Media News Digest: Tax breaks for journalism, Roundhouse Radio sold, more cuts at Bell Media
News about news
The federal government has issued an economic update (read: mini budget) that among other things offers $595 million in aid to the journalism industry through tax breaks over five years. A lot of the details (particularly what eligibility criteria there are) are still to be worked out, but this is what is being proposed:
Allowing non-profit journalism enterprises (like La Presse) to become registered charities, which would allow them to issue tax receipts for donations
A refundable tax credit applied to labour for “qualifying news organizations” as of Jan. 1, 2019, the details of which are still to be worked out
A temporary, non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to “eligible digital news media”
An application has been filed to purchase the corpse of what was once Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio, a serious talk radio that couldn’t find an audience and went out of business in May. The application is by South Fraser Broadcasting, owned by Sukhvinder Singh Badh, which also owns 107.7 Pulse FM. South Fraser proposes to buy the station for $600,000 and establish a 50/50 mix of music and talk (call-ins limited to an hour each on Saturday and Sunday), on condition that it be allowed to reduce its Canadian content obligations to something closer than the standard for commercial stations. The application blames Roundhouse’s failure on a lack of advertising and on Numeris’s small sample size. Over two years of operation, it had projected $3.7 million in local ad revenue, but got only $137,000. South Fraser is also asking to be relieved of Roundhouse’s Canadian content development contributions, though it will accept to buy the station even if that isn’t granted.
The CRTC has approved the sale of CJAN-FM in Asbestos, Quebec, to a cooperative made up of three employees of the station, for $103,715. The station is a money-loser, with its current owner taking only $12,000 salary and holding several roles. This transaction is seemingly its best hope of keeping it alive.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council received a complaint about HIFI, a Blue Ant Media channel, for inappropriate language and scenes of violence and sexuality that did not have appropriate viewer advisories. When it asked HIFI for logger tapes (i.e. recordings of the full broadcasts), the channel could not provide them, instead saving only the short segments that contained language and scenes mentioned in the complaint. The CBSC cited HIFI for the violation, and required it to broadcast that failure on air.
It’s Bell Media layoff season. Five jobs were cut at CTV Montreal — a researcher and a cameraman/editor have been laid off and three vacancies won’t be replaced. Elsewhere, Devon Soltendieck has left eTalk and there were cuts in Bell Media PR. Bell Media doesn’t announce these publicly so we have to rely on the rumour mill for details. (See below for radio cuts.)
The Hockey Night in Canadaretro jacket auctions to benefit Hockey Fights Cancer have ended. Unsurprisingly, Don Cherry’s logo pattern jacket was the highest seller, at $17,709. Ron Maclean was next at $13,510, and Bob Cole at $6,510. Lowest was Greg Millen at $2,030, but most were in the $2,000-$4,000 range.
Videotron is preparing to add some new channels: BBC Earth, BeIN Sports en Español, ERT World (Greek), MAVTV (motorsports), and Italian channels RAI News and RAI World. They’re also adding Quebecor’s QUB Radio to its audio channels, which might raise some eyebrows because QUB does not have a CRTC broadcast licence.