Category Archives: Media

What Bill C-11 means for online media

It’s done, Bill C-11, Canada’s new Online Streaming Act, has passed the House of Commons and Senate, received royal assent, and been made into law.

Welcome to the end times.

Or maybe not.

A few people have asked me to write about C-11, because they weren’t sure what it would mean. I don’t blame them. But on one hand I was a bit busy with stuff, and on the other hand, reading the bill it became clear that it’s designed not to be very specific about a lot of the things people actually care about. Instead, a lot of the details are just kind of left up to the CRTC, or to the government’s instructions to the commission. The law just establishes a legal framework for regulating online media, and corrects or updates various elements of the Broadcasting Act.

On May 12, the CRTC took the next step in this process, launching a formal consultation process for new regulations on broadcasting. It’s a long process, with a hearing in November, and they expect to actually have new rules put in place in 2024.

Here, I’ll explain a bit of what’s actually happening (and what’s not happening) with this new law and how it’s being implemented. In short: you’re probably not going to notice that much of a difference.

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Matthew Ross is ready to be uncancelled

It’s been half a year since Matthew Ross got cancelled for a tweet, and he’s finally ready to rebuild his public face.

“A tweet” might be an exaggeration. He expressed an opinion on Twitter, and then doubled down when criticized about it, until the backlash was so much he disabled his Twitter account, and lost his weekend morning show on TSN 690.

Now he’s doing what most dismissed radio personalities do these days: starting a video podcast. Called “Are You Game?”  it features Ross talking about sports — there’s an episode about the failed Expos-Rays plan, and another about Pierre Karl Péladeau and the Expos.

It’s low-budget, but it’s more about giving himself an outlet to express himself than it is about making money.

When Ross lost his show on TSN 690, I asked him if he wanted to talk about it. Like most people in similar situations, he declined, saying he was going through a lot and didn’t want to talk about it publicly yet. He said he’d get in touch when he was ready.

I didn’t expect I’d hear back, but a few weeks ago he reached out and said he was willing to talk now. We set up a video chat and I asked him about his life, his controversy and why he wants to put himself out there again after all that.

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Métro Média shuts down Montreal’s Corriere Italiano newspaper

Corriere Italiano, a 71-year-old Italian-language newspaper in Montreal, is shutting down.

The announcement was made Wednesday on its website, attributing the decision to owner Métro Média, which bought Corriere Italiano along with Métro and community newspapers in Montreal and Quebec City from former owner Transcontinental in 2018.

In a message to readers, editor-in-chief Fabrizio Intravaia laments that “this community will have less of a voice to express itself, to publicize its activities, its progress, its achievements.” He also seems to lay part of the blame at the feet of the community, asking if the community has supported the newspaper as much as the newspaper has supported it.

That phrasing might be apt in the sense that the paper has noticeably declined over the years, and its shutdown does not come as much of a shock. Its previous issue dated March 9 had only eight pages, despite dropping from a biweekly schedule to what appears to have been a monthly one.

Compare that with Il Cittadino Canadese, which still publishes weekly and whose latest issue is 24 pages and filled with ads.

It might be simple to suggest the community let Corriere die and rally behind the other paper. But Carole Gagliardi, daughter of Corriere Italiano’s founder, suggests giving the paper a “second life” in some unspecified way, and says she’s gotten support from the community.

Will we see an independent community-led resurgence, or is this truly the end of this media institution? Il tempo lo dirà.

Here’s what commitments Quebecor and Rogers made to get Shaw merger approved

It’s official: Rogers is finally buying Shaw.

The last approval necessary for the deal to go through was given this morning, with industry minister François-Philippe Champagne signing off on the transfer of wireless spectrum from Shaw to Videotron. The companies say they have given themselves an extra week to close the deal (and once that happens I’ll have a lot of changes to make to the media ownership chart).

Champagne’s approval comes with a lot of conditions, and rather than just have them make promises, he had them sign contracts (Videotron, Rogers) with provisions for fines if they break their commitments.

Here’s what those contracts say:

Rogers

  • Must spend $1 billion building out its network to give more people 50 megabit download/10 megabit upload internet access in rural areas, at the same price as urban areas
  • Must “consult with Indigenous communities to create Indigenous-owned and operated internet service providers” using Rogers networks.
  • Must spend at least $2.5 billion on 5G coverage in western Canada within five years
  • Must spend at least $3 billion more on its network aside from that $2.5 billion above
  • Must offer low-cost internet access to more low-income Canadians, and promote that offering
  • Must establish its “Western Canadian Headquarters” in Calgary (what qualifies as headquarters is not defined) and keep it there for 10 years
  • Must “create 3,000 new jobs in western Canada” and maintain them for 10 years
  • Must keep prices the same (or better) for Shaw Mobile customers for five years (Shaw Mobile customers stay with Rogers as they’re bundled with Shaw cable)
  • Must report annually on its progress on these commitments, and post that report to its website.

If Rogers “materially” breaches these conditions, it can be fined up to $100 million a year, or $1 billion total. These are maximum fines, no matter how many conditions are breached.

Exceptions to the fines include:

  • They can’t apply before the deadlines (so a “within five years” commitment can only be fined after those five years, and only for the remaining five years)
  • They can’t apply after 10 years
  • They can’t apply in case of “force majeure” including labour disruption, natural disaster or supply chain issues

Quebecor/Videotron

  • Must keep Freedom Mobile’s pricing (or better), and offer 10% more data, for five years
  • Must offer Freedom pricing at “similar” rates to Videotron’s offer in Quebec
  • Must extend service to Manitoba (via a virtual network) within three years, at prices similar to Quebec
  • Must “maintain an equivalent number of direct and indirect jobs for skilled workers”
  • Must offer new plans in Freedom Mobile’s markets at least 20% below Big Three plans as they existed on Feb. 10.
  • Must offer 5G in its markets within two years
  • Must confidentially share business plans with the industry department upon request
  • Must publish yearly reports on its progress (excluding confidential info)

Videotron has a similar fine structure as Rogers, but it only applies as of Year 3, and has a limit of $25 million total per year, or up to $200 million total. And for whatever reason (Videotron’s lawyers not as good?) its “force majeure” clause is more restrictive, and doesn’t include things like supply chain problems or employee lockouts.

In both cases, the agreement expires after 10 years, so in April 2033, none of these commitments will apply anymore.

What this means

As a recap, Rogers will acquire all Shaw’s cable assets in western Canada, plus the Shaw Direct satellite TV service, Shaw Mobile (customers but not spectrum) and other Shaw assets. Videotron will acquire Freedom Mobile, which serves B.C., Alberta and southern/eastern Ontario, including all its spectrum holdings.

The broadcasting assets involved are minimal, consisting only of the community channels and video-on-demand licences associated with Shaw Cable. Shaw sold the rest of its broadcasting assets to Corus, which continues to operate as a separate company controlled by the Shaw family.

The government is requiring Videotron also expand to Manitoba within three years, because its last major wireless merger (Bell buying MTS) failed to produce a maintain fourth player in that province. Bell sold some MTS subscribers to Telus and others to Xplornet, which created Xplornet Mobile out of the deal, but Xplornet Mobile shut down last year.

So within three years, Videotron will be the fourth wireless player in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, southern/eastern Ontario and Quebec. That leaves Saskatchewan (SaskTel), northern Ontario (TBayTel) and Atlantic Canada (Eastlink) covered by smaller regional players.

Videotron won’t have wireline networks outside Quebec, which limits its ability to bundle. It acquired VMedia, a third-party internet and TV access provider who provides services using incumbent telecom companies’ networks, as a way to offer a bundle package in the rest of the country. We’ll see how successful they are.

Winners and losers

At first glance, this seems like bad news for a lot of people who don’t like concentration in Canada’s telecom space. It definitely makes Rogers a bigger player overall, which further distorts the disparity between the big guys and the smaller and midsize guys.

For wireless customers in the Freedom territory, it’s a bit of a win, because prices will stay the same or even go down. If the alternative was Freedom shutting down like Xplornet did, that would have been much worse. And Videotron has a much more solid foundation.

For TV subscribers, the difference in competition is relatively low since Rogers and Shaw don’t overlap. The exception is Shaw Direct, which means in theory a Rogers cable TV subscriber in southern Ontario won’t have a satellite service competing for their business because it’s also owned by the same company.

For broadcasters not owned by Rogers, they face a much larger opponent at the bargaining table. If Rogers wasn’t a must-have for any cable TV channel wanting carriage in Canada, it is now. Rogers will be able to demand conditions that are more favourable to itself.

One big loser will be Global News. The CRTC policy that effectively killed community TV funding allows TV providers to funnel money to related local TV stations. When Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct become Rogers, that funding of about $13 million a year will stop flowing to Global News and start flowing to Rogers’ CityNews. Global will then become an “independent” TV broadcaster and be eligible for the Independent Local News Fund, but funding for that fund was established based on the number of independent stations at the time, and it doesn’t have $13 million extra to give to Global. This means not only will Global get less money, but all other independent TV stations (NTV, CHEK, CHCH, and stations owned by Pattison, Stingray, RNC Media, Télé Inter-Rives, Thunder Bay and Miracle Channel) will also get less until the CRTC or federal government can sort out what to do about it.

Five years after La Presse, seven more French-language newspapers go online-only

Are we witnessing, finally, the death of the newspaper?

I don’t necessarily mean it in a bad way. Most of the time when you hear about a newspaper or magazine going “online-only” it’s a cost-cutting measure that signals the publication’s impending death (no matter how much they claim otherwise).

But as the business model for print media changes, the balance appears to be tipping to the point where it makes more and more sense to go online-only even if you still employ dozens or even hundreds of professionals doing daily journalism.

La Presse publisher Guy Crevier explained the math to me 10 years ago, before that publication decided to make the big leap. Publishing a print edition comes with a lot of overhead costs. The pages have to be designed, both in terms of news content and advertising. The newspaper needs to be printed, either at your own plant or by a third party. The newspaper then needs to be distributed through a network of delivery people who need to work before sunrise every day the paper publishes. And you need a subscriptions department to manage print subscriptions and deal with all the issues that come up.

What’s more, many of those costs don’t scale linearly. As print subscribers and print ad revenue dwindle, it costs more per subscriber to produce. And subscribers will tolerate price increases only so much.

In January 2016, La Presse took the first step toward weaning itself from its identity as a newspaper by cutting down to one print issue a week. Two years later, it abandoned print entirely.

Other once-daily newspapers have also taken that first step in going weekly, like Métro. Some, like Saltwire and Postmedia publications, have taken a more gradual approach, dropping Monday editions.

More newspapers dropping the paper part

On Wednesday, the Coopérative nationale de l’information indépendante (CN2i) announced its six newspapers — Le Soleil in Quebec City, Le Droit in Ottawa-Gatineau, La Tribune in Sherbrooke, Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivières, Le Quotidien in Saguenay and La Voix de l’Est in Granby — would cease producing print editions at the end of the year. The six newspapers had all dropped down to weekly publication at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, mere weeks after they had been sold to employee cooperatives out of the ashes of Groupe Capitales Médias. (This month the group announced its cooperatives would merge into one to cut down on overhead.)

The CN2i sugarcoated the announcement with news about a new website and mobile app, saying this was the plan all along. They expect to drop 100 print-centric jobs but will do what they can to encourage voluntary departures and otherwise minimize layoffs.

A week ago, Quebecor’s 24 Heures, which was born as a free commuter daily in 2001, announced it too would cease publishing in print. A note to readers was not quite as upbeat as the one from CN2i, talking about grieving but still promising to be active online and social media.

How long before more take the plunge? Maybe not that long.

Quebecor’s Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec took pride in proclaiming that they would remain print newspapers when La Presse transitioned away from print. But even they eventually had to face the music, and announced in December that they would no longer be publishing in print on Sundays.

The Montreal Gazette, my employer, has also stuck to print editions, partly because its print readership skews older, but even then it dropped Monday print editions.

Le Devoir has also stuck to print editions, in part to separate itself from La Presse. But I would not be surprised if they too eventually decide print isn’t worth it anymore (especially because they’re printed by Quebecor and at the whims of the business decisions of Quebecor’s printing plants).

Will it work?

A decade after the launch of La Presse+, which the publication quickly dubbed its flagship product, things seem to be going well. In its latest annual report, it reported a surplus, which it is using to build a reserve fund. And while the nonprofit is accepting donations from readers, it would still have had a surplus even without those donations. It says 80% of its revenue still comes from advertising.

That’s not to say the iPad app is a runaway success. La Presse has put more effort into its website and mobile apps, understanding that it can’t push everyone toward tablets. And the Toronto Star’s StarTouch project, based on La Presse+, was a spectacular and expensive failure.

But this is proof there’s hope out there for what were once daily subscription newspapers. If they are willing to invest and innovate, and stop trying to prop up the old business model by cutting expenses until they whittle themselves into nothing, they might be able to come out of this.

Unfortunately, for a lot of publications, the focus isn’t so much on innovation as it is on finding magical solutions like getting Facebook and Google to give them a bunch of money.

How CRTC policy changes could affect commercial radio in Montreal

Last month, the CRTC released its long-awaited review of its Commercial Radio Policy. The policy determines what standard regulations will apply to commercial AM and FM radio stations in Canada, covering things like Canadian content quotas, ownership limits, mandatory financial contributions and local programming minimums.

The industry pushed for some big changes in the policy, which has been a long time coming (the review of French music quotas started back in 2015 but was delayed in part because for a time the commission didn’t have enough francophone commissioners).

What they got was a lot of the same. Canadian and French-language content quotas are basically unchanged, local programming is still expected but not required, and stations still need to ask permission if they change between a mainly talk format and a mainly music format on FM. But there were a few changes that could make a big difference, in particular for stations in Montreal. Let’s get into them:

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Jeremy White leaves The Beat 92.5

Jeremy White

Jeremy White, the kid from Kahnawake who has been the evening host at The Beat 92.5 just about since its launch, is no longer at the station.

White tells me he left of his own accord and decided in November he didn’t want to work a shift that started at 7pm anymore, and the company wasn’t interested in letting him voice-track his show earlier in the day.

The Beat has already scrubbed all reference to him on its website and has the generic “MTL’s Perfect Mix” listed in his time slot.

White is still on Corus-owned Energy 93.5 in Toronto in the same time slot and his Jeremy White Show podcast/YouTube channel. He tells me that while he isn’t looking for other radio work at the moment, he’s open if someone wants to suggest another gig that can be voice-tracked. “But going to a station and doing a shift just ain’t in the cards anymore for me.”

Several people (including one of White’s former program directors at The Beat) have noted that White would seem to be a good fit for CHOM when you consider his more hard-rock musical tastes. But nothing has ever materialized on that front and there’s no indication anything ever will.

But if someone at Bell Media wants a new voice for a weekend rock station countdown show, one just became available.

CRTC once again threatens Montreal’s Haitian radio station with licence revocation

“The Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner.”

With that standard phrasing, the CRTC is once again threatening Montreal radio station CJWI 1410 AM (CPAM Radio Union) with revoking its licence over repeated failure to meet licence conditions.

The owners of the station, and two others in a similar situation (CICR-FM Parrsboro, N.S., and CKVM-FM Ville-Marie, Que.) have been called to appear at a hearing on April 5 to explain why their licences should be renewed despite their repeated failures, including in their current licence terms.

The station’s last licence renewal came in 2020, along with several mandatory orders requiring it to comply with its conditions of licence, and just after the commission refused to renew the licence of sister station CJMS 1040.

The latest apparent failures (CJWI is still being given the chance to explain how they are still in compliance) relate to a regulation requiring they provide a “complete and accurate” list of all musical pieces played on the air, and a requirement that at least 35% of non-pop music played be Canadian.

In correspondence with the commission, CJWI blamed the former on software it was using that did not count musical selections played for less than 12 seconds, and blamed the latter on the difficulty of finding Canadian specialty music of interest to the Haitian community.

If CJWI is found to be in non-compliance again, it would be the fifth consecutive licence term in which the station is not complying with its licence conditions. And it would be the second consecutive licence term in which it has failed to comply with a mandatory order requiring it to respect the regulation about having a complete and accurate music list. These are very serious matters and the CRTC can’t just let them go and maintain credibility as a regulator.

But revoking CJWI’s licence, or refusing to renew it, might not be the best thing for the broadcasting system. There isn’t much demand for AM frequencies these days (1040 AM remains vacant) and this is the only station specifically serving the Haitian community.

In a separate but related application also being heard in this proceeding, CJWI is asking the CRTC for amendments to its conditions of licence regarding music quotas. Since the CRTC is saying it failed to meet those quotas, it is unlikely to grant such changes.

Other stations are also in front of the commission to have their licences renewed, but with less ominous stakes. They include Radio Ville-Marie (CIRA-FM 91.3) in Montreal, which the CRTC says failed to meet Canadian and French-language music quotas.

The CRTC is accepting comments on these files until Feb. 9. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

Journal de Montréal/Québec will stop printing Sunday editions in 2023

After La Presse, the Montreal Gazette and countless other newspapers across Canada and around the world, the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec are becoming the latest to announce they’re reducing their print schedules.

In a note to readers published Thursday evening, they announced they will no longer publish on Sundays in 2023. The last Sunday print edition will be Dec. 18, before the two holiday Sundays.

They were among only four mainstream (English or French-language) newspapers in the country still publishing print edition seven days a week. The only ones still publishing after this will be the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun. Most others are either six days a week (Monday-Saturday), five days (Tuesday-Saturday) or something less often than that.

The Journals (their notes had virtually identical wording) promise additional content in their Saturday papers to carry them through the weekend. Other papers that dropped Sunday editions, like La Presse in 2009 and the Gazette in 2010, made similar moves. But having a slightly bigger Saturday edition doesn’t compensate for not having a Sunday one.

The move is kind of inevitable, and I’m surprised it took this long, frankly. Not only does laying out, printing and distributing a paper cost a lot these days, but with no other newspapers publishing on Sundays, the Journal de Montréal couldn’t share delivery costs with their competitors. (Many of the independent contractors delivering newspapers in Montreal deliver multiple papers simultaneously.)

The Journal made it a point of touting how it wasn’t abandoning print readers like its competitors were. Only three years ago, it had a slogan about how it was a “real newspaper.” But, as the editor’s note says, times have changed. Publisher Lyne Robitaille took swipes at the big tech giants, as many newspapers like to do these days, as well as CBC/Radio-Canada, which Quebecor has long considered an unfair competitor because of its government subsidies.

The truth is that this is a reflection of both changes in readership habits and changes in business models. A new federal government bill to somehow force Facebook and Google to pay newspapers may bring some money back into the industry, but don’t expect the Sunday newspaper to return. The economic fundamentals simply aren’t there anymore.

It’s the end of an era. And if something spectacular happens on a Saturday, you’ll need to wait until Monday morning to get a sheet of paper that announces it in a way that makes it feel real.

CRTC orders Canadian TV providers to offer The News Forum to subscribers

Seven years after the Sun News Network shut down, Canada once again has a fifth national news network in the eyes of the CRTC.

On Tuesday, the commission determined that The News Forum, a conservative low-budget news discussion channel that tries to be a bit more serious than Sun News was, can be classified as a national mainstream news network, and get the same class of licence as CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, RDI and LCN. The big perk of that licence class is that all licensed Canadian TV providers must now add The News Forum to their systems, offer it to their subscribers, and package it with other news services.

Subscribers are not forced to add the channel to their packages, but this will undoubtedly increase the total subscriber base, especially since not all Canadian providers have added TNF to their systems so far. (Bell, Rogers, Telus and SaskTel have, but Cogeco and Videotron haven’t yet.) And more subscribers will mean more revenues, especially as this status gives TNF more power in negotiating wholesale rates with providers.

In May, the CRTC denied a similar application from TNF, finding that its schedule did not show it providing updated news reports at least every 120 minutes. TNF adjusted its schedule and applied again for the status.

While the schedule has been adjusted, not much has changed with the channel. Looking at its YouTube channel, it’s still mainly talking heads having long conversations on various public affairs topics. There are no actual journalists or news stories per se, and the bent is still right-wing with former Conservative politicians like Tony Clement and Tanya Granic Allen hosting shows. And it relies very heavily on repeats to fill the schedule, with just a couple of hours of original programming a day, though they have added new shows recently.

There’s a chance that with some new revenue The News Forum could invest in its programming, hire journalists and start looking more like an all-news channel that provides an alternative to CTVNC and CBCNN. But with video views on YouTube in the single and double digits, it has a long way to go before attracting people’s attention.

The end of the Monday newspaper

If you’re a print subscriber to the Montreal Gazette, you didn’t get a copy delivered this morning.

It’s not an error, it was a choice by my employer Postmedia, which has also ended print distribution of Monday editions of the Sun and Province in Vancouver, Herald and Sun in Calgary, Journal and Sun in Edmonton, and Citizen and Sun in Ottawa.

“The decision reflects the rapidly changing news consumption habits of our readers, the needs of our advertisers and the escalating costs of printing and delivering a printed product,” wrote Gerry Nott, Senior Vice President, Editorial, in a note published in those newspapers.

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Numeris publishes its final public radio ratings

It’s the end of an era: After years of Numeris (formerly BBM Canada) publishing a bare minimum of statistics on radio ratings in Canada’s five largest markets, it will now publish no data at all.

A statement on its website reads “Effective the start of the 2022-23 broadcast year (August 29, 2022), the Radio Topline Reports will no longer be produced. The final report will encompass the period ending on August 28, 2022.”

That report came out last week. It showed about the same as previous reports did, with CJAD 800 leading the pack on the anglophone side and 98.5 FM leading in French, as they always do.

Numeris (which is owned by the broadcasters) hasn’t explained why it made this decision. The result is that the only people who have access to even the most basic data will be those who are Numeris members — the broadcasters themselves as well as ad agencies and others who can afford the budget.

So we’re left to whatever (self-serving) statements they make about the ratings every three months. Fantastic.

Anyway, here’s what it looks like, one last time, for Montreal’s English market:

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CRTC approves Christian radio transmitter in Pointe-Claire

Christian Hit Radio’s CHRI-FM Ottawa is expanding to Pointe-Claire.

On Thursday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved an application from CHR to add a rebroadcasting transmitter at the Lakeside Heights Baptist Church to serve the West Island community.

The 51-watt FM transmitter will be at 90.7 MHz, and very limited in its service area, including parts of Dorval, Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Theoretical coverage area of a proposed retransmitter of CHRI-FM in Pointe-Claire

People in the rest of Montreal won’t be able to hear it, because of interference from CKUT 90.3 but more importantly another transmitter also on 90.7 FM in the Saint-Laurent borough.

In its decision, the commission noted that there isn’t an English-language religious radio station with Pointe-Claire in its primary service area. It also noted that there are other frequencies available that could serve Pointe-Claire, so this application would not exhaust available channels. (Montreal as a whole is saturated on FM, but there are still ways to cover parts of it on certain frequencies, though each new transmitter makes the task a bit harder.)

CHRI, which mainly broadcasts Christian music, has two years to implement the new transmitter, unless they request an extension. They have similar rebroadcasting transmitters already in Pembroke (100.7) and Cornwall (88.1), both of which are low-power. As rebroadcasting transmitters, they do not produce any original content and simply repeat the programming of the Ottawa main station, as the Pointe-Claire transmitter will.

What we know (and don’t) about the Lisa LaFlamme story

In case you’ve been in a coma since Monday, you know that CTV News has ended its contract with Lisa LaFlamme, the chief anchor and senior editor of CTV National News.

Since then, every day has brought new revelations, questions and rumours about what happened and why. I have no original reporting on this, nor any insider knowledge or insight, but I do have a good sense of what reporting can be trusted as fact and what sizes of salt grains should be taken with the rest. So here’s my compilation of what’s been reported so far:

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RNC Media kills Vibe brand to create new BPM Sports radio network

A few years after failing to sell the station, RNC Media is doubling — nay, tripling — down on its sports-talk station 91.9 Sports and expanding its content to two other stations: CFTX-FM 96.5/107.5 in Ottawa-Gatineau, and CHXX-FM 100.9 in Donnacona (Quebec City). Both are currently pop music stations branded as “Vibe” and will switch on Aug. 29, when all three stations become “BPM Sports”.

I spoke with Yves Bombardier, BPM’s program director, about the change, for this story at Cartt.ca. In short, he wants to expand the audience to those who wouldn’t normally listen to sports-talk radio. Bringing in people like former mayor Denis Coderre and former TSN 690 host Tony Marinaro as regular contributors will help with that.

The change has some challenges, beyond the usual ones involving staffing, scheduling and branding.

For one, CFTX and CHXX are both licensed as music stations, which means they must ensure at least 50% of their content is music. Bombardier tells me they will only run the morning, noon, afternoon drive and weekend morning shows from the network and be music the rest of the time, at least for now. An application to the CRTC will be forthcoming, either to allow an exception for game broadcasts to not count toward that 50%, or to switch the stations to a primarily talk format.

The other challenge is the lack of local content for either Gatineau or Quebec City. On evenings when there is no live event broadcast like a CF Montréal or Laval Rocket game, Jordan Boivin will host “La Tribune Capitale” from Quebec City on the network. Otherwise, all programming is coming from Montreal. There are no distinct local shows for Quebec City or Gatineau, and no journalists yet to cover their sports news (Bombardier wants to hire some, but there’s no date for when that would happen).

Until then, Boivin will cover Quebec City and contribute to other shows, while Gatineau will be covered by the teams at RNC-owned TVA affiliate CHOT and WOW Gatineau.

RNC’s announcement is here, and lists some of the new hires, including Paul Houde, fresh off losing his show at 98.5 FM (he said Wednesday he’s looking into getting his brother Pierre Houde to collaborate as well). He will host the weekend morning show.

As for Vibe, the two stations shared programming and had only four hosts. Patrice Nadeau announced he is moving to Quebec City sister station CHOI Radio X. I haven’t seen any public statements by the others, Camille Felton, Me?ghan Labrecque and Catherine (Peach) Paquin.

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