News about news
Maybe I'm being a little unfair. To provide the government's point-of-view, here's the list of their Access to Information progress, per the freshly-unredacted documents. pic.twitter.com/kwqn128evu
— Justin Ling (@Justin_Ling) December 12, 2018
- The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Vice journalist Ben Makuch will have to turn over records related to interviews he conducted with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Canadian man suspected of being a fighter for the Islamic State (and now believed to be dead). The court ruled that there was no journalistic confidentiality in this case, and that the needs of the government outweighed the interests of protecting journalistic work product. Vice nevertheless called it “a dark day for press freedom.”
- Time magazine has named a series of journalists, including Jamal Khashoggi, as its Person of the Year.
- Winnipeg police and Global News disagreed on whether the latter should have published graphic images of a dead body. Global said it did not take the decision to do so lightly.
- Montreal Mafia leader Francesco Del Balso has pleaded guilty to threatening TVA reporter Félix Séguin.
- The Quebec government will study the future of the news media with parliamentary committee hearings.
- The Ottawa Citizen editorial board followed Patrick Lagacé’s lead published an editorial in both languages on the Ontario government’s cuts to French-language services.
- Le Droit published a special 16-page section on Franco-Ontarians.
- The Journal de Montréal has selected a new columnist through its QUB Radio reality show: Madeleine Pilote-Côté. She was interviewed on LCN by Denis Lévesque, while the runners-up got free books published by Quebecor, in what can only be described as the most convergence-y thing ever.
- An Arkansas school district suspended a high school newspaper after it printed a story about students transferring schools so they could play for a better football team. The articles have since been allowed to be republished with corrections after a national outcry, but the district still wants to review all stories before publication.
- The Grande Guignolée des médias raised more than a quarter million dollars in Montreal.
- The National Post’s Tristin Hopper was the latest to accuse CBC of unfairly competing with private media, leading to a rebuke from outgoing VP Heather Conway.
- Québec solidaire went into a closed session during a policy debate and kicked out the media because they didn’t want to appear to be a divided party.
- A public school board is trying to have a teacher fired for talking to the media about problems at her school that are affecting students’ education. A protest was held to support her.
- The Quebec Press Council will not participate in a committee to determine eligibility for the federal government’s journalism tax credits, saying that is not part of its mandate.
- An Ontario Court judge found that the editor-in-chief of the right-wing Your Ward News in Toronto did not commit a crime of making death threats by writing “there was the chance that some hothead who cares deeply about me and my family would lose it and do something illegal, like bludgeon the Kinsella’s to death (sic).”
At the CRTC
- The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in the Bell appeal of the CRTC’s Super Bowl ad decision on Dec. 4. We’ll find out when the court renders its judgment whether the decision can be considered reasonable.
- The commission has approved new Christian music stations in Kelowna, B.C. and Saskatoon. Both are owned by International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc.
- The commission has decided not to renew the licence of community radio station CHOC-FM St-Rémi east of Montreal. The decision was a no-brainer because the station shut down due to lack of funds. But the decision makes clear that the commission will entertain applications for a new radio station serving that community (presumably on the same frequency of 104.9 MHz.
- The CRTC has approved an application by Golden West Broadcasting to convert a retransmitter of CFIT-FM Airdrie, Alta. (AIR 106.1) into its own station. The new station replaces CFIT-FM-1 in Cochrane, with a stronger signal, and a new format: country music from the 80s to today. The commission denied a similar application in 2016, because of the potential for the station to target nearby Calgary. The new application alters the signal so it reaches less of Calgary.
- Community radio station CKWR-FM Kitchener had its licence renewed for two years after being found in non-compliance related to Canadian content obligations and the requirement to file annual returns on time. The commission also issued a mandatory order requiring the station to be in compliance, and strongly suggested further non-compliance could lead to the licence being revoked.
- The commission has approved a new CBC Radio One transmitter in Digby, N.S., along the Bay of Fundy. It will be colocated with a Radio-Canada transmitter.
- The Corus application to shut down 44 Global TV transmitters received only 11 interventions, four of which were from TV production associations discussing how Corus should reallocate its tangible benefits funding. One intervention from professor Steven James May of Humber College says he doesn’t want to receive funding from cutting services.
- More decisions out of the Quebec Press Council related to stories published in 2017:
- A Journal de Montréal listicle sponsored by dairy producers wasn’t sufficiently clear that it was not editorial content. This was a split decision, with 4/7 agreeing the article didn’t meet standards and two others finding that it was clearly advertising.
- A Presse Canadienne story about a Conservative bill on gun control had a misleading headline, which the journalist acknowledged and corrected the same day.
- A Journal de Québec story about Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette had a minor error in how it described one of his guns as being registered even though the federal long-gun registry was not in force at the time.
- A Journal de Montréal story about Quebecers participating in the right-wing Charlottesville rally did not violate protesters’ right to privacy because they were participating in a protest.
- A Richard Martineau column about Justin Trudeau and genital mutilation wasn’t misleading.
- A Journal de Montréal story about the former mayor of L’Assomption was not sensationalist or incorrect or incomplete or biased.
- The council doesn’t have enough evidence to say who was mean to whom in a phone call between Sam Boulos and Laval News publisher George Guzmas.
- Senator Pierre Hugues Boisvenu complained about a Presse Canadienne story saying he supported fellow Senator Lynn Beyak, saying it implied he supported her anti-Indigenous comments. The council found that the story said he supported her, but did not say he agreed with her remarks.
- The Quebec Press Council also has three new members: Pierre Champoux (Radio-Canada), Noémi Mercier (freelance) and Marie-Andrée Prévost (VIVA Média/Publications du Sud-Ouest).
- National NewsMedia Council: A Victoria News back-to-school special section did not sufficiently differentiate between advertorial and editorial content. Victoria News is a community paper owned by Black Press.
- Toronto Star public editor: It is not unethical for a journalist to encourage people to subscribe to their newspaper.
- CBC ombudsman: A CBC report about caribou in Labrador used varied sources and was “justifiable” even though the opinions it published about the cause of the collapse did not agree with the views of the complainant.
- Radio-Canada ombudsman: Writing an article about Greenpeace’s reaction to a Justin Trudeau interview on Tout le monde en parle did not break any ethics codes even though it was prompted by a comment on Facebook.
- CBC has launched its new paid subscription streaming service Gem. A free version gets ad-supported on-demand programming and local CBC newscasts. The $5-a-month paid version gets ad-free programming and CBC News Network, plus some foreign programming.
- Netflix is increasing its prices in Canada, with the basic plan up from $9 to $10 a month, the standard plan up from $11 to $14 a month, and the premium plan up from $14 to $17 a month. This comes as it has agreed to start collecting Quebec sales tax on Jan. 1, which adds another 9.975%. So a standard plan subscriber in Quebec will go from spending $11 a month to $15.40, a 40% increase.
- Netflix’s higher prices are because of things like paying $100 million to have exclusive streaming rights to the sitcom Friends for one year.
That’s at least five times how much all the actors in the series were paid over seven years to make the series — and those were all-time record salaries. Correction: I did my math wrong, based on $1 million a season when it was $1 million an episode per cast member. It’s still a lot of money when you think of how much they were paid though.
- Online sports streaming service DAZN has picked up the rights to English Premier League soccer in Canada, taking them away from TSN and Sportsnet.
- TSN and RDS have extended their broadcast rights deal with UFC for an undisclosed number of years. Main cards for the big events remain pay-per-view, but they retain multiplatform rights to the rest.
- La Presse’s Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot looks at the disparity in per-hour budgets of French and English television productions in Canada — an English drama series costs on average about four times as much as a French one. There are several reasons for this — higher costs for anglophone actors, English networks spending more money on fewer series to fill their schedules, and the 67/33 English/French split of the Canada Media Fund — but the biggest factor is international distribution, which we can’t really control directly. Quebec producers want the CMF to revisit that formula, and for the Quebec government to start spending directly on TV productions.
- Bell and Videotron joined forces to take down a network of TV signal pirates, which could lead to the first criminal charges for piracy in Canada in half a decade.
- Speaking of budgets, during the CRTC’s OMNI hearings, Sam Norouzi of Montreal’s ICI (CFHD-DT) said his station received $88,000 in advertising from ad agencies last year, of which 80% came from provincial government agencies. This was part of a larger point about the value of letting his independent producers sell their own ads, using that money to finance their shows.
- CTV has launched its free ad-supported retro TV and movie collections, which they’re calling Throwback and CTV Movies. The TV collection includes classic hits like Mad About You and … why bother watching anything else when you can watch Mad About You? Fine: Community, Dawson’s Creek, Designing Women, The Facts of Life, The Larry Sanders Show and Rescue Me are also on the list. Movies include Groundhog Day, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Steel Magnolias, Philadelphia, Men in Black and three Spider-Man movies. Ads for both types of content are delivered the same places you’d expect in conventional TV, and come in groups of 2-3 ads of 15-30 seconds.
- The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is continuing to slowly grow its TV presence, and will have two games on Sportsnet the weekend of Jan. 5 and 6.
- A documentary series on standup comics who participated in this summer’s New Faces of Comedy show at Just For Laughs is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
- Bell Media is making a video version of its Mike on Much podcast, for Crave.
- The Comedy Network is running all 11 completed seasons of The Big Bang Theory as a two-week marathon starting Dec. 22. The 255 episodes will take 127 and a half hours to air, which means they’d be running eight hours a day over the 16 days (enough time to meet CanCon requirements and even repeat the day’s marathon a second time).
- TSN will be airing some Toronto Marlies American Hockey League games this season.
- Radio-Canada has cancelled Marc Labrèche series Info sexe et mensonges, in part because of annoyance that Labrèche started a new series with Télé-Québec.
- Netflix’s series featuring four Quebec comedians, shot at Juste pour rire this summer, will be live on Jan. 1.
- Golden Globe Award nominations are out. Jean-Marc Vallée’s Sharp Objects was nominated in the best limited series category.
- Vallée, meanwhile, is lined up to direct another series for HBO: Gorilla and the Bird.
- The Writers Guild of America also announced its nominees in television writing. They include The Handmaid’s Tale and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
- Winter programming announcements:
- A Cleveland radio station decided not to play the song Baby It’s Cold Outside so now we’re having a whole debate over it — again. Canadian radio station groups that probably weren’t playing it much to begin with have joined the ban. (CBC Music has since reversed course after hearing audience feedback.) People are writing op-eds about how the song, when taken in context, is actually feminist, while there are plenty of interpretations of its date-rapey connotations (or even just the fact that a man repeatedly can’t take no for an answer). Media outlets are talking to descendants of its composer to get their take on it. There are arguments that a line like “what’s in this drink” composed well before date-rape drugs became common knowledge is grossly unfair, while there are other arguments that the societal context is irrelevant if people are uncomfortable with the song’s message now.
- Toronto’s JAZZ.FM91 is facing yet another lawsuit.
- Videotron has added QUB Radio to its Illico TV system, and in case it wasn’t obvious how much Quebecor wants to push this thing, it’s assigned three channels to it, including Channel 1. Others are 599 (among the radio stations) and 601 (for those cruising the HD channels).
- CBC podcasts are now on Spotify.
- Gravité Média has decided to end publication of The Gleaner, a community paper serving southwestern Quebec that previous owner Transcontinental had already gutted, emptying its Huntingdon offices and turning it into an insert into a French newspaper. But the company has offered to give The Gleaner to the community, and members of that community are working on a plan to revive it.
- Edmonton’s VUE Weekly has printed its last issue. Editors are trying to create a new alternative publication to replace the 23-year-old alt-weekly.
- The Competition Bureau investigation into the Postmedia/Torstar newspaper swap deal is heating up, with the agency getting a court order for executives to be interviewed. The Globe and Mail outlines what the investigation is looking for, and The Tyee has documents suggesting the two companies knew which papers would close before the deal went through.
- FPJQ, Quebec’s journalist association, says its magazine Trente will be produced only once a year now (but will be a thick issue), hoping to bring its frequency back up if its budget improves.
- The new owners of Métro in Montreal and associated community weeklies are focusing more locally, in terms of news coverage, distribution and advertising. National advertisers have largely abandoned print media, they say. The article also notes that one of those weeklies, Nouvelles Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, has “suspended” publication. Its last edition, eight pages long, came out Sept. 4.
- Saltwire Network has closed the presses of the Cape Breton Post, and will print the paper out of Halifax.
- Montreal is thinking of banning the PubliSac and similar bulk flyer distribution. PubliSac owner Transcontinental says 87% of recipients read them and they’re entirely recyclable.
- The Lévis and Chaudière-Appalaches region has a new lifestyle magazine being distributed freely with the PubliSac. It appears 10 times a year and is not expected to include hard news.
- Rogers has sold what’s left of the MoneySense brand to Ratehub.
- Google will make good on millions of dollars it accidentally spent on advertising when a demonstration went wrong.
- Verizon has wrote off most of its investment in its Oath media business, which includes Yahoo, AOL and Huffington Post.
- Cogeco is opting out of the upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction, just when it looked like the company might jump into the wireless services business. The full list of applicants is here, and includes the usual suspects. Cogeco says it hasn’t shut the door to wireless, though. It has been pushing for regulations that would make it easier for setting up virtual networks using the incumbent telecom companies’ equipment.
News about people
— Breakfast Television & CityNews Montreal (@BTCityNewsMTL) December 12, 2018
- Elias Makos is leaving City Montreal, five years after being one of its first employees. His last day is Friday. He hasn’t said where he’s going, but expect an announcement soon.
- Tarah Schwartz is leaving CTV Montreal. She tells Bill Brownstein she made the decision so she can spend more time with her family. And that’s not a euphemism. Her job at CTV involves working nights and weekends and with her son starting Grade 1 she wants a regular 9-to-5 job.
- Schwartz’s replacement has already been named: Annie DeMelt.
- Play-by-play announcer Bob Cole, who was supposed to call 10 games on Hockey Night in Canada over the first half of this season before retiring, has had his contract extended for another six games. His final broadcast will be the season finale between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs on April 6.
- Former Corus chief operating officer Barb Williams gives an exit interview to the Globe and Mail. Among the nuggets in there is blaming the downfall of Shomi (the Shaw and Rogers answer to Netflix) on those companies’ failing to make it a priority. She also says she wants to still be involved in broadcasting, but perhaps in something more public-service, “maybe on the periphery of the industry.”
- CBC’s Heather Conway, meanwhile, gives an exit interview to Metro Morning, talking about the CBC versus private media, the economics of television and workplace culture after the Jian Ghomeshi incident.
- The Globe and Mail profiles George Cope, CEO of BCE (Bell), focusing on his record of acquisitions since taking over the company, and the buyout that fell through amid the recession a decade ago.
- Sarah Bartok, former morning host at The Beat, is filling in over the holidays at Toronto’s CHFI 98.1.
- Kevin Crull, the former Bell Media president, is leaving his job at Sprint at the end of the year.
- Melissa Kajpust is stepping down as vice-president of programming at Super Channel, less than a year after taking the job.
- A benefit featuring The Gazette’s Terry Mosher and La Presse’s Serge Chapleau raised $50,000 for the Lachine hospital.
- If you missed Roger Ashby’s last show at CHUM, it’s archived in a series of Facebook Live videos.
- Bob Murphy is the new host of CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon. He replaces the retired Norma Lee MacLeod.
- Jaren Kerr is now deputy editor at Canadaland, fresh off its WE investigation.
- Tom Armour, CJAD newscaster
- Lyman Potts, radio executive and creator of the Canadian Talent Library
- Michael Kesterton, author of the Globe and Mail’s Social Studies column
News about companies
- Tribune Media and its 45 U.S. TV stations have found another buyer after the Sinclair Broadcasting deal dell through: Nexstar Media Group will pay $4.1 billion for the company.
- Bloomberg Businessweek has published its 2018 Jealousy List, stories from other publications this year that they believe deserve praise.