Posted in Media, Radio, TV

Highlights of the CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report

Just days ahead of its major hearing on TV policy, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has released the broadcasting part of its annual Communications Monitoring Report, a document filled with statistics on funding, viewership, subscriptions and more.

Most of the data is unsurprising, or shows the predictable continuation of a gradual procession. Fewer people are analog cable subscribers. Conventional television still struggles to break even while specialty channels are raking in the dough. And AM radio is on the decline while FM continues to boom.

There are still a few interesting things I noted in the report though (in most cases, these figures are for the year ending Aug. 31, 2013):

Overall:

  • Five companies (Bell, Cogeco, Quebecor, Rogers, Shaw) get 85% of total Canadian broadcasting revenues. This includes radio, television and television distribution.

TV:

  • “Netflix adoption among English speakers grew from 21% to 29%” — That’s in one year. In 2011, it was 10%. It’s true that for most subscribers, Netflix is something that complements their cable TV subscription instead of replacing it, but if the broadcasting industry isn’t already nervous about Netflix, it should be.
  • The total TV viewing share 2012-13, in English Canada: Bell 38%, Shaw/Corus 37%, Rogers 9%, CBC 8%.
  • Total TV viewing share in the Quebec francophone market: Quebecor 33%, Bell 23%, Radio-Canada/CBC 18%, Remstar (V) 9%.
  • On Aug. 31, 2011, there were 657,300 IPTV (e.g. Bell Fibe/Telus Optik) subscribers in Canada. On Aug. 31, 2013, it was 1,385,100.

Radio:

  • The number of licensed third-language radio stations in Canada went from 32 in 2012 to 45 in 2013.
  • Revenues for French-language AM radio stations in Canada dropped from $11.7 million in 2011 to $4.7 million in 2013. There are only eight AM commercial French-language radio stations in Canada.  The dramatic drop in revenue coincides with Cogeco’s decision to change CKAC 730 AM in Montreal from all-sports to all-traffic in fall 2011.
  • Since 2009, the CRTC has approved 132 new FM stations, and only three new AM stations.
  • The number of Canadians subscribed to satellite radio has steadily climbed from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2013.
Posted in TV

Chantal Desjardins hired by Sportsnet as Montreal correspondent

Chantal Desjardins has a steady job again

Chantal Desjardins has a steady job again

Chantal Desjardins, who has been doing various odd jobs since she was let go in the CJAD/TSN 690 purge a year ago, announced today that she’s been hired as the Montreal correspondent for Rogers Sportsnet.

Desjardins effectively takes over for Alyson Lozoff, who was let go by the company in March. The job to replace her was posted 98 days ago.

No word yet on what Desjardins will be doing specifically, whether she’ll be reporting rinkside during Canadiens games or how she’ll be contributing to City Montreal’s Breakfast Television and Montreal Connected. But she will be reporting for Sportsnet on sports news that happens in the city, particularly the Habs but also the Alouettes, Impact and other sports as needed.

With Sportsnet getting the English-language rights to 82 Canadiens regular-season games and all playoff games, a Montreal reporter becomes more vital than ever.

On the minus side, this means we won’t be seeing her on CTV anymore, either as a fill-in sports reporter, fill-in sports anchor, fill-in entertainment reporter or in advertisements. (Or at least not as much.)

Posted in Radio

The Beat shuffles Connors, McMahon, Kieran to new jobs

Ken Connors, left, has been promoted to assistant PD, and Shaun McMahon, right, is taking his place on weekends, leaving Vinny Barrucco, centre, with a new partner.

Ken Connors, left, has been promoted to assistant PD, and Shaun McMahon, right, is taking his place on weekends, leaving Vinny Barrucco, centre, with a new partner.

The bromance is over.

A month after appointing Sam Zniber as program director, 92.5 The Beat (CKBE-FM) has made weekend morning man Ken Connors the assistant PD, and has moved Shaun McMahon from the afternoon drive show to weekend mornings to replace him.

McMahon broke the news on Facebook, where he and afternoon drive host “Cousin” Vinny Barrucco had been playing up their “bromance” since they were put together.

“So… the #BROMANCE is on hold for now,” McMahon says.

Sliding into his slot as the afternoon traffic reporter is Kim Kieran, who said on Facebook she was “beyond excited” about the new position. Kieran did traffic at The Beat in the mornings while Natasha Hall was on maternity leave. Here she is reading 50 Shades of Grey.

Posted in TV

CRTC: Videotron doesn’t have to distribute ICI on analog cable

In what would be a precedent-setting decision if anyone was still launching over-the-air television stations, the CRTC has decided that Videotron does not have to make room on its analog cable TV service for ICI, the ethnic television station that launched in Montreal last year.

The TV distribution regulations require distributors to include local television stations, which would normally mean that Videotron must distribute ICI in analog and digital to subscribers in the Montreal area. But Videotron is in the process of phasing out its analog cable system to make room for more digital channels and more bandwidth for video-on-demand and Internet service.

Videotron told the CRTC that fewer than 7% of its Montreal residential subscribers are still on analog cable, though that number is higher if you include institutional customers like hotels and hospitals, and those residences that have digital and analog on different TVs.

Quebecor had argued that the CRTC’s recent decisions to allow analog to continue its decline, by not licensing any new specialty channels for analog TV, for example, makes it clear that the transition to digital is more important than squeezing in another analog channel which would only disappear within a few years anyway as the analog network is dismantled.

ICI argued against the application, saying it would “result in ongoing and serious harm to ICI,” which is still struggling to develop an audience:

It has become apparent to ICI since its launch that ICI’s potential audience frequently consists of individuals that subscribe to Vide?otron’s “Classic Cable” service, which is the analog service. These potential viewers do not currently receive ICI. Vide?otron’s decision not to distribute ICI in accordance with the Regulations in not in the interests of subscribers as Vide?otron suggests. These subscribers would need to pay more to receive ICI, and make the transition to a more expensive digital service far ???sooner than they might otherwise choose – and even while many other services continue to be offered on an analog basis.

ICI pointed out that Videotron’s analog service in Montreal, which is much smaller than it used to be, still carries many U.S. signals, including two PBS stations.

And it said that while 7% may be small, it is still significant for a station that relies solely on advertising for revenue, and the fact that Videotron is still offering an analog service means it does not view this number as trivial.

It also said at least one program producer “decided not to purchase airtime on ICI due to the fact that the members of the target audience and multiple advertisers have advised the producer that they cannot receive ICI on their cable service.”

Videotron countered that it has received no requests from analog clients to get access to ICI, and its contractual obligations prevent it from removing other channels from analog.

In the end, the CRTC sided with Videotron, judging that its interpretation of the commission’s intention to encourage the phasing-out of analog cable is correct. It also cited the lack of opposition from people unconnected to ICI, as well as the substantial assistance the station is receiving from Rogers as a result of the sale of CJNT, in its decision.

Videotron has already begun the process of shutting down its analog network. After dismantling the network in Gatineau, it has started in Montreal with the Ahuntsic region.

Posted in Canadiens, Media, TV

Rogers offers special deal for rest of Canada to watch RDS Canadiens regional games online

As anger continues to build among Toronto and other western Canadian Habs fans that they will no longer be able to watch all 82 regular-season games on RDS, Rogers announced today a special deal that might alleviate that somewhat.

NHL GameCentre Live, the NHL streaming service that allows viewers to watch out-of-region games, will cost $200 for the season this year ($180 if you subscribe by Oct. 13). That’s a pretty steep price for people who were used to either having RDS as part of their basic package or paying a buck or two a month at most.

But Rogers is offering a separate deal that contains just the RDS regional games — 60 Canadiens games and 54 Ottawa Senators games — for $60 for the season. That might be enough for the hard-core fans to accept. (Note that this is for fans outside the Canadiens and Senators market, which is all of Quebec, all of Atlantic Canada and the part of Ontario that’s east of Belleville and Pembroke.)

No more blackouts*

On top of that, national games and in-region games, which were formally blacked out on GameCentre to protect the rights of national and regional broadcasters, will no longer be blacked out. So people who buy a subscription won’t have to switch between various media and websites.

The trade-off to that is that these will be available on an authenticated basis, meaning you need a TV subscription to Sportsnet (English) or TVA Sports (French) to access these national or in-region games on GameCentre, and you need your TV provider to participate in the Rogers program. The TVA access for national games in French probably won’t be ready until January because of technical issues.

Rogers confirms that the games that are not available in a certain region on TV will not require authentication to watch on GameCentre.

Rogers says there will still be some blackouts for in-region games whose rights are owned by “another company” (i.e. TSN). So Ottawa Senators regional games in eastern Canada and Winnipeg Jets games in Manitoba and Saskatchewan won’t be available on this service, nor will those Toronto Maple Leafs regional games that air on TSN4 be available in most of Ontario. You have to watch those on TSN.

Similarly, regional Habs and Senators games in French won’t be available in eastern Canada because RDS holds the rights to them.

And more

Other deals for NHL GameCentre Live include:

  • Free subscriptions for Rogers Internet and Rogers Wireless (data) subscribers until Dec. 31. Half-season passes will be $130 for those who want to subscribe after that.
  • More than 800 archived games going back to 1960.
  • A new NHL mobile app coming in October to watch the games on smartphones and tablets.
  • Where multiple feeds are available, such as English/French or Canada/U.S., GameCentre Live provides both as options.

Rogers has promised more GameCentre announcements in the coming weeks. There may also be announcements relating to NHL Centre Ice, the TV-based service for watching out-of-market games.

Posted in Media

Transcontinental sells 14 community newspapers, shuts down 20 more

Following through on commitments made when Transcontinental bought Quebecor’s entire slate of community newspapers in Quebec, the company has received Competition Bureau approval to sell 14 community newspapers to smaller companies. And Transcontinental has responded by announcing it is shutting down 20 more, laying off 80 people.

The papers being sold, a mix of those previously owned by TC and Quebecor, are among 34 papers that Transcontinental was ordered to put on the market because they compete with other papers also owned by the company. (One of those papers, Le Courrier du Saguenay, which includes the Courrier du Fjord, Courrier de Jonquière and Courrier de Chicoutimi, was later removed from that list.)

Sold to Les Médias de la Rive-Sud:

  • Le Journal de Saint-Hubert (QMI)
  • Rive-Sud Express in Longueuil (TC)

Sold to Serge Langlois, Michel Langlois, Claude Langlois, Carole Côté and Pierre-Marc Langlois, who also own Les Éditions Blainville Deux-Montagnes:

  • L’Echo du Nord in Saint-Jérôme (QMI)

Sold to Néomédia, a division of iClic Inc., where they will become online-only publications:

  • Agri-Vallée in Valleyfield (QMI)
  • Chambly Express (TC)
  • Le Journal de Joliette (QMI)
  • Le Point du Lac-Saint-Jean in Saint-Félicien (QMI)
  • Le Réveil in Saguenay (QMI)
  • L’Echo de la Rive-Nord in Sainte-Thérèse (QMI)
  • L’Echo de Laval (QMI)
  • L’Echo de Trois-Rivières (QMI)
  • Pub Extra Magazine in Laval-Laurentides (QMI)
  • Sorel-Tracy Express (TC)
  • Vallée du Richelieu Express in Mont-Saint-Hilaire (TC)

The remaining 19 community newspapers are now Transcontinental’s to do with as they please. Of them, 18 are on the shutdown list:

  • Abitibi Express – Rouyn-Noranda (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Citoyen)
  • Abitibi Express – Val d’Or (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Citoyen)
  • Le Progrès Écho, Rimouski (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage)
  • Le Rimouskois, Rimouski (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage)
  • L’Impact de Drummondville (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Express)
  • L’Écho de Victoriaville (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s La Nouvelle Union)
  • Édition Beauce Nord, Sainte-Marie (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Beauce-Média)
  • Le Journal de Magog (QMI, competes with Transcontinental’s Le Reflet du Lac)
  • La Voix de la Matanie, Matane (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
  • La Voix Gaspésienne, Matane (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
  • Le Riverain, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
  • L’Écho de Repentigny, Repentigny (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s Hebdo Rive-Nord)
  • Point de vue Laurentides, Mont-Tremblant (TC, competed with Quebecor’s L’Information du Nord)
  • L’Écho de Shawinigan, Shawinigan (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Hebdo du St-Maurice)
  • Châteauguay Express, Châteauguay (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Soleil)
  • Roussillon Express, La Prairie (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Reflet in Delson)
  • Valleyfield Express, Valleyfield (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Soleil)
  • L’Écho de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (competes with Transcontinental’s Le Canada Français)

Also being shut down are:

The only paper that was put on the market and left unsold but will be kept by Transcontinental is Le Courrier du Fleuve in Rimouski.

Transcontinental is now left with 105 weekly papers, five biweeklies, six monthlies and one bimonthly in Quebec, plus the Métro Montreal daily, or 118 total newspapers.

UPDATE: The FNC-CSN union isn’t happy with the job losses, and worries about Néomédia, which it believes is more interested in advertising than maintaining editorial integrity.

Meanwhile, Radio-Canada’s eastern Quebec bureau gets some reaction to the closing of six papers in that region. And the FPJQ’s regional offices denounce the cuts in the Montérégie and Gaspésie regions

Posted in Opinion, TV

How the new TVA Nouvelles saved journalism

Discussion panels!

Discussion panels!

Tonight was the premiere of a new format for TVA Nouvelles’s flagship 10pm newscast (you can watch the whole thing here). Trying to find a new model that was different from the boring single-anchor TV newscast, it brought in four columnists who comment about major news stories, and has become more of a panel discussion show about the news than a newscast.

But that’s not the only change. Here, in screenshots, are other things that TVA Nouvelles has that will save the TV news industry from that pesky Internet threat and make sure the kids keep watching.

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Posted in Canadiens, TV

Sportsnet picks up Canadiens regional games, increases number of national games

With rumours spreading that there would, in fact, be a broadcaster picking up the regional rights to Canadiens games in English, Rogers finally announced today that it has not only picked up the rights to all regional Canadiens games, but that it has increased the number of Habs games being carried nationally, from 32 to 40.

The agreement is a three-year deal. It does not appear to include any preseason games. A play-by-play team has not yet been announced.

39 of the 42 regional games will air on Sportsnet East, which no longer has to worry about regional Senators games because those have moved to TSN. The other three (a Monday game and two Thursday games) will air on City Montreal.

Newly national games are:

  • Thursday, Oct. 9 (7pm @ Capitals) on Sportsnet 360
  • Thursday, Oct. 16 (7:30pm vs. Bruins) on Sportsnet 360
  • Monday, Oct. 27 (9:30pm @ Oilers) on Sportsnet One
  • Thursday, Oct. 30 (10pm @ Canucks) on Sportsnet 360
  • Saturday, Jan. 31 (1pm vs. Capitals) on Sportsnet
  • Wednesday, March 4 (10pm @ Ducks) on Sportsnet
  • Friday, April 3 (7pm @ Devils) on Sportsnet
  • Sunday, April 5 (5pm @ Panthers) on Sportsnet

This means that the Canadiens’ 82-game season breaks down as follows:

  • 39 regional games on Sportsnet East
  • 3 regional games on City Montreal
  • 10 national games (mainly Wednesdays) on Sportsnet East/Ontario/West/Pacific
  • 8 national games (first four Saturdays, most Sundays) on City
  • 4 national games on Sportsnet 360 (all Thursdays)
  • 1 national game on Sportsnet One (Monday Oct. 27)
  • 17 national games on Hockey Night in Canada, channels TBA

Because TSN has the Ottawa Senators regional games, and the two team’s regions are identical, two regional games between the two teams (Jan. 15 and March 12) will be on both TSN and Sportsnet, giving viewers a choice of which network to watch.

The deal does not affect radio rights, which are still held by TSN Radio 690.

I’ve updated my post on who’s carrying what games to include this deal as well as additional national games for the Flames and Oilers.

Posted in Radio

Radio stations rebranded in Cornwall, Quebec City

Less than a year after Mark Dickie was put in charge of Corus Radio’s four stations in Ottawa and Cornwall, three of them have new brands and the fourth has a new lineup.

On Monday, Corus announced the rebranding of the two Cornwall stations. CJSS 101.9 became Boom 101.9, and CFLG 104.5 went from Variety 104 to 104.5 Fresh FM. Their music (classic hits and top 40, respectively) remains the same.

In March, Corus killed Ottawa’s 106.9 The Bear, replacing the rock station with the new brand Jump! The other Ottawa station, Boom 99.7, put a new lineup in place this week that includes former Montreal broadcasters Pete Marier and Murray Sherriffs.

Boom is actually a former Astral Media (now Bell Media) brand, used for two Montérégie stations. It’s also used on CHBM-FM Toronto, which was sold to Newcap Radio as part of required Bell/Astral divestments. So we have one brand being used by five radio stations owned by three different companies in two languages.

More music (seriously) in Quebec City

In Quebec City, Cogeco’s CFOM-FM 102.9 has rebranded as M FM, with a focus on more music, fewer on-air hosts, no contests and fewer “irritants”, the Journal de Québec reports.

The station is keeping its classic hits format, but according to the Journal has reduced its music library to focus on hits.

The keep-it-music-stupid focus is reflected on the station’s website, which is pretty bare-bones.

It might also be a response to stations like Quebec City’s NRJ, which brought in Jeff Fillion to do a noon talk show and saw ratings for that hour skyrocket.

More rebrands

Other radio stations are also getting rebrands, since this is the season for that just before fall:

Posted in Opinion, TV

Are TSN’s five channels worth it?

Updated with some clarification below about TSN’s main feed.

It was inevitable. With so much sports programming available, with so many scheduling conflicts, with prices going up (both in terms of subscription fees and in terms of rights fees) and with Rogers having scooped up national NHL games, TSN had to expand beyond the two channels it previously had.

Rogers crowed that it had nine channels available on Saturday nights for hockey: CBC, City, four regional Sportsnet channels, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 360, and FX Canada. Rogers also owns Sportsnet World, and three special Sportsnet One regional feeds (for Canucks, Flames and Oilers games).

TSN, meanwhile, had TSN and TSN2, plus special part-time regional feeds for Jets and Canadiens games.

So on Monday, TSN officially expanded to five channels, numbered 1 through 5. The Jets and Canadiens channels disappear, and regional NHL games (Jets, Leafs and Senators) will instead air on the three new channels, which will be blacked out outside their regions when those teams are playing.

Videotron holds out

Bell Media managed to secure deals with most major providers to add the channels. Shaw, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Cogeco, Eastlink, MTS and SaskTel are all on board. The major holdout is Videotron, which says it’s still in talks with Bell Media over adding the channels.

These kind of negotiations are complex, and it’s hard, without getting details on those talks, to tell which side is being unreasonable. Videotron is out on its own here, but it’s also the only provider that allows its subscribers to choose just about everything à la carte. Right now TSN is one of those channels, and it comes with TSN2 thrown in for free.

Various factors come into play when negotiating over new channels: the price, packaging and other special conditions, available space on the distribution network, and of course subscriber demand.

TSN decided to launch the five feeds on the first day of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Early rounds of a tennis major provide a very good example of how useful extra feeds can be, with lots of matches happening simultaneously. Viewers might be interested in following a Canadian, or checking up on their favourite tennis superstar, or checking out some interesting story going on in another match entirely. Having five feeds is very useful here.

But TSN seemed to try to artificially inflate demand on Tuesday by pushing a match by Eugenie Bouchard to TSN5 instead of having it on the main channel or TSN2. (Though strangely on Videotron, TSN’s main feed was replaced with TSN5 all day.) That led to a lot of people bugging their service providers (not just Videotron) about where TSN5 is.

UPDATE: As Josh explains in a comment below, TSN has decided that TSN1 is no longer its main feed nationally. Instead, TSN1 is the main feed for B.C. and Alberta, TSN3 is the main feed in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, TSN4 is the main feed for southern Ontario, and TSN5 is the main feed for eastern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. This allows those who only have one or two TSN channels (such as analog subscribers) to still get their Jets, Leafs and Senators regional games. This explains a lot of what we see below.

As they decide whether to add these channels, Videotron and others have to ask themselves: Just what do the other three TSN channels offer that its two existing ones don’t have?

Schedule grid of TSN's five channels for this Saturday.

Schedule grid of TSN’s five channels for this Saturday.

This schedule for Saturday offers more insight into the added value of these additional feeds. Instead of one Premier League game on Saturday mornings, TSN can air three simultaneously. It can air college football games and more NASCAR races, things that would otherwise be shown on tape-delay or on those rare occasions when there was nothing better to show.

Fans of the Jets, Leafs and Senators (who live in their respective broadcast regions) will definitely appreciate the feeds during the NHL season. But that’s only 138 games, or 414 hours of programming, in a year. And as I mention above, subscribers in those regions don’t need the extra channels to watch their team (except in some areas of Ontario where the broadcast regions overlap).

Identical programming much of the time

If you look at other days, the value of extra TSN channels becomes less apparent. Take Friday, Sept. 5. The U.S. Open is still on, but its field has narrowed so much that only three matches are scheduled for that day: two women’s singles semifinals and the mixed doubles final. There’s also a NASCAR race and a CFL game that night. Two channels are more than enough for all that.

Looking at the schedule for that day, the lineup for TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5 are identical from 2am to 11:30pm: 10 repeats of SportsCentre, U.S. Open tennis, and the B.C. vs. Ottawa CFL game.

Only TSN2 looks different, with NASCAR, MLS, Dave Naylor and various ESPN feature and talk shows.

Of course, these channels just launched, and we could see more differentiation in the future, especially as the number of subscribers who have only one or two TSN channels further diminishes. There was a suggestion early on of installing cameras in other TSN Radio studios and broadcasting other radio shows on TV. Repeats, documentaries and talk shows can also fill up the schedules pretty easily.

But because of TSN’s Sportsnet-like regionalization of those channels, it has essentially backed itself into duplicating much of its content across four of them (TSN2 isn’t the main feed anywhere, so its programming can be entirely distinct). So expect CFL games and major sporting events to still be the same across TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5 for a while.

That’s not to say that the additional feeds aren’t worth it. But for now, their value depends on how much you want more choice in things like tennis, NASCAR, English soccer and U.S. college football, and whether you feel like, when it comes to sports, you absolutely cannot miss a thing.

UPDATE: Mitch Melnick speaks with TSN president Stewart Johnston about the new channels. Johnston says Videotron sees the value in them and the two parties are working on getting them added.

Posted in Media

40 questions about MTL Blog’s ethics (UPDATED)

UPDATE: MTL Blog CEO Charles Lapointe just finished a Twitter Q&A. You can see questions and responses here. I’ve updated this post with what he said, some of which answer the questions, others don’t.

MTL Blog has its logo proudly stencilled on the windows of its storefront office on St-Laurent Blvd. on the Plateau

MTL Blog has its logo proudly stencilled on the windows of its storefront office on St-Laurent Blvd. on the Plateau

Since it launched in 2012, a website called MTL Blog has been increasingly popping up in people’s Facebook feeds, with short stories reporting on the viral news of the day. Its Facebook page is very popular, and your friends are probably among its 66,000 likes.

Recently, the blog has come under pressure from critics, who accuse it of everything from stealing their content to sensationalizing the news to getting basic facts wrong in their reporting.

Those accusations culminated in this blog post, titled “a love letter to Montreal”, in which the website starts off by saying “you’re welcome, and we’re sorry,” and by explaining how great it is with its “unmatched knowledge of events, parties, and general goings-on,” its “daily fountain of relatable content, one that never runs dry,” its “modern testament to the Montreal lifestyle” and its “level of interaction and interconnectedness” that “media megaliths” cannot match.

The letter was instantly derided as “terrible“, “incredibly bad“, “arrogant and insincere“, “breathtakingly tone-deaf“, “douchebaguerie arrogante“, “the worst apology ever” and “infinite arrogance“. The sentence “hate us, and we rebuttal” was oft-quoted as both an example of the website’s issues with the English language (which it also apologized for) and its self-centredness.

So after ignoring it for months, I decided to look into this website. During that process I learned a lot more, hearing accusations it asked for money in exchange for news content, that it employed unpaid reporters and photographers, and that it threatened legal action against websites that criticize or parody it.

I even heard an allegation that MTL Blog itself was stolen from one of its founders.

This is serious stuff. So I asked MTL Blog’s owners, Charles Lapointe and Josh McRae, and its news editor, Michael D’Alimonte, for an interview. All three signed the “love letter” (though Lapointe now suggests he was not an author.)

A week later, with no response, I called up Lapointe and identified myself. After realizing who I was, he asked if I was the guy who was bad-mouthing them on Twitter. He accused me of acting in bad faith and refused an interview. But he said he would be “happy” to answer questions sent to him by email.

I compiled a list of 20 questions and sent them on Aug. 5. I reiterated that I would be happy to meet in person or conduct an interview using whatever medium they would prefer.

I quickly got a response: “Although I do appreciate your interest in MTL Blog and your call, unfortunately nor I or my team has the time or resources to be able to answer your questions,” Lapointe wrote.

Instead, Lapointe directed me to this glowing profile written by a website called The Run-In, which did not answer most of my questions at all.

As I spoke to more people who had things to say about MTL Blog, my list of questions grew to 35 and finally 40. I sent those to Lapointe as well.

His next email to me made it clear he would not respond to my questions, and it had nothing to do with a lack of “resources”:

What I have seen from you online is not something I would like to associate myself or my brand with.

Never mind that I’m not seeking to “associate” with him or his brand.

All my emails were also sent to McRae and D’Alimonte. I never got a response from either of them.

(I also contacted Alex Melki, who hosts the MTL Blog TV series. He agreed to an interview but politely reneged after speaking with McRae and Lapointe, relaying their concerns that I would use it against them.)

So what follows in this long blog post with its intentionally clickbaity and (formerly) sensationalized headline are those 40 questions, as I asked them. Some of them are based on statements made to me that cannot be absolutely verified because the only people who would actually know are the people making the statements and either Lapointe, McRae, D’Alimonte or some combination of them. Nevertheless, all three of them have been given the opportunity to comment on these statements and had chosen not to do so before today.

Instead, Lapointe said he has agreed to only one interview about the criticisms of his website, with freelance journalist Pierre Chauvin, whose story about MTL Blog is posted on Jesse Brown’s Canadaland website. It, too, fails to answer many of the questions posed below.

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Posted in Radio, TV

NHL broadcast schedule 2014-15: Who owns rights to what games

Are you pissed because you just saw RDS, TSN or Sportsnet blacked out during an NHL game? This post explains what’s going on and what you can do about it.

Updated Sept. 5 with Rogers-Canadiens regional deal, as well as additional national games for Oilers, Flames and Canucks. Also includes information about out-of-region coverage where two Canadian teams face each other, and information about where some games are national in one language but regional in the other.

The final piece of the puzzle as far as the NHL schedule is concerned has finally been revealed with the publishing of regional broadcast schedules. This allows us to break down who will broadcast what where, and I’ve done so below for the seven Canadian NHL teams.

As previously announced, Rogers has all the national rights to NHL games, which includes all Saturday night games and all playoff games. Beyond that, it gets a bit complicated (some games are national in one language but not the other, for example). Regional games will be viewable in the team’s region (here’s a map of the teams’ regions), but those outside will need to fork out cash for NHL Centre Ice or NHL GameCentre to see all their team’s games. (Or maybe not? Rogers still gives me a coy “details will be announced in the coming weeks” when I ask about that.)

TSN has decided to assign its three regional rights packages to specific channels: Jets on TSN3, Leafs on TSN4 and Senators on TSN5. The five-channel TSN system launches on Monday on every major TV provider in Canada except Videotron (which tells me it’s in discussions to add the other three channels).

Below are how the TV and radio rights break down for each team. They include regular-season games only. Preseason games are regional, and subject to separate deals. All playoff games are national, so their rights are owned by Rogers in English and TVA in French.

Radio rights are not subject to regional blackouts. Listed is their local station only and does not include affiliates.

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