CRTC says no to demanding English programming from Télé-Québec

It was a nice try from the English Language Arts Network, but the CRTC didn’t bite. In renewing Télé-Québec’s broadcasting licence for a five-year term on Tuesday, the commission turned down ELAN’s request that Quebec’s public broadcaster devote 10% of its programming budget to English-language programming (proportional to the number of anglophones in the province).

The request made headlines when it was published earlier this year, and an angry motion from independent MNA Martine Ouellet.

ELAN pointed to Ontario’s creation of TFO, a francophone equivalent of TVO, as precedent for having bilingual public broadcasters. But the commission was unconvinced.

“The creation and operation of TFO in Ontario is a decision of the Government of Ontario,” the commission wrote. “Provinces have the opportunity to put in place educational television stations in both official languages for their citizens if they wish.”

Télé-Québec argued its programming was reflective of all Quebecers, including anglophone Quebecers, in the topics discussed if not the language it is discussed in.

ELAN also asked for “a policy and an action plan relating to Quebec’s diversity”, a 20% quota on programming reflecting minorities, and an advisory committee. The CRTC said the demands were “beyond the scope of this licence renewal process” and should be dealt with at a policy hearing.

Other interest groups also sought quotas or commitments from Télé-Québec. Producers wanted more spending on scripted programming, children’s programming and original French-language programming, a Quebec City group wanted a 10% quota on programming from Quebec City, and ADISQ wanted an expectation related to music.

The commission turned those down, but did add a purposely vague expectation related to regional programming: “The Commission expects the licensee to make use of independent producers from all of Quebec’s regions in such a way that producers from the regions outside the Montréal Census Metropolitan Area, as well as producers from the Montréal CMA, are proportionally contributing to the production of programs broadcast on CIVM-DT Montréal.”

It also allowed Télé-Québec to extend its target audience for youth programming to include teenagers ages 12-17.

Télé-Québec has 17 over-the-air transmitters across the province, but even though they mostly carry different callsigns, they are all formally licensed as retransmitters of the Montreal station, and the programming carried on all of them is identical.

Its new licence expires Aug. 31, 2024.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Emilee Gilpin

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, the 2016 winner of the Susan Carson bursary, Emilee Gilpin.

Emilee Gilpin, shortly after receiving her award in 2016.

Emilee Gilpin’s face has been hidden inside one of my browser tabs for almost two years now, as a reminder that I should write these bloody interviews up. Concordia’s website did a brief article about the 2016 award winners, and she was one of the winners quoted.

So, one browser tab closed, 25 more to go. Anyway, how can I make this blog post more about me?

OK, fine, let’s talk about Emilee. She’s 27 (or 25 when she won the award), she’s from London, Ontario, and she has an undergrad degree in philosophy and Spanish from McMaster University. She mentions off the bat her love of travelling, including teaching English as a second language in China before doing Concordia’s journalism diploma program.

As you can see from her answers below, she’s one of those activist journalists that white guys get so riled up about, focusing particularly on Indigenous issues. Susan Carson, the Gazette journalist after whom the award she received was named, was similar in her own way, seeking out stories of injustice and shining a light on them in the hope that doing so would spark change.

Here’s what Gilpin had to say when I caught up with her by email.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

I saw a few documentaries featuring some badass investigative journalists and I saw myself in them. I have a passion for justice and a strong intolerance for injustice and I believe in doing what we can during our cycle on earth to nurture positive change. One of the important roles of a journalist is holding truth to power and I liked that. I also noticed a gap in coverage of Indigenous communities in Canada, and wanted to see what I could do to help fill it in a good way.

What does journalism mean to you?

There have always been forms of journalism — news sharing, story-telling — they are ancient practices. When settlers first arrived, communities had scouts to inform them on information, there were runners between communities and nations, stories shared in potlatches and law lodges. Western journalism was built to protect democracy, so it involves holding truth to power, but it is also an institution and a corporation, created by white men, so it is also full of space for adaptation and diversification. Journalism for me means sharing stories in a good way — fleshing out the black and white, including all voices, being accountable to those whose stories we share, building relationships to ensure trust and accountability, being on the front lives of important events, documenting history and more.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

I work now for National Observer, leading a series ‘First Nations Forward,’ emphasizing stories of success and sovereignty of First Nations in B.C. I’d like to continue to write about stories that have been historically made invisible or misrepresented, to diversify out media coverage and tell a more wholesome and accurate picture.

I give workshops on decolonizing or indigenizing journalism, but it really involves basic anti-oppressive techniques to ensure a level of ethical behaviour and accountability in our relationships and professional duties. It involves learning about and including historical and cultural contextualization of events, fact-checking and culture-checking, being accountable and objective, addressing assumptions, stereotypes and internalized racism, and some.

What have you been up to since receiving your award?

After graduating from Concordia, I received Journalists for Human Rights’ ‘Emerging Indigenous Journalist’ internship, with the Tyee in Vancouver. After that internship, I was hired by National Observer to lead their ‘First Nations Forward’ series. I have been working full-time with National Observer since.

How can people follow your work?

You can see my work with National Observer here, work with the Tyee here, and my personal website here.

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram: emileeguevara

Media News Digest: Tax breaks for journalism, Roundhouse Radio sold, more cuts at Bell Media

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Emergency alerts will take a while to get right

For the few of you who don’t still have ringing in your ears from that annoying emergency alert sound, today was the second attempt at the first test of the wireless public alerting system in Canada.

Set for 1:55pm local time (2:55pm in Quebec), the alerts started in Newfoundland and Labrador and followed the time zones to B.C. and Yukon. I’ve compiled reports of those alerts in this Twitter thread:

Every province and territory (even Nunavut, which didn’t participate last time) successfully sent out an alert, but that doesn’t mean that everyone successfully got one. There a lot of moving parts to this process, and each one has to be working properly for the alerts to reach people’s TV screens and phones.

Today’s process involved the following steps and groups:

  • Coordination of the emergency alert test, by government agencies
  • Issuing of the emergency alert test by provincial and territorial emergency agencies
  • Distribution of the emergency alert test by the National Public Alerting System
  • Broadcast of the emergency alert test by wireless providers, television providers, mobile applications and television and radio stations
  • Reception of the emergency alert test by compatible set-top boxes and mobile devices

If any of those steps fail, the message doesn’t get through.

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Meagan Boisse

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, the 2016 winner of the Lewis Harris award, Meagan Boisse.

Meagan Boisse (courtesy of Meagan Boisse)

I haven’t met Meagan (we communicated over email), and I don’t have any cool anecdotes or insights to share to open this up. So we’ll just get right into it. Boisse is 27, from Châteauguay, and studied cinema, video and communications at Dawson College before doing an undergrad in journalism at Concordia. Her bylines have appeared in Reader’s Digest Canada, Montreal Families, the National Post, and particularly Concordia’s own website.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

It seemed like a natural fit. I’m a curious person and have always loved to meeting new people, exploring new places and storytelling.

Beyond that, I was very interested in media studies. As Marshall McLuhan once stated “the medium is the message”; each new form of information technology carries its own social discourse. Studying multimedia journalism seemed like a way to delve into how different media forms work with the public and what their specific abilities are in conveying a message.

What does journalism mean to you?

For me journalism an important filter that separates fiction from truth, it is a voice for those that need to he heard and a manner for people to engage and better understand the world in which they live.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

Narrative journalism, it’s what I like to read and what I hope to write. Well done long-form, narrative journalism has a literary quality that if done properly can be more fascinating than fiction.

What other interests do you have that you think you can apply to a career in journalism or a related field?

I enjoy design and photography. I like to fuss over details, and as visuals can be a big part of story telling an interest in aesthetics can only bolster one’s work as a journalist.

How do you see the future of journalism?

I know there’s this idea out there that journalism is dying, that it cannot sustain itself in the digital age. However, I believe robust, reliable journalism is something people will always seek out, something that has an intrinsic value that carries across borders, generations and political spheres. I think journalism will survive the death of its institutions. What will it look like in fifty years? I don’t know, but I’m certain good, honest journalism will always be around.

What have you been up to since receiving your award?

Since I received my award I’ve finished my undergraduate degree, was an editorial intern for Reader’s Digest Canada and began working for Concordia’s newsdesk on a full-time basis. Over the last year I managed X Explained, Concordia’s own how-to video series. I also wrote weekly student-advice articles for my namesake column, ‘Ask Meagan’, which appeared on the university’s official app.

This past August, I moved to Berlin. I hope to begin writing for local publications here!

How can people follow your work?

Check out my website: meaganboisse.com

Media News Digest: Another alert test, union deal at Globe

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Remembering Randy Tieman

Randy Tieman with the Alouettes’ Paul Lambert at the Alouettes’ Grey Cup victory celebration in 2009.

I don’t have that much original to say about Randy Tieman, who died unexpectedly at the age of 64. For that matter, neither do most of his colleagues.

It’s not because he was unliked, or kept to himself, or hid his private life. The exact opposite, in fact. It’s because with Tieman, what you saw was what you got. He was a fun guy who loved to have fun, was passionate about sports (particularly baseball and football), and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

Last year, when he was fired from his job as sports anchor at CTV Montreal, he took the news in stride. He didn’t get angry at his former employer. Instead, he worried about his former colleagues who were also let go, and weren’t as ready as he was to start retirement.

That’s just the kind of guy he was. So when you see tweets and Facebook posts and it seems like they’re all saying the same thing, that’s why. He wasn’t an act for the camera, he was really like that in person.

It’s very sad that he didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy his retirement. It’s also unfortunate that we’ll never get to see what he looked like without that moustache. A few years ago I thought it might make a good charity fundraiser to auction off the rights to shave it.

Mostly, I guess, because his upper lip was the only thing he kept hidden.

A service was held Friday, Nov. 23 at 4pm at Munro & Morris Funeral Homes Ltd., 46 Oak St., Lancaster, Ont.

UPDATE (Nov. 20): Stu Cowan writes about Tieman in a Gazette column. And the Canadiens paid tribute during a commercial break during the first period of Monday’s game at the Bell Centre.

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Buyer of 91,9 Sports wants to drop its all-sports format and turn it into a WKND music station

Leclerc Communication warned its staff and even issued a press release to soften the blow of the posting of the CRTC application today, but it still comes as a disappointment to many Montreal francophone sports fans that it is seeking to drop the sports talk format of 91,9 Sports (CKLX-FM) and replace it with the pop music format of its existing WKND station in Quebec City (coincidentally on the same frequency).

The other station being acquired from RNC Media, Quebec City’s CHOI Radio X, will keep its format.

In the applications posted Friday, which will be considered at a hearing in Quebec City on Feb. 20, Leclerc says the station hasn’t been profitable “for many years” and hopes of it eventually becoming so are “slim.”

Leclerc says “no other francophone broadcaster is offering a mix of alternative, triple-A and hot AC” (and a bit of new country) that WKND would bring. (The format is particularly popular among women 25-54, according to Numeris data.) It says of the top 25 anglophone songs played on WKND, 11 are not found on Montreal’s francophone stations, and of the top 25 francophone songs, 9 can’t be found on commercial radio in the metropolis.

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Corus asks CRTC to shut down 44 Global TV transmitters

Eight years after Shaw promised the CRTC it would upgrade Global TV’s network of over-the-air television transmitters to digital, Corus says it wants to abandon that plan before its completion and shut down 44 of Global’s 93 transmitters across the country, including 24 that have already been converted to digital.

In an application filed last week with the commission, Corus explains that the affected rebroadcasting transmitters “generate no incremental revenue, and attract little to no added viewership for Corus. They are also costly to maintain, and we expect expenses to increase as a result of the Government of Canada’s re-allotment plan for the 600 MHz band.”

In 2010, when Shaw purchased the television assets of Canwest Global, part of the tangible benefits proposal to get the CRTC approve the sale was to allocate $23 million to convert 67 analog TV transmitters to digital, in markets small enough to not be included in the mandatory analog-to-digital conversion. Those transmitters were mostly inherited from stations under previous ownership, and are unequally distributed. The two B.C. stations have 37 transmitters between them, and there are 17 for the two stations in Atlantic Canada.

Global is composed of 16 licensed stations with a total of 93 transmitters.

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Dispute over Crave is a frustrating step backwards for relations between Bell and Videotron

UPDATE (Dec. 14): A deal has been reached. See below.

I regret to inform you that Bell and Quebecor are at it again.

On Nov. 1, Bell announced that Crave TV and The Movie Network have effectively merged, and Crave is now accessible to anyone subscribed to TMN. Anyone, that is, who isn’t subscribed through Videotron.

In what Videotron has been telling consumers is a “disagreement” (and is implying is entirely Bell’s fault), Videotron and its tens or hundreds of thousands of TMN subscribers have been deprived of this access through crave.ca and the Crave app.

I asked both sides why for a story published at Cartt.ca. Videotron declined to comment, while Bell did the same but not before telling me that it has filed copyright and trademark infringement claims against Videotron for continuing to use video-on-demand content it has no rights for. Bell says Videotron has no VOD rights to Crave/TMN/HBO Canada content, which makes their continued offering of it through Videotron’s Illico On Demand and Illico Web platforms an act of piracy.

According to the statement of claim filed at federal court (which I had to have a courthouse clerk print out from his computer because our legal system is still ridiculous), Bell is claiming damages of at least $20,000 per work for about 2,700 works (individual episodes and movies) or “not less than $100 million.”

Bell’s claim — which Videotron hasn’t responded to yet; it has until Dec. 5 — states that Bell’s distribution agreement with Videotron for The Movie Network was terminated by Videotron in 2016, and the two have been in discussions since. This August, Bell presented an offer to Videotron to keep distributing the new Crave, which Videotron neither accepted nor rejected. On Oct. 16, Bell gave Videotron a 10-day deadline, saying if it didn’t accept a new offer it would no longer be permitted to offer video-on-demand content from Crave after Oct. 31.

Videotron said it was considering its options, but again neither accepted nor rejected the offer.

The deadline passed, and Oct. 31 passed, so on Nov. 2 Bell filed its lawsuit. The lawsuit specifically targets Videotron’s video-on-demand programming for TMN/HBO Canada through Videotron’s Channel 900 VOD system, the Illico app and Videotron’s website. Distribution of the linear channels of TMN (now Crave) and HBO Canada are covered by the CRTC’s standstill rule and so Videotron can keep distributing them legally.

It’s frustrating for Videotron customers, who have been continually inconvenienced by the failure of these two groups to reach a deal. The VOD deal for TMN and HBO Canada was a first step forward, followed by the deal for TSN and RDS. Other Bell Media services, like CTV, Discovery and Space, still don’t have deals with Videotron, so their subscribers still can’t access CTV GO and related services. Rather than taking steps forward, they’re taking steps back.

The offers and contracts are confidential, so we have no idea which side is being unreasonable here. Two previous distribution deals between the two went to CRTC arbitration (TVA Sports on Bell and RDS on Videotron), and the commission sided once with either side.

On one hand, Videotron is trying to get the best deal for its subscribers, who are mostly francophone and have less interest in anglophone TV content (that’s important because many distribution deals factor in total subscribers regardless of whether they’re subscribed to a particular service). And they’re negotiating against a company that is also their direct competitor as a TV service provider. On the other hand, Bell only seems to have this problem with Videotron. Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Cogeco and others have successfully reached deals with them.

Hopefully a settlement is reached quickly in this dispute, and hopefully changes follow so that distribution agreements are less complicated and don’t require such extensive negotiations. In the meantime, Videotron subscribers continue to deal with an incomplete offer of services.

UPDATE (Dec. 14): Bell and Videotron have reached an agreement over the distribution of Crave, and Videotron is now a participating service provider listed on crave.ca. I don’t have further details, but Videotron has raised the price of Crave and Super Écran, from $15 each to $20 and $17 a month, respectively. They’ve also been removed from the “premium” category of packages, which means you can’t include them in a build-your-own package that includes premium channels, without paying $15 extra.

The lawsuit will be withdrawn.

Media News Digest: TMN becomes Crave, no more newspapers in schools, Conway leaves CBC

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Lissa Albert

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Susan Carson award, Lissa Albert.

Lissa Albert

It’s not unusual in the journalism graduate diploma program to have one student who’s noticeably older and more educated than the rest, but it’s usually someone in their 30s, not 50s.

“Everyone was out of their undergrad and I’m like the grandmother,” Lissa Albert told me before letting out a laugh. “It was a little intimidating because I was like ‘do I have to prove myself?’ I’m always aware of how I stand out in terms of not being the typical graduate diploma student, but my classmates have been really amazing, they’re a lot of fun and they’ve made me one of the gang.”

Albert has a lot of history, and she likes to talk. So our conversation after the awards ceremony in October lasted 33 minutes, or a little bit less than the four others combined. The 56-year-old Montreal native studied early childhood education and sociology, then took time off to raise her children before returning to school to get a masters in education technology.

If she was younger, she could easily be described as a keener. A more appropriate descriptor would probably be driven.

“I’m not the kind of person to just sit at home and do lunch,” she said. “I need to do something more. I went into ed tech not knowing where exactly it was going to lead, just knowing that I needed to feel productive, get that kind of intellectual stimulation, and I ended up just adoring everything that I did, coming away with a mission in life, which is cyberbullying education.”

Her path to this mission is an interesting one.

“I started in sociology, and in my last assignment, I was actually going into prison rehabilitation because I started writing to a man in prison when I was 16 years old. He was at that time, he thought, the only Jewish prisoner in the entire state of Georgia. And so my teacher had a Jewish pen pal club, I said ‘I’m in.’ This guy, I started writing to him, because I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, and I wanted it to take place in prison, and I thought I’d get some information. We became friends, I’m still in touch with him now. He’s out, he’s on parole, he’s happily married.”

The interview is edited down for clarity and length. All the above I got from just asking her for her name, age and previous degrees.

What got you into journalism?

I have been very involved in world events as a consumer of news. And I have found that the most frustrating thing — because I’m old enough to remember Dan Rather, not so much Walter Cronkite but Dan Rather — is how the news used to be the facts. And now I don’t believe we are getting straight news.

So I’ve been talking for at least five years that there’s a thesis in my head about media bias. And when I decided I was going to go back to school, I found Digital Innovation in Journalism Studies, and I said ‘okay this could lead me to writing that thesis, working on the research that it takes to not change the world but perhaps start turning news back into those five Ws. I think that it’s really been diluted, technology has diluted it, everybody has a blog and not everybody realizes that a blog is not always straight news, there are those that are, but opinion is not news.

Pew Research recently did a study where they found something like 14% of people can tell the difference between news and opinion (it was actually a bit better than that), and this is a problem because there’s so much news out there. So I started to look into the program, so when I called Mircea [Mandache, the Graduate Program Assistant at Concordia’s journalism department] to see if I could get into the program, if it was too late to apply, and he said don’t worry about it and if you’re interested you could do the graduate diploma and switch to the masters program after a year, and I thought ‘okay if I’m going to study the field it would be good to have more than a consumer-level knowledge of what the field entails,’ and this behind-the-scenes stuff is just mind-blowing. It will help me in the thesis. Realizing that there are so many different forms of journalism that I can do. I can tell a story, I can raise awareness of something. I can do features. We’ve had all these exercises.

I’m not bored anymore, that’s for sure.

So once you finish the master’s degree, what do you see yourself doing afterwards?

Whatever the world brings me. I’d love to be able to write. Visual journalism wasn’t my thing, but radio was fun, because I can talk if you haven’t gotten that yet. But I would love to write, I would love to use the words that I know how to use and touch people, just touch their lives in some way, whether that’s to inform them, or inspire them, or educate. When I talk to undergrad student teachers, and this is not hyperbole, but if you know even a fundamental knowledge to recognize when a student is being bullied, you can literally save a person’s life. It’s one of my missions. But anything that I can find, Freelancing or getting a job as a writer.

News is supposed to be hard facts, but it’s not because emotions come into it. And I can tap into that, so I hope to freelance, I hope to write, and I hope to use all of the knowledge I have on cyberbullying, how important it is that it become a topic, a water-cooler topic that we don’t talk about just when a kid kills himself, but something that we need to recognize as a problem and an epidemic in our society and possibly do something bigger, a book, a series of articles, a feature, a column, whatever I can, I just want to use my words for good.

How did the interest in cyberbullying start?

Wow. When you go back after a certain amount of years not being in school and you go back to a field you can be employed in, it’s better to do an internship than a thesis, because there’s ageism in the workplace, and if you go back into the workplace as an intern then you can get your feet wet. So I was looking for an internship and based on a project that was happening at Concordia where they were collecting life stories of victims of genocide, I hoped to make that an internship and that did not work.

One day, driving to pick up my kids at day camp, and Trudie Mason was on CJAD talking about cyberbullying and she was talking about how kids know what they’re doing when they’re cyberbullying other kids and I said, because I had just done a project in ed tech, a website about emotional abuse awareness. People don’t realize that it almost goes deeper than physical abuse. And I picked up the phone and said bullying and cyberbullying and — having been bullied from the age of five to the age of 17, same guy, lived across the street, every day on the way to school and the way back, in school — I said it’s a form of emotional abuse, so while kids know what they’re doing, they don’t know the impact is on the person on the other side of the screen. They don’t know what they’re doing, they know how they’re doing it but they don’t know what the impact is.

She debated with me, and I thought I gotta look into this. It wasn’t yet a household word, it was not yet a trend, it was something that was starting to become more prevalent. I went to the internship coordinator, and I said I can do cyberbullying, I can talk about emotional abuse of kids.

This was something that I had to do. It was a mission. It needed publicity. It needed to be a word that people talked about, and it needed to be something people took very seriously.

How do you see the future of journalism?

I hope — okay, can I do this without insulting the people I want to work for? The future of journalism to me is giving people the ability to take the facts as they are and make up their own minds rather than being told what they should be thinking or feeling. I’m hoping that the future of journalism is where the audience is given the credit to make up their own minds.

Are you optimistic about journalism as a business model?

I am, because of all of the different ways in which — you can be a journalist in Montreal and freelance for somewhere in Australia. I think that I have the ability and I have the drive to get out there and look for something that will make it meaningful for me. I really hope to be able to get my word out there, and definitely going to apply here (at the Gazette), it’s like my Mecca. I wouldn’t have come into this program if I didn’t think I could do something. I don’t get a degree to hang it on the wall.

How can people follow your work?

My journalist perspective started off when I was writing about the Habs so I have to actually change my handle — @lissahabswriter — I would rather it not say “Habs writer” because I’m a lot more than that.

(She’s now at @lissajournalism, but you can read her archived stories about the Canadiens on AllAboutTheHabs.ca)

If you’re a journalism student, this is your last chance to be like Lissa and apply for the Montreal Gazette summer internship if you haven’t already. The deadline is TODAY at 5pm.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Aviva Lessard

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Philip Fisher bursary, Aviva Lessard.

Aviva Lessard

Normally at the bottom of these things I try to plug a Twitter account or website or Instagram or something so people can follow these aspiring journalists’ careers. But Aviva Lessard gave me a bit of an embarrassed shrug because she hasn’t set up an online presence for herself yet. She’s promised to get working on that. She asked what form (Twitter, Facebook, website) that should take, and I noted that the younguns these days do the Instagramming more than Twitter, but really the more the merrier as far as social platforms.

In the meantime, you can read her articles at The Concordian, or this documentary she did about waste management in Victoria, or this project that tells the story of the Oka crisis through a series of maps.

Lessard was an anthropology student at the University of Victoria, but grew up in Montreal. While at UVic she held jobs including production coordinator at its radio station CFUV. Among her functions there was to edit this podcast for use on the radio at CFUV and other campus and community radio stations. She’s not sure if I’ve ever heard of it. It’s called “Canadaland.”

Something about media, I think.

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Media News Digest: Videotron introduces Helix, ELMNT FM launches, National Post turns 20

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