Tag Archives: Media News Digest

Media News Digest: Conflicts in sports broadcasting, CBC livestreams, CHOM kills Montreal Rocks

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Media News Digest: Supreme Court to hear Vice case, changes at the Globe, Gregg Zaun and Matt Lauer fired

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Media News Digest: FPJQ winners, newspaper section shuffles, BNN hires Amanda Lang

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Media News Digest: Canal+ comes to Canada, Courrier Laval sold, Alexa and Google sign news deals

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  • The Ottawa CItizen’s tradition of putting together a biography of a fallen soldier based on a name tweeted out at random at 11:11am on Remembrance Day continues. Here’s the latest edition.
  • CBC’s ombudsman put out a decision related to a CBC Halifax radio discussion about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ decision to visit the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup win. A listener complained that more effort should have been made to find balance in their coverage of this, and find more pro-Trump sources. The ombudsman agreed, saying “the coverage was flawed.”
  • Various news organizations are reaching deals with these new smart speakers or assistants or whatever you call them: Google Home and Amazon Echo. Amazon’s Alexa service will carry content from CBC, Global News, CTV, TSN, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and Montreal Gazette. Google Home has a deal with Postmedia.
  • Rebel Media’s Ezra Levant has pushed his defamation lawsuit against the man behind the @CanadianCynic Twitter account past a preliminary look at whether it’s an abusive suit against public comment. A judge found that Robert Day’s Twitter posts accusing Levant of fraud in a Fort MacMurray fundraiser were not public comment and not protected by the law.
  • Montreal city hall’s new administration is looking for an attaché(e) de presse. The previous media relations person for Montreal’s mayor, Catherine Maurice, previously worked for Projet Montréal before she jumped ship for Coderre’s team.

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Media News Digest: Classic CanCon on YouTube, Moose Jaw paper to close, Transcon sells 21 more papers

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At the CRTC

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  • You all know about Twitter expanding to 280 characters, right? OK, moving on…

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Media News Digest: Fantastiques sans Eric, magazine awards reunited, Aly Lozoff in Vegas

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  • The Suburban held its election “debates”, which consisted of candidates writing answers to the same question, including Beryl Wajsman, who is a candidate for mayor of Westmount and editor of the newspaper. The issue with the answers includes a note from the publisher explaining that “Mr. Wajsman did not know the questions and agreed to have his answers recorded before any of the other candidates arrived, and has had no hand in any Westmount stories since May.” Christine Smith, the interim mayor who’s running against Wajsman, declined to participate because of Wajsman’s conflict.
  • The Montreal Gazette and La Presse collaborated on an investigation into Montreal city contracts. The collaboration is interesting if only because it means the articles need to be translated between French and English.
  • For those looking for live TV coverage of Sunday’s municipal elections, the pickings will be a bit slim. RDI and LCN will have live coverage throughout the night, and most media will have online coverage, but the local stations will have mostly regular programming during the evening. Global Montreal will extend its 11pm newscast to an hour for an election night special, while CTV and CBC will incorporate election results into its regular broadcasts, according to their TV schedules. CBC News Network and CTV News Channel don’t appear to have any plans for special programming.
  • Le Devoir looks at the new charter created by the Association de presse francophone, representing French-language media in English Canada.

At the CRTC

  • Quebec City radio station CHXX-FM (Pop 100.9) has succeeded in getting its licence renewed by the CRTC despite coming short on its requirement for French-language music. Rather than issue a short-term renewal, it has de facto fined the station $920. And once again, the station has been shot down in its request to cut its conditions of licence requiring it to serve the Portneuf region. When it was first approved in 1995, the station was sold to the CRTC as being a local service to Portneuf. Its current owner RNC Media has repeatedly tried to eliminate the requirements to have a studio in Donnacona and 14 hours a week of programming for the region. The CRTC found there was insufficient evidence put forward that such a change was necessary to the station’s financial survival and that the change would be bad for people in the Portneuf region who have no other local station.
  • The commission has denied a request from Vancouver radio station CHLG-FM (LG 104.3) to amend its licence to eliminate the requirement that 15% of its music be special interest. The CRTC found there as no compelling economic reason to approve the change. CHLG-FM is owned by Newcap, purchased out of the Bell-Astral deal.

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Media News Digest: Inaccessible information, FPJQ finalists, and an interview with Bell’s Randy Lennox

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Yet more Weinstein fallout

At the CRTC

  • The CRTC is holding a hearing Jan. 11 at which it will consider measures related to two radio stations with severe compliance issues: CFOR-FM Maniwaki and CKFG-FM Toronto. Both are accused of failing to meet a series of licence conditions and regulatory requirements, and could face sanctions as high as losing their licences.
  • The notice for the same hearing includes details on the Bell acquisition of four FM stations in Ontario from Larche Communications. The deal is worth $15.64 million.
  • Finally, three applications for new radio stations, all Christian music stations by different owners: Sydney, N.S., Regina, and Kelowna/Kamloops, B.C. Deadline for comments on all three of these is Nov. 24.
  • The coming review of mandatory distribution orders has all the applicants pushing for public support. AMI, APTN, Canal MTV5 and the Weather Network have put up websites asking for people to write letters of support to the CRTC. (TWN even has a video to guide people through the process.)
  • The commission is giving Cogeco an extension until March 31 to implement changes to its customer service contract required by the new TV service provider code that went into effect on Sept. 1. Cogeco said an “internal structuring project” was delayed, which meant it couldn’t meet the deadline.

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Media News Digest: Salvail in trouble, CRTC to review must-carry orders, Mohawk Girls prepares final season

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Harvey Weinstein fallout

I won’t begin to try to compile all the news reports, opinion pieces, hot takes and takedowns that came out of the Harvey Weinstein case (except the head of Amazon Studios being sacked for similar reasons), but I will point out a couple of things locally:

At the CRTC

  • The commission has begun its public hearing on the renewal of cable companies’ licences. The oral portion of the hearing focuses on three topics: how they’re dealing with new channel packaging rules, how they’re working toward a system to use set-top box data for ratings purposes, and how they’re supporting their community TV services. The latter part is getting a lot of attention as groups complain about community TV channels owned by cable companies. Transcripts of the hearing, which concludes Thursday, can be found here.
  • The CRTC has announced a hearing April 30, 2018, to discuss the renewals of most mandatory distribution orders, which require all TV subscribers to have certain channels in their basic service. Most services are requesting the status quo, but three are seeking increases to their per-subscriber wholesale rate: CPAC, from $0.12 to $0.13 a month, APTN from $0.31 to $0.36 a month, and audio service Canal M from $0.02 to $0.04 a month. APTN is also requesting a reduction in its CanCon quota from 75% to 70%. Other services requesting renewal are AMI, The Weather Network/MétéoMédia, TV5/Unis, and the Nunavut and NWT legislatures (whose distribution comes with no wholesale fee). Others, such as CBC NN, RDI, TVA and OMNI, will have theirs reviewed at a later date. In all, mandatory services would represent $1.63 in French-language markets (slightly less in English-language ones) if all the increases are approved, which in a world of $25 a month basic cable makes a big difference to distributors’ bottom lines.
  • The CRTC has published two complaints against OMNI over its decision to outsource the production of its Cantonese and Mandarin daily newscasts to Fairchild, which owns Canada’s Chinese-language TV channels. The main complaint by the Unifor union says that OMNI’s licence clearly says OMNI must “produce” the newscasts in question. Comments on the complaints are due Nov. 16.
  • The commission is suspending a proceeding involving a dispute between EBox and Bell Media while it determines how much of the information provided by Bell should be part of the public record.

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Media News Digest: Journalists shielded, CRTC launches consultation, TVA president retires

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Media News Digest: Global Montreal hosts municipal debates, Groupe Capitales Médias cuts ties with La Presse

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  • Tom Petty died, then undied, then died again within 24 hours. The confusion began when CBS News reported Petty’s death, citing the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD later apologized for “inadvertently” presenting false information to journalists. Petty had suffered a heart attack, but was technically still alive. The error prompted the usual holier-than-thou handwringing scolding journalists to get it right (without of course setting any standard for when you consider something “right”). The lesson to take out of this, once again, is that even official sources can be wrong.
  • The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has come out with decisions against Global News BC and CTV News Vancouver over their decisions to air video of a stabbing at a school in Abbotsford, B.C. Though both broadcasters were aware of the sensitivity of the video, issued warnings about their broadcast (though Global failed to do so in one instance) and even blurred parts of it, the CBSC found that “the video, even in its edited form, did not contribute to the story and therefore showed inappropriate editorial judgment on the part of the broadcaster” on top of being disrespectful to a young victim. Both were required to issue on-air apologies.
  • In a decision that is for some reason undated, the National Newsmedia Council has dismissed a complaint against the National Post that accused it of stealing a Blacklock’s Reporter story without credit. The council found that both organizations reported the same story independently, with the Post publishing a day after Blacklock’s.
  • TVA has suspended Luc Lavoie after he made a joke on LCN about hunting separatists with guns.
  • The Assemblée francophone de l’Ontario has made propositions to protect francophone media in the province, among them requiring the provincial government to devote 5% of ad spending to francophone media.
  • The heads of francophone media outlets in Quebec gathered for a panel discussion about the future of media. Le Devoir summarizes how it went.

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Media News Digest: CBC Montreal open house, EBOX complains about Bell Media, Mercer Report starts final season

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At the CRTC

  • The Globe’s Christine Dobby sits down with new CRTC chair Ian Scott.
  • Michael Geist points out an order in council issued last week that requires the CRTC produce a report about how programming is distributed and how that will change in the coming years. This sounds a lot like work the commission has already done in its Let’s Talk TV process and discoverability conferences.
  • EBOX, an independent Internet provider in Quebec and Ontario, has decided to enter the TV distribution industry in Quebec’s major cities, but has run into a wall negotiating a distribution deal with … oh, go ahead, guess … yup, Bell Media. According to EBOX’s complaint of undue preference at the CRTC, Bell cut off negotiations, citing something about EBOX’s behaviour, and said it was no longer interested in allowing any Bell Media channels (TSN, RDS, Discovery, Space, Bravo, D, Vie, Investigation, CTV News Channel, Comedy, Much, Z, TMN, HBO) to be distributed by EBOX. Bell’s initial response says it has done nothing against the rules and will explain its dealings with EBOX.
  • Michael Geist notes (and CBC picks up) that Bell argued at a committee hearing into NAFTA renegotiations that there should be criminal provisions to prevent piracy and a CRTC-managed list of websites that Canadian ISPs should block for piracy violations.

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Media News Digest: Bad Blood debuts, Randy Renaud replaces Tootall, The Bridge replaces Cinq à six

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At the CRTC

  • Evanov Radio has proposed a way out of its Toronto problem: A station licensed to the suburb of Orangeville (CIDC-FM Z103.5) that’s being prevented from formally expanding into Toronto, and another licensed in downtown Toronto (CIRR-FM Proud FM 103.9) that for technical reasons can’t expand its signal beyond 225W. Under the proposed changes, Z103 increases power but adopts a directional lemon-shaped signal that avoids Toronto, while Proud FM goes from 225W to 10,000W and changes frequency from 103.9 to 103.7 to greatly expand its reach in Canada’s largest city. The applications are posted here and accepting comments until Oct. 16. The CRTC has screwed over Z103 by on the one hand preventing it from offering a better signal in Toronto because it’s licensed to Orangeville, but on the other hand licensing another station in Orangeville because it determined that Z103 was too Toronto-focused.
  • Maclean’s has a story about how RT (Russia Today) is still available on Canadian TV providers, usually for free or at very low cost. (Videotron is not one of those providers.) The CRTC says its status is not under review. But as Greg O’Brien notes, someone could file a complaint.
  • The commission has denied a request from Canal Évasion to lower its Canadian programming expenditure quota from 46% to 32%. The commission found holes in its reasoning (comparing Évasion to Astral channels without taking into account changes since their purchase by Bell Media) and determined it would be better to ask for such changes when their licence is up for renewal.
  • The commission has denied a request from the CBC to offer an analog subchannel of CBL-FM (CBC Radio Two Toronto) to a Tamil-language service. The commission felt such a service would compete with a recently-licensed ethnic station and an existing Tamil subchannel service.

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Media News Digest: Complaints about OMNI, Global Quebec turns 20, L’Actualité changes format

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At the CRTC

  • New chairman Ian Scott has issued a statement as he begins his mandate. It’s brief, but seems to focus on the consumer-oriented mandate of his predecessor Jean-Pierre Blais. It also continues Blais’s tradition of referring to himself as “chief executive officer”, though not his tradition of beginning every statement by paying tribute to the elders of the closest indigenous people.
  • Unifor has announced it will file a CRTC complaint against Rogers’s OMNI over its decision to outsource the production of its Mandarin and Cantonese newscasts to Fairchild, which owns Canada’s biggest Chinese television channel and runs the main competitor in providing Canadians with news in these languages. Unifor argues this goes against the licence granted to OMNI and the accompanying must-carry order, which says “the licensee shall produce and broadcast” daily newscasts in the four languages (it produces the Punjabi and Italian newscasts in-house). The commission may have to split hairs on what the word “produce” means in this context.
  • Speaking of OMNI, Rogers filed a request to amend the licence for its new OMNI regional feeds to correct what it saw as a typo: It required ICI in Quebec to produce 14 hours of original local programming a week for the Quebec OMNI feed, when Rogers says it meant to say 14 hours a month. But intervenors including Quebecor, Cogeco and the Community Media Advocacy Centre strongly objected to this, saying it amounts to getting a licence under false pretences. Complicating matters is that the conditions of licence first imposed on ICI in 2012 contain an inconsistency between French and English versions. The French version says “le titulaire doit, au cours de chaque semaine de radiodiffusion, diffuser 14 heures d’émissions locales originales à caractère ethnique, calculées mensuellement”, while the English version says “in each broadcast month, the licensee shall broadcast 14 hours of original local ethnic programming, calculated monthly.” (Emphasis mine.) The preamble in both languages makes clear that ICI’s commitment was 14 hours a week of local ethnic programming, but didn’t specify that this commitment was for original programs. It’s also redundant to say “each broadcast month” and “calculated monthly.” Until this application is approved, ICI’s original condition of licence remains.
  • The commission has approved a request by CHOD-FM Cornwall, a francophone community station serving eastern Ontario, for another transmitter farther north in Dunvegan (I first reported on this in April). The new transmitter is on the same frequency, 92.1 MHz, so they’ll either need to synchronize the two (which is tricky) or there’s gonna be interference for people between the two transmitters.

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Media News Digest: CHCH picks up House of Cards, TTP is hiring, The Athletic expands again

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  • Ian Scott is now the CRTC’s chairperson. The Globe and Mail and Financial Post look at the files on his table. They include wireless roaming, broadband access and the Bell Super Bowl ad appeal.
  • After determining that the two markets can sustain a new radio station, the CRTC has received three applications each for new stations in Georgina, Ont. (southeast of Barrie) and Grimsby/Beamsville, Ont. (between Hamilton and Niagara Falls). All six are for music stations and are from small or mid-size broadcasters like My Broadcasting Corp., Evanov Radio, Durham Radio, Byrnes, Frank Torres and Bhupinder Bola.

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Media News Digest: Sportsnet richer than TSN, Evan Solomon goes national, Gazette and Globe cut columns

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At the CRTC

  • It’s Sept. 1, which means a lot of new licences take effect today, including those of TV services owned by Bell, Rogers, Corus, Quebecor and V. Also starting today, OMNI starts charging a mandatory 12 cents a month to all TV subscribers in Canada.
  • The commission has finally released financial details of specialty (now referred to as discretionary) channels for the year ending Aug. 31, 2016. Among the highlights:
    • Sportsnet saw a huge nine-figure jump in ad revenue, and made $93.6 million in profit in 2015-16, making it the most profitable television channel in Canada. Add in Sportsnet One ($44.8 million), Sportsnet 360 ($1.2 million) and Sportsnet World ($2.7 million) and the Sportsnet channels had $142.3 million in profit in one year. This is the first year that Sportsnet (just the regional channels) surpasses TSN in total revenue, total expenses and total profit. But TSN still has slightly more subscribers and slightly more revenue from subscriber fees.
    • The acquisition of national NHL rights meant a huge change for TVA Sports, causing its subscriber revenue to quadruple in a year. But its programming expenses also quadrupled, and it went from losing $20 million in the year before the rights change to losing $40 million the year after. Reducing expenses has allowed it to recover slightly in 2016.
    • Early numbers for Viceland Canada don’t tell us much. The channel was rebranded from Bio halfway through the 2015-16 year, and was on free preview for a while.
    • FXX Canada, the little sister to FX Canada, has squeaked into the black in its third year.
    • Numbers for G4 Canada show a dramatic 87% drop in the number of subscribers in 2015-16, pushing it into the red despite spending $0 on Canadian programming. This explains why Rogers has decided to shut down the channel, which no longer exists as of today.
    • RDS Info is continuing to bleed money, with revenue covering only about half of expenses. Profits from RDS more than make up for that, though.
    • Zombie channel Book Television, which has zero staff, zero original programming and little worth watching, still has more than 2 million subscribers and made $1.28 million in profit that year.
  • The commission has renewed the licence of CIRA-FM (Radio Ville-Marie) in Montreal and its retransmitters. The five-year renewal reflects some compliance issues, including appeals for donations that said without money the station could cease to exist — CRTC policy prohibits such threats.
  • With licences set to expire, the CRTC has given itself an extension until Dec. 31 to process the renewals of several radio stations, including CHXX-FM (Pop 100.9) in Donnacona, Quebec, near Quebec City. It also gave itself another year for CIBL-FM 101.5 Montreal.

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