Tag Archives: APTN

A white guy’s review of Mohawk Girls

Tuesday night was the first time most people in the Montreal area got to see the new TV series Mohawk Girls, a “dramedy” produced by Tracey Deer that is set and produced in Kahnawake and airs on OMNI and APTN.

The series has been a long time in the making, and the first season was actually shot two years ago. It got a good deal of attention when it was being produced then, and even more so now that it’s actually on the air.

I watched the first two episodes as they aired on APTN tonight, both as an amateur TV critic and as a regular TV viewer interested in good storytelling. I’m not an expert on Mohawk culture, nor am I an expert on television production, but I’ll offer some thoughts of how I personally see the series so far.

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CRTC’s mandatory carriage decisions: Mostly status quo

The CRTC’s long-awaited decision on mandatory carriage came out today. While everyone’s attention was on Sun News Network, which was denied a mandatory carriage order but thrown a bone with a review of rules concerning the distribution of Canadian news channels — see my analysis of that decision here — there were a bunch of decisions here. For the most part, proposals for new services were denied and existing services were renewed, some at slightly higher rates.

The exceptions are these:

  • TV5’s proposal for mandatory distribution across Canada, in exchange for providing a second feed focused on francophone communities outside Quebec, was approved
  • AMItv Français, a French-language described video service that would be a sister network to AMItv, was approved
  • The Nunavut and Northwest Territories’ request for mandatory distribution of their parliamentary channel on Bell and Shaw satellite services was approved
  • ARTV has been awarded an order requiring all digital cable providers offer the service to subscribers, though that can be on a discretionary basis, and at a negotiated rate
  • Avis de recherche was denied renewal of its mandatory distribution order, though it is being given until Aug. 31, 2015, to work out a new business model if it wants to stay alive

Here, in chart form, is what was proposed and what the CRTC decided for each channel:

Channel Description Language Current fee Requested fee Approved fee Conditions Notes
ACCENTS Francophone minority communities French N/A $0.25 Denied Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
All Points Bulletin Police bulletins English N/A $0.06 (E) Denied Licence renewed as non-mandatory service
AMI-audio Readings of news articles English $0.04 (E) $0.04 (E) $0.04 (E) Licence renewed
AMItv Described video English $0.20 (E), $0 (F) $0.20 (E), $0 (F) $0.20 (E), $0 (F) Licence renewed
AMItv Français Described video French N/A $0 (E), $0.30 (F) $0 (E), $0.28 (F) New licence approved
APTN Aboriginal English, French and Aboriginal languages $0.25 $0.40 $0.31 Licence renewed
ARTV Arts and culture French N/A N/A N/A Service has access rights across Canada, but remains discretionary Licence was renewed as part of larger CBC licence renewals
Avis de recherche Police bulletins French $0.06 $0.08 $0.06 Service remains mandatory only in Quebec, only until Aug. 31, 2015 Licence renewed as non-mandatory service until 2020
Canadian Punjabi Network Punjabi programs Punjabi N/A $0 Denied Had requested mandatory distribution only in areas with high Punjabi-speaking population. Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
Canal M Audio reading service French $0.02 (F) $0.04 (F) $0.02 (F) Licence renewed
CPAC House of Commons and other public affairs programming English and French $0.11 $0.12 $0.12 Licence renewed
Described Video Guide Audio service of described video programming information English N/A $0.02 (E) Denied Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
Dolobox User-generated content English N/A $0.06 to $0.08 Denied Service remains licenced but has yet to launch
EqualiTV Programming about people with disabilities English N/A $0.25 Denied Service remains licenced but has yet to launch
FUSION Youth/user-generated content English N/A $0.32 (E), $0.16 (F) Denied Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
IDNR-TV Natural resources English/French N/A $0 Denied Licence renewed as non-mandatory service
Legislative assemblies of Nunavut and NWT Legislative hearings English/other N/A $0 $0 Applies only to satellite services Terrestrial distributors in the territories already carry these channels
Maximum Television Video-on-demand English N/A N/A Denied Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
Starlight Canadian movies English N/A $0.40 Denied Licence denied as it was dependent on mandatory distribution
Sun News Right-wing news English N/A $0.18 (E), $0.09 (F) Denied The CRTC is looking at setting new rules about distribution of Canadian news channels. Will continue as non-mandatory service
TV5 and TV5 UNIS Francophones outside Quebec French N/A $0.30 $0.28 (F), $0.24 (E) Both channels combined must produce at least 50% Canadian content; Order comes into effect only after TV5 UNIS’s launch Dissenting opinion from Candice Molnar saying service does not qualify for distribution order. Licence renewed
Vision TV Faith programming English N/A $0.12 Denied Licence renewed as non-mandatory service
TOTAL $0.60 (E), $0.44 (F) $2.72 (E), $2.47 (F) $0.91 (E), $1.07 (F) New distribution orders in effect until Aug. 31, 2018.

(F) denotes fees in markets with a majority francophone population, and (E) denotes all other markets. For simplicity, I’ve included Quebec-only distribution orders as French-language markets, though the two definitions are not identical.

Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list of mandatory carriage channels. CBC News Network (in French-language markets), RDI (in English-language markets) and The Weather Network/MétéoMédia also have mandatory distribution at non-zero rates.

UPDATE: L’Express Ottawa speaks to the people behind ACCENTS, who say the CRTC’s decision was flawed and they don’t believe TV5 will properly fulfill the mandate of giving a voice to francophones outside of Quebec.

Mohawk Girls get noticed

Mohawk Girls, a “dramedy” produced jointly by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Rogers’s OMNI television, wrapped up shooting last week in Kahnawake.

Since Rogers sent out a press release a month ago announcing the series, it’s gotten some decent attention in the local media. Enough that I don’t feel compelled to repeat their work. Here are links to the coverage the series has gotten:

The seven-episode, 30-minute series will air on APTN and OMNI in 2014. You can follow it through social media. It’s on Twitter and Facebook.

CRTC Roundup: Hands off our InterTubes

The big news is the CRTC’s decision to extend its hands-off policy regarding regulation of content on the Internet. The decision, which is explained in some detail point-by-point, was praised by Internet providers and condemned by actors and writers unions (PDF), both for entirely self-serving financial reasons.

One thing the commission did decide to implement was a provision regulating “undue preference”, which is when a media company uses its power in one industry to help affiliated companies in another. For example, if Rogers were to arrange for Rogers Cable to carry Rogers SportsNet but dump TSN, or if Videotron were to give sweet deals to TVA and LCN, that would be considered undue preference.

The CRTC is looking for rules that would extend this to the new media environment, citing the walled gardens of wireless carriers as Exhibit A that the industry isn’t very good at self-regulating.

Michael Geist has more analysis.

Martial law: Weather Network in control

The CRTC has agreed to a scheme whereby Pelmorex, the company that owns the Weather Network and MétéoMédia, would become national emergency alert aggregators, providing emergency broadcast information to local broadcasters. This scratches an itch pointed out by Public Safety Canada, and satisfies the CRTC’s wish for an industry-based solution.

But, of course, there’s a catch. In exchange for providing this service, the CRTC agrees to require all digital cable and direct-to-home satellite providers to require mandatory carriage of the Weather Network and MétéoMédia for all subscribers, who will get charged the $0.23 per subscriber per month fee. Currently, the networks profit from mandatory carriage only on basic analog cable.

As more Canadians move to digital forms of television delivery, Pelmorex has been anxious to get the CRTC to force its channels (and fee) on subscribers. This is its second attempt at securing such an order. The first didn’t have the emergency alert component but did propose a modest decrease in per-subscriber fee in exchange. In both cases, Pelmorex talks of the danger to its business model if television subscribers are given the option to choose not to carry the networks.

The decision (which features some absurdities like nothing that the stations have “100% Canadian content” and make “a significant contribution to the development of Canadian expresson”) was not unanimous. Commissioner Len Katz was highly critical that a company that has a profit margin of about 25% could be in such serious danger.

The mandate is effective Sept. 1, 2010 and expires on Aug. 31, 2015, by which point Pelmorex will need to come to the CRTC to seek another order.

Welcome Current.tv Canada

The CRTC has approved an application from a company mostly owned by a company owned by the CBC to create a Canadian version of Al Gore’s Current TV. Like its U.S. counterpart, the network would broadcast short-form user-generated content.

The CRTC took issue with the fact that Current TV has a 20% interest, and forced the CBC-controlled company to make amendments to ensure the U.S. interest couldn’t assert any control over day-to-day operations.

The channel is a Category 2 digital specialty channel, which is what most new specialty channels are. That means it’s discretionary and won’t be on analog cable.

APTN wants Olympics exceptions

The Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network, which is part of the mega consortium of private broadcasters that will show the Olympics in Vancouver next winter, has asked the CRTC for some leeway on its obligations for the two-week event. Specifically, it wants to be relieved of its French-language, aboriginal-language and “priority programming” (i.e. drama) requirements for those two weeks.

The latter makes sense if they’re devoting those weeks to sports. Clearly they will be Canadian productions. But the language requests don’t make much sense, especially because CTV has argued that APTN would help in bringing French-language Olympics coverage to francophones outside Quebec.

TVA Sports, TVA Junior

Quebecor is looking to expand its cable channels with new uncreatively-named networks for sports and youth programming. The former would take advantage of recent loosening of policy restricting competition in sports networks, as well as provide an eventual outlet should Quebecor’s bid for the Canadiens be successful.

One pipe, one policy?

CRTC chairman Konrad von Finkenstein did some public thinking, wondering if a single policy encompassing both broadcasting and telecommunications isn’t the future of the commission. Of course, he says, that’s up to Parliament to decide.

Take your time

The following approved specialty channels have been given extensions to launch them:

Most of these channels were approved around 2006 and still haven’t launched yet. After a couple of extensions the CRTC forces you to start over from scratch. Expect most of these channels to expire before they ever see the light of day.