News about news
- The federal government’s 2019-20 budget gives a bit more detail on its plans to subsidize the news (and particularly newspaper) industry, putting a total figure of $595 million on it. The budget introduces the concept of a Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization, whose exact criteria will be established by a panel of experts (it’s not clear who decides who these experts will be). But the criteria already laid out has issues. As Tim Bousquet of the Halifax Examiner points out, it disqualifies very small news operations right off the bat.
- The Quebec budget, meanwhile, didn’t have much of interest to media. There was $25 million for Télé-Québec, and some nickels and dimes for various cultural projects. Also of interest is that the government will move to allow business registry searches by the names of administrators. The government is in a legal battle with the website Open Corporates because that website scrapes the official one and offers the name search function.
- Apple has announced a new subscription service for news, with some Canadian partners on board including the Toronto Star, La Presse, CTV and Global. The service, which grows out of its acquisition of the digital magazine service Texture, costs $13 a month, and Apple will keep half that money. That deal wasn’t good enough for some organizations, like Le Devoir and the Globe and Mail, who make some content available on Apple News’s free service but aren’t part of the subscription tier.
- CTV, CBC, Citytv and Postmedia have teamed up to broadcast the Alberta leaders’ debate on April 4. It will be on all three TV networks plus OMNI, as well as CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, 660 News (Rogers) and CBC Radio One in Alberta. Global isn’t part of the group but has extensive election coverage plans of its own.
- BuzzFeed has successfully defended a libel case brought by the man behind Central European News, which a BuzzFeed investigation accused of being a purveyor of fake news. A story by Craig Silverman and two other reporters called him the “king” of fake news.
- The Globe and Mail looks at a case of a small community newsletter, the kind of one-person operation that’s taking the place of discontinued local newspapers, and the challenge it faces when someone doesn’t like what’s written and decides to sue.
- The Associated Press has announced more style changes, the biggest one being that we’ll no longer be using “per cent” as two words. Instead, the % symbol is to be used when following numerals, and “percent” can be used as one word in other contexts.
- Union protesters at an ABI plant in Bécancour, locked out for more than a year, harassed TVA Trois-Rivières journalist Patricia Hélie and made her fear for her safety. The union has called for calm.
- Peel Regional Police have released complaints they received — including 911 phone calls — after an Amber Alert was sent out late at night. The child in question was found dead.
- CBC employees who are part of the CMG union have voted 80% in favour of a new collective agreement. The five-year deal ends in 2024.
- The Wall Street Journal answers how the National Enquirer managed to get Jeff Bezos’s sexts: from his lover’s brother, by paying him $200,000. (He denies this, sort of.)
At the CRTC
- Monday is the deadline to comment on licence renewals for 132 radio stations, including, in the Montreal area, CFQR 600 AM, CJLO 1690 (Concordia), CIBL 101,5, CKVL-FM 100,1 LaSalle, CIME St-Jérôme and Jewel 106.7 Hudson.
- The Timmins, Ontario radio market is not healthy enough to support another commercial radio station, the commission has determined. An application by Vista Radio will be returned.
- The commission is proposing a new annual survey for digital media companies, so it can be informed on the financials of the industry. But the survey would only apply to companies with television, radio or distribution systems already licensed by the CRTC. So Bell, Rogers and Quebecor would have to respond, but Netflix, YouTube/Google, Spotify, Amazon etc. would not.
- The commission is reviewing how it calculates Canadian programming expenditures (CPEs), which are part of television broadcast licenses. Specifically, it’s asking whether we should calculate promotion expenses and related digital media spending as part of CPE. And if so, how that would happen and what limits would be put on it.
- Points Eagle Radio Inc. has decided to turn in its licence for CKCI-FM 103.3 in Sarnia, a de facto retransmitter of CKTI-FM 107.7 in Kettle Point. Its management says there was a lack of funding and a lack of interest in keeping the transmitter running.
- From CBC and Radio-Canada ombudsmen:
- Radio-Canada’s continued misuse of the wind chill factor in stories about the weather has caused its ombudsman to point out a systemic problem. In short: It should not be used in place of actual temperatures, it should not be given as Celsius units, it should not be used in relation to the temperatures of objects, and it should not be presented with terms like “température ressentie.” Guy Gendron notes that Radio-Canada is a large organization with distributed management, and often it’s less experienced journalists who get stuck doing weather stories, which leads to repeated reminders on this not being followed.
- A man who wanted his photo removed from a story about him being convicted of assault did not get his way.
- A TV report on juvenile prostitution did not include images that were unnecessarily explicit. Stock video of unidentified women leaning into car windows, or a clip from the TV drama Fugueuse, or a poster produced by a police department were all appropriate to illustrate the story.
- The Moment, a segment on CBC’s The National, is not required to be balanced or comprehensive, but coverage in general should be balanced. A viewer complained after a segment on the first anniversary of the Parkland shooting seemed to be too in favour of gun control.
- A CBC story on polar bears did not have to include comment from a minority of scientists who deny the decline of the polar bear population.
- A complainant’s attempt to defend Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro against CBC’s reporting that there’s a humanitarian crisis and food shortage did not convince the ombudsman.
- The Globe and Mail’s Sylvia Stead takes the paper to task for not giving the Christchurch New Zealand shooting enough prominence on the Saturday front page. As she explains, Saturday papers tend to have more magazine-like front pages, and that can lead to hard news being downplayed more than it would be on other days of the week.
- Stead also did her own survey of bylines, sources and photos and found a very strong male bias for all of them.
- The Toronto Star’s public editor Kathy English thinks it’s time for the paper to come up with a policy on how to report on terrorism. While people have called on news media to refrain from naming mass killers, English and editor Irene Gentle agree they can’t do that.
- The Quebec Press Council’s appeals panel has reached decisions on five appeals (three of whom are grouped together under one issue):
- In a case dating back to 2015, a Patrick Lagacé column on something called “synergologie” was found to be justified as opinion, then appealed, then sent back by the appeals panel to be reviewed as factual journalism. The council decided to ignore this advice and reaffirmed its original decision, and it was appealed again. This time the appeals body accepted the council’s reaffirmation.
- The panel has determined that journalists blocking people on Twitter is not a matter of journalistic ethics within the council’s mandate to review.
- A La Presse story by Dominique Talbot about disputes between neighbours was subject of a complaint that found — in a split decision — no violation of ethics. But the appeals panel found that indeed there were, and the journalist’s failure to seek comment from the other side of one of these conflicts was a clear violation of both the requirement to be balanced and the requirement to verify information from sources. Since La Presse and Le Soleil quickly corrected and apologized for the error, they were not blamed in the final decision.
- I compiled some highlights of APTN’s Plains Cree hockey broadcast.
- Sportsnet is continuing its language diversity by bringing back its Tagalog broadcast of Toronto Blue Jays games. The 27 Sunday games will also be broadcast in Tagalog on OMNI and ICI.
- TVA Sports has decided to follow Sportsnet, TSN and RDS in offering its channels directly to consumers not subscribed to cable for $20 a month (or $200 a year).
- The Canadian Screen Awards are being handed out. Three galas so far:
- Non-fiction programming, including reality, news and sports. News winners include Paul Hunter (national reporter), #CityVote: The Debate (live news special), Dawna Friesen (national anchor), CTV National News With Lisa LaFlamme (national newscast), Katie Nicholson of CBC Manitoba (local reporter), and Michelle Dubé of CTV Toronto (local anchor). Sportsnet picked up only one award (live sports event), while TSN won the rest. The Leonard Cohen Tower of Song special won an award for production design, the only local winner I could spot on the list.
- Creative fiction. CTV’s Cardinal won five awards, including best limited series. CBC’s Anne with an E also won five, including best supporting actor and actress. CBC’s Baroness von Sketch Show had four wins. TVO picked up eight wins for children’s programming.
- Digital storytelling. Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo won for best cross-platform project, How to Buy a Baby won best web series fiction, and The Artists: The Pioneers Behind the Pixels for best web series non-fiction.
- CBC Television has issued its “first round” of renewals for next season (though some were previously announced). Crime drama Coroner and arts documentary series In the Making get a second season. Anne, Burden of Truth, Frankie Drake, Heartland and Murdoch Mysteries are also back, as are comedies Baroness von Sketch, Kim’s Convenience and Schitt’s Creek, whose sixth season will be its last.
- Télé-Québec has unsurprisingly renewed Passe Partout for a second season after it set viewership records for the network.
- TVA has renewed the sitcom En tout cas for a third season.
- Radio-Canada’s new summer evening talk show Bonsoir Bonsoir begins on Monday. Its first week has some high-profile guests including Véronique Cloutier, Guylaine Tremblay and Maripier Morin.
- Radio-Canada has cancelled Second regard, a show that tackled religious and spiritual issues, after 45 years.
- V has pulled the plug on four shows that were part of its big refresh announced last fall: Je suis chef, Bootcamp: le parcours extrême, Moment décisif and Vendeurs de rêve.
- Super Écran is adding a fourth season of Madame Lebrun, its adaptation of the BBC series Mrs. Brown’s Boys.
- CTV is adding Orphan Black to its free Throwback online streaming section.
- Quebec TV producer Datsit Sphère is expanding again, acquiring animation companies Oasis Animation (Les Grandes Gueules s’animent, Pérusse Cité) and Quiet Motion (Dinolab, Rire du monde).
- Radio-Canada is cutting 18 jobs in design and production, though it is creating six others.
- Three British men who provided pirated access to Premier League matches through a service called Dreambox have been sentenced to prison time up to seven years.
- The Weather Network is sorry its presenters keep standing in front of Manitoba:
For Manitoba, with love ?
— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) March 26, 2019
- CJVD 100,1, the French-language music station in Vaudreuil, is apparently for sale. Yves Sauvé, the station’s founder and owner, wants to retire.
- Corus has rebranded 95.3 Fresh Radio in Hamilton as Energy 95.3, and brought in Scott Tucker and Maura Grierson as morning show hosts. Both were recently let go from the morning show at Virgin Radio in Toronto.
- Bell Media’s AM 1150 in Kelowna, B.C., has extended its rights deal with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets by three years.
- Fresh Radio 104.3 in Kingston, a Corus station, has added weeknight and weekend Blue Jays game to its schedule.
- Black Press has shut down the weekly newspaper Red Deer Express, which competes with its existing daily Red Deer Advocate. At the Advocate, 25 jobs are being cut (none in the newsroom) as printing and mailroom functions moved elsewhere, representing about half of unionized staff there. Affected employees at the Express are being offered jobs elsewhere at Black Press, the company says.
- Magazines Canada is administering a new national paid internship program, that reimburses publishers up to 50% of the cost of hiring an intern. The program is subsidized by the federal government.
- KO Média (Louis Morrissette et al) have acquired Éditions du Phoenix, a children’s book publisher.
- BuzzFeed’s Toronto office is now officially unionized, and part of CWA Canada, which represents other media outlets (including my union, the Montreal Newspaper Guild)
- The European Union has passed a new directive on copyright that is being derided by critics as a ban on memes. It would require companies with large user-generated platforms (like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) to ensure no copyrighted material ends up on them. But how that would actually work is unclear.
News about people
- Mike Finnerty, host of Daybreak on CBC Radio One in Montreal, is taking a leave of absence for seven months to recharge his batteries and spend some time in London. Ainslie MacLellan will be filling in for most of the time he’s gone.
- Meanwhile, Quebec AM host Susan Campbell has written about her absence from the air in Quebec City, saying “a medical issue unexpectedly came up” just before Christmas, and while she had planned to come back for April, she will have to extend her medical leave until the fall.
- Jacob Serebrin has left the Montreal Gazette to move to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His business reporter job is up for grabs.
- Gazette managing editor Basem Boshra is back on Twitter after self-imposed exile in the wake of a tweet about Maxime Bernier’s political party.
- Global Montreal has added a new regular theatre segment with Bugs Burnett.
- Sacha Long is the new evening news anchor at CTV London. She replaces Camille Ross, who is moving to Kitchener.
- Shawn Simpson is the new morning man on TSN 1200 in Ottawa, replacing the laid off Steve Warne, who has since started a podcast.
- Postmedia has hired Mark Towhey as editor-in-chief for the Sun newspapers. Which is an interesting choice since Towhey doesn’t have experience as a journalist.
- Catherine Cano, former head of CPAC, has been named administrator for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
- Stephen Meurice is leaving as editor-in-chief of The Canadian Press on April 26.
- CTV Montreal’s Lori Graham got married.
- Former CTV Vancouver anchor Tamara Taggart has been nominated as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway for the next federal election. The riding has been held by New Democrat Don Davies since 2008.
- The Globe and Mail’s Kathryn Blaze Baum writes about her experience suffering a “mild” concussion that kept her sidelined from work for months.
- The family of Jean Lapierre is suing the insurance company of the pilot who was flying the plane whose crash caused his death and other members of his family.
- Adnan Virk, the Toronto-born sportscaster, speaks to the Washington Post about his firing from ESPN over a leak of information as he begins a new job at DAZN.
- Ian Buruma, who lost his job as editor at the New York Review of Books over a decision to publish a first-person essay by Jian Ghomeshi, writes a first-person essay of his own for the Financial Times.
- J-Source on Calgary campus radio station CJSW and its efforts at fundraising, and other community and campus stations trying to keep up.
- J-Source also profiles the paid subscription email newsletter Queen’s Park Today
- And J-Source also has a story on the Watrous Manitou, a small paper in Saskatchewan that was bought by a young man in 2014 who has tried to grow it since then.