Elliott Price ends show on CFMB

Elliott Price

UPDATE (Feb. 8): Sportsnet has announced that Elliott Price will be co-host of the morning show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto.

Elliott Price is pulling the plug on Sportsnet Tonight after a year on CFMB 1280 AM.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Price thanked sponsors, contributors and listeners, but had a message for those who didn’t choose to advertise, as well as Montreal’s English community in general:

Many had a chance to advertise and chose not to.
Although reaching out to you was not one of my strengths.
I hope in the future you can see past your wallets.

If you have a chance and a few dollars and think it important, please invest in our future or soon none of us will live here or our culture will be completely gone.

Price said he’ll take a vacation as he contemplates what next to do with his life.

Price began airing a show on CFMB on Valentine’s Day 2016, three months after he was laid off by TSN 690. It started as a weekly Sunday night show called Price is Right, but was upgraded to a two-hour daily show in June. In August, it announced a deal with Sportsnet and changed its name to Sportsnet Tonight with Elliott Price. At the time, I asked whether the show was viable, and Price said it was about halfway to that point. It seems he couldn’t get it the rest of the way there.

Sportsnet Tonight’s final show is tonight, 8-10pm, on CFMB 1280 AM. There’s been no announcement of what will replace it on CFMB’s schedule.

Media News Digest: Shattered Mirror critics, La Presse+ readership numbers, RIP Benoît Aubin

Wilder Weir was up to his old tricks again last night.

News about news

  • The Public Policy Forum report on the future of journalism in Canada (called Shattered Mirror) has some critics in journalism. Andrew Potter, former editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen, tackles ideas that would have the government deciding what is journalism, and goes on a rant about journalism schools. Paul Wells also is against government meddling in journalism, in a more general sense. Michael Geist unsurprisingly raises an alarm about talk of tightening the fair dealing exception to copyright law.
  • The Union des artistes has reached a deal with Radio-Canada to compensate artists who appear on talk shows or other similar programs. It used to be they’d get to plug themselves (a series or movie they’re in, an upcoming album, a stage tour) but get no money. Now they’ll get $110 for appearing on RDI.
  • The Globe and Mail’s public editor explains how the paper reported on the Quebec City mosque shooting in the hours that followed it, and why it was the second most prominent story on the front page Monday instead of the most prominent one. Sylvia Stead says journalists were working hard to confirm facts, but little was known about the shooting in the first couple of hours, and the Globe wanted to be cautious about reporting details. Her column also notes that the Globe doesn’t have a journalist in Quebec City.

At the CRTC

  • The commission’s biggest story is happening in a courtroom in Toronto, where Raj Shoan, the former commissioner who was fired by the government after a harassment complaint and falling out with chair Jean-Pierre Blais, is challenging his dismissal in court.

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Be careful what you wish for from all-news channels

“C’est le terrorisme à l’envers.”

Those were words that Pierre Bruneau would have liked to have had back (he apologized for them on Monday). He said them during a live telephone interview with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre just before midnight Sunday on TVA, hours after a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City left six people dead.

Bruneau was thinking out loud about how this was an apparent terrorist attack against Muslims, when we normally think of terrorism committed by Muslims (even though, with one major exception, such attacks are extremely rare in North America). He didn’t mean to say something ignorant or racist, but it kind of came out that way, at least for many of the now hundreds of thousands who have seen a video of the exchange on Facebook.

Bruneau is a veteran and a professional. He’s been dealing with breaking news for decades. And when even he starts mouthing off about n’importe quoi, it’s because there’s something wrong with the situation he’s been put in.

On Sunday evening, as news spread about the attack, people were hungry for information. Many of them lashed out on Twitter about the lack of live coverage on all-news channels. While LCN and RDI went live with special programming, CTV News Channel and CBC News Network did not at first. Critics tied the lack of live coverage to budget cuts, laziness and ignorance of anything happening outside of Toronto. John Doyle at the Globe and Mail made a column out of it. Even Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien blasted Radio-Canada for not more aggressively cutting into its main network programming, and then only doing so locally.

There are legitimate reasons to criticize CTV, CBC or other broadcasters. They’ve all had to undergo cuts to their newsrooms (mainly because their revenue has decreased as the market for TV advertising goes down). They tend to have minimal or even no staffing on weekends and overnight, and in a place like Quebec City where there’s no local English TV station, merely a bureau at the National Assembly, your immediate coverage is dependent on a single journalist and her cameraman.

The English networks could have gone live from Toronto, as the French ones did from Montreal, after the news broke around 9pm. But with the Quebec City reporter still rushing to the scene, and few details to go on, they’d be stuck spending 30 seconds recapping what they know (there was a shooting at a mosque, several people are dead and more injured, police have made arrests) and then filling the rest of every hour with their imaginations.

I’m one of those people who think 24-hour news networks should be focused on breaking news. After all, that’s what they’re there for, right? But I’m not sure special programming right off the bat is necessarily the way to go for an incident that is not a safety threat to the public. If they’d done that, we’d probably be roasting them over the coals for all the stupid ignorant stuff they said over the air to fill time, like we’re doing to Bruneau.

So let me propose a different solution to breaking news on all-news channels (and their related over-the-air networks):

  1. On the news channel, break into programming to announce what happened once it’s confirmed something actually did happen. Explain what you know and what you don’t know, and promise regular updates. Go back to regular or filler programming.
  2. Add a banner, ticker or other permanent on-screen element to whatever programming is airing explaining the news and giving the latest details. (This is standard on RDI when major news breaks but they can’t go live yet.)
  3. If your network has an over-the-air station in the affected market, and there’s a possible public safety issue, put that banner or ticker on top of programming there, include whatever public safety information needs to be communicated, and direct people to the news channel for more information. When the news channel has special programming ready, duplicate that channel’s feed on the local station.
  4. For the rest of the network, air a 30-second report instead of the first commercial at the next commercial break, directing people to the all-news channel (or if you don’t have one, your website) for more information.
  5. On the news channel, every half hour, give a 30-second (or however long it takes) update from the anchor desk, again being as transparent as possible about what you know, what you don’t know, and what you’re working on and cautioning that early information (even from official sources) can be wrong.
  6. When enough resources are mobilized that you’re confident you can have enough real information to air without having to resort to speculation to fill airtime, begin full-time special programming.
  7. Find things that can be cued or cut to when your anchor has run out of information to give. Maybe a two-minute roundup of the other headlines of the day. Even something simple like a graphic wall of text summarizing the known information so far. Do everything you can to resist the urge to start speculating, or asking other people to speculate, about breaking news.
  8. Once the influx of news has died down, especially if it’s now late at night, sign off from special programming and go back to updates every half-hour or hour.

Networks that run news channels need to do better jobs when news breaks late at night. So many major stories — the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the disaster in Lac-Mégantic and this — broke at night on the weekend, limiting the networks’ ability to cover them.

But like with those stories, there was plenty of coverage eventually. Every network and all the major newspapers sent reporters to Quebec City, either Sunday night or Monday morning. In fact, all three English-language national newscasts were anchored from Quebec City on Monday night (what journalistic use there is sending the anchors to Quebec City so they could deliver a newscast outside in the cold is still beyond my comprehension).

Plus, most of the information people were getting on Twitter or online came from the same journalists that were covering the incident for the major networks or newspapers. And yet people say stupid things like how they don’t need mainstream news because they have Twitter.

So the issue wasn’t a lack of interest, it was a lack of information early on, combined with difficulty mobilizing journalistic resources in an area that has few English-language journalists and at a time when most journalists in general aren’t working.

There are things that can be worked on there (though, of course, no consumer wants to pay for it) that may speed up the process a bit. But there is no circumstance in which you can produce a journalistically solid hour-long newscast about a breaking news event on a half-hour’s notice. You can’t make the authorities work faster, nor can you do their job for them. So in the first few hours of any breaking news story, you’re still left with some bad choices: wait before going live and continue with regular programming (pissing off the John Doyles of the world), produce live programming that repeats little information ad nauseam, have a lot of dead air, or ask your journalists to start doing what people on social media were doing on Sunday night: Repeating rumours, speculation and poorly-informed hot takes and emotional reactions rather than facts.

Which would you choose? My proposal above is the closest thing I can come to a compromise, but even the best-laid plans can easily fail when something big happens without warning.

Heather Backman, Paul Beauregard laid off at CHOM

Heather Backman

Heather Backman, who was Terry DiMonte’s co-host on CHOM’s morning show since he returned to Montreal in 2012, is no longer in that role. Backman updated her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles to remove references to the station, and CHOM’s website no longer lists her as co-host for the morning show.

Paul Beauregard, who returned to CHOM recently to fill in on various shifts, is also out.

I wrote about their layoffs in a story for the Montreal Gazette, which also includes some analysis of the financial situation of Bell Media’s radio stations and the market (albeit with figures from 2014-15).

Matthew Garrow, Director of News, Local Stations, Sports, Discovery Networks & Community Investment for Bell Media, confirmed that there are layoffs happening at CHOM, without mentioning any names:

I can confirm that we are reducing several positions at CHOM. These changes are the result of the challenges Bell Media and other Canadian media companies are facing due to increasing international competition, the evolution of broadcast technologies, and advertising and regulatory pressure.

We have no further comment on the matter at this time.

Backman herself had no immediate comment, but posted a message to Facebook on Tuesday morning thanking DiMonte, producer Esteban Vargas and former bosses Martin Spalding and the late André Lallier.

Beauregard also declined to comment.

The cuts at CHOM are part of wider cuts at Bell Media nationwide. They include:

Bell hasn’t said how many people it’s letting go across the country, where they are, or if there are other cuts to come.

UPDATE (Jan. 31): DiMonte addressed Backman’s departure at the beginning of Tuesday’s morning show, saying the decision was “not mine to make”, and citing the disruptive nature of employment in the industry. He said the position of morning show co-host has been eliminated and the show would “take a new direction, and we’re moving forward without Heather.” He said Monday was “tough” and she will be missed but the station wishes her the best. (He posted a nearly identical message on his Facebook page.)

This was DiMonte’s only unprompted statement about Backman during Tuesday’s show, so most listeners didn’t hear it. But it was brought up during the 7am hour when contributor Pierre Houde brought it up to pay tribute. Here’s what he said:

The Beat’s Nat Lauzon was among those local personalities to (at least publicly) show support to her dismissed friend:

Kim Sullivan, who worked at both Virgin Radio and The Beat, also paid tribute:

Review: A Guy Like Me by John Scott

The Montreal Gazette had a review copy of the autobiography of John Scott, star of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. The sports editor offered it to me, and I read it during the week. Here are my thoughts on it, and excerpts from my favourite parts of it.

For the first 170 of its 215 pages, John Scott’s autobiography is pretty run-of-the-mill. But then, that’s kind of the point.

If you don’t remember the story that led to this guy becoming famous, he retells it as of Page 171. Spurred by a joke that was eventually traced to a suggestion in a podcast, fans began voting en masse for Scott, then a journeyman enforcer playing for the Arizona Coyotes, to go to the National Hockey League All-Star Game. Not because he was a big star with a lot of talent, but because he wasn’t. Fans had earlier tried and failed with something like this with the Vancouver Canucks’ Rory Fitzpatrick. (And for the 2015 game, a more positive-minded campaign from Latvia sent Zemgus Girgensons to the top of the all-star ballot.) But this time, the online trolls were successful in voting Scott in as the team captain for the Pacific Division at the 2016 all-star game.

It’s largely what happened after that announcement that made him a story, and turned him from an also-ran NHL nobody into an unlikely hero. The team, and the league, tried to convince him to decline the invitation. He was then traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a deal that made little sense, and Scott was immediately sent to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin explained that he was forced to take Scott in the deal, without giving details.

Despite everything, Scott went to the game, where he became a media star and fan favourite. He scored two goals in the semifinal and was a write-in winner as MVP of the event, with the prize being a new car.

Scott played only a single meaningless NHL game with the Canadiens after that, the team having already been eliminated from playoff contention. After the 2015-16 season, he retired from professional hockey.

Scott’s take on the all-star game, and some entertaining highlights from his career (including missing his first NHL game because he didn’t have his passport) are already public thanks to two pieces in the Players Tribune: One at the time of the all-star game and another from December when he announced his retirement. That’s all in the book as well, along with information about how he grew up, the course of his career and, because there are so few of them, descriptions of all five of his NHL goals.

But since the book is told chronologically, it’s a long wait until you get to the part that made him famous. Scott begins with his childhood, playing hockey on a backyard rink in St. Catharines, Ont. He talks about going to Michigan Tech University and playing college hockey there, meeting his wife there, signing a professional contract and playing for what would become seven NHL teams.

Co-authored by Sports Illustrated’s Brian Cazeneuve, the book is very matter-of-fact about the events of Scott’s life, his feelings and opinions. You won’t see adjective-laden scene-setting descriptions. Rather, it’s short and simple sentences relating the things that happened. Like you’d expect from a guy whose university education was in engineering. But the style leads to some passages being kind of boring, when he goes off on a tangent that makes you wonder what the point is.

I was fascinated by the John Scott story when it happened. About a regular guy being bullied by people he’d never met, and turning into a superstar just by being a decent person. About someone who, when people talk about the most talented players faking injuries in order to get out of the all-star game, was just so excited for the chance to go.

But at the same time, Scott would never have been at the all-star game if not for the heartless lulz of NHL fans. The only way to prevent another case like this is to change the rule to prevent someone like him from getting to the game in the first place. Maybe you can make the argument that Scott represents a type of player that’s necessary for the game, or you can accept that he’s a Cinderella story and not think about it too much. But the people who are happy with what happened to him are also the ones who thought he shouldn’t have been invited, myself included.

Scott is far from perfect. He’s a goon who was suspended more than once by the NHL, and he has a DUI on his criminal record (something he called the worst mistake of his life). But he’s a smart guy, and his heart seems to be in the right place, so you can’t help but root for the guy.

We don’t learn much more than we already did about the all-star game and leadup to it. Scott won’t say which NHL official brought up his daughters to try to convince him not to go. But we get more detail of the conversation, which really makes the league look bad. And we get some indication of the petty things the NHL tried to dictate, like the jersey he wore and even changing the skills competition he would play in.

But the book ends on a positive note, about how great the experience was, about his brief time with the Canadiens and about the early plans to maybe make a movie out of his experience.

Even though I already know what the plot would be, it’s a movie I’d like to see.

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CTV hopes $300,000 in prizes will keep Canadians on its Super Bowl feed

Bell Media has had two years to prepare for the implementation of the CRTC’s simultaneous substitution decision. Now, with a little more than a week to go until Super Bowl LI, the first that will be exempt from simsub, CTV has announced how it will try to keep Canadians glued to its feed instead of switching to Fox for the U.S. commercials:

  • Prizes. The headliner is $300,000 in cash prizes (including the $150,000 grand prize), plus a 2017 Nissan Titan and tickets to the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. During the broadcast, “hosted by TSN’s Kate Beirness and Tessa Bonhomme, who will reveal the winning keyword for each prize. To be entered into each draw, fans can simply text the winning keyword along with their name and city.” Obviously, this will only be available on the Canadian feed.
  • Pregame and postgame shows. The CRTC has clarified that the simsub rule exemption applies only during the game itself. The hours and hours of pregame shows will be simsubbed, as will a half-hour postgame show featuring the awarding of the Vince Lombardi trophy. This means that CTV, rather than rushing to start an hour-long drama at 10pm when the game is just ending, will stick with the postgame broadcast for half an hour and have a smoother transition.
  • More channels. In addition to CTV, the game will also be broadcast on CTV Two and TSN. This isn’t really necessary, since few Canadians have access to CTV Two or TSN but not CTV, but putting the Super Bowl on these other channels increases the chances that someone picking a channel randomly from their guide will stumble on a Bell-controlled Canadian feed rather than a U.S. Fox affiliate. The game will also be streamed online on CTV.ca and CTV Go. That online rebroadcast is not regulated by the CRTC, and there will be no (legal) way to watch a Fox station online in Canada.
  • Letterkenny. Rather than an hour-long drama at 10pm, CTV will air, for the first time on regular television, the first episode of the Crave TV original comedy series Letterkenny, commercial-free, at 10:30pm after the postgame show. (Because the series has really coarse language, CTV is going to delay the airings in the Mountain and Pacific time zones so they air at 10:30pm local time instead of just after the game.) Fox is airing 24: Legacy, whose Canadian rights are held by City TV. CTV has, to their credit, been using the coveted post-Super Bowl spot about half the time to showcase original Canadian series. Here are CTV’s Super Bowl leadout shows since it won the rights in 2007 (2010 was the only case in which CTV also aired the program the U.S. Super Bowl broadcaster followed up the game with):
    • 2008: Nip/Tuck (U.S.)
    • 2009: The Mentalist (U.S.)
    • 2010: Undercover Boss (U.S.)*
    • 2011: Flashpoint (Canada)
    • 2012: The Voice (U.S.)
    • 2013: Motive (Canada)
    • 2014: Masterchef Canada
    • 2015: Masterchef Canada
    • 2016: Legends of Tomorrow (U.S.)
  • Pushing pre-viewing of U.S. ads. CTV is encouraging Canadians to visit BigGameAds.ca to watch “all the latest American SUPER BOWL ads.” That sounds like an interesting project until you learn that the page is just a redirect to an unaffiliated website that is embedding YouTube videos of some ads. Other ads haven’t been released yet, and in some cases we’re only going to see trailers for ads until they actually air live. A redirect to YouTube’s AdBlitz channel might have made more sense.

One thing that wasn’t announced is anything special about the Canadian ads themselves. Bell says it has spots from Nissan, Coca-Cola, The Keg, Mazda, Scotiabank, Subway, Sun Life Financial and Tim Hortons, and no doubt some of them will have put decent money into those ads, but Tim Hortons isn’t exactly Budweiser.

Will the contest and other measures be enough? No. But maybe CTV won’t lose as many viewers to Fox as it had worried it would. And if it keeps most of its viewers, the Super Bowl on CTV could easily remain the most watched television program of the year in Canada.

Super Bowl LI airs Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:30pm on CTV, CTV Two, TSN, RDS and Fox, the latter with American commercials between kickoff and the end of the game.

 

Media News Digest: CRTC hiring, Chronicle-Herald strike hits 1 year, layoffs at Postmedia

News about news

At the CRTC

  • With the commission’s seats slowly emptying out, the federal government has finally started the process of filling them, posting notices for several jobs: chair, vice-chair broadcasting, and members for Ontario and Manitoba/Saskatchewan. Deadlines to apply are Feb. 20. The non-chair positions say that “With the exception of decision-making responsibilities, Members report to the Chairperson,” which is actually a point under some contention at the moment in a legal appeal by the former Ontario member, Raj Shoan. Chair Jean-Pierre Blais’s term ends this year, but the posting of his position doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be re-appointed.
  • The commission has approved the purchase, for $1.5 million, of a majority stake (80.1% of voting shares, 50% of non-voting shares) of World Fishing Network to Keywest Marketing, owned by Canadians Mark Yelic and Hugh McKinnon.

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20 bogus arguments about the CRTC and Super Bowl ads

With less than three weeks to go until Super Bowl LI, the rhetoric is heating up about a decision made by the CRTC two years ago to end simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl, now that it’s about to finally come into effect.

There’s good reason for this. Simultaneous substitution is worth $250 million to the Canadian television industry, according to one estimate, and substitution for the Super Bowl alone — the most watched program on Canadian TV every year with an average around 7 million (plus another 1 million on RDS) — is worth $18 million a year to Bell Media, which owns the Canadian rights through 2019. There’s a huge financial interest for Bell to keep fighting this.

And so the decision is facing an appeal by Bell Media, though the court declined to stay the decision in the meantime, so it remains in force pending a decision.

Ever more desperate, Bell Media, the NFL and other allies in the fight appealed to the government directly, lobbying them to engage in creative manoeuvres to overrule the CRTC. The government appears disinterested in stepping in to overturn a populist decision by a supposedly arm’s-length regulator.

In the arguments for and against the decision, from interest groups, newspaper columnists and others, there have been a lot of good points and a lot of poor ones made. Those who want to oversimplify this issue have taken plenty of logical short cuts that can lead casual observers to incorrect conclusions.

Here are some of the arguments used by both sides that I’ve heard over the past few weeks (in some cases I’ve included links to those who have used them or implied them), and why I think those arguments are invalid.

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Media News Digest: Rock 100.9 goes retro pop, New York Times’s future, new city columnist at Montreal Gazette

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  • Clare Hollingworth, war correspondent who broke the news about the start of the Second World War.

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19-2, This Life, Mohawk Girls among the hundreds of nominees for Canadian Screen Awards

It’s hard to take the Canadian Screen Awards seriously when there are 134 categories, including ones like Best Sound in a Variety or Animated Program or Series, Best Sports Opening/Tease, and Best Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series. The Oscars, by comparison, have 24 categories. And though the Emmys are a similar mess of too many awards (especially if you include local Emmys), I don’t think that’s necessarily something to look up to.

Anyway, because just about everyone was nominated in the list announced today — the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards got three nominations — there were some accolades for English-language TV series produced in and around Montreal.

  • 19-2, the Bravo cop drama based on a Radio-Canada series by the same name, had nine nominations (most of these categories have equivalents for other types of programs):
    • Best drama
    • Best direction (Louis Choquette)
    • Original score (Nicolas Maranda)
    • Photography (Tobia Marier Robitaille)
    • Picture editing (Arthur Tarnowski)
    • Sound
    • Writing (Bruce M. Smith)
    • Lead actor (Adrian Holmes)
    • Supporting actor (Dan Petronijevic)
  • Mohawk Girls, the APTN comedy based on the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, had three nominations:
    • Best comedy series
    • Best direction (Tracey Deer)
    • Writing (Cynthia Knight)
  • Interrupt This Program, the CBC documentary series based in Montreal, had three nominations:
    • Best direction (Olivier Aghaby)
    • “Best Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series”
    • Documentary picture editing (Geoff Klein)
  • YidLife Crisis, the online series, had three nominations in digital categories:
    • Actor (Eli Batalion)
    • Actor (Jamie Elman)
    • Original program (fiction)
  • This Life, the CBC drama based on Radio-Canada’s Nouvelle adresse, had two nominations:
    • Best drama
    • Supporting actress (Lauren Lee Smith)

I may have missed other Quebec-based anglo series nominated for awards (if you spot one, let me know), and there are plenty of Quebec films nominated in the film category (including Xavier Dolan’s Juste la fin du monde).

There were no local nominees in the many categories for news (though shout out to former CBC Montreal anchor Andrew Chang, nominated for best local anchor at CBC Vancouver).

Media News Digest: 2017 predictions, new native radio stations, Norway drops FM

News about news

At the CRTC

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  • Norway has begun the process of shutting down FM radio, which though it was announced two years ago has gained attention across the world in the past week. (I gave a series of interviews with CBC Radio stations today.) Journalists in other countries are wondering if they could be next. In Canada, at least, that’s just not happening. Digital radio here is still in its infancy.
  • There was no announcement of this, but CHLX-FM, the RNC Media radio station in Gatineau that became a Rythme FM affiliate, has dropped that affiliation and adopted the brand of WOW FM. On Facebook, the station has been telling listeners the change was made to become “100% local”
  • La Voix de St-Lo, the community radio station based in the Centre communautaire Bon Courage de Place Benoit in Saint-Laurent, is moving toward getting the station’s low-power FM transmitter, which was approved last summer, operational. A consultation was held in December about installing the antenna tower, a website has been set up, and the Industry Canada database lists a callsign for it: CJPB-FM. When it’s operational, it will broadcast at 90.7 FM, but its coverage won’t extend much beyond the eastern part of the Saint-Laurent borough.
  • An elementary school has set up a web radio station as an education aid for students.

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TVA Sports takes away MLS rights from RDS, will broadcast all Impact games until 2021

TVA Sports, which is aggressively fighting with RDS for broadcasting rights to sporting events that Quebecers want to watch, scored a pretty big coup today, wrestling away the national French-language Major League Soccer rights from RDS.

So big they even issued a press release in English, this means TVA Sports will air all Montreal Impact games, since they already have a deal with the Impact for the games the team sells the rights to.

Similar to the NHL and other leagues, MLS sells a national package, which includes marquee matchups, events like the all-star game and all playoffs, while the team sells rights to other games in the regular season. (Thankfully, unlike with the NHL, we don’t have to deal with regional game blackouts with MLS.)

TVA Sports’s national rights deal is for five years, from 2017 through 2021.

On the English side, TSN extended its rights agreement for an unspecified number of years (but probably five as well). That means some Impact games (including most likely its matches against Canadian opponents) will continue to be aired on TSN. TSN has all the rights to Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps games, but the English-language package sold by the Impact for its remaining games still seems to be up for grabs.

Financial aspects of the deal were not disclosed, but there were rumours that Sportsnet might try to outbid TSN, and I’m certain RDS wanted to keep its MLS rights.

I won’t compare TVA and RDS broadcasts of Impact games, since everyone seems to have an opinion on stuff like that, but I will note that this means we won’t hear the voice of Claudine Douville doing play-by-play of Impact games anymore. When the number of female voices doing play-by-play can be counted on one hand, it’s unfortunate to lose one.

Radio rights, which are held in English by Bell Media (TSN 690 and CJAD) and in French by Cogeco (98.5fm, though it airs only select games), are unaffected by these deals.

Bell activates Montreal’s first HD Radio station, simulcasts CJAD, TSN 690 on FM HD

TSN 690 being received via HD Radio signal on 107.3 FM.

As major Canadian broadcasters begin their experimentation with HD Radio transmitters, Bell Media has quietly launched a transmitter on its CITE-FM station in Montreal (Rouge FM 107.3), and is using it to simulcast CJAD 800 and TSN Radio 690.

A Bell Media spokesperson confirmed that this is a “soft launch” of the transmitter, with plans to publicize it more in the coming weeks, once testing is complete and everyone is back from the holidays. The plan is to keep the three channels going forward:

  • HD1: Rouge FM
  • HD2: CJAD 800
  • HD3: TSN 690

The Rouge FM station was chosen for this for technical reasons. I don’t know specifically what they are, but CITE-FM is a full-power station (currently at 42.9kW), and has plenty of space on both sides of the frequency to accommodate the extra channels without causing interference to adjacent-channel stations.

There are no plans “at this point” to add more HD channels.

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Media News Digest: Super Bowl simsub wars, L’actualité sold, Dave Maynard retires from CFCF

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“Are you happy?”

It was a simple question, posed to me by a woman in a bar recently. It’s something I’ve occasionally thought about in the what’s-the-meaning-of-life way. I’m in my 30s, an age when you’re unquestionably an adult, but still young enough that more of your working-age life is ahead of you than behind. It’s an age when, if you’re single and/or childless, you can hear your biological clock ticking.

But mostly, it’s an age when you have lived enough that you can make an informed decision about what parts of your life you can see yourself maintaining for another decade or four, and which ones you want to change, assuming you have the freedom to do so.

The year that’s ending has been described in Internet memes and on television as a negative one, mainly because of celebrity deaths (David Bowie, Prince) and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. (Some people also throw in a mention of Syria.) A confirmation bias is setting in as people compile more reasons to dislike the artificial construct of time that began on Jan. 1, 2016 and will end in a week.

But celebrity deaths and awful politicians were not invented this year, and they won’t disappear next year. And despite all the doom and gloom, the world continues to improve statistically, with fewer people in poverty, less disease, less war and more technological development.

Personally, I look at happiness in terms of my daily life. I could, like others I see on Facebook, focus on my crises of the moment. On the minor inconveniences and frustrations that I have to deal with regularly. But the truth is I have it pretty good right now.

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