News about news
- The FPJQ, Quebec’s journalist federation, is organizing a weeklong festival of news media, with various talks and exhibitions related to journalism, April 29 to May 5.
- A Conservative Party fundraising campaign asked supporters to rate major media outlets based on how biased they are against conservatives.
- The town of Outlook, Saskatchewan says the local newspaper cannot ask it questions on behalf of citizens.
- A Newfoundland and Labrador appeals court dismissed a contempt of court charge against Justin Brake*, who acted as a journalist following a protest at Muskrat Falls that violated an injunction.
- The Quebecor case against parody website Journal de Mourréal went to court, and a surprise witness was RDI anchor Anne-Marie Dussault, who testified that a false story about her having a relationship with former minister Gaétan Barrette led to a lot of awkwardness from people who thought it was true. As Craig Silverman notes, the man behind this website also runs fake news site World News Daily Report. Its owner is arguing freedom of expression and freedom to parody, and says the website doesn’t make much money.
- Journalism awards announcements:
- Canadian Association of Journalists award finalists.
- RTDNA Central Region award winners: CBC Montreal takes home 10 awards, and Global Montreal one. They also join nominees for national awards, along with winners from the East, West and Prairie regions.
- RTDNA Network award finalists
- Finalists for the FPJQ’s Judith Jasmin awards. La Presse, Radio-Canada, le Journal de Montréal, Le Devoir and the Gazette have multiple nominations.
- Finalists for the FPJQ’s Antoine Desilets photojournalism awards.
At the CRTC
- Licence renewal applications by Bell and Shaw for their direct-to-home satellite TV services (Bell satellite TV and Shaw Direct) and satellite relay distribution services have been posted.
- Shaw is seeking renewal on the same terms, though it does note that it will end its “Local Television Satellite Solution initiative” — a free satellite TV service offered to people who lost local TV during the digital transition, that it promised as a benefit of the Shaw/Canwest deal — on Aug. 31. The program has seen 31,500 households get free basic satellite TV, exceeding the projected demand. To be clear (because I misread it at first), they’re not just going to stop offering free receivers, they’re cutting off people who already have them, unless they pay $25 a month for the limited basic plan. Shaw also notes in its brief that its upgrade from MPEG-2 to the more bandwidth-efficient MPEG-4 will be complete in January 2020 (it’s already complete for all HD channels).
- Bell is seeking two noteworthy amendments: one, retroactive justification for its policy of applying blackouts instead of simultaneous substitution of TV stations in some situations where they argue substitution is not feasible, and two, deletion of a condition of licence requiring it to add “43 additional television stations” in standard definition in the basic package. Bell argues they don’t want to remove the signals, but wants to take them out of basic and move them to a discretionary package to comply with the spirit of the skinny basic package. Comments are due by May 13.
- Blue Ant Media, which owns channels including Cottage Life, BBC Earth Canada, Love Nature and T+E, has asked the CRTC to reduce its “Programs of National Interest” quota, which reserves some Canadian content spending for high-quality programs like scripted dramas and comedies, long-form documentaries and awards shows, from 13.5% of revenues to 5%, even though it agreed to 13.5% in its latest licence renewal. The company says it shouldn’t be subject to a higher quota than major broadcasters — Rogers is also at 5%, Corus and Bell are 8.5% and 7.5% respectively. Its overall CanCon quotas would remain the same.
- The CRTC has authorized a licence amendment for Shaw’s cable systems in Kelowna to carry the MeTV subchannel of KVOS-TV in Bellingham, Washington. This helps set precedent for cable systems carrying subchannels of U.S. stations. The CRTC reasoned that the local station (a Global station also owned by the Shaw family) did not object to the request.
- The commission has approved a (hopefully final) technical change for CIDG-FM (Rebel 101.7) Ottawa, which will finally allow it to improve its signal, though it will be through a power increase alone instead of moving to a new transmitter site that would have been even better, as originally proposed when it swapped frequencies with a community station to open up its potential signal.
- Alberta Indigenous radio network CFWE-FM has applied to the CRTC for a new transmitter in Red Deer (88.7 MHz, 100kW), which it estimates would serve 12,615 Indigenous people in the region between Edmonton and Calgary.
- Rogers has filed an application to turn its Kiss radio transmitter in Vancouver at 104.9 FM into its own radio station, instead of a rebroadcaster of its Chilliwack station. By CRTC policy this prompts a consultation on whether to issue a call for applications for new radio stations.
- The commission has released its departmental plan for 2019-20 (mostly financial and strategic goals), and its forecast for 2020-21.
- The CRTC has done some internal reorganizing, moving Scott Hutton to the new position as chief of consumer, research and communications. Scott Shortliffe essentially swaps with Hutton, replacing him as executive director of broadcasting.
- The comment period has closed for 132 licence renewal applications for radio stations. Only eight of them generated any comments.
- That hearing next week to deal with TVA Sports is still going ahead.
- A CBC News story about money laundering in B.C. casinos prompted a complaint that it was biased in favour of the NDP government, and downplayed actions by the previous Liberals to bring the amount of such laundering down before it left office. The ombudsman dismissed the complaint, but did find one line in the story that may have given such an impression.
- Another complaint about CBC’s coverage of the political crisis in Venezuela, calling its questions to Juan Guaido “softball”, was dismissed.
- A viewer complained about interviews conducted in English on RDI’s 24/60 that were translated only through the use of subtitles. Though the ombudsman noted that people with reading difficulties or visual impairments might be left out by this, he found there was no breach of ethics in presenting interviews this way.
- An anti-vaccination activist complained about an episode of Les aventures du Pharmachien on ICI Explora, which she found mocked parents of children with autism. The ombudsman’s report says there was nothing of the sort, and the information presented in that episode was rigorously researched.
- DAZN has acquired the exclusive Canadian rights to English Premier League soccer for the next three seasons.
- April 17 is National Canadian Film Day, with Bell Media’s Crave, Starz, Super Écran and Cinépop, Corus’s MovieTime, IFC and Showcase, Hollywood Suite, Super Channel, OUTtv, DHX’s Family Channel, Blue Ant’s HIFI and APTN participating by airing Canadian movies.
- Corus has a new deal with the Canadian Country Music Association, which includes the rights to the CCMA Awards starting this year on Global TV. The awards formerly aired on CBC.
- Canal Savoir (CFTU-DT), Montreal’s non-profit educational TV station, has rebranded as Savoir média and revamped its programming to put more focus on digital content on its new website.
- CBC has cancelled its Street Legal reboot after just one season, citing poor ratings.
- Former Street Cents cast member Jonathan Torrens is working on a revival of sorts, a web series called Your Two Cents, which will also teach young people about consumer issues.
- Masterchef Canada winner Mary Berg has been given her own cooking series on CTV, called Mary’s Kitchen Crush. It airs Sundays at 7pm starting April 28.
- Production has begun on Breaking Wild, a 10-episode History Television docu-series about Indigenous cowboys in B.C. Set to air in winter 2020.
- Global’s new medical drama Nurses (working title) has announced its cast.
- Blue Ant Media has greenlit The Witches of Salem, a four-part docudrama for T+E as well as Travel Channel in the U.S.
- Corus has green-lit three new renovation/real estate series, to air on HGTV Canada but also available for international sales.
- Z is producing a new documentary series Rire sans tabous, in which comedian Jean-François Mercier deals with matters considered too sensitive for comedy.
- American OTT broadcasters still haven’t matched the power of the big Canadian networks. Bell Media’s Crave has picked up the Canadian rights to two Hulu series — Shrill and Veronica Mars.
- V has cancelled its reboot of La guerre des clans (Family Feud) after one season with a new host.
- Videotron has added Sportsnet 4K and Sportsnet One 4K, on channels 911 and 912 respectively.
- Super Écran is airing Game of Thrones simultaneously with HBO and HBO Canada, so francophone Canadians don’t have to worry about spoilers.
- Corus has acquired the Canadian operations of Kin, a lifestyle entertainment company.
- Hudson & Rex, the Citytv cop-dog drama, has been picked up in France and Italy.
- The nominees for the Gala Artis have been announced. TVA’s viewer’s choice awards has 70 nominations, and all 70 are white people.
- CTV Montreal’s local news on the weekend was pre-empted by a combination of The Masters and construction in the building.
- YouTube TV, which was supposed to be the low-cost alternative to traditional cable TV, now costs $50 (U.S.) a month.
- A bunch of Hollywood writers have fired their agents after they couldn’t reach a deal that would prevent conflicts of interests where those agents, rather than just representing their clients, get involved in productions directly.
He's back! If you hadn't heard, @WalterVenafro has returned to keep you company over your weekends on JAZZ.FM91. Join him on Saturdays and Sundays and kick back with some great jazz. ?
— JAZZ.FM91 (@JAZZFM91) April 14, 2019
- Most of the on-air personalities who quit Toronto’s Jazz.FM91 during its management crisis have since returned. Walter Venafro is the latest.
- Afternoon host and program director Mark Bergman has left Virgin Radio 95.9, fuelling speculation that Vinny Barrucco will be replacing him there. He’s been PD or “brand director” there since 2011, and with the station since 2000. Virgin was well ahead of competitor Q92 when Bergman took over but it has since seen its lead vanish, and it’s now well behind.
- The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein talks to some local morning radio hosts about the grind, in light of Mike Finnerty’s decision to take a seven-month leave to recharge.
- Radio-Canada is going to reformat its Montreal radio morning show after host Alain Gravel moves to a less intense role with the public broadcaster.
- Three people have resigned at Evanov Radio in Halifax.
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So time is running out for Montreal Gazette employees working at our current location, the Dominion Square Building at the corner of Peel and Ste-Catherine Streets across from… you guessed it, Dominion Square. We will be relocating a littler further north on Peel St in the months coming. This is a “little planets” view the building entrance… for those who are pano shooters. #montreal #montrealgazette #panorama #littleplanet #freevimptprint
- The Montreal Gazette will be moving out of its Dominion Square Building location soon, where it has been since 2003. Its new location will be nearby.
- SaltWire Network is making changes to newspapers in Newfoundland and Labrador: The Western Star is going from a paid daily to a free community weekly, and The Labradorian and The Aurora are merging into the Labrador Voice, a subscription weekly. The cuts will result in 30 layoffs.
- The Kelowna Daily Courier is dropping its Monday edition.
- Facebook has banned Faith Goldy and groups it has identified as dangerously alt-right.
- YouTube’s singular focus on engagement with its videos led to ignoring clear warning signs that some toxic stuff was being pushed out there by its algorithms.
- The government has completed its auction of 600 MHz spectrum — formerly used by UHF TV stations, and raised $3.47 billion. Rogers was the big spender, getting blocks in every region of the country. Bell surprised many by not buying anything at all (it says it will reuse its existing spectrum when it shuts down its CDMA network). Most of the regional players, including Videotron, stuck to their regions. One exception is Iristel, which serves the territories, buying a block in Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The Competition Bureau is investigating Bell’s sales practices, and we know this only because it filed a request in court for data from the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services.
News about people
Baby Gia ?? 04/05/19 pic.twitter.com/APRhM5p1Te
— Laura Casella (@La_Casella) April 6, 2019
- Global Montreal morning host Laura Casella has given birth to a second child, Gia. Two other babies at the station were also born recently.
- Global Montreal station manager Karen MacDonald will be given a RTDNA Central Region lifetime achievement award next month. Previous winners of this award include Bernard St-Laurent, Mutsumi Takahashi, Bill Haugland and Gord Sinclair.
- RTDNA Canada is also honouring Joe Schlesinger posthumously with a lifetime achievement award at the network level.
- Mary Anne Lavallee has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Postmedia.
- National Post editor-in-chief Anne-Marie Owens has stepped down to take a new job at McMaster University.
- Catherine Lévesque, Quebec parliamentary correspondent for HuffPost Québec, has been hired as Parliament Hill correspondent for Presse Canadienne.
- Bell Media says in a court document that CTV reporter Paul Bliss was fired after repeated accusations of sexual misconduct with coworkers.
- Former CTV Winnipeg news director and journalism instructor Stephen Vogelsang has been sentenced to three years for bank robberies.
- Québec solidaire MNA Catherine Dorion is no longer a contributor to Quebec City’s FM93, after the two lost confidence in each other.
- Former Citytv Montreal personality Wilder Weir is the new host at One in 100, an online ticket raffle website.
- Former CTV Montreal anchor Tarah Schwartz has started her new job at Plank, a digital design agency.
- Julie Snyder wants to do the talk show thing again.
- Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan has a book deal for reporting into the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman.
- Jeff Harrington has left CBC Montreal after completing his short-term replacement of Frank Cavallaro doing weather. He had a goodbye message for viewers.
- Bob Cole did his final Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, and Sportsnet honoured him with a pregame tribute.
News about companies
- Saltwire Network, which was created when the Halifax Chronicle-Herald bought Transcontinental’s Atlantic papers, is suing Transcontinental alleging that it overstated revenues, “hid material facts regarding the condition of its assets and was not forthcoming about a number of questionable business practices.”
- Glacier Media has sold its stake in stock data company Fundata for $55 million, and at the same time acquired Okanagan-region media company Castanet for $22 million (plus $2 million for its stake in Avenue Radio, which requires CRTC approval).
- Postmedia has released its quarterly earnings report. My employer’s financial situation hasn’t changed much. The company has reached a deal to merge its pension plans into the Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan, a move that seems to have union support because all workers would get defined benefits and the pension would be out of Postmedia’s control.
- Corus has announced its quarterly earnings. Not much news there.
- Rogers looks to have made more than $100 million from its sale of Texture, the magazine app, to Apple. Apple is shutting Texture down in favour of its new Apple News+ product.
- Alberta Venture magazine recaps the rocky road of Super Channel, the pay TV service that is still trying to compete with The Movie Network/Crave.
- Remember that photo of a bunch of Wisconsin white high school boys giving a Nazi salute in a class photo? The real story isn’t what you think.
- Journalist Mark Gardiner writes about Pierlucio Tinazzi, the hero of the Mont Blanc tunnel fire in 1999, and how errors in his reporting, that people were reluctant to correct because they didn’t want to sully a dead man’s reputation, led to an incorrect view of what really happened that day.
- Managing editor, Saskatoon StarPhoenix (deadline: April 26)
- Extended-Term Appointment in Digital Journalism Futures, Concordia University (deadline: May 10)
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misspelled Justin Brake’s name.