Media News Digest: Reuters journalists freed, Leslie Roberts to CTV, and so. many. awards.

News about news

Journalism awards

It’s that season again.

Plus nominations for the Michener Award, the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Jackman award for excellence in journalism

At the CRTC

  • As the commission holds a review on Canadian broadcasting expenditure quotas, it is now in a fight with 14 broadcasters who have refused to hand over financial data on their digital media activities (which are not subject to CRTC licensing). The commission has directed them to comply with the request for information by June 3. (This is not a mandatory order, which would require a hearing before being issued.) The broadcasters are Bell, Corus, Rogers, Quebecor, APTN, Super Channel, Channel Zero, DHX, Fairchild, V, Pattison, RNC Media, TV5 and Zoomer Media.
  • The commission will hold a hearing July 11 to consider licence renewal applications in cases with serious non-compliance issues:
    • Super Channel — Issues related to spending requirements that owner Allarco agreed to when the channel was first licensed. The service has gone through bankruptcy protection and is still struggling financially.
    • CINU-FM Truro, N.S. (Hope Radio) — Program logs and Canadian music content quota
    • CJSO-FM Sorel, Que. — Reports, installing an emergency alerting system, and records of broadcasts related to previous noncompliance (CJSO says the broadcasts did go out, but a communication failure led to proof not being filed. It blamed other issues on software problems, and said the emergency alerting system would be installed by the end of 2019.)
    • CJMC-FM Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Que. (Bleu FM) — Annual returns
  • Though it has not scheduled a hearing, the CRTC has also published the licence renewal application of CINQ-FM (Radio Centre-Ville 102.3) in Montreal. The application includes 36 documents, most relating to the internal conflict that started in 2016 as the station went through a financial crisis. Though the financial situation has improved a bit with the controversial sale of airtime, the conflict continues. It’s unclear how or even if the CRTC plans to meddle in all that, but the commission has noted that the station failed to provide financial statements on time and has not yet implemented an emergency public alerting system. The station hired regulatory consultant Michel Mathieu to put those affairs in order, and an automated public alerting system is promised by the end of the year.
  • The same hearing also includes other less controversial items:
    • A new licence for Stingray’s PalmarèsADISQ channel, which has exceeded the subscriber threshold that allows it to be exempt from licensing
    • A new licence for an English-language community low-power FM radio station in Sheet Harbour, N.S.
    • A corporate restructuring of the Jim Pattison group.
  • The Bell vs Quebecor saga has taken another turn: Now Bell Media has filed its own CRTC complaint of undue preference against Videotron. Videotron, which uses mainly a pick-X-channels packaging system, and puts sports and “premium” channels in their own groups because they cost more, recently removed Super Écran and Crave (formerly The Movie Network) from the “Premium” category of channels, which means fewer people can easily find them and the only way to add them is to pay full price for them à la carte. Meanwhile, Quebecor is going to try going to court to overturn the CRTC decision ordering it to provide the TVA Sports signal to Bell while they negotiate a new carriage contract.
  • Bell’s response to interventions against its plan to shut down 28 CTV transmitters was brief, re-explaining its reasoning and saying it’s within its rights to do so.
  • Videotron has asked the CRTC to be relieved of the obligation to provide set-top box viewership data to Numeris, which is the company the industry has selected to compile that data for ratings purposes (it will logically combine with its survey data to increase ratings accuracy). Videotron doesn’t say why exactly it has a problem with Numeris — its detailed reasons are redacted from the public version of the application — but it wants to instead sell anonymized data directly to small broadcasters, who have a particular need for set-top box data because Numeris can’t get sufficiently large survey sample sizes for their smaller-scale ratings to be meaningful. Videotron does point out that it would like this to be a new revenue source for the company. Videotron’s licence, renewed last year, explicitly states that by Sept. 30, Videotron has to provide the data to “a national set-top box-based audience measurement system” or, if that isn’t operational, to individual broadcasters upon request, and at no cost.
  • The CRTC has approved a new licence for a low-power bilingual community radio station for Carlsbad Springs and Vars, Ontario. It replaces an exempt tourist information station and adds a second transmitter. The station is proposing entirely pre-recorded programming.
  • Zeste and Évasion, which were purchased by Quebecor, have now been integrated into TVA’s designated group, which means they can pool quotas together with other TVA services.
  • Community station CIHO-FM 96.3 Charlevoix, Que., has applied for licence renewal. It learned through that process that it had failed to file three years of financial statements with the commission, which it blamed on staff turnover and failure to pass long important information. The station has filed the missing statements and says it is putting measures in place to avoid a repeat of the situation.
  • Radio licence renewals for a full seven years:
  • Winnipeg ethnic station CKJS has been given another year to complete its transition from AM to FM.
  • French-language Timmins radio station CHYK-FM (Le Loup 104.1) has gotten around to asking the CRTC to drop its retransmitters in Hearst and Kapuskasing from its licence. It says both towns have French-language community stations and transmitters are too expensive to maintain. The decision was made back in 2016.
  • Another AM-to-FM conversion for CBC Radio: Schreiber, Ontario (90.9 MHz, 130 watts)
  • Dufferin Communications (Evanov Radio) has received an extension until Nov. 30, 2020 to move ethnic station CKJS (AM 810) in Winnipeg from AM to FM. Evanov tells the commission it has decided to build its own transmission tower in Winnipeg rather than rent space from Rogers or another tower owner. This is the first extension of an authorization granted in 2017.
  • Applications have been published by CBC to replace three radio transmitters in Flin Flon, Manitoba, with new ones using a common antenna. Frequencies and coverage areas will remain unchanged.
  • The commission has approved two new area codes covering Alberta (code 368, on May 15, 2021) and Saskatchewan (code 474, on Oct. 2, 2021). Both new codes cover the entire province.

At the CBC

Ethical reviews







  • Canadian emergency management agencies issued another test alert this week, except for Ontario and Quebec because they didn’t want to cause increased stress during a flooding emergency. The eight remaining provinces and three territories issued their alerts on schedule, and it appears all of them went out on LTE wireless networks and were received by at least some compatible phones. We won’t know how many people received them, but a survey by a company specializing in this kind of stuff showed 70% of respondents received the alerts. They’re conducting a new survey after this week’s alerts.


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