I remember when the Colbert Report first launched in 2005. I remember the three weeks between the time it debuted on Comedy Central in the U.S. and the time that CTV began airing it in Canada. I remember the handoffs between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, which got viewers of the first show to tune in to the second.
But after eight long and truthy years, the Colbert Report aired its final new episode on CTV on Aug. 15. When it comes back from vacation in September, CTV will have replaced Colbert at 12:35am with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a move being made in anticipation of the replacement of Fallon with SNL’s Seth Meyers in early 2014.
Stewart is staying on CTV, as is Conan O’Brien, whose show gets pushed back by half an hour. The new schedules, as of Sept. 2, will look like this:
- CTV: National news at 11pm, local news at 11:30pm, Daily Show at 12:05am, Late Night at 12:35am, Conan at 1:35am, a Comedy Now! rerun at 2:05am, and then infomercials
- CTV Two: Local news at 11pm, Tonight Show at 11:35pm, Criminal Minds rerun at 12:35am, then infomercials
- Comedy Network: Daily Show at 11pm, Colbert Report at 11:30pm, Conan at midnight
The move makes sense for Bell Media for two main reasons:
- Simultaneous substitution: Airing Late Night instead of Colbert means that CTV can take over NBC’s signal for that hour each night and insert its own ads. Because Comedy Central isn’t available in Canada, there’s nothing to substitute with Colbert (which airs at a different time anyway). It’s the same reason why NFL games air on CTV but CFL games air on TSN. The system favours airing U.S. network programs on broadcast channels.
- Must-have programming on Comedy: With Colbert being “exclusive to Comedy”, a fact that CTV isn’t hiding (it even bragged about that during ads shown to the audience at Just for Laughs galas this summer), fans of the show must subscribe to that channel to get it. I suspect most fans already subscribe to that channel, but this is even further incentive. And specialty channels are where the big money lies in television right now.
There are other bonuses too. Colbert no longer airing on CTV might push more cable distributors to offer Comedy in high definition (Videotron, for example, currently doesn’t, which means Videotron subscribers won’t be able to watch the show in high definition anymore.)
Of course, the wishes of viewers aren’t really factored in here. Given the choice, they would probably prefer the existing system, seeing Stewart and Colbert on CTV and having the option to watch classic late-night on NBC. But when the wishes of the viewers conflict with the ability to game the system for more profits…
Comedy Central videos all look like this
TheComedyNetwork.ca has launched a new user-generated-content vehicle called Upload Yours to get random people to upload their own videos (kicking it off with Debra DiGiovanni, who CP says is from a show called “Video on Trail”).
Hey, you know what would make a really funny video? Having someone from Canada try to watch a clip from the Daily Show and his reaction at seeing the image above.
Someone should do that.
Shaw Communications has asked the CRTC to add CNN International to the list of eligible channel imports for Canadian cable and satellite companies. Canadian viewers’ exposure to CNNI is currently limited to the British-sounding people they sometimes hear behind an anchor desk during a noon-hour show or when breaking news happens late at night. The programming is distinctly different from CNN’s U.S. channel, and obviously focuses much less on U.S.-specific stuff.
The CRTC’s notice suggests it is ready to approve the channel, since it doesn’t compete with Canadian networks and is unlikely to have any program licensing issues.
No HD for you
Also from the CRTC this week is a denial for a new channel called Canada HD Network, which I mocked back in July. Back then I suggested the CRTC would likely deny the request unless it got much more specific about programming. Otherwise it would compete with conventional general-interest broadcasters.
Sure enough, there were objections from CTV, Canwest, Rogers, Astral Media, The Score and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and Canada HD Network was shown the door. Similar decisions were made against its Diversion channel in high-definition and standard-definition (which were for some reason filed separately)
New HD channels coming
The CRTC has approved high-definition versions of the following CTV-owned specialty channels:
- CTV Newsnet
- Business News Network
- MTV Canada
- Comedy Network
- Outdoor Life Network
This is only the first step in the process. The HD channels must now be created and CTV must negotiate with carriers to have the HD versions added to their lineups.
Good news, bad news for CMT
CMT Canada (Country Music Television) had a few requests for amendments to its license:
- It wanted to make changes to the categories of programs it can air, by adding animated programming and improv/stand-up comedy, by increasing (slightly) its cap on drama/comedy programming and by removing restrictions on the number of feature films it can air (though those films must still feature country music artists). All programming would still have to fit in with the country music theme and fit existing limits on non-music-video programming. Since no opposition was voiced and the proposed changes are not huge, the requests were approved.
- CMT wanted to change the criteria by which videos are deemed “Canadian” to judge only the music and not the video itself. For music video television stations to consider a music video as Cancon-compliant, not only must the music be produced/written/performed by a Canadian (similar to the criteria radio stations use), but the video itself must have been produced by Canadians. This means that a Shania Twain music video wouldn’t be Cancon if it was entirely produced in the States, even though the song itself counts as Cancon for radio stations. This request was denied because it would change policy across the board.
- CMT wanted to change its required financial contribution minimums. Currently it must spend 22% of gross revenues, half on creating new Canadian country music videos and half on creating new (original) programming. It wanted to shift the balance toward programming and away from videos. Partly this is because CMT is less of a music video station (its requirement dropped from 90% to 50%), and partly this is because it would have to spend less of that remaining 78% on original/Canadian programming to meet CRTC requirements if it could shift that budget over. This request was also denied, as the CRTC pointed out that CMT’s revenues have gone up and the network is hardly in a financial crisis.
Now that the impossible has happened for a second time in four years, perhaps it’s time to reflect on how some of the media down south are recognizing this momentous achievement on their websites:
The Boston Globe’s Boston.com:
The New York Post:
The New York Daily News:
It’s also as good a time as any to delve into the vault and bring back this jewel of a fake ad from just after the 2004 series, which starts off asking Boston fans what they would give to have the Sox win it all. (Off the Comedy Network’s website since Comedy Central blocks Canadians now. If it doesn’t work, you can get it off YouTube here)
And if you’re the more sentimental type, Nike’s Red Sox Memories of Losing is here.
UPDATE: Never underestimate the Sox.