Monthly Archives: October 2019

Bell lays out its plans for $20-million purchase of V network

Bell Media is proposing to bring V’s local news broadcasts in-house, but otherwise isn’t putting much substantive on the table to convince the CRTC it should be allowed to acquire the V network of television stations in Quebec for $20 million.

The CRTC published the application on Tuesday, setting a hearing date of Feb. 12 in Montreal to hear the application. Bell is proposing to buy the five V stations (CFAP-DT Quebec City, CFJP-DT Montreal, CFRS-DT Saguenay, CFKS-DT Sherbrooke and CFKM-DT Trois-Rivières), plus digital assets like, but leave the specialty channels Elle Fictions (formerly MusiquePlus) and MAX (formerly Musimax) to a yet-to-be-named company owned by the current owners of V.

V’s affiliate stations in Gatineau, Abitibi, Rimouski and Rivière-du-Loup, owned by RNC Media and Télé Inter-Rives, are unaffected by the transaction, and Bell says it intends to renew its affiliation agreements with them when they expire in 2020.

In the brief included in the application, Bell and V say the conventional TV network is continuing to lose money, despite the ratings gains it has generated and the synergies from owning two specialty channels (which Bell had to sell off to get its acquisition of Astral Media approved in 2013). Groupe V Média says it has lost almost $7 million in the past two years.

“For a small independent broadcaster in the Quebec market, these losses cannot be supported and have begun to have an impact on its other services,” the application says.

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Media News Digest: Election stuff, CHCH’s new late-night vanity show, Mike Boone retires from Habs blogging

News about news

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CRTC questions Bell TV’s community programming practices

Four years after the CRTC found Videotron failed to comply with its obligations related to community television programming, the commission is taking a very critical look at Bell Canada’s community TV services, with questions suggesting it is concerned Bell is inappropriately redirecting funding that was supposed to go to community TV in small Atlantic Canadian communities toward large productions out of Toronto and Montreal that are essentially spinoff shows of commercial productions that air on Bell Media TV channels.

In a notice of consultation posted last month, the commission published applications for licence renewal for Bell Fibe and Bell Aliant TV services in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec. The applications, which include 42 documents, shows repeated rounds of questions over two years about Bell’s community TV operations, which operate under the Bell TV1 brand (formerly Bell Local).

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Highlights of Quebec’s $50-million media aid package

Today, the Quebec government announced tax measures to support print media companies, as the finance department’s publication titles it. It estimates the cost at about $50 million a year by 2023-24.

Here’s what it contains (I’ve bolded key terms):

New wage tax credit

The main measure is a new refundable 35% tax credit for “corporations that produce and disseminate print media that are recognized as eligible media.”

Calculated on employee wages, the credit is capped to a maximum of $26,250 per employee, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019.

Eligible corporations

Eligible corporations are those that own eligible media at least a year old that “must consist in the production and daily or periodic dissemination (at least 10 times a year) — by means of a print publication, an information website or a mobile application dedicated to information — of original written information content” as described below.

The following are specifically not eligible for the tax credit:

  • Corporations exempt from income taxes
  • Crown corporations like the CBC
  • Broadcasting corporations (radio or television)

Eligible content

To be eligible, a publication must produce “original written information content, which must pertain to general interest news, be specifically intended for the Québec public and cover at least three of the following information topics”:

  • politics
  • municipal affairs
  • international sector
  • culture
  • business and the economy
  • local interest news
  • miscellaneous news items

Content that doesn’t meet that standard includes:

  • content from a press agency or another media
  • specialized content pertaining to a type of personal, recreational or professional activity and geared specifically towards a group, association or category of persons
  • content for which a compensation is paid by a third party or a partnership
  • content of an advertising or promotional nature, such as an advertorial
  • theme-based content on, for example, hunting and fishing, decoration or science

So publications that mainly consist of press releases or sponsored content, or are geared toward specific hobbies and consumers, are not eligible. But publications that have some of this content might still be eligible. It says only that this content must be “on an incidental basis” and provides no quantitative measure.

Eligible employee

To be eligible, an employee the tax credit is applied to must:

  • “report for work at an establishment situated in Quebec” or outside Quebec if 75% of employees work in Quebec
  • not be a shareholder of the company or partnership, or a member of a coop having more than 10% of voting rights
  • works at least 26 hours a week for at least 40 weeks
  • devote at least 75% of their time to “directly undertaking or supervising activities relating to the production of original written information content for dissemination purposes” or “the carrying out of information technology activities related to the production or dissemination of such content.”

Eligible work


  • research
  • information gathering
  • fact checking
  • photography
  • writing
  • editing
  • design
  • other content-preparation activities
  • management or operation of computer systems, application or technology infrastructure
  • operation of a customer relations management service
  • management or operation of a marketing information system designed to raise the visibility of the media and promote it to an existing or potential clientele
  • any other activity of a similar nature that could be called a management or operating activity for the purposes of the eligible media


  • tasks related to digital conversion activities of a print media
  • administrative tasks of an individual
  • operations management
  • accounting
  • finance
  • legal affairs
  • public relations
  • communications
  • contract prospecting
  • human and material resources management

Digital transformation tax credit

The refundable tax credit for digital transformation of print media, announced in 2018 under the Couillard government, will be extended a year until Dec. 31, 2023. The 35% tax credit, also applied to wages, has similar eligibility criteria for the corporations, and a maximum of $7 million a year.

Extension of aid programs

Existing programs to support written news companies will be extended to 2023-24 and enhanced. No details were provided.

Full exemption from recycling tax

Taxes imposed on newspapers to compensate for the costs of recycling what they print will be effectively eliminated by increasing support to RecycleMédias to completely offset those costs.


The government is also announcing that its advertising placement policies will be reviewed to “better support regional media.” No details were provided.