Media News Digest: FPJQ conference, fake news, plagiarism at La Presse, changes at Montreal Gazette


News about news

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has published a post explaining the measures his company will take to combat fake news. The task is a delicate one, both because fake news is hard to identify in a way everyone will agree with, and because Facebook doesn’t want to put itself in a position of having to censor the Internet.
  • La Presse has suspended columnist Suzanne Colpron after discovering her stories had repeatedly plagiarized quotes from other publications, including Le Devoir. The suspension is indefinite, and surprisingly not permanent. La Clique du Plateau notes that one of Colpron’s recent columns denounced Melania Trump for plagiarizing Michelle Obama in her speech at the Republican National Convention.
  • CBC remains a punching bag at Canadian Heritage committee hearings. Here’s the Globe and Mail. This week at the CRTC, TVA and V piled on, and today Maxime Bernier, candidate for the Conservative leadership, pledged to reduce the CBC’s budget. They all seem to agree on one point: The CBC should not have government subsidies to compete with private broadcasters and news outlets. CBC’s Hubert Lacroix finally had enough and wrote an open letter to the committee defending its existence.
  • Donald Trump met with the New York Times, after the meeting was originally called off over a difference about what was on and off the record. The transcript is here.
  • Access to information requests are often used by journalists to get things like emails between government officials that were never meant to be public. Some have even used the law to get access to emails that talk about how a government agency will respond to a journalist’s request. But Winnipeg police made use of the law for an inventive purpose: Looking into a journalist. The journalist had inquired about a police officer accused of drug trafficking, and the police queried the justice department for records about communications with the journalist. Needless to say, the media is very concerned about this.

At the CRTC

  • The commission is currently holding a hearing in Laval into TV licence renewals for French-language private broadcasting groups — TVA, V, Bell Media and Corus. I’m covering the hearing for, and subscribers can find the recap of Tuesday’s session here. All four companies are calling for flexibility and resisting new rules related to local news and spending on Canadian content. But TVA and V are not seeking to reduce the amount of local programming they do outside Montreal. A transcript of the hearing is here, all 63,477 words of it. And La Presse’s Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot also gives his highlights.
  • The CRTC gave one-year licence renewals to major cable companies after reviewing how they’re handling their obligations to provide pick-and-pay channels (even though they only come into effect fully next week). The decision establishes “best practices” to not screw over customers, but doesn’t establish any new conditions of licence. It won’t regulate set-top box prices (which aren’t included in the $25/month skinny basic), or the price of individual channels (which are high enough to make it more expensive than buying packages) or prohibit IPTV providers from requiring Internet service be purchased first to get TV, but it suggests that providers who don’t follow these “best practices” might have conditions imposed on them next year. The one-year licence renewal isn’t punishment, but rather because many other issues related to their licences haven’t been explored yet, including community television programming, which has several outstanding complaints for major providers.


  • Videotron has launched its new TV packaging strategy online in advance of next week’s implementation of the new CRTC pick-and-pay regulations (though Videotron was already largely compliant and had been for years). The focus is still on custom packages, with sports channels being available at a higher tier. Most channels cost $5 à la carte, while TSN 1-5, Sportsnet regional channels, RDS 1/2 and TVA Sports 1/2 cost $15 each, the same as premium channels like TMN/HBO. In most cases it’s easier to take a pick-your-own package than build one à la carte, but there isn’t a very good option for people who want a lot of the cheaper channels.
  • The Montreal Gazette’s Brendan Kelly has a story about 21 Thunder, a soccer-themed drama series for CBC that was shot in Montreal.
  • Speaking of English TV series being shot in Montreal, Bill Brioux notes for Canadian Press that this seems to be an upward trend, despite 19-2 winding down and Quantico moving production to New York.
  • VMedia, a new TV distribution company based in Ontario, has lost a court case against Bell Media after it launched a new service that distributed television signals over the Internet to Roku devices. VMedia interpreted its system as being part of its licensed distribution service, while Bell argued successfully that it was actually an online over-the-top service that requires Bell’s permission to rebroadcast CTV and CTV Two. The judge said ultimately it should be the CRTC resolving this issue. Allowing licensed distributors to offer channels over-the-top would allow them to compete nationwide without setting up expensive wired networks or leasing space from cable and phone companies.
  • VRAK has cancelled its year-end sketch show Meilleur avant le 31, bon pareil le 1er, but it won’t get out of year-end specials entirely. It announced its new comedic news analysis show ALT will have a year-in-review special on New Year’s Eve.
  • TVA is working on a dance reality show and Julie Snyder is appearing more often on Radio-Canada shows these days.
  • Le clan, a Radio-Canada drama series about a man living in rural Quebec under a witness protection program, that the network buried on Saturday nights during its first season, has been picked up for a U.S. pilot in English. Maybe this, along with its popularity here, will convince the broadcaster that the show is more than just a way of fulfilling its obligations to have some dramatic television produced outside of Montreal.
  • 30 vies, the English version of 19-2 and CBC’s Interrupt This Program were all nominated for the International Emmy Awards. They all came back emptyhanded.
  • Sphère Média Plus, which developed 19-2 and Nouvelle adresse into English-language Canadian versions, wants to do the same with its latest hit, L’imposteur, which just wrapped up its first season on TVA. Bell Media is attached to the project.
  • Canadiens behind-the-scenes docu-infomercial 24CH is back for a fifth season on Canal D, RDS, CTV Montreal and TSN. The first episode aired in French last Saturday and will air in English tonight at midnight on TSN5 and Saturday at 1:30pm on CTV Montreal. French episodes air Saturdays 6pm on Canal D and 6:30pm on RDS.
  • Vice has launched Viceland in France. In Quebec, V told the CRTC on Tuesday that Vice shows will begin airing on V and MusiquePlus in February. A Quebec Viceland channel is also planned some time in 2017.


  • CFNV 940 AM had a deadline of Monday, Nov. 21, to launch. It’s broadcasting music with recorded messages asking people to report reception/interference issues, which suggests it’s still in the on-air testing phase. I’ve asked the CRTC for clarification on its status. In the meantime, it has a Twitter account, which notes in a reply that regular programming should begin at the beginning of 2017. Still no website, or even really a brand beyond its frequency. And a video posted last month and then deleted, in which partner Nicolas Tétrault shows off the transmitter site, has been reposted to YouTube.
  • A Winnipeg Free Press profile of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network notes that it plans a U.S. expansion, but also that it has made a proposal to re-establish a network of urban indigenous radio stations that was once Aboriginal Voices Radio. AVR lost its licences for stations in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver last year after the CRTC decided its repeated violations of licence conditions were too much. It has called for new applications for those frequencies, with indigenous stations given priority, but that process is on hold while AVR appeals the CRTC’s decision.
  • Bell Media has re-assembled a 24-station network that will broadcast the Grey Cup on Sunday. It includes TSN Radio stations, naturally, but also many others. It’s much heavier out west than east, with only two stations east of Ottawa: Montreal’s TSN 690 and Halifax’s News 95.7.




  • The CBC podcast Someone Knows Something, aka Canadian Serial, is back for a second season.
  • Gilbert Rozon has apologized after an ad for Montreal’s 375th anniversary showed only white Quebec artists. Rozon is rightfully accepting the blame, but it’s as much an indication of the whiteness of the artistic community (particularly its biggest stars) as it is the cluelessness of the organizing committee.
  • Wind Mobile, now owned by Shaw, has been renamed as Freedom Mobile. The Globe and Mail suggests they didn’t just go with Shaw Mobile mainly because they need to improve the network before attaching that brand to it.

News about people

Good reads

  • The New York Times on how a single tweet based on an incorrect assumption led to partisan news coverage and eventually a tweet by Donald Trump.
  • A fake news writer speaks to the Washington Post about how right-wing people don’t fact-check his stories and he feels bad that Donald Trump, who he hates, has ended up in the White House because of people like him and conspiracy theories and false information like what he peddles that people eat up.



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7 thoughts on “Media News Digest: FPJQ conference, fake news, plagiarism at La Presse, changes at Montreal Gazette

  1. Zeke


    Now that the Doug Camilli column is gone, would it be possible to interview, discuss, talk to or about the various people who have written the column over the years?

      1. Neil K.

        It’s not really that big of a secret. The whole city seemed to know it was Brian Kappler for many years. After he retired he may have continued to write the column freelance or the Gaz may have farmed it out to someone else.

  2. Mario D.

    About the fake news situation something can and needs to be done. I found mr. Zuckerberg answer easy, cheap and immature. I agree that it can be difficult to know what is real or not sometimes but if you just start by applying good ole common sense you will have the biggest part of the problem solved. Just start by dealing with racism, hatred ,gore and disrespect . I can already read replies stating that gore for some is not gore necessarily gore for others but to this i reply that now is not the time to hide behind free speech notion to allow anything and everything.

    Problem is that pertaining to the American election ,if you ban some users you will be accused of taking sides so to be judged as neutral it s anything goes ? Something is wrong with that way of doing things. It cannot go any lower than it has (although…) and the next step can be the spark that no one wants or needs to see so yes, we do need to take the time to clean up the act.

    No single serious media outlet should be dismissed from doing that exercise. It s sometimes as bad if not even worse not to talk about some event just so you do not act against a candidate. The read between the lines factor is as dangerous as publishing false news.

    1. dilbert

      A lot of fake news sites are also “fact based” such that if you check out the main points of a story, you will find that individually they are true. The question has more to do with the presentation of the story and what they try to prove with those facts.

      An example would be the Clinton dead pool. It is a fact that a list of people have died in the last 20 years, but the implication is that Hillary or Bill had a hand in the deaths. Now, the truth is that yes, these people are dead, but the reality is that people die every day. So the problem here is that the facts are true (those people have died) and that many of them died at their own hands (suicide), but fake news sites can turn those facts into a damning indictment of the Clintons, who apparently have killed their way to the top.

      How bad is it? I found the “list” on a CBS Local affiliate website. Are they fake news?

      The problem isn’t fake news, it’s that the truth is used to imply something that isn’t true, and that everyone including mainstream media is in on it.


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