Just days ahead of its major hearing on TV policy, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has released the broadcasting part of its annual Communications Monitoring Report, a document filled with statistics on funding, viewership, subscriptions and more.
Most of the data is unsurprising, or shows the predictable continuation of a gradual procession. Fewer people are analog cable subscribers. Conventional television still struggles to break even while specialty channels are raking in the dough. And AM radio is on the decline while FM continues to boom.
There are still a few interesting things I noted in the report though (in most cases, these figures are for the year ending Aug. 31, 2013):
- Five companies (Bell, Cogeco, Quebecor, Rogers, Shaw) get 85% of total Canadian broadcasting revenues. This includes radio, television and television distribution.
- “Netflix adoption among English speakers grew from 21% to 29%” — That’s in one year. In 2011, it was 10%. It’s true that for most subscribers, Netflix is something that complements their cable TV subscription instead of replacing it, but if the broadcasting industry isn’t already nervous about Netflix, it should be.
- The total TV viewing share 2012-13, in English Canada: Bell 38%, Shaw/Corus 37%, Rogers 9%, CBC 8%.
- Total TV viewing share in the Quebec francophone market: Quebecor 33%, Bell 23%, Radio-Canada/CBC 18%, Remstar (V) 9%.
- On Aug. 31, 2011, there were 657,300 IPTV (e.g. Bell Fibe/Telus Optik) subscribers in Canada. On Aug. 31, 2013, it was 1,385,100.
- The number of licensed third-language radio stations in Canada went from 32 in 2012 to 45 in 2013.
- Revenues for French-language AM radio stations in Canada dropped from $11.7 million in 2011 to $4.7 million in 2013. There are only eight AM commercial French-language radio stations in Canada. The dramatic drop in revenue coincides with Cogeco’s decision to change CKAC 730 AM in Montreal from all-sports to all-traffic in fall 2011.
- Since 2009, the CRTC has approved 132 new FM stations, and only three new AM stations.
- The number of Canadians subscribed to satellite radio has steadily climbed from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2013.
Chantal Desjardins, who has been doing various odd jobs since she was let go in the CJAD/TSN 690 purge a year ago, announced today that she’s been hired as the Montreal correspondent for Rogers Sportsnet.
— Chantal Desjardins (@Chantalonair) September 4, 2014
Desjardins effectively takes over for Alyson Lozoff, who was let go by the company in March. The job to replace her was posted 98 days ago.
No word yet on what Desjardins will be doing specifically, whether she’ll be reporting rinkside during Canadiens games or how she’ll be contributing to City Montreal’s Breakfast Television and Montreal Connected. But she will be reporting for Sportsnet on sports news that happens in the city, particularly the Habs but also the Alouettes, Impact and other sports as needed.
With Sportsnet getting the English-language rights to 82 Canadiens regular-season games and all playoff games, a Montreal reporter becomes more vital than ever.
On the minus side, this means we won’t be seeing her on CTV anymore, either as a fill-in sports reporter, fill-in sports anchor, fill-in entertainment reporter or in advertisements. (Or at least not as much.)
The bromance is over.
A month after appointing Sam Zniber as program director, 92.5 The Beat (CKBE-FM) has made weekend morning man Ken Connors the assistant PD, and has moved Shaun McMahon from the afternoon drive show to weekend mornings to replace him.
McMahon broke the news on Facebook, where he and afternoon drive host “Cousin” Vinny Barrucco had been playing up their “bromance” since they were put together.
“So… the #BROMANCE is on hold for now,” McMahon says.
Sliding into his slot as the afternoon traffic reporter is Kim Kieran, who said on Facebook she was “beyond excited” about the new position. Kieran did traffic at The Beat in the mornings while Natasha Hall was on maternity leave. Here she is reading 50 Shades of Grey.
In what would be a precedent-setting decision if anyone was still launching over-the-air television stations, the CRTC has decided that Videotron does not have to make room on its analog cable TV service for ICI, the ethnic television station that launched in Montreal last year.
The TV distribution regulations require distributors to include local television stations, which would normally mean that Videotron must distribute ICI in analog and digital to subscribers in the Montreal area. But Videotron is in the process of phasing out its analog cable system to make room for more digital channels and more bandwidth for video-on-demand and Internet service.
Videotron told the CRTC that fewer than 7% of its Montreal residential subscribers are still on analog cable, though that number is higher if you include institutional customers like hotels and hospitals, and those residences that have digital and analog on different TVs.
Quebecor had argued that the CRTC’s recent decisions to allow analog to continue its decline, by not licensing any new specialty channels for analog TV, for example, makes it clear that the transition to digital is more important than squeezing in another analog channel which would only disappear within a few years anyway as the analog network is dismantled.
ICI argued against the application, saying it would “result in ongoing and serious harm to ICI,” which is still struggling to develop an audience:
It has become apparent to ICI since its launch that ICI’s potential audience frequently consists of individuals that subscribe to Vide?otron’s “Classic Cable” service, which is the analog service. These potential viewers do not currently receive ICI. Vide?otron’s decision not to distribute ICI in accordance with the Regulations in not in the interests of subscribers as Vide?otron suggests. These subscribers would need to pay more to receive ICI, and make the transition to a more expensive digital service far ???sooner than they might otherwise choose – and even while many other services continue to be offered on an analog basis.
ICI pointed out that Videotron’s analog service in Montreal, which is much smaller than it used to be, still carries many U.S. signals, including two PBS stations.
And it said that while 7% may be small, it is still significant for a station that relies solely on advertising for revenue, and the fact that Videotron is still offering an analog service means it does not view this number as trivial.
It also said at least one program producer “decided not to purchase airtime on ICI due to the fact that the members of the target audience and multiple advertisers have advised the producer that they cannot receive ICI on their cable service.”
Videotron countered that it has received no requests from analog clients to get access to ICI, and its contractual obligations prevent it from removing other channels from analog.
In the end, the CRTC sided with Videotron, judging that its interpretation of the commission’s intention to encourage the phasing-out of analog cable is correct. It also cited the lack of opposition from people unconnected to ICI, as well as the substantial assistance the station is receiving from Rogers as a result of the sale of CJNT, in its decision.
Videotron has already begun the process of shutting down its analog network. After dismantling the network in Gatineau, it has started in Montreal with the Ahuntsic region.
As anger continues to build among Toronto and other western Canadian Habs fans that they will no longer be able to watch all 82 regular-season games on RDS, Rogers announced today a special deal that might alleviate that somewhat.
NHL GameCentre Live, the NHL streaming service that allows viewers to watch out-of-region games, will cost $200 for the season this year ($180 if you subscribe by Oct. 13). That’s a pretty steep price for people who were used to either having RDS as part of their basic package or paying a buck or two a month at most.
But Rogers is offering a separate deal that contains just the RDS regional games — 60 Canadiens games and 54 Ottawa Senators games — for $60 for the season. That might be enough for the hard-core fans to accept. (Note that this is for fans outside the Canadiens and Senators market, which is all of Quebec, all of Atlantic Canada and the part of Ontario that’s east of Belleville and Pembroke.)
No more blackouts*
On top of that, national games and in-region games, which were formally blacked out on GameCentre to protect the rights of national and regional broadcasters, will no longer be blacked out. So people who buy a subscription won’t have to switch between various media and websites.
The trade-off to that is that these will be available on an authenticated basis, meaning you need a TV subscription to Sportsnet (English) or TVA Sports (French) to access these national or in-region games on GameCentre, and you need your TV provider to participate in the Rogers program. The TVA access for national games in French probably won’t be ready until January because of technical issues.
Rogers confirms that the games that are not available in a certain region on TV will not require authentication to watch on GameCentre.
Rogers says there will still be some blackouts for in-region games whose rights are owned by “another company” (i.e. TSN). So Ottawa Senators regional games in eastern Canada and Winnipeg Jets games in Manitoba and Saskatchewan won’t be available on this service, nor will those Toronto Maple Leafs regional games that air on TSN4 be available in most of Ontario. You have to watch those on TSN.
Similarly, regional Habs and Senators games in French won’t be available in eastern Canada because RDS holds the rights to them.
Other deals for NHL GameCentre Live include:
- Free subscriptions for Rogers Internet and Rogers Wireless (data) subscribers until Dec. 31. Half-season passes will be $130 for those who want to subscribe after that.
- More than 800 archived games going back to 1960.
- A new NHL mobile app coming in October to watch the games on smartphones and tablets.
- Where multiple feeds are available, such as English/French or Canada/U.S., GameCentre Live provides both as options.
Rogers has promised more GameCentre announcements in the coming weeks. There may also be announcements relating to NHL Centre Ice, the TV-based service for watching out-of-market games.
Following through on commitments made when Transcontinental bought Quebecor’s entire slate of community newspapers in Quebec, the company has received Competition Bureau approval to sell 14 community newspapers to smaller companies. And Transcontinental has responded by announcing it is shutting down 20 more, laying off 80 people.
The papers being sold, a mix of those previously owned by TC and Quebecor, are among 34 papers that Transcontinental was ordered to put on the market because they compete with other papers also owned by the company. (One of those papers, Le Courrier du Saguenay, which includes the Courrier du Fjord, Courrier de Jonquière and Courrier de Chicoutimi, was later removed from that list.)
Sold to Les Médias de la Rive-Sud:
- Le Journal de Saint-Hubert (QMI)
- Rive-Sud Express in Longueuil (TC)
Sold to Serge Langlois, Michel Langlois, Claude Langlois, Carole Côté and Pierre-Marc Langlois, who also own Les Éditions Blainville Deux-Montagnes:
- L’Echo du Nord in Saint-Jérôme (QMI)
Sold to Néomédia, a division of iClic Inc., where they will become online-only publications:
- Agri-Vallée in Valleyfield (QMI)
- Chambly Express (TC)
- Le Journal de Joliette (QMI)
- Le Point du Lac-Saint-Jean in Saint-Félicien (QMI)
- Le Réveil in Saguenay (QMI)
- L’Echo de la Rive-Nord in Sainte-Thérèse (QMI)
- L’Echo de Laval (QMI)
- L’Echo de Trois-Rivières (QMI)
- Pub Extra Magazine in Laval-Laurentides (QMI)
- Sorel-Tracy Express (TC)
- Vallée du Richelieu Express in Mont-Saint-Hilaire (TC)
The remaining 19 community newspapers are now Transcontinental’s to do with as they please. Of them, 18 are on the shutdown list:
- Abitibi Express – Rouyn-Noranda (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Citoyen)
- Abitibi Express – Val d’Or (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Citoyen)
- Le Progrès Écho, Rimouski (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage)
- Le Rimouskois, Rimouski (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage)
- L’Impact de Drummondville (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Express)
- L’Écho de Victoriaville (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s La Nouvelle Union)
- Édition Beauce Nord, Sainte-Marie (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Beauce-Média)
- Le Journal de Magog (QMI, competes with Transcontinental’s Le Reflet du Lac)
- La Voix de la Matanie, Matane (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
- La Voix Gaspésienne, Matane (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
- Le Riverain, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Avantage out of Rimouski)
- L’Écho de Repentigny, Repentigny (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s Hebdo Rive-Nord)
- Point de vue Laurentides, Mont-Tremblant (TC, competed with Quebecor’s L’Information du Nord)
- L’Écho de Shawinigan, Shawinigan (QMI, competed with Transcontinental’s L’Hebdo du St-Maurice)
- Châteauguay Express, Châteauguay (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Soleil)
- Roussillon Express, La Prairie (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Reflet in Delson)
- Valleyfield Express, Valleyfield (TC, competed with Quebecor’s Le Soleil)
- L’Écho de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (competes with Transcontinental’s Le Canada Français)
Also being shut down are:
- Le Saint-Laurent Portage, Rivière-du-Loup (QMI)
- L’Echo de la Lièvre, Mont-Laurier (QMI)
The only paper that was put on the market and left unsold but will be kept by Transcontinental is Le Courrier du Fleuve in Rimouski.
Transcontinental is now left with 105 weekly papers, five biweeklies, six monthlies and one bimonthly in Quebec, plus the Métro Montreal daily, or 118 total newspapers.
UPDATE: The FNC-CSN union isn’t happy with the job losses, and worries about Néomédia, which it believes is more interested in advertising than maintaining editorial integrity.
Meanwhile, Radio-Canada’s eastern Quebec bureau gets some reaction to the closing of six papers in that region. And the FPJQ’s regional offices denounce the cuts in the Montérégie and Gaspésie regions
Tonight was the premiere of a new format for TVA Nouvelles’s flagship 10pm newscast (you can watch the whole thing here). Trying to find a new model that was different from the boring single-anchor TV newscast, it brought in four columnists who comment about major news stories, and has become more of a panel discussion show about the news than a newscast.
But that’s not the only change. Here, in screenshots, are other things that TVA Nouvelles has that will save the TV news industry from that pesky Internet threat and make sure the kids keep watching.
With rumours spreading that there would, in fact, be a broadcaster picking up the regional rights to Canadiens games in English, Rogers finally announced today that it has not only picked up the rights to all regional Canadiens games, but that it has increased the number of Habs games being carried nationally, from 32 to 40.
The agreement is a three-year deal. It does not appear to include any preseason games. A play-by-play team has not yet been announced.
39 of the 42 regional games will air on Sportsnet East, which no longer has to worry about regional Senators games because those have moved to TSN. The other three (a Monday game and two Thursday games) will air on City Montreal.
Newly national games are:
- Thursday, Oct. 9 (7pm @ Capitals) on Sportsnet 360
- Thursday, Oct. 16 (7:30pm vs. Bruins) on Sportsnet 360
- Monday, Oct. 27 (9:30pm @ Oilers) on Sportsnet One
- Thursday, Oct. 30 (10pm @ Canucks) on Sportsnet 360
- Saturday, Jan. 31 (1pm vs. Capitals) on Sportsnet
- Wednesday, March 4 (10pm @ Ducks) on Sportsnet
- Friday, April 3 (7pm @ Devils) on Sportsnet
- Sunday, April 5 (5pm @ Panthers) on Sportsnet
This means that the Canadiens’ 82-game season breaks down as follows:
- 39 regional games on Sportsnet East
- 3 regional games on City Montreal
- 10 national games (mainly Wednesdays) on Sportsnet East/Ontario/West/Pacific
- 8 national games (first four Saturdays, most Sundays) on City
- 4 national games on Sportsnet 360 (all Thursdays)
- 1 national game on Sportsnet One (Monday Oct. 27)
- 17 national games on Hockey Night in Canada, channels TBA
Because TSN has the Ottawa Senators regional games, and the two team’s regions are identical, two regional games between the two teams (Jan. 15 and March 12) will be on both TSN and Sportsnet, giving viewers a choice of which network to watch.
The deal does not affect radio rights, which are still held by TSN Radio 690.
I’ve updated my post on who’s carrying what games to include this deal as well as additional national games for the Flames and Oilers.