News about news
- There was an element in the SNC-Lavalin/Jody Wilson-Raybould saga that related to the media: Wilson-Raybould alleges that the prime minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, told her that the government would “line up” opinion pieces in newspapers to defend a decision to give SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement. That comment set off a wave of denials in the media, with people like Toronto Star public editor Kathy English and this nameless St. John’s Telegram editorial writing that newspapers don’t accept such things. Former Harper communications head Andrew MacDougall and Globe and Mail media columnist Simon Houpt also pour cold water on the idea, though with some nuance. I kind of wish the industry was a bit less defensive about this, and undertook a dispassionate, open-minded review of how the political machine can influence opinion sections. The National Observer points to a similar case in Ontario where a woman was directly asked by the government to write an op-ed favourable to its changes to autism care. It would be naive to assume there’s no attempt to influence, and that attempts to influence will always fail. (Also, the op-eds that have since been published defending the government should come with reassurances that they were not ordered by the PMO.)
- Atlantic Canada’s Saltwire Network is implementing a metered paywall system, with a $15/month cost to get around it. Its publications, which include the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, are also dropping the Canadian Press wire service (after it cut several Halifax employees), replacing it with Postmedia and Reuters. Postmedia has no publications in Atlantic Canada, and its predecessor Canwest tried to ditch CP and go with its own wires to save money before eventually deciding to sign up again.
- A probably made up rumour about a “Momo challenge” to get kids to take their own lives has prompted a wave of news stories that have probably served to only propagate the idea in people’s heads and do more harm than good.
- Canadian actor and comedian Boyd Banks has apologized after repeatedly licking CBC reporter Chris Glover during a live TV hit.
- APTN reporter Kenneth Jackson has a Twitter thread on the difficulties getting access to public documents at the Thunder Bay courthouse.
- Journal de Montréal editorial cartoonist Yannick Lemay (YGreck) has apologized (kinda) after a cartoon depicting Jody Wilson-Raybould as wearing a stereotype of an Indigenous outfit for no apparent reason.
- The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that a construction company’s lawsuit against the Globe and Mail should not be summarily dismissed as a SLAPP suit.
- Philippe Papineau at Le Devoir writes about La Presse canadienne (The Canadian Press) and how the media business model crisis is affecting the wire service.
- A new movie about the Rob Ford scandal does a good job of erasing Robyn Doolittle, who’s responsible for much of the original reporting on the case.
- Apparently Exo, the public company that runs Montreal’s commuter trains, doesn’t publish the agenda and minutes of its board meetings, and 24 Heures can’t get a hold of them.
- A judge has ordered a journalist for Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivières to turn over photos to a company involved in a lawsuit against the city.
At the CRTC
- The commission has completed its 2018 Communications Monitoring Report (based on data from the 2016-17 broadcast year) with the publication of its broadcasting portion.
- The government of Canada is proposing a new order to the CRTC giving it direction on telecom policy that would favour consumers. Meanwhile, the commission itself has launched a new review of the mobile wireless market, that would potentially open the door to virtual network operators, something companies like Cogeco have been calling for as a way of offering wireless service.
- On Feb. 28, the CRTC posted 132 applications for radio station licence renewals. In the Montreal area, they include CFQR 600 AM, CJLO 1690 AM, CIBL-FM 101.5, CKVL-FM 100.1 LaSalle, CHSV-FM 106.7 Hudson and CIME-FM 103.9 St-Jérôme. The stations with compliance issues:
- CFQR was found in apparent non-compliance because of missing financial returns (owner TTP Media wasn’t separating its finances from sister station CFNV 940) and non-implementation of emergency alerting (a technical issue about internet access to the transmitter site, TTP says). The application has little information on programming plans.
- CIBL had various issues related to the effects of their recent financial crisis
- The commission has quietly approved, without a public process, the sale of Corus’s 50.5% stake in TLN and its related channels for $19 million. The sale is to the other three shareholders, plus president Aldo Di Felice. TLN’s channels include EuroWorld Sport, Univision Canada, TeleNiños and Mediaset Italia. It appears tangible benefits must be paid on the transaction, but because this was done without a public process the CRTC hasn’t published a decision that lays out the conditions.
- Bell, Corus and Rogers have jointly asked the CRTC to add an exception to the new described video rule set to come into effect in September. It would require all primetime drama programming have described video. But the owners of CTV, Global and Citytv say they often get programs from foreign sources too close to their airdate to add DV to them. So they’ve proposed a compromise: They can run a program without DV if they get it less than 72 hours before air, so long as they air it again — also in primetime — later with DV. Comments on the proposal are being accepted until April 25.
- Quebecor has filed a complaint against Bell over its packaging of RDS and TVA Sports in Quebec. Bell’s TV service has RDS in the popular “Good” package in Quebec, but not TVA Sports, which is a $14/month add-on. Quebecor argues this is unfair, and because of how popular the “Good” package is, it’s costing them millions of dollars in lost subscriber revenue. Bell has not yet responded to the complaint, but is likely to argue that it has no obligation to treat TVA Sports identically to RDS.
- The CRTC has approved the acquisition of MacEachern Broadcasting, owner of CIGO-FM in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., by Acadia Broadcasting for $1 million to $1.4 million, depending how you count it. The MacEacherns decided to sell the station to get out of the business.
- The Canadian Press has apologized for allowing a story to be published that allowed unnamed sources to give opinions and speculation about Jody Wilson-Raybould without having their names attached. The Toronto Star also found it unacceptable to allow anonymous sources to take shots at her.
- The Winnipeg Sun has apologized to Alex Trebek after a story about the Jeopardy host’s cancer diagnosis was given the headline “Game over for Trebek?“
- Radio-Canada’s ombudsman was not impressed by on-air comments by Samedi et rien d’autre host Joël Le Bigot, celebrating the death of a Christian missionary who as killed trying to contact the Sentinelese people. The ombudsman was even less impressed when, after Radio-Canada received a complaint about those comments, Le Bigot mocked the complaint on air. Le Bigot had previously been blamed by the ombudsman for comments tying Islam to pedophilia.
- The National Newsmedia Council found that a Soo Today story about a sexual assault conviction went into too much detail about the assault itself, and included facts such as the victim’s level of intoxication that it should have been more careful with.
- Similarly, the council found a story in the Waterloo Region Record had too much detail about the victim of an unsolved murder, particularly their criminal history.
- The Globe and Mail will no longer use writings from Vatican spokesperson Thomas Rosica, after confirming that his previous contributions to the newspaper included several plagiarized passages.
- CBC’s ombudsman dismissed a complaint about an opinion piece from a doctor critical of naturopaths.
- A CBC story quoting the former drummer from Hedley about the behaviour of front man Jacob Hoggard did not violate policy, and it was not irresponsible to continue investigating the man even though there’s a criminal case under way.
- A CBC story about a Via Rail train order didn’t violate policy by including a claim from Siemens that the new trains have 80% fewer emissions, but CBC News should be more skeptical about that claim.
- Quebec Press Council decisions:
- That TVA Nouvelles story about a mosque making demands to a nearby construction crew got eviscerated by the council … 14 months later. It also found the initial corrections were insufficient. TVA eventually apologized more fully a year after the incident.
- La Presse’s XTRA section is not passing off advertising as editorial, though it could use more explicit headings to make it clear that it’s promotional material.
- A complaint by former Roberval mayor Guy Larouche against KYK Radio X host Louis Arcand was upheld. Arcand made vague references to rumours about Larouche that he said he couldn’t verify.
- A La Presse story was not wrong in describing Storm Alliance as “extreme right” and “anti-immigration.”
- The council found that a Néomédia.com story about a sexual assault conviction did not plagiarize from a Journal de Saint-François story about that same issue.
- Other dismissed cases: Kristian Fortin Chartier vs. Agence QMI, more gun pedantry, Jacques Znaty vs. Journal de Montréal, Michel Chayer vs. La Presse
- A Gizmodo investigation reveals that Damian Sendler, a man quoted in many news stories, interviewed on Dan Savage’s podcast and whose research into kinky sex and bestiality has been published in academic journals, lied about his academic credentials and is not a doctor. He also claims to be consulting suicidal patients, but does not have the qualifications to do that either. Most of the news articles linked to by Gizmodo now have editor’s notes noting the results of the investigation, with some editing his quotes out of their stories and others saying they will look into the issue.
- Corus is transforming its Action channel (formerly Showcase Action) into a full-time Adult Swim channel, moving adult animation series like Rick and Morty and Robot Chicken from Teletoon and Cartoon Network. The change takes effect April 1. Afterward, Teletoon and Cartoon Network will have “family-friendly content appropriate for all ages 24/7.”
- Much is no longer broadcasting music videos on weekday mornings, and is down to an hour a day of what MuchMusic was known for.
- Vision TV has dropped the show Muslim Perspectives after a complaint from B’nai Brith Canada that it promotes anti-Semitism and homophobia.
- TSN and RDS have dropped their over-the-top subscription prices from $25 to $20 a month, as a new $5 a day pass goes live. This is closer to the subscription price for these channels on cable, which might push more people to cut the cord if they’re interested in sports but not much else on TV. It also matches the price for Sportsnet NOW, which dropped its price similarly in October. Meanwhile, Sportsnet has added a new yearly pass for SN NOW+, the enhanced version of its over-the-top service with more NHL games and some other sports. The yearly pass is $250 (currently on sale for $200), which works out to $20.83 a month, just pennies more than the basic SN NOW, which doesn’t seem to have a yearly option.
- With their sale to Bell officially dead, Corus is reinvesting in its French-language specialty channels Historia and Séries+, commissioning original series again, hiring staff and renovating their Montreal offices.
- The Supreme Court of Canada has decided not to hear an appeal by Videotron of a Court of Appeal decision authorizing a class action over insufficient community television programming on MAtv. The class action by the Independent Community TV group, which wanted to replace MAtv with its own community channel, seeks compensation for Videotron subscribers for community TV programming that the CRTC found was insufficient.
- Speaking of MAtv, its CityLife show did an episode on the future of Montreal media. And hey look, it’s me!
- Citytv is busting out new Canadian cop dramas on the same night: March 25. There’s Hudson & Rex, a 16-episode series about a cop and his dog set in St. John’s, N.L.; and The Murders, an eight-part procedural series about a homicide detective in Vancouver.
- Fans of the Canadian sci-fi series Wynonna Earp are pulling out all the stops to save the show as its producer goes through financial difficulties.
- TSN says DeMar DeRozan’s return to Toronto as a member of the San Antonio Spurs generated its highest ratings ever for a regular-season Raptors game: an average of 710,000.
- About the same number of people tuned in to watch the first episode of the new Passe-Partout on Télé-Québec, a record for the provincial public broadcaster.
- TSN has released its Major League Soccer schedule for 2019. Its deal with MLS gives it 12 Impact games, versus the full slate for Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps. At least one of those games (March 30 in Kansas) will be a Saturday game on CTV.
- Major League Soccer is apparently looking to restructure its TV rights in 2022, according to Sports Business Daily, which could include packaging national and local rights together instead of having the team sign the latter deals. (TVA Sports has both local and national rights to Montreal Impact games, but TSN has only a national deal in English, which is why its Impact package has fewer games than Toronto or Vancouver).
- Yoopa, Quebecor’s children’s TV channel, is creating a new evening block for older kids called YOO+, starting Monday. It features series and movies for kids ages 10-12.
- TVA’s La Voix is trying its best to erase a candidate and pretend that person never existed after learning of unspecified legal issues that it found unacceptable. The candidate was picked during blind auditions and went with judge Éric Lapointe, but did not make it as far as the live shows, so will be edited out of the pretaped ones. With each judge having 12 candidates, it will be awkward to edit around one suddenly having 11. La Presse’s Hugo Dumas found out who it was, and discovered he was convicted two weeks before the taping of blind auditions of violence against an ex-girlfriend.
- The Handmaid’s Tale begins Season 3 on June 9 on Bravo.
- Radio-Canada is pulling the plug on ICI Laflaque, the weekly animated political satire by La Presse’s Serge Chapleau.
- TVA is ending the drama series O’, as well as low-rated romantic reality series XOXO and talk show Tout le monde aime.
- Canadian comedians went into an uproar after SiriusXM satellite radio replaced the programming on the Canada Laughs channel — which was mainly taken directly from albums put out by Canadian comedians — with content from Just For Laughs. They argued the change, which could see U.S. comedians take up some space on the channel otherwise reserved to Canadians, would mean a drastic reduction in their royalties revenues. The uproar worked, and Just For Laughs announced that it will keep the channel 100% Canadian.
- Cogeco Media’s three Montreal music stations (including The Beat 92.5) have dropped Michael Jackson songs from their playlists after a devastating HBO documentary about his alleged abuses of children. But so far other Canadian radio station owners haven’t committed either way when it comes to his music.
- Global News Radio 640 in Toronto is now simulcasting Global TV’s Toronto local newscast at 6pm weekdays.
- The Whitehorse (Daily) Star will drop its print schedule from five to three days a week, citing a weakened local economy. The paper says it will not affect its full-time staff of 17, and it may go back to a daily if the mining industry improves. It had previously dropped to three times a week from 1982-1985 before going back to five.
- Métro, the Montreal free daily that was recently sold by Transcontinental to a new group, has seen a quarter of its staff walk out the door, upset with the new management’s style.
- CWA gives word of three layoffs at the Ottawa Citizen in reader sales and printing.
- The Toronto Star says it now has 10,000 digital-only subscribers.
- The Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund raised $778,185 this year, which is great but also continues a long downward trend over the past decade.
- Google has determined that the Canadian government’s new campaign ad legislation is so onerous that it makes more sense to just ban partisan ads from its platform entirely this election campaign. I’m sure other media outlets are really disappointed to hear that they won’t have to share the election ad revenue.
- Apparently Quebecers, and in particular young Quebecers, like to use social media, according to a survey.
- Copibec, which is Quebec’s main copyright clearance machine, is teaming up with a Montreal-based startup to use blockchain to manage copyright licenses. It does sound a little bit like embracing buzzwords more than embracing new technology, but this Forbes piece explains a bit what they’re aiming to do.
- The government of Canada is beginning its auction of 600 MHz frequency spectrum formerly used by over-the-air TV broadcasters. The usual subjects are participating, though Cogeco is sitting this one out because it finds the geographical areas of the licenses too large.
News about people
Some personal news: I will be on maternity leave, returning next spring! I won’t be signing off Twitter completely, but won’t be using it for work. Please make sure to follow @Global_Montreal and send all your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/FwMjif3ru2
— Felicia Parrillo (@feliciaparrillo) February 27, 2019
- Pete Marier, who has been doing various work at CHOM lately, has a new show, his first in French. Called Rock Room (yeah, an English title), it’s on Énergie 98.9 FM in Quebec City (which is also owned by Bell Media), and runs for 4-6pm on Saturdays, starting March 9. He’ll still be on the air at CHOM. Énergie interviews him about his new job here.
- Pénélope McQuade will take over the mid-morning spot on ICI Radio-Canada Première, replacing Médium Large host Catherine Perrin, who announced in December she was leaving at the end of the season.
- Ashley Docking has been hired for the Sportsnet 590 The Fan morning show in Toronto. She replaces Elliott Price, who was recently let go.
- Henry Burris has stepped down as co-host of CTV Morning Live in Ottawa, to devote more time to other projects. He will continue to contribute to Bell Media radio stations.
- Nancy Carlson has moved from Global Edmonton to CBC Edmonton, where she will be producer and anchor for its evening TV newscast.
- Bart Yabsley has been named the new president of Sportsnet, replacing the departed Scott Moore. Yabsley was previously Senior Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships & Content Distribution.
- Dylen Postnikoff, formerly of CBC, has been hired as Vice President, Global Brand Strategy at Shaftesbury, producer of series including Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries.
- Duncan Hood, editor of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, is taking a new job as business editor at the Toronto Star.
- Malorie Beauchemin has been named sports editor at La Presse. She’s the first woman to hold the post, according to Alexandre Pratt.
- François Pouliot, former journalist at Les Affaires, is now an economic adviser to François Legault’s Quebec government.
- Michel Barrette is going back to radio as a regular on Bernard Drainville’s afternoon show on 98.5 FM in Montreal.
- Steve Kowch, the former CJAD and CFRB program director who has spent recent years as a consultant (including waiting to see if TTP Media ever decides to do anything with its AM radio stations in Montreal), has decided it’s time to retire.
- Ron Charles is the latest CBC News retiree.
- Jonah Keri has joined The Athletic.
- Charles Décarie has been named the new boss of Groupe Juste Pour Rire. He was previously at Triotech Inc. and before that the Cirque du Soleil.
- Vice News has a story about Trailer Park Boys actor Mike Smith being accused (but never charged) with sexual assault in 2005.
- Voir talks to former Gazette restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman about reviewing restaurants, the state of the restaurant review industry, and how the city’s restaurants have changed in the past 20 years.
- Gazette reporter Christopher Curtis got into a fistfight with a Liberal MP. But don’t worry, it was for a good cause.
It’s the 25th anniversary of John Candy’s passing. We cooked up a small tribute to a comedic genius and Canadian hero. If you haven’t seen much of his work, take a look at his films. He was a treasure. Thanks to @chriscandy4u and @therealjencandy. ?? pic.twitter.com/dHvuviKnBs
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) March 3, 2019
- Clark Davey, former journalist, editor and newspaper publisher for the Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette, among others. (Also in the Globe and Mail)
- Sandra Faire, TV producer (also in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star)
News about companies
- Cogeco has sold its Peer 1 data centre business to Digital Colony for $720 million. Cogeco bought Peer 1 for $635 million in 2012, but with investments since then it’s hard to directly compare those figures. Videotron also recently sold its data centre business.
- Postmedia says it has no idea why its stock price suddenly tripled on Feb. 28. As of this writing it’s still about twice what it was last week.
- Vox explains how an otherwise uninteresting winter coat on Amazon went viral, mainly because of stories saying it was trending.
- Desk editors, Le Devoir in Montreal (deadline: March 11)
- Artistic director, Le Devoir in Montreal (deadline: March 15)
- Digital editor, Montreal Gazette (part-time; deadline: March 20)
- La Presse diversity bursary (deadline: April 4)
- Associate editor, opinion at Maclean’s
- Radio traffic reporter, Canadian Traffic Network (Bell Media radio stations) in Montreal