Media News Digest: Esks mic drop, Sportsnet loves the Jays, internship application season

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  • Sportsnet has a new ad (that you’ve probably seen 100 times if you watch Jays games) selling Sportsnet Now as a legal alternative to unreliable pirated streams. It’s interesting that this ad acknowledges the existence of such methods, which suggests they’ve become very popular.
  • TSN’s Bob McKenzie has a podcast.

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Media News Digest: Lisée’s ideas, cuts at 24H Vancouver, The Goods is bad, and shomiites are looking for work

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At the CRTC

  • A couple of interesting new applications in this notice. Bloomberg TV Canada, which is owned by Channel Zero (the company behind CHCH Hamilton, Silver Screen Classics, Rewind and some porn channels they don’t talk about), has passed the 200,000 subscriber mark which means they’re no longer eligible for exemption from licensing. The application is unremarkable except for two points: It asks to be required to broadcast only 25% Canadian content during its first licensed year, rather than the standard 35% (it argues that for independent channels, that 35% requirement is being phased in). The commission also had concerns that the program supply agreement with Bloomberg means Channel Zero doesn’t really control the programming. CZ says that’s not true, but the details of its answer (and even some of the questions) are redacted in the public file.
  • The notice also contains new applications for radio stations in:
    • Mount Pearl, N.L. (100kW Christian music FM station replacing the existing AM station VOAR)
    • Saint John, N.B. (860W Christian music FM)
    • Simcoe, Ont. (18kW classic hits FM owned by My Broadcasting Corp.)
    • Peace River, Alta. (100kW hot country FM, replacing AM station CKYL and its existing FM retransmitter on the same frequency) — the same company is also proposing a power increase for CKKX-FM, KIX 106.1.
    • Mount Jubilee, Yukon (482W CBC Radio One retransmitter owned by the Yukon government, but licensed to an employee since the law says a licence cannot be given to a government body)

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The ridiculous assumption underlying iHeartRadio Canada

Today was launch day for iHeartRadio Canada, a new mobile app, platform and brand licensed by Bell Media.

Aside from a weekly top 20 countdown show, and the rebranding of the Much Music Video Awards, most of the effects so far aren’t on the air but rather on digital media, and affect how you access radio stations through the Internet.

Many people were no doubt surprised when they visited their local radio station’s website today to find out it had been replaced by a page on iheartradio.ca.

Like a lot of website redesigns these days, this change favours style over substance. It’s very simplified, with only four or five pages in the navigation menu: News, Shows, Contests, Audio/Video, and Events. (There are also smaller links to contact pages, a list of recently played songs, and social media accounts.)

Other stuff has fallen by the wayside. One person already emailed me to note that full-show podcasts that used to be accessible on the old websites are nowhere to be found now. (The audio/video section has clips.) Blogs also appear to have little place on these websites.

Putting everything on iheartradio.ca no doubt makes administration easier for Bell Media, but it also strips away each station’s individual branding. It harkens back to the “portal” mentality of the late 1990s, when media outlets owned by large corporations were made into sections of larger websites, like canada.com, canoe.ca and sympatico.ca.

TSN Radio stations are an exception to this, thought they didn’t have their own websites to begin with, and they also have pages on iHeartRadio.

For most stations, particularly music stations, the websites are adequate. The listen live function is front and centre, and schedules and other basic information isn’t hard to find. And it seems as though there is some ability to customize the websites for each station’s needs.

But looking at the bottom of the page, you see links whose usefulness can be questionable. Click on “On-Air Hosts”, for example, and you get this list, of all 892 on-air personalities at all Bell Media radio stations throughout the country, in an unclear order. (It appears to be alphabetically by first name, but that breaks down once you hit Page 2.)

It might sound like nitpicking, but there’s an assumption underlying this design, that all of Bell Media’s 100+ radio stations are interchangeable, and Canadians will be just as interested in a small-town station across the country as their local station.

And that flies in the face of what the industry has been telling us for years now is the power of traditional radio: the importance of being local.

iHeartRadio mobile app: Like TuneIn, but with more bugs and limited to stations owned by Bell

This mentality is made crystal clear by the iHeartRadio mobile app, which is available on Android and iOS devices.

The app is very bare-bones considering Bell has been hyping it for so long now. It asks you to pick styles of music you’re interested in, and then suggests stations (either Bell Media traditional radio stations or themed iHeartRadio audio streams). You can set up an account and save your favourites, but registration isn’t required to use the app.

There’s a “Local Radio” tab that uses the phone’s GPS function to find radio stations in your area.

iHeartRadio app listening to CJAD.

iHeartRadio app listening to CJAD.

Once you’ve picked a station to listen to, there are options to play, favourite, and buttons you can press that will let you call, email or text message the station — assuming the app has the station’s phone number, text message line and email address plugged in, and many stations don’t have that.

The other buttons are previous, next and scan. Those buttons assume that you’ll be spending time switching radio stations, and not just between local stations but between Bell Media stations across the country, regardless of region, format or language.

Occasionally, every handful of skips or so, there’s a 15 or 30-second unskippable video ad. There are also small banner ads that appear in the app.

The app looks nice. Many stations provide titles of songs currently playing, and the app loads album art where it has that information. The name of the current show is also displayed.

But there’s a lot missing. There’s no access to podcasts or on-demand content, no list of recently played songs, no schedule, and no links to Twitter and Facebook feeds.

And there are still quite a few bugs. Some stations don’t load. That “local stations” list isn’t perfect — TSN Radio 690 isn’t listed for people in Montreal, even though it’s available in the app. And sometimes the app just quits for no reason.

And all this to use an app that’s based on skipping between stations but doesn’t include any stations not owned by Bell Media.

Just use TuneIn

Most of Canada’s other major radio broadcasters, including Rogers, Corus, Cogeco, Newcap, Pattison and RNC Media, have signed on to the UK-based RadioPlayer app. By working together, these companies will make it easier for Canadians to access radio streams and skip between them. But without Bell Media on board (or CBC, or non-profit broadcasters, or some smaller players like Evanov), it too will be incomplete.

The RadioPlayer app isn’t available yet. The announcement was made just to get ahead of iHeartRadio. They haven’t even set a launch date yet.

Which brings me to TuneIn.

The 15-year-old radio streaming website and app is the gold standard for this sort of thing. The “Local Radio” page lists 43 stations in and around Montreal, including stations from Bell Media, its competitors, campus radio stations, CBC, community stations, and cross-border stations. It also includes some online-only local stations. (The list isn’t perfect, and includes some far-away stations, but it’s much more comprehensive than any other.)

It also classifies stations by genre, lets you favourite stations, and uses schedule information to tell you what show you’re listening to.

Because it’s not run in partnership with the stations, there’s no current song information, nor a list of recently played songs or contact information.

But if your goal is an app that lets you stream your favourite radio stations in one app, then this is what you want.

If you want an app that lets you skip between radio stations from towns you didn’t know existed, and ensures that you never hear a radio station that isn’t owned by Bell Media, then by all means iHeartRadio is the app for you.

Other coverage

Natasha Hall, Jon Pole take over as evening hosts on CJAD

Two and a half months after Natasha Hall left 92.5 The Beat with a mysterious new gig lined up that she couldn’t talk about, we finally know what it is: She’s taking over, along with Jon Pole, as the hosts of the weeknight talk show on CJAD, which replaces The Exchange as of next week.

The Exchange’s current hosts, Dave Kaufman and Dan Delmar, are both leaving that job. Kaufman is moving to London to be with his girlfriend and Delmar is taking a step back to focus on his PR business.

The new show is called The Night Side, and begins Monday at 8pm, CJAD announced. Pole hosts Mondays and Tuesdays and Hall hosts the rest of the week.

Pole, who founded My Broadcasting Corporation and has experience as a radio host mainly in Ontario, filled in a couple of times on The Exchange. You can hear one of his shows here:

 

Rogers will shut down L’actualité if a buyer isn’t found by December

Rogers Media Unveils New Magazine Content Strategy” reads the press release, in typical vague fashion. The upshot is that Rogers is making severe cuts to its magazine portfolio, moving some online-only, reducing publication frequencies of others (including Maclean’s), and selling off the rest.

Except Hello! Canada, the celeb gossip mag. Nothing’s changing there.

Specifically:

Going out of print (but keeping websites “with new content posted daily”):

  • Flare (was 12 issues a year)
  • Sportsnet Magazine (was 15 issues a year)
  • MoneySense (was 8 issues a year)
  • Canadian Business (was 16 issues a year)

Reducing frequency:

  • Maclean’s (from weekly to monthly)
  • Chatelaine (from monthly to 6x a year)
  • Today’s Parent (from monthly to 6x a year)

For sale:

  • All business-to-business publications (including Canadian Grocer and Marketing)
  • L’actualité (18 issues a year)
  • Châtelaine (French, 12 issues a year)
  • LOULOU (French and English, 8 issues a year each)

The changes take effect in January. The notice to subscribers says the French magazines will “cease publication” in December, which means if a buyer isn’t found by then, they’re going to shut down.

The fact that Rogers is openly putting these magazines up for sale suggests that obvious potential buyers are not interested (i.e. TVA Publications). But maybe there’s some deep-pocketed person who would be willing to give L’actualité a second chance.

This news comes the same week Rogers announced the shutdown of shomi, its subscription video-on-demand service. You have to wonder what’s next, and in particular what this might mean for Texture, its bulk magazine subscription app. (Rogers tells the Financial Post that Texture makes a profit.)

No word on how many jobs will be lost as a result of these changes. How many magazines are sold versus shut down will have a big impact on that number.

And colour me pessimistic on the future of magazines that have been turned into digital-only publications. Just about every print publication that has gone online-only in the past has eventually been shut down all together.

Further reading

Media News Digest: JdeM searched, Shomi a lame duck, Marois blames CJAD

At the CRTC

News about news

TV

Radio

  • Major radio players in Canada that aren’t Bell Media, including Rogers, Corus, Cogeco, Newcap, RNC Media, Pattison, Golden West, Rawlco, Harvard and Vista, have signed on to the RadioPlayer streaming app. Bell Media is going a different route with the iHeartRadio app. Both are similar to TuneIn in function. RadioPlayer is also promising access to on demand and podcast audio.
  • During an interview last week on Télé-Québec’s Deux hommes en or, Pauline Marois suggested that Richard Bain, the man who tried to assassinate her on election night in 2012, may have been influenced by some (unnamed) anglophone radio hosts who made “malicious” interpretations of what the PQ stands for. Bain listened to both CBC Radio and CJAD, it was determined through the trial, but I’m guessing it’s the latter that she has more in mind.
  • Virgin Radio has a new nationally syndicated top 20 music show airing on weekends, under the iHeartRadio brand, and hosted by former Virgin Radio Montreal host Andrea Collins. In Montreal, it airs Sundays at 10am. A similar show was developed for Bell Media’s French stations (Énergie, Rouge FM and Boom FM, depending on the market), airing 9-10am on Sundays and hosted by Patrick Langlois.
  • RNC Média has pulled the plug on whatever it did with CFTX-FM in Gatineau. It was Capitale Rock and then started simulcasting sports shows out of Montreal. Now it’s gone in a completely different direction, as a 70s-80s-90s pop music station called Pop 96.5. Its Facebook page is more active than its website. The Abitibi Capitale Rock station is staying with that brand, at least for now. The move makes a bit of sense when you consider that Bell Media swapped an adult hits station to country. Though there’s still Boom 99.7 and Jack FM out of Smiths Falls to compete with, plus all the adult contemporary and hit music stations.
  • Rogers is acquiring Tillsonburg Broadcasting, which owns two radio stations in the town southeast of London, Ont. The price was not disclosed, and the transaction requires CRTC approval.
  • Étienne Boulay got his legs waxed live on air on Énergie 94.3. Video was posted to Facebook.

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MAtv launches fall season with new show on indigenous culture

Lachlan Madill, host of Urban Nations on MAtv

Lachlan Madill, host of Urban Nations on MAtv

It was more than a year and a half ago that the CRTC found Videotron’s MAtv community channel in Montreal was not meeting its mandate because of a lack of representation from various communities, including notably the indigenous community. The company promised to do better, and went out looking for a show that would be devoted to telling local stories about indigenous people. It wasn’t an easy task, but they got lucky when Lachlan Madill proposed a show.

Madill moved with his wife to Montreal from Saskatchewan, where he worked for seven years for CBC and then doing communications for the North American Indigenous Games in Regina.

In an interview last week, he told me that he approached MAtv about a year ago after hearing that they were looking for a show about the indigenous community, and after meetings, brainstorming and pre-production, the show finally began filming in May.

It’s called Urban Nations, and it debuts on Tuesday at 6:30pm (though the first airing is actually 10:30am). It’s 10 half-hour episodes featuring 10 people from 10 different nations.

“They all have different backgrounds and different ways of preserving and promoting their culture,” Madill said. “There’s also underlying themes we’re trying to get at as opposed to hard news stories. We’re trying to educate people about these big issues without hitting them over the head.”

Identity, he said, is a big theme. Language, history, culture. He wants to build awareness of these things, because us non-indigenous people aren’t very exposed to it.

flag-of-montreal

“If you look at the city flag, there’s no acknowledgment of first peoples,” he notes. (The symbols represent four European nations that settled in the city — French, English, Scottish and Irish.)

Madill said one thing that struck him moving from Saskatchewan to Montreal (his wife is from here) was how much less visible the indigenous community is around here.

“There’s way more awareness, it’s a different demographic out there,” he said. “Here, people don’t seem to know much. People don’t really have that contact that they do out west.”

The reason is mainly statistical. There are about as many indigenous people in Montreal as in Regina, in a city more than five times as large.

That’s actually not quite right, but the demographics really do tell a story. In Regina, indigenous people represent by far the largest non-white ethnic group, at 8.7% of the population. In Montreal, it’s 2.5%, and well down the list past southeast Asian, Arab and Caribbean origins.

 

But don’t expect this show to be some sort of talking-down lecture. Instead, its goal is to offer a new perspective on the lives of local indigenous people that goes beyond what you see in the news.

“There’s been a lot of focus in negativity, and we want to … not brush it a way, but show the positive too,” Madill said. “They’re all positive stories that are about hope and looking to the future while preserving their identity.”

Each episode features some information about the subject’s community and where that person is from.

Madill noted that even the MAtv production crew he worked with to film the series seemed to come out of the experience enlightened. “The crew that we worked with knew nothing,” he said. “You’d see after they’re all excited. They had lots of questions, they were really engaged.”

He also had nothing but kind words for MAtv itself, which he said gave him creative freedom and assistance.

Talking to him, Madill seems like an optimistic person, in general but also about the future of indigenous peoples in Canada. “I think you have to be (optimistic),” he said. “It can’t get worse.

“We’re becoming more assertive, I think. I think more people are aware of the issues, I know the issues are not going to be solved any time soon, but the more we’re aware of it things can change. There’s 100 times more positive stories. I think we’re moving ahead as a people and getting a stronger voice.”

No word yet on whether Urban Nations will go beyond 10 episodes. Madill certainly isn’t lacking for stories, but “I’m not really thinking about the future,” he said. “I’d like to see more, but I’m kind of focused on now and making sure we do a good job.

“I want people to enjoy it, I want people to learn something from it. I think that’s the most important thing.”

For the full broadcast schedule of Urban Nations, visit its website.

Host shuffle in English shows

Urban Nations is the only new English-language show on MAtv this fall. But other changes are happening to other shows. The biggest is a shuffling of on-air talent:

  • Kim Sullivan takes over as host of Montreal Billboard, a show about community organizations and Montrealers making a difference
  • Richard Dagenais moves from Montreal Billboard to City Life, the weekly current affairs show
  • Tina Tenneriello moves behind the scenes, producing both shows, though she’ll also be contributing regularly to Montreal Billboard on the air

Meanwhile, The Street Speaks, a soapbox man-on-the-street interview show hosted by Paul Shore, comes back with new episodes.

MAtv’s press release about the new season is here.

Media News Digest: Michel Villeneuve fired, Terry Milewski retires, Kevin Gallagher moves to Ottawa

At the CRTC

News about news

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TV

  • Télé-Québec decided to make this year the year of Quebec music by replacing the theme songs of 23 of its series with Quebec songs. It has posted most of those online, along with links to buy the songs and the artists’ websites. Some of these work better than others. (Also, the inclusion of artists like Radio Radio and Lisa Leblanc is interesting, since Radio Radio are from Nova Scotia and Leblanc is from New Brunswick, though they’re now based in Montreal.)
  • CBC/Radio-Canada hosted the Public Broadcasters International conference last week in Montreal, and had two days of discussions about how broadcasters can attract younger audiences. I reported on it for Cartt.ca (subscribers only, sorry), but if you want to watch all 14 hours of panel discussions and speeches, CBC streamed them on YouTube: Day 1, Day 2.
  • During the conference, CBC/Radio-Canada talked about Panora.tv, a project where it and fellow public broadcasters (Australia’s ABC and France Télévisions are on board) plan to create a marketplace where TV content can be bought and sold more easily by smaller players. Rather than giving up on a deal because the closing costs are too much compared to the purchase price, this website can streamline, standardize and automate the process. I wrote about that for Cartt.ca as well. The first phase is expected to be up some time in 2017.
  • While anglos were watching the Emmys (or the World Cup of Hockey) on Sunday, Quebec francophones were watching the Gémeaux awards, honouring the best in television here. No big storylines coming out of the show, though the reviews are pretty good. Winners are listed here.
  • Speaking of Canadian TV: More Anne of Green Gables!
  • TV eh? is auctioning off a signed pilot script of the series X Company for charity.
  • Le Grand Costumier, the costume shop set up as a non-profit after Radio-Canada shut its costume shop down, has a website now.
  • Véronique Cloutier unveiled the programming for her branded channel on Radio-Canada’s Tou.TV. They include a documentary series produced by her husband’s company in which they talk about their careers.
  • Speaking of Louis Morissette, he told Eric Salvail on the air Monday night he’s working on a documentary about P.K. Subban’s summer off-season.
  • C’est Juste de la TV has a story that explains how the Vrak series Code F. is made.
  • It’s still very early, but Viceland UK didn’t explode out of the gate with the ratings on its first night.
  • The Hollywood Suite channels now have a streaming GO app.
  • Stingray announced on Friday it has closed the purchase of MuchRetro from Bell Media, completing its purchase of the Much sister channels. It had earlier acquired MuchLoud, MuchVibe and Juicebox because they had fewer than 200,000 subscribers and no longer required a CRTC licence, and without a licence the CRTC does not need to approve a change in ownership. MuchRetro had more than 200,000 subscribers, but dropped below that level after Videotron dropped it last month. The four channels have all been rebranded and won’t use the word “Much”.
  • CPAC changed its logo.

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Global Montreal picks Laura Casella, Kim Sullivan as morning news team

Laura Casella (right, with Derick Fage) is leaving Breakfast Television for Global Montreal's Morning News.

Laura Casella (right, with Derick Fage) is leaving Breakfast Television for Global Montreal’s Morning News.

Global Montreal has picked its new host and weather presenter for Morning News. The latter is no surprise — Kim Sullivan has been filling in there during the summer — but the host job is a bit of a head-turner: Laura Casella, the news reporter and temporary co-host at Breakfast Television.

Casella announced the news to her colleagues last week, which led to the news getting out to Mike Cohen at the Suburban. Global officially announced the two hires on Tuesday.

Poaching from a direct competitor isn’t that unusual. But what is unusual is that Casella hasn’t left BT yet. She still has another week there and is being allowed to continue co-hosting the show during that time.

Casella herself didn’t seem surprised by that when I talked to her, saying there’s “no animosity” between the two competitors. “I don’t think about it too much,” she said. “Everybody kind of knows everybody (in this market). I’ll still remain friends with everyone at BT.”

After she leaves the show, Casella goes into training at Global Montreal starting Sept. 26. Global tells me she’ll officially begin on Oct. 2.

Casella said it was Global Montreal station manager Karen Macdonald who approached her, asking if she’d be interested in the position. “So I said sure, and went in for a little screen test with Kim.” After that, she said, Global made her an offer and she accepted.

“It was a tough decision,” she said. “It’s hard to leave people you know. Even announcing it to the team last week…”

Finding Casella’s replacement won’t be hard: They don’t need to. Joanne Vrakas, who Casella has been replacing on the anchor desk at BT, returns from maternity leave on Sept. 26, the same day Casella starts her new job. (Casella says that’s a “complete random coincidence”.) Casella probably would have gone back to her former job as news reporter, but Domenic Fazioli (who BT picked up after he left Global Montreal) has been doing that job even though he was hired as a news producer.

Rogers Media tells me there are no plans at this time to replace Casella’s former position.

The departure means of the six personalities that started with Breakfast Television three years ago, only three are still there: Vrakas, weather presenter Catherine Verdon Diamond, and new media host Elias Makos.

Sullivan has two jobs

Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan, who was let go from The Beat earlier this year but already had another project going with a show on MAtv, has eased into the weather presenter job at Global. Probably the biggest difference between her and her predecessor Jessica Laventure is height, which has already prompted a joke that the box that Laventure would sometimes have to stand on to interview guests will now need to be used by those guests.

“I never expected to love weather,” Sullivan told me. Her dream when she was younger was to host a TV travel show, but she’s quickly started nerding out on her new role, and because she’ll be out in the field three days a week, she’s excited to talk to people from community organizations in the city and in particular the West Island.

This won’t be Sullivan’s only job on local TV, though. MAtv announced on Wednesday that she’ll be taking over as host of Montreal Billboard, a talk show featuring local community organizations, non-profits and volunteers. She replaces Richard Dagenais, who moves over to host current affairs show CityLife, replacing Tina Tenneriello, who moves into a new role producing both shows. (Tenneriello will also contribute regularly to Montreal Billboard on air.)

Sullivan told me she put an inspirational message on her phone earlier this year saying “2016 is going to be your year.” It’s certainly been a transformational one for her, but the past few weeks have come together to make that message come true.

She said she’ll have no problem juggling both jobs (reminding me that when she started her career, she was doing radio overnight and teaching during the day). But it does mean she’ll have “one crazy day a week” where she starts at Global in the morning and spends her afternoon at MAtv shooting Montreal Billboard.

On Global Montreal’s Morning News, Casella and Sullivan will be joined on air by morning reporter Kelly Greig (who was one of several fill-in anchors this summer). They replace Camille Ross, who left to move to London, Ont. (she’s started up a media consulting business) and Laventure, who moved to Punta Cana to work at Club Med. (You can follow her adventures on her blog.)

(This story is also a brief that will appear in Thursday’s Gazette.)

Media news digest: CRTC lawsuits, hockey schedules and RIP Bob McDevitt

Every day I come across lots of news stories about the media, and tidbits of information that don’t justify their own separate blog post here. Most of these I’ve been sharing on Twitter (which can be seen on the sidebar), but not everyone will catch stuff there, and sometimes it helps to have just a bit more than 140 characters to give context.

So I’m going to try something new: Once a week (I’m trying Wednesdays at noon for now), I’ll round up all the stuff I’ve seen in one post. That way you can be relatively sure you didn’t miss anything unless I did too.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of every media story out there, but it’s most of what I’ve seen and found interesting. Let me know what you think, and of course if you see anything, let me know by email or on Twitter.

At the CRTC

  • The Globe and Mail has a good feature story on Jean-Pierre Blais, the chair of the CRTC (for subscribers only). It interviews him and discusses his controversial leadership style, which has rubbed many the wrong way (and resulted in one fellow commissioner being fired and filing lawsuits) but also earned him praise as someone willing to stand up for consumers and ensure the commission’s integrity and relevance.
  • Meanwhile, the Raj Shoan saga continues. The dismissed CRTC commissioner, who won a legal case challenging a biased report that accuses him of harassing a member of the CRTC staff, has lost a bid at an injunction to force him back to work. (The judge said there is not enough evidence of irreparable harm if Shoan has to wait until the case is decided.) Meanwhile, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Community Media Advocacy Centre have written an open letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly to demand she rescind her decision to unappoint Shoan.
  • In other suing-the-CRTC news, Bell has lost a case appealing the commission’s decision over ad substitution during the Super Bowl. But only because the policy had not been official yet and so the court ruled the case was premature. The official policy change is now official, so Bell will file another case.
  • And CRTC commissioner Linda Vennard got her knuckles rapped for accepting flowers and chocolate from a group that’s part of a competitive process for a new radio station licence in Edmonton.
  • MuchRetro, the only channel that needed CRTC approval for its sale to Stingray because it had enough subscribers to require a licence, now no longer needs that approval. It dropped below 200,000 subscribers (mainly, I believe, because it was dropped by Videotron) and can now be exempt from licensing and sold at will. The CRTC has consequently revoked its licence. Stingray has already acquired MuchLoud, MuchVibe and Juicebox, which it has rebranded. M3, formerly MuchMoreMusic, has been shut down and its place on TV systems replaced with Gusto, the food channel brand that Bell Media recently acquired. (See below.)
  • The CRTC has officially changed its policy to say that CTV Two Atlantic, which is a satellite-to-cable station and not a conventional television station, can be carried on basic cable under its new “skinny basic” regime.

News about news

News about people

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Good reads

Upcoming events

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Finally, I was on Canadaland Short Cuts last week. You can listen to me talk about Peter Mansbridge, CanCon and the CRTC here. And the edited-out clip where I make fun of his sponsor’s ad here. During that show, I note this Huffington Post story about Sophie Grégoire Trudeau “recycling” an outfit.

The Beat declares victory after summer ratings surge

Following today’s publication of Numeris’ Summer 2016 results, The Beat 92.5 maintains its ranking as Montreal’s #1 Music Station! The Beat is not only the number one English-language music station among radio listeners of all ages, but it is now is now the Number one RADIO station in the most important demos, Adults 25-54 and Females 25-54!

This was the beginning of a very self-congratulatory press release from 92.5 The Beat on Thursday after learning they had finally beaten competitor Virgin Radio 96 not only overall but among their key demographics.

It’s good news for the station that on Tuesday celebrated its fifth anniversary. But we’ve seen this kind of surge from The Beat before, so it’s too early to tell if the tide has really turned.

What the ratings actually say

As readers of this blog are well aware, there are a lot of ways to play with ratings numbers to claim to be number one. In the case of The Beat, it means ignoring the French market entirely, and ignoring the top-rated English station in the market, CJAD. At which point you’re down to three commercial stations.

The top-line ratings results are posted on Numeris’s website. Here’s what they show:

Montreal anglo market (797,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CJAD CJAD 800 26.4% 13,400 170,800 -11% -8%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 19.2% 9,800 211,200 +11% +7%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 16.3% 8,300 207,300 0 -6%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 12.9% 6,600 145,800 -4% +5%
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 6.2% 3,100 43,500 -3% -6%
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 3.0% 1,500 51,800 +25% +25%
CKGM TSN Radio 690 2.9% 1,500 40,500 -25% -17%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 1.6% 800 19,100 0 +14%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 1.3% 700 31,200 +17% +17%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 1.3% 700 19,200 -12% +17%
CKOI-FM CKOI 1.0% 500 37,000 +43% 0

Other stations have shares below 1%.

Montreal franco market (2,738,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 20.5% 37,300 687,000 -1% +10%
CHMP-FM 98,5 fm 17.0% 31,000 484,700 -18% -13%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 11.9% 21,700 376,400 +19% -15%
CKOI-FM CKOI 10.1% 18,400 480,600 +28% +16%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 7.0% 12,700 414,300 +44% +23%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 7.0% 12,700 400,200 +14% +23%
CBF-FM ICI Première 6.6% 12,000 224,700 -19% -22%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 5.7% 10,400 316,800 +32% +68%
CKMF-FM Énergie 5.3% 9,600 344,600 +8% -16%
CBFX-FM ICI Musique 2.1% 3,900 82,800 -5% -18%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 2.0% 3,700 86,100 -33% -36%
CKLX-FM 91.9 Sport 1.3% 2,400 50,600 0 +242%
CJAD CJAD 800 0.7% 1,200 37,500 0 +50%
CKAC Radio Circulation 0.3% 500 47,200 +67% 0
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 0.3% 500 15,500 0 +67%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 0.2% 300 26,100 -40% -70%
CHRF AM 980 0.0% 100 3,800 0 N/A
CKGM TSN Radio 690 0.0% 0 3,400 0 -100%

AMA means average minute audience, the average number of people who will be tuning into a station during any minute of a 24-hour day.

Daily reach refers to how many listeners will tune into a station for at least one minute during the average day.

Comparisons to spring (Feb. 29-May 29) and last summer (June 1-Aug. 30, 2015) are here for reference. I’d pay more attention to the year-over-year change than the change over spring, since summer ratings tend to go down particularly for non-music stations. And don’t read too much into the percentage changes for stations lower on the chart. The higher margin for error exaggerates the amplitude of the changes.

Listener boycotts had no effect on The Beat

The Beat has reason to be happy, being higher among anglophones than it was both last spring and last summer. But the big win is in the adults 25-54 and women 25-54 demographics, which it had consistently lost to rival Virgin, even while it had a larger audience overall.

“Today’s milestone results are the product of great teamwork and proof that our audience likes the changes we made to the schedule,” GM Luc Tremblay says in the press release. This is in reference to moving Cat Spencer to afternoons and Cousin Vinny to mornings, but left unsaid is that listener anger to the dropping of Kim Sullivan and Sarah Bartok hasn’t resulted in a drop in ratings. The Beat says its 25-54 audience for the morning show went up 35%.

The news isn’t all bad for Virgin and Bell Media. Virgin’s audience is up among francophone listeners (though just like last summer it’s exactly tied with The Beat for audience among francophones), and CHOM has much more franco listeners. Plus, of course, Bell Media owns four of the five commercial stations in the market.

More importantly, we’ve seen this before. During the winter of 2014-15, The Beat and Virgin had similar numbers relative to each other. The Beat’s program director said the station expected to continue to improve. Virgin’s said it was because it covered the Christmas period when The Beat does better with its Christmas music. The next ratings period, Virgin was back on top.

The next ratings period will tell us if this was another fluke. But The Beat has been consistently higher than Virgin in the overall ratings, and this ratings period was as far from Christmas as you can get.

Franco market: Rythme, CKOI see gains

On the francophone side, Rythme FM climbed above 98.5 FM to the top spot. Expect this to be temporary as 98.5’s A team comes back to work and so do the politicians whose activities fuel news-talk stations. (And besides, both stations are owned by Cogeco, so it’s not exactly a huge competition.)

CKOI is getting more respectable numbers than it used to. Not so long ago it was in the gutter, being outperformed by the anglo music stations among francophones. Now it’s well ahead of them, even nipping at the heels of #2 music station Rouge FM. We’ll see if that keeps up.

91.9 Sport is holding its own, with more than three times the audience it had last summer before the format change and equal to what it had in the spring (when presumably there was more sports to talk about). But its market share is still low, and it might need more to be viable as a talk station.

CHRF, the station that was supposed to be Radio Fierté and is now airing easy-listening music and some miscellaneous programming, is still stuck within the margin of error.

Saroja Coelho named new host of CBC Quebec’s Breakaway

Breakaway, the afternoon drive show on CBC Radio One throughout Quebec (outside of Montreal and Gatineau), finally has a new permanent host: Saroja Coelho, a journalist who until recently was based in Germany.

Her first show is today.

The hiring of Coelho, who worked for Deutsche Welle and freelanced for several outlets including the CBC, might be a bit of a head-scratcher, considering listeners here are unfamiliar with her. But also because Rachelle Solomon, who had been hosting Breakaway since 2014, seemed to be an obvious choice for the job. She will stay with the station and contribute to Breakaway.

Jacquie Czernin, the last permanent host of Breakaway, left the show more than two years ago to be with her ailing mother in B.C. Last December, she made the departure permanent.

UPDATE: I spoke with Coelho for a short story in the Gazette. I’ll have more from her later.

CBC’s press release announcing the hire is below:

SAROJA COELHO NAMED NEW HOST OF CBC RADIO ONE’S BREAKAWAY IN QUEBEC

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 – CBC Quebec is pleased to announce Saroja Coelho as the new host of CBC Radio One’s Breakaway.

Saroja is an experienced journalist and public broadcaster. Prior to joining CBC, Saroja worked for Deutsche Welle in Germany for eight years, holding positions as a radio and television presenter, senior editor and producer, writer, event moderator and media trainer. During that time, Saroja also worked as a freelancer for CBC, BBC, NPR, Ms Magazine and other publications. She has also contributed to CBC Radio on Global Village, Outfront and Metro Morning. Saroja’s first day as host is Tuesday, September 6.

“Saroja brings strong news and broadcast experience to CBC Quebec,” said Meredith Dellandrea, Senior Program Manager, CBC Quebec. “An adventurous traveller in Quebec and around the world, she seeks to understand people and new perspectives. We’re excited to have her join our team.”

“I couldn’t be more delighted about taking over as the host of Breakaway,” said Saroja Coelho, Breakaway host. “Quebec has a rich history and a vibrant culture that is reinventing itself every day. I can’t wait to connect with people across the province and continue Breakaway’s tradition of being an on-air meeting place where people tell their stories, challenge each other with new thinking and, hopefully, have a good laugh.”

The entirely predictable result of Quebec’s gambling-website-blocking law is coming

Only minutes after it was spotted at the very end of Quebec’s 2015 budget document, the proposal to force Internet service providers to block illegal gambling websites was criticized as being unconstitutional.

In the months that followed, the bill to implement the measure was criticized, by opposition parties, by Internet providers, by public interest groups, by Michael Geist, and by anyone with even a basic understanding of constitutional law in Canada. (Though, strangely, not by some actual independent gambling sites.)

And yet, the government kept pushing the legislation along. During parliamentary committee hearings, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão assured everyone that they had their lawyers look into it and it would pass a challenge. This isn’t a telecommunications bill, he argued, it’s about gambling, consumer protection and health, which are provincial jurisdictions.

When Bill 74 was finally adopted at the National Assembly in May 2016, it was with both opposition parties noting the potential issues (which also included worries about the impact this would have on small ISPs).

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre wasted little time, applying to the CRTC to ask it to declare the bill’s website blocking elements unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association launched a challenge in Quebec Superior Court.

On Thursday, the CRTC responded to PIAC’s application, arguing that on the one hand the court case should settle the matter of whether the bill is constitutional, while on the other hand saying that blocking websites is against the federal Telecommunications Act and complying with a provincial law is not justification for doing so.

The CRTC has given parties 15 days to respond to its preliminary findings, and if it doesn’t change its mind, it will suspend the PIAC application until the court case is settled.

The law won’t be implemented until probably 2018 at the earliest because it will take a while for Loto-Québec to set up its end of the system. That should be enough time for the court to decide on this issue, assuming it doesn’t end up being appealed.

In the meantime, we can sit here and shake our heads at all the energy, time and money being wasted by the Quebec government, the CRTC, the court system, Internet providers, PIAC, Loto-Québec and others over provisions of a law that is obviously unconstitutional and probably wouldn’t work even if it wasn’t.

Global expands network after CBC abandons affiliates

More Canadians are being exposed to Global Television’s brand this fall as small stations are dealing with the fallout of CBC dropping all its private television affiliates.

Starting today, CKSA-DT in Lloydminster (Alberta/Saskatchewan) changes affiliation from CBC to Global. The Newcap-owned station had been the last privately-owned affiliate carrying CBC programming, but the public broadcaster terminated its agreement with the station, forcing it to seek an alternative source. Its sister station CITL-DT is already a CTV affiliate, so Global was the next logical option. It now carries the entire Global morning, daytime, primetime, evening and late-night lineup, with the exception of the Newcap News local news show at 5pm weekdays.

Meanwhile, three Corus-owned affiliates in eastern Ontario are taking on Global’s news programming while maintaining their program supply agreement with CTV.

Starting next week, CHEX-DT in Peterborough, CKWS-DT in Kingston and CHEX-TV-2 in Oshawa will also carry Global National at 5:30pm. And the Kingston and Peterborough stations will get local morning newscasts from 6-9am weekdays starting in October (Oct. 17 in Kingston and Oct. 24 in Peterborough). Corus television boss Troy Reeb says they will remain under their branding (which consists of their call letters).

These three stations were owned by Corus before Corus bought Shaw Media this year. They had been CBC affiliates as well until CBC dropped them a year ago. Since then they have entered into program supply agreements with CTV, without becoming official affiliates. Besides their local news shows and the Global morning show and Global National, they will still air CTV’s daytime, primetime and late-night lineup, including CTV National News.

The Global Television Network now has 12 stations, plus seven independently-owned stations carrying Global programming:

  • CKSA-DT Lloydminster, a full Global affiliate owned by Newcap
  • CFHD-DT Thunder Bay, a full Global affiliate owned by Dougall Media
  • CJBN-TV Kenora, a full Global affiliate owned by Shaw (not sold to Corus)
  • CKWS-DT Kingston, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CHEX-DT Peterborough, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CHEX-TV-2 Oshawa, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CJON-DT St. John’s, a station owned by Stirling Communications which carries both CTV and Global programming

UPDATE (Oct. 19): Corus has announced that CHEX-TV-2 in Oshawa will rebrand its local newscast as Global Durham and rebroadcast Global Toronto’s local newscast at 5:30 and 6. The schedule also shows it’s dropping CTV National News at 11.