Media News Digest: Journalist arrested for email, GameTV sold again, Competition Bureau raids Postmedia and Torstar

News about news

Continue reading

Yet another “Ways to fix the Canadian Screen Awards” post

I watched Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards. Not because I was really excited by it, but because I felt some sort of civic (and professional) duty to do so.

I’ve seen several of these, so I know what to expect. Hosts trying their best with not very good comedic material. Nominees and winners that most of the audience is unfamiliar with. Quebec movie stars feeling like fish out of water in this very English Canada environment. And overall a gala and broadcast that tries to be like the Oscars or the Emmys or even the Screen Actors Guild Awards but with much fewer resources.

The budget issue won’t change unless the CSAs become as big a spectacle as the American awards shows, and we’re pretty far from that.

Continue reading

Media News Digest: Disappointing budget, Radio-Canada affiliate shuts down, Bad Blood gets Season 2

News about news

Continue reading

My top 2018 Olympic moments

Well, it’s over. After 16 days of competition, 29 medals for Canada and dozens of stories of triumph, heartbreak and fun (and only one DUI that we know of), the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games are over.

It was a good year for Canada. The number of total medals was a record, though when you take event inflation into account we did about as well as Sochi and Turin and a bit behind Vancouver.

There were great stories about medallists like Kim Boutin, Ted-Jan Bloemen, Alex Gough and of course Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. There were equally great stories about athletes who didn’t make the podium. And, thanks to the hard-working team at CBC Sports, we got to see as many of those stories as they could cram into their coverage.

I was glued to the Olympics, sacrificing sleep to wake up at 6am to watch competitions live. It was fun to be so caught up in it, cheering every victory and feeling for every defeat. The Olympics are big money, and for the athletes involved it’s their entire lives, but for the rest of us, it’s two weeks of entertainment before we go back to our regular day-to-day.

It might come as cold comfort to those who were expected to win and didn’t, but the Olympics are a crapshot. For most sports, the level of competition is so high that the margin for error is virtually nonexistent. And, frankly, if the results could be so well known in advance, there wouldn’t be much fun doing it in the first place.

So while not every Canadian could finish on the podium, or in the top 10, the more that achieve that level of greatness, the more chances the country has of finding success in unexpected places.

Anyway, based on my experience watching these games, here are some top (mostly Canadian) moments, in chronological order, that got me right in the feels.

Continue reading

Barry Wilson returns with his Postscripts on YouTube

Barry Wilson said he wasn’t ready to retire when he was laid off in November. And on Friday he showed it by launching a YouTube version of his Postscript political opinion series.

The first video, which tackles the same subjects he did weekly on CTV Montreal, albeit shot at home and illustrated with still photos instead of video, is well produced, thanks mainly to Dave Maynard, former chief director and operations manager at CFCF.

Wilson has also launched a website and Facebook page for his new venture.

“I think the English speaking community of Quebec needs as many voices as it can get and I’m so happy to be part of the dialogue,” he explains on the website. “Quebec politics never ceases to surprise me. It is never boring. And the challenges it presents to our community are sometimes formidable. I hope my voice can continue to be part of the conversation because as I have said so many times, ‘This is our home’.”

What happens now is a good question. Can this gain a large enough audience to be viable economically? Will someone take notice and offer him a paying gig out of it? Or will it just be a side project that keeps his name in the conversation, perhaps supplemented by some freelance work that can keep the money flowing?

“This is more of a sideline than anything,” Wilson tells me. “I realized after I had been laid off that Postscript was more popular than I had even believed. It really struck a nerve with a lot of people. Bringing back an online version was Dave’s idea and we will see how it goes. Not expecting to make money with this. But it’s nice to know that (there) can be life after corporate media. It’s nice to have another voice out there for English-speaking Quebecer, especially in an election year.”

Wilson’s new Postscript, like its TV incarnation, is planned to be published every Friday, and he says he’ll try to keep to that schedule. In the meantime, he says he’s “still open to other opportunities.”

Media News Digest: English on Télé-Québec, Le Soleil stops printing Sundays, CBC poaches Vassy Kapelos

News about news

At the CRTC

  • Télé-Québec’s CRTC licence is up for renewal, and among the interventions was one from the English Language Arts Network, which Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot found, writing a story about its demand that English be more represented in TQ’s programming, and even a 10% English quota imposed. Specifically, ELAN is asking the CRTC to:
    • Require TQ to develop and publish a policy to reflect the full diversity of Quebec society,
    • Require TQ to develop and publish an action plan for creation of content that fulfils its diversity policy and a promotion policy to encourage viewership from members of Quebec society who have not traditionally felt reflected, 
    • Require TQ to track the language of its viewers so that it knows which language groups are watching which programs,
    • Create a consultative committee that includes the diversity of Quebec society, which will advise the board of directors on issues concerning the broadcasters diversity of programming throughout the license period.
    • Place ads in English-language media when pertinent programming for the English- speaking minority is scheduled and when new programs are being developed,
    • Create an on-line playlist of Anglo-Que?be?cois reflective content (following the NFB’s example),
    • Require TQ to increase the production and programming of content reflecting the Quebec minorities, especially English-language, indigenous, and visible minority communities to at least 20% of the schedule, and at least 20% of the production budget; and
    • Require TQ to establish English-language programming for 10% of its schedule, and 10% of its production budget, to reflect the English-language community in Quebec.
  • The commission has approved the acquisition of four Ontario radio stations by Bell Media, which will pay $15.64 million to Larche Communications for CICZ-FM Midland, CICX-FM Orillia, CJOS-FM Owen Sound and CICS-FM Sudbury. Bell will pay $1,022,004 to various funds and development initiatives as a CRTC-mandated tax on the acquisition.
  • The CRTC has dismissed a complaint by Electronic Box (aka EBOX) against Bell Media, which accused the company of refusing to make Bell’s specialty channels available for a TV distribution service EBOX plans to launch in Ontario and Quebec. Bell says it is willing to negotiate, and the CRTC agreed Bell was willing to act in good faith. If they can’t come to an agreement, they can come back to the commission for mediation or arbitration.
  • TVA is appealing a CRTC arbitration decision to the federal court of appeal, arguing that the commission was wrong to accept a Bell deal that would set Bell TV per-subscriber rates for TVA Sports lower than Bell’s RDS.

TV and video

Radio

Print

Online

News about people

Jobs

CTV Montreal adds local news updates to Your Morning (UPDATED)

Caroline Van Vlaardingen anchors her first morning news break on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.

Of Montreal’s three English-language local TV stations, CTV is the only one without any local programming. Starting Monday, they fix that with the addition of local news updates to the Toronto-based Your Morning show.

Caroline Van Vlaardingen will anchor the segments, which will be inserted into the show just before each half-hour except the last.

Your Morning, the Canada AM replacement hosted by Ben Mulroney and Anne-Marie Mediwake out of Toronto, has a segment each half hour that, in Toronto, is filled with a brief local newscast anchored by Lindsey Deluce. In other markets that don’t have local cut-ins, and on CTV News Channel, it has a local news story taken from a CTV newscast somewhere in the country. (Originally it was an additional national weather update — if you wondered why there seemed to be so much weather on Your Morning, this was why). These segments last two and a half minutes, including pre-recorded intro.

Starting Monday, Montreal adds its own local cut-ins during this segment.

It’s a far cry from a local morning show like you see on City’s Breakfast Television, and not even the two-thirds-local morning show on Global, but it’s better than nothing, or the local ticker updates that Canada AM had after CTV Montreal last had a local morning newscast or local cut-ins.

CTV Montreal News Director Jed Kahane didn’t want to comment beyond the press release, but I’m told that the newscast’s staff was hired internally, giving a bit more work to existing part-timers, and that the newscast will run for a three-month trial period. There is no dedicated morning reporter (though there is an overnight cameraman chasing fires and car accidents), so any overnight updates will be the anchor’s job.

This move comes just under six months after CTV Montreal and other local stations added 5pm weekday newscasts, which similarly tried to produce more local news without making significant additions to staff.

UPDATE (Feb. 20): I watched the first two episodes of Your Morning with the new local inserts, and here’s how it breaks down:

Each insert is a firm two and a half minutes:

  • The Newsbreak intro graphic that you’ve seen during afternoon commercial breaks on CTV
  • A live shot from the roof camera as the anchor begins talking about weather
  • Current weather conditions graphic (temperature, humidity, pressure, wind)
  • Between four and six local news briefs, usually about 15-20 seconds each. Almost all consist of an anchor voice-over with B-roll
  • A live shot from a remote camera showing a traffic location (it changes each day but stays the same throughout the morning), with anchor voice-over about traffic conditions
  • A five-day forecast, and if there’s time, a daily planner forecast and/or current temperatures map
  • A quick goodbye

Generally, one new brief will be inserted in each half-hour break. Often the briefs are quick recaps of news from the previous day, and sometimes new briefs that come from overnight emergencies. In one case there was a short sound clip, but otherwise it’s all voice-over and there are no packaged reports.

Media News Digest: La Presse Olympics editions, new Gazette columnists, L.A. Times sold

News about news

At the CRTC

TV and video

Radio and audio

Print

Online

News about people

Obituaries

Jobs

Videotron reaches last-minute deal to keep AMC

A month after telling subscribers it is being forced to drop AMC because it couldn’t reach a deal on renewing its contract, Videotron announced on Friday that it has reached a new deal with the popular American channel on the last business day before the channel was to be dropped.

Videotron tells me that “thanks to much effort and perseverance” it has managed to “make the voices of our clients heard.”

Details are confidential, and Videotron declined to tell me even how long their new deal is, but it says the deal “responds to the reality of our regional market” and is satisfactory to both parties. Videotron had previously suggested that AMC’s previous offer was unreasonable because it’s in a francophone market where a smaller fraction of its subscribers would be interested in such a channel.

Videotron tells me that there will be no change to AMC’s packaging. The channel is in some grandfathered theme packages, the Movie Network package, build-your-own packages (with a $2/month surcharge), or completely à la carte for $10 a month.

Thanks to the new deal, there will be a free preview for all digital cable subscribers, from Feb. 12 to 28.

AMC isn’t quite as popular as during the days of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but it still has The Walking Dead, whose new season begins Feb. 25, as well as series like Better Call Saul and Halt and Catch Fire.

UPDATE (Feb. 10): Videotron’s press release is here.

Media News Digest: Coalition wants to block piracy sites, André Arthur fired again, Le Devoir’s new website

News about news

Yet more Weinstein/#MeToo fallout

At the CRTC

  • A coalition including Bell, Rogers, Quebecor, Corus, CBC, Cogeco, and lots of artist and distribution groups is asking the CRTC to start allowing internet providers to block piracy websites. You can imagine how Michael Geist felt about that idea. But the coalition is not impressed by his arguments.
  • The commission has approved the acquisition of independent TV distributor Zazeen by Distributel. The purchase price, which the companies tried hard to prevent from becoming public, is $3, or $1 to each of Zazeen’s three founders. Distributel is a major creditor, according to the application, so it looks like the purchase price is equivalent to whatever the cost of that debt is. Distributel already offered Zazeen TV with its telecom services, and says other companies that offer Zazeen can still do so.
  • Victoria’s CHEK TV has gotten approval for a share buyback plan that would technically result in the local Sampson family moving from a minority shareholder to having more than 50% control when the family’s shares are combined. CHEK made it clear in its application that the Sampsons have no interest in having effective control of the company, which is run by the union, the employees and management, and a special shareholders’ agreement will limit their power. CHEK was bought out by its employees and local investors in 2009 when previous owner Canwest Global decided to shut its secondary E! network down. Several of those employees have since retired or otherwise left and are interested in selling their shares because they provide no income and have actually decreased in value since they were bought.
  • You might remember some anonymous person complaining to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council that The Weather Network’s 30-day forecast had only 27 or 28 days in it (and other minor errors). When the CBSC ruled such minor errors do not amount to breaches of its code, the complainant took the matter to the CRTC, which found no reason to intervene. We still don’t know the identity of the complainant.

TV

Radio

Print

Online

Other

News about people

Obituaries

Jobs

Community station FM 103,3 being forced to move transmitter off Olympic Stadium tower

The government agency that runs the Olympic Stadium has been active the past few years in trying to modernize it. A new really expensive roof was approved by the Quebec government. The tower was renovated into offices for 1,300 employees of the Desjardins group.

But another plan, to open the roof of the tower as an observation deck, means having to remove several radio transmitters, and the Régie des installations olympiques has given at least one of them an eviction notice.

CHAA-FM 103,3, the community station serving the south shore of Montreal, broadcasts from the Olympic Stadium tower, with a signal directed toward Longueuil. In an application to the CRTC, it says it received a notice in 2016 that it must vacate the tower by Dec. 31, 2017. The RIO later offered a three-year lease because work to renovate the roof was delayed, but that lease contained an option to cut it short with 12 months notice.

On top of that, work currently taking place on the tower has interfered with proper operation of the transmitter, due to all the vibration and dust being created. The station, owned by Radio communautaire de la Rive-Sud inc., finally decided it had enough, and has applied to move the transmitter to the CBC/Radio-Canada tower on Mount Royal, which houses almost every commercial FM and TV transmitter in the market.

The application was published Monday by the CRTC, and is accepting comments until Feb. 19, a shortened comment period the commission agreed to so it could expedite the application process.

Current (pink) and proposed (black) transmitter locations and signal patterns for CHAA-FM 103,3

The new transmitter would be higher (284m vs 192m), and slightly more powerful, with a maximum ERP of 1700W instead of 1400W. But its signal pattern would be similar (slightly better toward Brossard and the west), and impacts on nearby stations on the same or adjacent frequencies would be minimal, its engineer asserts.

This move won’t be cheap, though. CHAA estimates a moving cost of $200,000 for new equipment on the new site, and says its rent will double. It’s seeking a loan to cover the costs.

The Mount Royal Antenna is the tallest in Montreal, and the home of transmitters for CBMT, CBFT, CFCF, CFTM and CFJP television transmitters (plus CJNT that broadcasts from a building next to the tower), and CBME, CISM, CKUT, CIRA, CKBE, CBM, CKMF, CBF, CJFM, CHOM, CHMP, CJPX, CBFX, CFGL and CITE FM transmitters, and will soon be joined by CKOI. As a result of its ideal position on top of the mountain, it’s also the most expensive place to put a transmitter, so some stations have used alternate sources, like a nearby Bell-owned tower on the other side of Remembrance Rd. But Olympic Stadium was another option.

Besides CHAA-FM, only one other broadcast transmitter remains on the stadium: CIBL-FM 101,5. And that station is in the middle of a major financial crisis. The last thing it needs is a forced transmitter relocation, even if it had been aware of it for some time.

Correction: This post originally said Télé-Québec’s CIVM-DT transmitter was operating from Mount Royal after moving from the Olympic Stadium. I don’t know where I got that from, but the Industry Canada database shows it still listed as transmitting from the Olympic Stadium tower.