CRTC orders Canadian TV providers to offer The News Forum to subscribers

Seven years after the Sun News Network shut down, Canada once again has a fifth national news network in the eyes of the CRTC.

On Tuesday, the commission determined that The News Forum, a conservative low-budget news discussion channel that tries to be a bit more serious than Sun News was, can be classified as a national mainstream news network, and get the same class of licence as CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, RDI and LCN. The big perk of that licence class is that all licensed Canadian TV providers must now add The News Forum to their systems, offer it to their subscribers, and package it with other news services.

Subscribers are not forced to add the channel to their packages, but this will undoubtedly increase the total subscriber base, especially since not all Canadian providers have added TNF to their systems so far. (Bell, Rogers, Telus and SaskTel have, but Cogeco and Videotron haven’t yet.) And more subscribers will mean more revenues, especially as this status gives TNF more power in negotiating wholesale rates with providers.

In May, the CRTC denied a similar application from TNF, finding that its schedule did not show it providing updated news reports at least every 120 minutes. TNF adjusted its schedule and applied again for the status.

While the schedule has been adjusted, not much has changed with the channel. Looking at its YouTube channel, it’s still mainly talking heads having long conversations on various public affairs topics. There are no actual journalists or news stories per se, and the bent is still right-wing with former Conservative politicians like Tony Clement and Tanya Granic Allen hosting shows. And it relies very heavily on repeats to fill the schedule, with just a couple of hours of original programming a day, though they have added new shows recently.

There’s a chance that with some new revenue The News Forum could invest in its programming, hire journalists and start looking more like an all-news channel that provides an alternative to CTVNC and CBCNN. But with video views on YouTube in the single and double digits, it has a long way to go before attracting people’s attention.

The end of the Monday newspaper

If you’re a print subscriber to the Montreal Gazette, you didn’t get a copy delivered this morning.

It’s not an error, it was a choice by my employer Postmedia, which has also ended print distribution of Monday editions of the Sun and Province in Vancouver, Herald and Sun in Calgary, Journal and Sun in Edmonton, and Citizen and Sun in Ottawa.

“The decision reflects the rapidly changing news consumption habits of our readers, the needs of our advertisers and the escalating costs of printing and delivering a printed product,” wrote Gerry Nott, Senior Vice President, Editorial, in a note published in those newspapers.

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Numeris publishes its final public radio ratings

It’s the end of an era: After years of Numeris (formerly BBM Canada) publishing a bare minimum of statistics on radio ratings in Canada’s five largest markets, it will now publish no data at all.

A statement on its website reads “Effective the start of the 2022-23 broadcast year (August 29, 2022), the Radio Topline Reports will no longer be produced. The final report will encompass the period ending on August 28, 2022.”

That report came out last week. It showed about the same as previous reports did, with CJAD 800 leading the pack on the anglophone side and 98.5 FM leading in French, as they always do.

Numeris (which is owned by the broadcasters) hasn’t explained why it made this decision. The result is that the only people who have access to even the most basic data will be those who are Numeris members — the broadcasters themselves as well as ad agencies and others who can afford the budget.

So we’re left to whatever (self-serving) statements they make about the ratings every three months. Fantastic.

Anyway, here’s what it looks like, one last time, for Montreal’s English market:

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CRTC approves Christian radio transmitter in Pointe-Claire

Christian Hit Radio’s CHRI-FM Ottawa is expanding to Pointe-Claire.

On Thursday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved an application from CHR to add a rebroadcasting transmitter at the Lakeside Heights Baptist Church to serve the West Island community.

The 51-watt FM transmitter will be at 90.7 MHz, and very limited in its service area, including parts of Dorval, Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Theoretical coverage area of a proposed retransmitter of CHRI-FM in Pointe-Claire

People in the rest of Montreal won’t be able to hear it, because of interference from CKUT 90.3 but more importantly another transmitter also on 90.7 FM in the Saint-Laurent borough.

In its decision, the commission noted that there isn’t an English-language religious radio station with Pointe-Claire in its primary service area. It also noted that there are other frequencies available that could serve Pointe-Claire, so this application would not exhaust available channels. (Montreal as a whole is saturated on FM, but there are still ways to cover parts of it on certain frequencies, though each new transmitter makes the task a bit harder.)

CHRI, which mainly broadcasts Christian music, has two years to implement the new transmitter, unless they request an extension. They have similar rebroadcasting transmitters already in Pembroke (100.7) and Cornwall (88.1), both of which are low-power. As rebroadcasting transmitters, they do not produce any original content and simply repeat the programming of the Ottawa main station, as the Pointe-Claire transmitter will.

What we know (and don’t) about the Lisa LaFlamme story

In case you’ve been in a coma since Monday, you know that CTV News has ended its contract with Lisa LaFlamme, the chief anchor and senior editor of CTV National News.

Since then, every day has brought new revelations, questions and rumours about what happened and why. I have no original reporting on this, nor any insider knowledge or insight, but I do have a good sense of what reporting can be trusted as fact and what sizes of salt grains should be taken with the rest. So here’s my compilation of what’s been reported so far:

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RNC Media kills Vibe brand to create new BPM Sports radio network

A few years after failing to sell the station, RNC Media is doubling — nay, tripling — down on its sports-talk station 91.9 Sports and expanding its content to two other stations: CFTX-FM 96.5/107.5 in Ottawa-Gatineau, and CHXX-FM 100.9 in Donnacona (Quebec City). Both are currently pop music stations branded as “Vibe” and will switch on Aug. 29, when all three stations become “BPM Sports”.

I spoke with Yves Bombardier, BPM’s program director, about the change, for this story at Cartt.ca. In short, he wants to expand the audience to those who wouldn’t normally listen to sports-talk radio. Bringing in people like former mayor Denis Coderre and former TSN 690 host Tony Marinaro as regular contributors will help with that.

The change has some challenges, beyond the usual ones involving staffing, scheduling and branding.

For one, CFTX and CHXX are both licensed as music stations, which means they must ensure at least 50% of their content is music. Bombardier tells me they will only run the morning, noon, afternoon drive and weekend morning shows from the network and be music the rest of the time, at least for now. An application to the CRTC will be forthcoming, either to allow an exception for game broadcasts to not count toward that 50%, or to switch the stations to a primarily talk format.

The other challenge is the lack of local content for either Gatineau or Quebec City. On evenings when there is no live event broadcast like a CF Montréal or Laval Rocket game, Jordan Boivin will host “La Tribune Capitale” from Quebec City on the network. Otherwise, all programming is coming from Montreal. There are no distinct local shows for Quebec City or Gatineau, and no journalists yet to cover their sports news (Bombardier wants to hire some, but there’s no date for when that would happen).

Until then, Boivin will cover Quebec City and contribute to other shows, while Gatineau will be covered by the teams at RNC-owned TVA affiliate CHOT and WOW Gatineau.

RNC’s announcement is here, and lists some of the new hires, including Paul Houde, fresh off losing his show at 98.5 FM (he said Wednesday he’s looking into getting his brother Pierre Houde to collaborate as well). He will host the weekend morning show.

As for Vibe, the two stations shared programming and had only four hosts. Patrice Nadeau announced he is moving to Quebec City sister station CHOI Radio X. I haven’t seen any public statements by the others, Camille Felton, Me?ghan Labrecque and Catherine (Peach) Paquin.

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Radio Shalom officially proposes sale of 1650 AM to Christian broadcaster

Six years after Radio Shalom, Montreal’s Jewish radio station, announced it was shutting down, and then kind of came back a bit, the company is planning to wind up operations and officially transfer the licence to Gospel Media Communications, which has effectively been running the station since.

On Tuesday, the CRTC posted an application by Communications Média Évangélique / Gospel Media Communications to acquire CKZW 1650 AM (formerly CJRS) from Radio Shalom for $0. The company is owned by André Joly, who also sits on Radio Shalom’s board.

According to the application, Radio Shalom’s board voted to approve the deal after CME had already acquired most of its assets and was subsidizing the station’s financial losses in addition to providing gospel programming.

The fact that Joly has been effectively running things for months if not years would normally trigger some questions from the commission about whether an effective transfer of control happened without approval, but the application states that the station was in contact with the commission about its activities.

One thing the CRTC will need to settle is tangible benefits, the tax new owners have to pay when they acquire radio stations. Both groups are non-profit, and the agreed upon purchase price for the licence is zero, but the commission suggested in a letter it may set a value of $309,125 for the purchase, which includes payments from CME to Radio Shalom as well as the value of leases that would be transferred.

According to an unaudited 2021 financial statement, Radio Shalom had $136,834 in net assets.

If the commission finds the sale has an actual value, Joly has agreed to pay tangible benefits of up to $18,548, representing the standard 6% of the value. But the company argues (as many other acquirers have in other purchase deals) that the CRTC should not consider the value of leases when calculating tangible benefits.

Once the sale is approved and closed, Radio Shalom as a corporate entity would be wound up.

The application does not include any statements about changes to the station’s programming after the sale.

The CRTC will hold a pro forma hearing (without any presentations) on the application Oct. 13 in Gatineau. Those who wish to comment on the proposed sale have until Sept. 1 to do so.

How to binge Just For Laughs on a budget (updated for 2022)

Just For Laughs time is back with a regular festival for the first time since 2019, the last time I published this guide. By popular demand (well, one person anyway) here’s an update for the 2022 version.

The Zoofest/OFF-JFL pass

Start by getting one of these. The Zoofest passes (ZOOF, as they call them) cover shows that are part of the Zoofest and OFF-JFL series at Just For Laughs. These shows are mostly an hour long, and normally go for $32.25 apiece. They feature up-and-coming comedians, some right out of Quebec’s comedy school, those testing out materials for bigger one-man/woman shows (en rodage, as they say in French) and more experimental shows like theatre and improv, so going to these involves taking more of a risk than going to a gala at Place des Arts or seeing Kevin Hart at the Bell Centre.

The Ultra pass is the highest level of this pass. It costs $130 (or the equivalent of four Zoofest/OFF-JFL shows) and will let you book six shows during the festival. But its real power is that for many Zoofest/OFF-JFL shows, you can get a ticket for free 48 hours in advance. And you can do this for three shows a night. (The first shows generally begin at 7pm and the last ones at midnight. So it’s easy to do three in a night. I’ve done four in the past — 7, 8:30, 10 and midnight, by combining free tickets with pre-booked shows.)

The pass applies to both English-language OFF-JFL shows and French-language Zoofest shows. If you don’t care what language it’s in, that’s up to three and a half weeks of shows. (When you go through the show selection process online, you’ll see two identical options for free daily shows on your passport. It’s not clearly indicated, but one is for French Zoofest shows and the other is for English OFF-JFL shows.)

Not every show will be available this way. Some shows are popular and seats available for pass holders can be gobbled up in minutes, if they’re made available at all. And because seats are opened for different categories, a show can be out of free daily pass tickets but still have tickets available for the retail price. Or a show could seem sold out but then a new batch of passholder tickets is released. Most of the English OFF-JFL shows during the peak week of the festival featuring well-known visiting comedians have this issue, making the value of the pass diminished slightly (and turning you into a paranoid junkie constantly refreshing the free tickets page hoping to get it just after a new block is opened.) But there are almost always shows available every night if you’re willing to be flexible on what they are and what language they’re in.

If you don’t have time for three shows a night, you can get the lowest-level pass for $50. It’ll let you in one free show a night (booked 24 hours in advance), plus two reserved shows during the festival. (It used to be three reserved shows on this pass, but they’ve trimmed it down a bit and lowered the price.)

If you’re looking at buying one for next year, keep an eye out around Boxing Day for a discount sale. (I bought my pass for this year in 2019, and in exchange for holding on to it for so long, my regular ZOOF pass was upgraded to an Ultra pass.)

You can’t use these passes to get tickets to Just For Laughs galas or the big solo shows, but they’re good for a lot of shows that have big-name comics. You can see a full list of the OFF-JFL shows here. Some worth noting:

  • Midnight Surprise, midnights (only until July 26). The ultimate risk-taking show, you won’t know who’s in it until they perform. This could mean a comic you’ve never heard of, but some big-name comedians have shown up here and done surprise sets, including Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart. Usually it’s a series of the same people doing short sets at the galas and one-hour shows at OFF-JFL. At worst, you get a mediocre one-hour show. At best, you get to tell everyone you saw an A-list comedian do a secret show in a 100-seat venue. (New this year, JFL has upgraded the last few nights of the Midnight Surprise from OFF-JFL to JFL, so you can only get the earlier dates on the Zoofest pass, and need to use the JFL pass to get the later dates from July 27 onward.)
  • The Alternative Show, midnights. The name might put you off, but this is actually pretty mainstream. Hosted by Andy Kindler the Sklar Brothers this year, this show features a lineup of comedians doing 10-minute sets. Because a lot of the travelling comedians want to get in as much on-stage time as possible during the festival, you’ll often see them doing a solo show, a gala appearance and a set here all in the same night.
  • Best of the Fest (Mainline Theatre) and Fest at the Nest (Comedy Nest). It shouldn’t surprise you that actual comedy clubs are also busy during the festival. Often, big-name comics will stop by the comedy clubs before one of their big shows and test out material on a smaller audience. Maybe some jokes will flop, but you might have more fun here than at a gala, and for a much lower price.

How the pass works is simple: for each show you book, you’re emailed a QR code that you can print or keep on your phone. It’s scanned by a volunteer holding a smartphone at the entrance to the venue. For Ultra pass holders, free daily tickets become available 48 hours before the show. For the other passes, it’s 24 hours.

You book shows by going to a website that’s emailed to you (and is linked to from the Zoofest app), logging in, punching in a pass number, and selecting shows one at a time.

One word of warning: There’s no way to automatically cancel bookings if you change your mind (or suddenly realize you won’t have time to get from one venue to another). This is another change from last year where you could cancel up to two hours before a show. If you book something in error, you can contact Zoofest and get them to cancel it, but this requires human interaction. So double-check that you don’t have time conflicts before booking.

The JFL pass

Just For Laughs also has passes, that work in a kind of similar way. The cheapest pass is two shows for $109 plus tax, but with that you also get a free ticket every night at the height of the festival (Wednesday to Saturday), which can be used on the big shows — galas, club shows like the Nasty Show, Just For the Culture and Brit(ish), or solo shows by big comedians.

But the free tickets are subject to availability. If there’s a must-see show in town with only one or two showings, there might not be tickets available on the pass. Like with the Zoofest pass, you have to be pretty flexible in what you’re willing to see.

OFF-JFL shows are available on the JFL pass, but unless you only plan to see a couple of shows during the whole festival, or there’s really nothing else that works for you on a particular day, it’s a bit of a waste. Either pay $25 separately to see the OFF-JFL show or get both passes if you can afford it and want to really binge.

Use the last-minute ticket booth

A last-minute ticket booth that used to be available in the festival area isn’t coming back this year. Honestly I found the deals not that enticing there (unless you really like French musical comedy), so it’s not a big loss.

Follow the action on social media

So much of what happens at the festival happens at the last minute. A comedian might be in town completely unannounced and decide to perform a show. Maybe something that’s selling well gets dates added. Or maybe for some entirely different reason things are added or special deals announced during the festival itself.

In 2015, Just For Laughs announced on Twitter with less than three hours of notice that Aziz Ansari was doing a show, and tickets would be $20 at the door. People who didn’t follow JFL on Twitter might have missed a great chance there. The 2019 festival had a bunch of surprise Kevin Hart shows, but they sold out within minutes of announcement.

So add these to your follows and likes:

Also, download the Zoofest and JFL apps. Each has push notifications that will alert you to last-minute changes.

Be flexible

The passes and special deals announced on social media have one thing in common: They mean you’re not going to know more than a day or two in advance where you’re spending your evening. That might work for some people more than others. If you’re with a group of friends, it might not be practical. But if you’re like me and have no friends and no life, you can surf this wave of improbability for savings.

Always have a backup plan until you have tickets in your hand (or confirmed by email). Better yet, have two. If a Zoofest/OFF-JFL show you planned to use your pass for gets sold out quickly, you won’t get any free tickets to it. (In fact, the show doesn’t even need to be completely sold out for your pass to not work this way.) The risk inherent in operating like this is you might not get to see the show everyone’s talking about.

Remember some times are more popular than others

Friday and Saturday night shows are actually slightly more expensive than shows on other nights, because of how much more popular those nights are for people casually heading out. Despite the price difference, and the large number of available shows, the last Friday and Saturday of the festival are the busiest and that means you’re less likely to be able to get access to shows using your pass.

So how do you deal with this? Well, if a popular show is playing throughout the week, go to a weeknight show instead. And if there’s a Friday or Saturday night show you want to go to, use one of your included tickets to book it well in advance rather than waiting and trying to use the free pass. Otherwise, keep in mind that your ability to be flexible on these nights will be tested more than other days.

Take in the outdoor shows

Though much of the outdoor action during the JFL festival is more fun than funny, there are a few outdoor shows worth taking in, in both languages. The biggest ones begin around 9pm and end by 11. You certainly can’t beat the price: It’s free. Outdoor shows are also a good way to kill time if you have a long break between shows on any particular night.

You can see the full lineup of outdoor shows here. And wander around the festival grounds during the day to see all the other stuff going on, from the labyrinth to the board games to the circus acts.

Other tips

Some other things to keep in mind about shows at Just For Laughs, OFF-JFL and Zoofest that don’t pertain specifically to saving money.

  • Be on time. If you arrive late, you end up disrupting a lot of people during the show and opening yourself up to ridicule. Don’t be that person. Some shows might even refuse you entry.
  • Get there early. Aside from the galas and other shows at the Place des Arts theatre venues, most shows are general admission, so where you sit depends on how many people get in the venue before you. If you want to sit up front and risk being the victim of a crowd-working comedian, get there first.
  • Schedule travel time. Most Zoofest and OFF-JFL shows are about an hour long (gala-type shows and some midnight shows are exceptions and can go longer). But that doesn’t mean you can schedule a show at 7pm and another at 8. Give about 15 minutes of leeway in terms of the actual length of the show, and consider that you have to get from one venue to another between them. 75 minutes between show starts can work if the shows are in the same building (Monument National has four venues), 90 minutes if both shows are in the same neighbourhood, and give yourself more time if you have to get to a farther-away venue like Mainline Theatre, Montreal Improv or the Comedy Nest. For JFL shows, the Ethnic/Nasty Shows or big solo shows, the show length can be longer, as much as two hours. Err on the side of giving yourself an extra 20 minutes. (If you’re not sure how long a show is, you can click on a show just before you select it, or look at the schedule for when the next show at that venue begins. If it’s an hour and a half later, then expect an hour-long show. If the first show is at 7 and the next one at 9:45, then expect a show a bit longer than two hours.)
  • Don’t heckle. You’re not funnier than the people on stage, who have been working on material for a while in preparation for their shows. If a comedian asks a question to the audience, feel free to respond, but otherwise keep your mouth shut and avoid embarrassing yourself. Hold your solo performance for open mic nights if you don’t want to get thrown out of the venue.
  • Expect repetition. If you go to a lot of shows, particularly those with multiple comedians, you’re going to see several comedians more than once, doing the same jokes. You might even hear the exact same 10-minute set multiple times. You’re just going to have to deal with that possibility. Similarly, the pre-show videos (at least at the French-language Zoofest shows) are pretty repetitive.
  • Don’t take pictures or video. Each show will begin with this reminder (though there are some shows that actually allow taking pictures discreetly — they’ll make this clear in the pre-show announcement). You’re here to enjoy yourself, not film the show for later broadcast using your crappy cellphone camera. Getting caught filming a standup act is grounds for a quick ejection, aside from being distracting to the performer and the audience. Instead, take a picture of the venue before the show, or of your ticket (don’t show the bar code if you’re using a pass or posting to social media before the show begins). You’ll be able to see the gala performances and some other shows broadcast on CBC or Comedy Network or Netflix in a few months, recorded and edited by professionals.
  • Don’t use your cellphones at all. These venues are dark, and the bright light of a cellphone screen is very distracting. Wait until after the show to text your friends. And make sure the ringer is turned off. If you want to make note of a particularly great joke to tweet about it later, use a pen and paper (and be sure to credit the joke to the right comedian).
  • Spread the word about what you see. Help out those people looking for a good show, and the lesser-known comedians who are putting them on. If you liked something, write about it on Twitter or Facebook and spread the word. Use the hashtag #JPRMTL or #Zoofest (French) or #JFLMTL (English). A lot of these smaller shows don’t have big marketing budgets and rely on word of mouth more than anything else.
  • Respect your comedians. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to conclude that a comedian doing a one-hour show in a 100-seat venue where most people paid between $30 and $0 to attend isn’t making that much money from it. Keep that in mind when you check out a show. They’re there for the love of the craft, one they spend a lot of time and effort honing. They might also be on their third show of the night. So show them some appreciation, even if it’s just telling them they did a great show, but make it brief because they’re probably way busier than you are.

Bigger is better

Not sure which show to go to? Too lazy to check out comedians’ videos on YouTube or look for reviews? One way to gauge how big/popular a show is going to be is to look at what venue it’s in. Here’s a list of venues being used for the festival and their capacity in a theatre setup:

  • Bell Centre: 15,000
  • Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (Place des Arts): 2,996
  • MTelus (formerly Metropolis): 2,300
  • Maison symphonique (Place des Arts): 2,100
  • Théâtre Maisonneuve (Place des Arts): 1,453
  • Olympia: 1,282
  • Théâtre Berri: 1,160
  • Salle Ludger Duvernay (Monument National): 804
  • Hyatt Grand Salon Opera: 800
  • Théâtre Jean-Duceppe (Place des Arts): 765
  • Club Soda: 530
  • Usine C: 472
  • Gesù: 425
  • Cinquième salle: 421
  • Maison Théâtre: 400
  • Phi Centre: 376
  • Hyatt Inspiration: 350
  • L’Astral: 320
  • Hyatt Ovation: 225
  • Comedy Nest: 160
  • Diving Bell Social Club: 150
  • Studio Hydro-Québec (Monument National): 150
  • Salle Claude-Léveillée (Place des Arts): 128
  • Théâtre La Chapelle: 116
  • Mainline Theatre: 102
  • Café Cléopâtre: ~100
  • Cabaret du 4e (Monument National): ~100
  • Théâtre Ste-Catherine: ~100
  • Pub L’Île-Noire: ~50
  • Balustrade (Monument National): ~50

I probably forgot a few things. Hit me with questions in the comments. But don’t expect responses between 7pm and midnight, because I’ll be busy for the next week and a half.

The News Forum tries again to seek must-offer licence from CRTC

The News Forum, a low-budget conservative news-talk TV channel that last year got enough subscribers to require a broadcasting licence from the CRTC, is trying again to get the commission to force Canadian television distributors to offer the channel to their subscribers, less than two months after the commission denied their first attempt at this status.

The channel, owned (in fact if not legally) by Tore Stautland, asked the commission when it was licensed to be given the same category of licence as Canadian all-news channels CBC News Network, RDI, CTV News Channel and LCN. These channels are subject to a special status requiring all distributors to carry them, though it is up to the subscriber to choose whether or not to actually subscribe to it. (CBC NN and RDI also have a separate mandatory subscription order in Quebec and the rest of Canada, respectively.)

In its decision in May approving the licence, the CRTC denied that status, saying “the Commission is not satisfied that The News Forum provides updated news reports every 120 minutes,” which is one of the criteria it set in its policy.

It left the door open to applying again for that status, once it shows it meets the criteria.

So now The News Forum is trying again, after providing an “updated schedule” showing “daily updates” every two hours from 6am to 8pm. (The schedule suggests they will start at five minutes and 30 seconds past every two hours, until 30 minutes past the hour, but I think they meant to say the updates would be five minutes long until 5:30 past the hour.)

A glance at its website and YouTube channel suggest little else has changed about The News Forum. It still doesn’t seem to employ any journalists besides the anchors, who read out news briefs to still images and then conduct interviews via video link.

But that wouldn’t necessarily preclude it from getting that status. The CRTC’s criteria related to programming are the following:

  • Providing news updates every 120 minutes
  • At least 90% Canadian programming
  • At least 16 hours a day original programming (first-run or repeated)
  • At least 95% of all programming from the following categories: News, analysis and interpretation, long-form documentary and reporting and actualities
  • No more than 12 minutes of advertising per hour
  • Operate a live broadcast facility and maintain news bureaus in at least three regions other than that of the live broadcast facility
  • “have the ability to report on international events from a Canadian perspective”

Like Sun News Network before it, TNF is fully original, though it relies heavily on repeat programming and much of that is opinion, which can be classified as “analysis and interpretation.”

The part about news bureaus and broadcast facilities might be a challenge for The News Forum. But it will be up to the commission to decide if it meets the criteria.

And even if it does get the status, no one has to subscribe to it (unless it’s in a package you want).

The CRTC is accepting comments on The News Forum’s application until Aug. 8. You can submit comments here. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

 

TSN 690 gives midday show to Campbell and Gallo after Marinaro resigns

TSN 690 is shuffling its lineup after two high-profile and somewhat mysterious departures of midday hosts.

In February, the station was forced to let go of Chris Nilan after the former Canadiens player refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, in violation of a Bell Media policy. Then on May 27, Tony Marinaro resigned from his job as host of The Montreal Forum, later saying it was to focus his attention on a new sports podcast.

To fill both those holes, TSN has taken two hard-working veteran supporting characters — Sean Campbell and Mitch Gallo — and put them in the spotlight as a duo. The show, called Campbell vs. Gallo, debuts Monday, June 20. It will run from 10am to 2pm, with Mitch Melnick’s afternoon show shifted an hour earlier to run 2-6.

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10 years after it was licensed, CFQR 600 has its first show

It was 12 years ago that the group that would become TTP Media first came on the scene.

It was a little less than 10 years ago that the group was given its second licence by the CRTC, for an English-language station at 600 AM that it promised would be a news-talk station to rival CJAD.

It was five years ago this month that CFQR 600 went on the air from its restored transmission site in Kahnawake (formerly used by Cogeco for 940 News and Info 690).

But finally, on June 13, 2022, the station CJAD’s critics have been waiting for is on the air. Sort of.

Late last week, Mike Cohen at the Suburban broke the news that the station would be launching its first program, a weekday morning show hosted by Jim Connell, on Monday. The station also promised a website at the same time, and one is now active at cfqr600.com. The station also has a Facebook page.

From what’s published so far, here’s what we know about CFQR 600 (no relation to the former CFQR-FM, which is now The Beat 92.5):

The morning show, called “Mornings Matter”, will run 6-9am weekdays.

The station’s programming will feature “regular news updates” and music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

… That’s about it. Though an on-air teaser promises “much more in the weeks ahead.”

Connell’s involvement is not surprising. A former on-air star of 940 News (and the various ways it was rebranded until it was shut down in 2010), he was part of TTP Media’s presentation to the CRTC a decade ago about their plans for a station. When they took forever to get it off the ground, he took a job at Global Montreal helping it launch its morning show. He stayed for three years, and it’s been seven years since then, just to give you an idea how long this has taken.

CFQR’s website, while active, is pretty bare-bones, with a listen link and a contact form. The station has a phone number, 514-470-0600, and promises apps to listen on iOS and Android devices. An address listed on the website is the address of co-owner Nicholas Tétreault’s real estate office on Highway 520 in St-Laurent.

Partner Rajiv Pancholy tells me there aren’t elaborate plans for Day 1.

The first show

“This is Day 1 of a grand experiment,” Connell said as he began Monday’s show. He didn’t do much else in terms of introducing himself or the station, instead talking about what’s going on in the news.

The first newscast aired shortly after 6am, and included Connell talking about stories in the news (backyard pool drownings, gas prices, an exhibition on the French language, Dollar Cinema closing), plus traffic and weather. It lasted five minutes. No other voices were heard, and if CFQR plans on hiring any journalists to work with Connell, there was no evidence of them on Day 1.

About 15 minutes later, the first talk break, which focused mainly on sports headlines:

The newscasts are running every half hour, with a shorter break between them. Otherwise it’s music, mainly from the 1980s, with artists like Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Estefan.

It’s Day 1, so this is far from the final product. But if this is what people were hoping for as an alternative to CJAD, it’s not there yet, unless what they really wanted was a low-budget throwback hits music station.

Besides Connell’s show, there isn’t much content on the station yet. I haven’t heard a single ad, and newscasts during the rest of the day come from The Canadian Press.

Radio ratings: CJAD audience slips as 98.5 soars again

Numeris released its meter ratings for the spring season, and while Montreal’s numbers don’t change much in terms of the order of stations, we do see some trends worth noting (or repeating).

On the English side, CJAD remains the #1 station, but for the first time since the meter rating system came into place, it has dropped below 10,000 average minute listeners. This seems to be continuing a downward trend for CJAD over the past five years.

Is this because fewer people are interested in news-talk radio? Maybe not, because CBC’s audience has grown slightly on average over that time, and French station 98.5 FM is once again boasting that it’s not only the most popular station in Montreal but in Canada as well.

Among the other stations, not that much has changed. The Beat remains number 2, followed by CBC Radio One (though it has come down a bit from that spike in fall 2021), CHOM and then Virgin Radio. It’s been almost three years since Virgin blew up its morning show and installed Vinny and Shannon as the new hosts, and despite Bell-owned billboards all over the city with their faces on them, the station’s overall ratings remain below what they were before they were brought on board.

TSN 690, meanwhile, continues to hold its own despite the poor showing of the Canadiens this season and lukewarm interest in the city’s other sports teams. Notably, it still has an overall audience above French-language sports station 91.9 Sports, which makes some recent decisions even more of a head-scratcher.

Among other French stations, not much to note, except at Énergie, which must be happy with its best audience in years. Its 8.7% share among francophones was the highest since 2013.

Self-congratulations

Meanwhile in other markets

Last week, Numeris released radio ratings for diary markets, including Quebec City, Ottawa/Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Saguenay and a bunch of other places across the country. You can find the full top-line data report here.

In Quebec City, Radio-Canada takes top spot over the populist talk stations with a 22.9% share at ICI Première. It’s followed by CHOI Radio X (17%), FM93 (15.9%), Rythme 102,9 (7.6%), WKND 91,9 (7.5%) and Rouge 107,5 (6.4%). CBC Radio One trails the pack with a 0.3% share.

In Sherbrooke, Radio-Canada again leads the pack with a 21.4% share, followed by Rouge (15.9%), Énergie (14.2%), 107,7 (13.3%) and Rythme (7.8%).

In Trois-Rivières, again Radio-Canada leads with a 14.4% share, with Bell’s Rouge and Énergie neck and neck for second place and Rythme in third.

In Ottawa-Gatineau, among francophones, Radio-Canada is well ahead with a 21% share, followed by Rouge, Wow, talk station 104,7, Énergie and ICI Musique.

Canada agrees to sell Labrador to George Soros to pay secret debt to WEF

In what he called a “very difficult but necessary decision,” Canadian regime leader Justin Trudeau announced on Friday he has unilaterally agreed to sell the Labrador territory to U.S. billionaire George Soros to pay a secret debt to the World Economic Forum.

Under the terms of the agreement made public on Friday, Soros will approve a new constitution for Labrador and install its first government. Those who wish to leave the territory and remain Canadian citizens will be permitted to do so until Dec. 31, and those who remain will become subjects of Soros.

Canadian laws will remain in place, but all references to Her Majesty the Queen will be replaced by Dear Leader George Soros.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay will become the capital of this new quasi-independent nation.

Trudeau said his failed vaccine procurement racked up huge debts with the WEF, especially as the prices of semiconductors skyrocketed during the pandemic, making it much more difficult to acquire the 5G microchips from Bill Gates that were needed to make the vaccines work.

“George and I determined that the best option for him and Canada was to negotiate this sale, along with all natural resources rights, and a non-compete clause that would ensure Canada does not do any oil extraction east of Manitoba for the next 50 years.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “We will invite you to file an access to information request if you want to find out how much Soros paid us. Good luck with that,” Trudeau said.

“But at least we can go back to just calling the province of Newfoundland Newfoundland again.”

The World Economic Forum said it was happy that Canada had finally paid its debt, avoiding an “unfortunate” default that might have led to the entire country being sold off. But it said the suspension of Canadians’ fundamental rights to breathe germs on each other would need to continue for at least another six months, and would be re-evaluated thereafter.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin said he was disturbed by what is going on in Canada and said his government was looking into sending a peacekeeping mission to Labrador to protect its citizens.

CPAC to introduce new daily sports betting show

CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel, is broadening its horizons. Starting Monday, it’s launching a new daily sports betting show.

Hosted by Peter Van Dusen, Beat the House will explore all aspects of sports betting, previewing upcoming games, giving picks from Van Dusen and a panel of experts, and offering tips on how to get maximum value from your wagers.

“Our team and our sponsors are very excited to get into this space,” said CPAC spokesperson Avril Pescado. “We know demand for sports betting has been very high, and we think we have the best team of sports betting analysts ready to go.”

Once Beat the House gets settled in, CPAC says it will be looking at a political betting companion show, which will accompany viewers as they place wagers on things like who will form the next government and what politician will be the next one ejected from their party.

Pierre Bruneau begins post-retirement career as TikTok influencer

Pierre Bruneau, who anchored newscasts on TVA for decades before recently announcing his retirement, has announced what his next project will be: TikTok content creator.

“I loved my time at TVA, but I’ve been wanting for a long time to explore my more creative side,” Bruneau said in an interview. “Now I’ll have the time to really focus on my new TikTok career.”

Among the content he’s toying around with these days, there’s morning chats, random trivia, story times from his career as a journalist, cycling time lapses, stitches with fellow creators and fans, and live Q&As.

“I really want to get into fun transitions,” Bruneau said, mimicking the moves of some of his favourite fashion creators. “But, to be honest, I suspect most of my videos will just me of me dancing to my favourite songs. As they say in the industry: sueur, sueur, sueur.”