Monthly Archives: May 2008

Why is CBC Montreal’s News at Six sucking a bit less?

The Suburban crunches some numbers in the evening TV news race here, and theorizes that Frank Cavallaro’s move from CTV to CBC had something to do with the latter’s 25% jump in viewership over last year, prompting Inside the CBC to wonder if weathermen are the magic ticket to success.

I think we should take a step back here. 25% seems large, but only represents about 6,000 actual viewers. CBC Montreal’s news audience is still an order of magnitude smaller than CTV, which has dominated the race since CBC gutted Newswatch.

Though I’m sure Cavallaro has a loyal audience, the numbers probably have more to do with people slowly trickling back to CBC after the network decided to bring back a local one-hour newscast. And the station still has plenty of ground to make up. It needs a new studio (well, actually, it needs its own studio), a graphics department, and other things that only money can buy.

Meanwhile, The Suburban notices that Paul Graif, a victim of Global Quebec’s job cuts, is now at CTV. Another example of why we have one local news program here and two pretend local news programs.

Star Choice is too good for RDI

The CBC is complaining to the CRTC because Canadian satellite TV provider Star Choice does not include francophone all-news channel RDI as part of its basic lineup.

The problem is that the CRTC mandates that RDI be included in all cable and satellite basic lineups, as it does for channels like CPAC, Newsworld and The Weather Network. So unless I (and the CBC) are missing something, Star Choice is violating CRTC regulations. (Then again, it’s not the only company that thinks CRTC rules are just a suggestion — *cough* *cough*)

Meanwhile, Global Quebec is still not available even as an option for Star Choice and ExpressVu customers in Quebec, more than 10 years after the regional network launched. Ditto CBC Saskatchewan.

But hey, God forbid anyone should miss the World Fishing Network for some local news.

UPDATE: Star Choice responds to the CBC Saskatchewan issue with the usual “technical limitations” excuses, and adds that it’s somehow the CBC’s responsibility to provide local TV service to satellite customers. (via Inside the CBC)

Is the best commercial website in Quebec?

Some consulting firm we’ve never heard of has released its rankings of the top 25 consumer-oriented commercial websites in Quebec. At the top of the list:

  1., which doesn’t work with Safari.
  2., whose address they got wrong, and which opens audio content in strange 1px-by-1px pop-up windows.
  3., which won’t let you me log into electronic banking with Firefox, and whose top-notch security includes such impossible-for-anyone-else-to-guess questions as “what high school did you graduate from?”
  4., which admittedly I haven’t had issues with, even if their cable and Internet service has much room for improvement.
  5., which uses Javascript needlessly, has a badly-designed site map page (the stupid web 2.0 sharing buttons hides some of the text) and shows 0 stores in Montreal with delivery service available.

Of course, when you judge websites through a mathematical formula that suggests quality of a website is directly proportional to the size of the organization running it, this is what you get.

Municipal democracy is for losers

So the Ile Bizard 2004 demerger referendum vote has been annulled, because with the ridiculous requirements for the vote (i.e. that 35% of all those registered must vote yes, making everyone who doesn’t vote a de facto “no” vote), 400 people who were on the voter rolls but moved away or died before the vote made the difference between it passing and failing.

So now that we’ve rewritten history and Ile Bizard did, in fact, vote to reconstitute itself as a city, what’s being done to ensure the democratic will is being followed?

Apparently, absolutely nothing. The judge didn’t order a new referendum, nor require the government to reconstitute the municipality. Instead, it will be left to a “political” solution. In other words, let the government do what they want. In other words, nothing.

Isn’t that great?

UPDATE (May 17): The Gazette’s Henry Aubin says don’t hold your breath waiting for the government.

I’m very disappointed in all of you

My request was simple: Don’t vote for me in the sad popularity contest that is the Mirror’s Best of Montreal readers’ poll. Instead, it appears, someone did do exactly that because I came in eighth.

I’d say I was honoured, but I placed just below Drunken Stepfather. That doesn’t exactly fill me with pride.

Still, congrats to those who did end up on the list, especially those who didn’t use their blogs to inflate their votes (Montreal City Weblog, Spacing Montreal, Pregnant Goldfish).

I should also point out some other blogs on that list, which I’ve never frequented because they aren’t about the city, but are still interesting:

I also think Coolopolis should have been there somewhere, as well as some francophone blogs. But this is about popularity, not quality, right?

No news here

As for the rest of the poll, nothing is particularly surprising for anyone who’s seen BOM results before. Chain restaurants still dominate the best eats categories (McDonald’s is there twice).

In the media categories:

  • CKUT won best radio station
  • CFCF best TV station (with Mutsumi Takahashi and Todd van der Heyden best news anchors, though the Mirror seems to think the later is the evening news guy, when last time I checked it was 8th-placed Brian Britt)
  • K103‘s Don Smooth best radio host (the Mirror has a profile)
  • Mix and CHOM’s morning shows as best radio shows
  • Nightlife Magazine won best magazine
  • The Mirror, shockingly, came in first for Best Newspaper, again. The Gazette was second, which I think says something, followed by the three franco dailies, Voir, Hour, The Link, Metro and the McGill Daily.
  • The Gazette’s Aislin won for Best Cartoonist, beating ballot-stuffing Radomsky and La Presse’s Serge Chapleau

And Boustan, who also mounted a self-promotion campaign to improve its standing, maintained its dominance in the Middle Eastern categories, improved in others and added two new ones:

  • Best Middle-Eastern (still 1st)
  • Best Falafel (still 1st)
  • Best Late-Night Eats (2nd from 3rd)
  • Best Delivery (2nd from 4th)
  • Best Cheap Eats (3rd)
  • Best Sandwich (5th)

However, people weren’t convinced enough to vote for it as Best Fries or Best Vegetarian.

Elsewhere in the bragosphere:

Libraries are way cool, man!

To celebrate its new web portal (the city’s websites are going to keep reinventing themselves until they realize that the entire thing sucks horse manure and needs to be replaced from the ground up), Montreal’s library network crowdsourced (through a contest) the making of a minute-and-a-half-long commercial/film about how awesome the libraries are.

The results are pretty impressive. Above is the winner from among the 94(!) videos submitted (they’ve posted all of them to YouTube). It’s slick, heartwarming and even features a few cameos.

The videos use varying styles, including fast-talking animation, generic ad montage with cool music to appeal to a young audience, piano-accompanied first-person documentary targeted toward an even younger demographic, paper-eating film-WTF, silent-movie comedy, dramatic metaphor, creepy stalking, annoyingly-dubbed sock-puppet theatre, animated post-its, animated crumpled-up-pieces-of-paper, people-walking-around-with-numbers-on-their-heads, and, of course, awesome Transformers battle, plus dozens more that I haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet because I really should be going to bed about now.

Shaw wants more boring sports channels

Shaw Cable has asked the CRTC for permission to add two new U.S.-based sporting channels to the list of digital cable channels available to Canadian consumers. Because the channels are non-Canadian, they have to show that these channels do not compete with any Canadian-based specialty channel.

The Big Ten Network is a channel that focuses exclusively on U.S. college sports: football, basketball and other sports from Big Ten college athletic conference. Some people might question the need for a TV network devoted exclusively to college sports, but those people would be stupid. Comments on the proposal are due by Friday, May 16.

The Sportsman Channel is devoted to hunting and fishing (so perhaps it would more appropriately be called the Killing Animals For Fun Channel, but I digress). Comments on that proposal are also due by Friday.

Neither channel obviously competes with any Canadian offering.

Worried about his kids

Last year, I wrote on my blog with some opinions about the proposed Cavendish extension to Henri-Bourassa Blvd. and Toupin Blvd., which would connect two neighbourhoods that would otherwise need a much longer detour to get between. I criticized complaints from residents in Cartierville as selfish NIMBYism from people who live in McMansions along the waterfront and drive their Hummer SUVs and BMWs to work every day through other people’s neighbourhoods.

One of the comments I got on that post was from one of those residents, who said he was worried about his kids having to cross a busy street to get to school every day.

I decided to interview the man for a Justify Your Existence piece. I figured I’d totally get him on that, but turns out I learned a thing or two (something I always enjoy doing as a journalist). Rather than drive to work every day, he takes a bike when he has to, and the rest of the time he works at home. His wife will use the family vehicle, in order to take the kids to school (they have three, ranging in age from about 3 to about 9, if I remember correctly). He’s very pro-environment and anti-car, despite living in a modest home in the suburbs.

Though still somewhat NIMBYish, the guy came off as a concerned father criticizing the creation of roads for the benefit of personal vehicles over public transportation.

Nice guy, nice wife, adorable kids. A fun way to spend an evening.

So why do I bring this up again?

The guy, 34-year-old Nicolas Stone, was arraigned in Longueuil today on charges he lured a 13-year-old girl into exposing herself online, and then had sex with her at least twice. I got a call from work to double-check it was the same guy.

The photo at right is stolen from his Facebook profile, since a scheduled photo shoot for that article fell through (had it happened, the paper would be running file art of the guy and his kids tomorrow).

All this to say, you can never tell just by looking at someone.

And this guy was worried about his kids crossing a busy street

UPDATE: Let’s be careful with wording (unlike 940 News who don’t think they have to qualify calling him a “predator”) since he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. All of this is alleged by police. And you never know, there could be a completely innocent explanation for a 34-year-old father of three having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

UPDATE (May 28): He’s been denied bail.

UPDATE (Aug. 4, 2010): After pleading guilty, Stone has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, minus time served.

TVA mad at La Presse for suggesting they have managers

The petty legal war between the francophone media continues, as Groupe TVA (read: Quebecor/TVA/Journal de Montréal/Canoe) sent a lawyer’s letter to Groupe Gesca (read: La Presse/Cyberpresse) demanding that they retract statements that suggested the whole blurring-the-face-of-Bernier’s-biker-girlfriend thing was done on orders from management, according to Le Devoir (subscription-locked, sorry).

Specifically, it takes issue with an article from Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien and a blog post from Patrick Lagacé, both of which suggest that the decision was suspicious (the latter suggests that a friendship between Maxime Bernier and Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau might have something to do with it).

I honestly have no idea what’s going through the minds of people at Quebecor (or just TVA?). Are they suggesting that management was not involved in this decision, and that any statement otherwise libels them somehow? Are we to believe that some non-management person made such a controversial decision on a major news story without discussing it with higher-ups?

And are we just to take it as coincidence that the Journal and TVA, both owned by Quebecor, are the only two news outlets that have kept her name secret?

Seriously, what’s their problem?

UPDATE: The Gazette’s Liz Thompson is also like: Dude, WTF?

Some details of STM bus service improvements

In today’s Gazette, reporter Linda Gyulai has some details about improvements coming to west end bus service coming next month, in advance of tonight’s public meeting in Cote des Neiges. None seem as dramatic as the changes I talked about last week, but they’re still interesting.

NDG Monitor is back

The NDG Monitor, which peeved a lot of residents when owner Transcontinental changed its name to the West End Chronicle in 2001 (and thereby turning it into the West Island Chronicle’s little brother), is being reborn as The Monitor, serving the same west end community of NDG, Cote-St-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West and neighbouring areas.

Editor Toula Foscolos says the current staff will remain, including their entire reporting staff (all one of him), and all their columnists (both of them). The huge editorial staff will even be enhanced with the addition of Nat Lauzon, who will have a bi-weekly column.

The paper has also moved to a new domain: