Last week, Bell Media was the last of the major English-language broadcasters to present their fall schedules to the public and advertisers. The big sells are the new (mostly American) series they’re adding to their primetime schedules. I haven’t seen any of them, so let’s instead focus on everything else that was announced and that I find interesting:
A handful of young journalists have been spending a couple of weeks rehearsing for the launch of Montreal’s fourth English-language daily evening local newscast. On Labour Day, ready or not, it goes live.
CityNews Montreal is part of the second half of five local City stations that have decided to join Toronto in having local news at 6 and 11pm. Rogers has determined that these evening newscasts are worth investing in as part of meeting their new requirements for “locally reflective news” established by the CRTC as of last year.
To get an idea what we can expect from this newscast, I watched the existing ones in Edmonton and Winnipeg, and talked with Dave Budge, VP of news and information at Rogers, plus briefly with Melanie Porco, supervising producer in Montreal.
The result is this Montreal Gazette story, published in Saturday’s paper. It explains how the anchorless newscast works. But for the TV and policy nerds, a few extra tidbits here.
More than a year after it was announced that Citytv is creating local evening newscasts in markets including Montreal, we finally have a launch date: Sept. 3.
On that date, CityNews launches newscasts at 6pm and 11pm in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Rogers has also announced staffing for those newscasts. In Montreal, the anchorless newscasts will be staffed by the following reporters (bios from the press release):
- Akil Alleyne – Alleyne is a graduate of Princeton University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he studied constitutional and international law. His previous experience includes stops at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as a Research and Program Associate; and CBC where he assisted with production, and writing.
- Andrew Brennan – A newly-minted reporter with Breakfast Television Montreal, Brennan will continue to engage Montrealers with the local buzz on CityNews. For the last five years, Brennan has been a news anchor and reporter at CJAD 800. He graduated from Concordia University with a double-degree in Communication Studies and Journalism. (He announced his move last week.)
- Emily Campbell – Campbell is an experienced video journalist, most recently having worked in reporting and as an anchor with CJAD 800 News and her work has appeared on CNN.
- Giordano Cescutti – With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Concordia University, Cescutti is a recipient of the Sportsnet Scholarship in Sports Journalism for excellence in journalism and sports reporting. His previous experience includes MAtv, Montreal Gazette and CJLO 1690AM, where he was co-host and producer of award-winning sports talk show The Starting Rotation.
They will work under Supervising Producer Melanie Porco, who has been with Citytv Montreal since its launch in 2013. Two people have also been hired to work behind the scenes with the newscast in Montreal, which will be directed out of a centralized control room in Vancouver.
Last fall, Citytv hired two reporters in Montreal in preparation for the new newscasts: Tina Tenneriello and Cora MacDonald. MacDonald left Citytv recently to join Global Montreal. (UPDATE July 20: Tenneriello is also gone. She’s leaving to host a web series about “inspiring people transforming their communities through social initiatives”)
As previously announced, the newscasts will be an hour long, at 6pm and 11pm, seven days a week.
When the announcement was made, the plan was to have the newscasts running in the winter. Rogers wouldn’t say what caused the delay, beyond this: “The fall launch is reflective of our commitment to ensuring we are delivering a gold standard of local news in these markets.”
In Vancouver, the staff is:
- Ashley Burr, formerly of CKPG in Prince George, Alta.
- Kyle Donaldson, producer and on-air personality with Breakfast Television Vancouver
- Travis Prasad, formerly a news writer at CTV Vancouver
- Isabelle Raghem, formerly of CHEK News and CHCH
- Tom Walsh, Breakfast Television reporter since 2017
- David Zura, formerly of Roundhouse Radio in Vancouver
- Mary Cranston, Thor Diakow and Greg Harper, existing Breakfast Television Vancouver reporters
In Calgary, the newly announced staff is:
- Kristen Fong, formerly of Global News Radio
- Kendra Fowler, formerly of 660 News
- Crystal Laderas, formerly of 660 News.
- Michael Lumsden, reporter for Breakfast Television Calgary since 2017
- Jonathan Mumam, formerly of 660 News
- Brittany Rosen, formerly of CTV Regina
CityNews launched in Edmonton and Winnipeg last fall (those stations had dropped their Breakfast Television programs, so launching newscasts became a requirement to meet new local news quotas). Once the new newscasts are running, City will be able to meet its local programming and local news conditions of licence with just the evening newscasts, meaning Breakfast Television will no longer be required.
“There will be no changes to BT as a result of the launch of CityNews Montreal,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Lomack tells me, repeating what has been said previously. But that could always change as the decline of ad revenue puts more pressure to cut costs.
Canada’s English-language private TV broadcasters announced their fall schedules this week. In case you couldn’t keep up with all the press releases, here’s what was sent out.
Though it was in the middle of a busy newsroom close to deadline, I tried my best to watch and listen to the federal leaders’ debate last night. It could be the only time during this election season that we see those four party leaders on a stage together.
If you missed it, it’s on YouTube (I can’t embed it here because Maclean’s doesn’t want me to).
Especially in the context of a simultaneous circus of clowns south of the border, it was nice to see four smart, articulate leaders lay out their policies and policy differences under the bright lights. I saw Stephen Harper defend his record on his own without his party machine behind him. I saw Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau set out their economic policies and criticize the current government on its record, all without losing their temper. And I saw Elizabeth May, my pick as winner of the debate, establish herself as an excellent debater with a solid grasp of economic issues.
Sure, there were some annoying things about the debate itself, like the constant interrupting, the repeating of scripted talking points, and the useless closing messages. And limiting the debate to four topics meant a lot of stuff did not get addressed, which is a big issue if Harper doesn’t want to engage in any more general-issue debates in English.
But in general, I was pretty well informed. Maclean’s, moderator Paul Wells and broadcaster City TV deserve credit for this.
Unfortunately, I also watched the hour-long post-debate analysis show, as well as three useless non-commercial breaks during the debate, and it sent me into a bit of a rage.
Rather than discuss whose economic policies make more sense, or fact-check what the leaders said, or really discuss the issues in any way, we got the same old post-debate “who won” discussion, as if leading a country is more about showing off your dramatic presentation skills than having a better plan.
It’s one thing if you don’t take yourself too seriously (like BuzzFeed), but I expected better from the official broadcaster of the debate (even though Rogers pushed the analysis show to OMNI so it could air another U.S. primetime drama on City).
After the first half-hour, City took a three-minute break to give us an interview with a journalism student in Toronto and a Facebook poll that its analyst admitted wasn’t really based on anything said during the debate because people hadn’t had the chance to listen to the leaders yet. Even though the result of 50% for Mulcair should have been a dead giveaway that the poll is not at all reflective of the Canadian population, they went with it anyway. They also broadcast results showing Canadians almost unanimously in favour of proportional representation and carbon taxes, even though actual scientific polls don’t show anything even remotely similar. And there was the stunning revelation that people in Alberta talk more about oil than the rest of the country.
How this was useful to viewers is beyond me.
Then there was the Twitter discussion, in which they analyzed how much people were talking about the leaders. What they were saying, of course, wasn’t important, and wasn’t discussed.
I guess what we can learn from this is that Donald Trump would make a great Canadian prime minister. Because volume is more important than content.
But what infuriated me most was when they brought on a body language expert to literally discuss style over substance. Setting aside the sexist criticisms of Elizabeth May’s attire (there was no mention of how any of the other leaders were dressed), the segment reinforced the fact that during a debate, what you say isn’t as important as how you say it.
Throughout the three-hour broadcast, there were panel discussions about who was winning the debate. Some of that discussion was based on what the leaders said, but much of it was about how they said what they said. Were the leaders confident? Did they make any gaffes?
Don’t get me wrong, the leader of a country should have good public speaking skills. A big part of being a leader is being able to convince people to do things for you, so style matters. But this incessant focus on treating the debate like a boxing match or tennis tournament just hammers in the idea that the issues don’t really matter. That if you want to be a politician, it’s better to hone your skills in theatre school than law school.
We Canadians like to think we’re better than the Americans when it comes to our politicians. We look at Donald Trump and we laugh. But based on what I saw of this debate analysis, I don’t see why, if Trump was in this debate, the media wouldn’t have been unanimous in concluding that he would have “won” it.
I have two stories in Wednesday’s Gazette, explaining to readers the two proposals for new television stations related to the proposed Rogers acquisition of CJNT. The first discusses the plan for CJNT itself, to convert it to an English Citytv station that would air the Citytv schedule and a new local morning show. The second talks to the family behind an application for a new station called ICI that would essentially bring back CJNT’s predecessor Télévision Ethnique du Québec, in which producers acted independently in a cooperative and sell advertising for their own shows.
While the Gazette stories are long and contain a lot of information, there were a bunch of other little facts that I couldn’t cram in there that would probably be of more interest to people who follow local media a bit more closely. So here are some answers:
There wasn’t much ceremony surrounding it, but at 5am on Monday, the beginning of its broadcast day, CJNT Montreal went from being a sister station to CHCH Hamilton to being an affiliate of the Rogers-owned Citytv network.
A month ago, Rogers and Channel Zero, which owns CJNT and CHCH, announced that they had come to an agreement to sell the station for an undisclosed sum. The deal made sense because Channel Zero had done just about nothing with CJNT, instead focusing its efforts for the first two years on the higher-rated Hamilton station. And Rogers needs a Montreal presence for its Citytv network and has plenty of experience with ethnic programming thanks to its OMNI stations. It comes as little surprise that Rogers was interested in buying CJNT for years.
Since buying a television station is a long process, requiring approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before it can close, the deal between Channel Zero and Rogers also included a provision making CJNT a Citytv affiliate as of June 4.
While it’s being branded as a Citytv affiliate, with sitcom reruns in the afternoons, a look at its primetime schedule shows it’s really more of an OMNI station than anything else. Half its primetime schedule is OMNI programming, mainly national daily newscasts in various languages.
Citytv has a full weekly schedule for CJNT on its website. Here’s how it breaks down for the new CJNT on weekdays:
- Midnight to 5am: Episodes of Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men, The Office, Judge Joe Brown, Maury Povich, Cold Case
- 5am to 6am: CityLine
- 6am to 7am: Rerun of Italian newscast
- 7am to 10am: Metro Debut, extended to three hours
- 10am to 11pm: CityLine
- 11am to 1pm: Rebroadcasts of other OMNI newscasts
- 1pm to 3pm: Ethnic programming
- 3pm to 4pm: General Hospital
- 4pm to 8pm: Judge Judy, 30 Rock, The Office, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother
- 8pm to 9pm: Italian OMNI newscast (Ontario)
- 9pm to 9:30pm: Cantonese OMNI newscast
- 9:30pm to 10pm: Mandarin OMNI newscast
- 10pm to 11pm: Murdoch Mysteries (an original Citytv series)
- 11pm to 11:30pm: Punjabi OMNI newscast
- 11:30pm to midnight: Portuguese OMNI newscast (Ontario)
On weekends, the schedule is mainly ethnic programming, with documentaries, movies, weekly newsmagazines and other programs.
As part of its announcements last week of its fall schedule, Rogers released programming grids for its stations. Here’s the one for CJNT, which still has the Italian newscast at 8pm (except Mondays when it’s at 7) and filling other parts of the prime-time schedule with OMNI documentaries.
The schedule looks like this because of CJNT’s conditions of license that require half of primetime to be ethnic programming. Specifically:
- Not less than 60% of programming broadcast annually between 6am and midnight must be ethnic programs (the current schedule shows only eight hours a day on weekdays devoted to ethnic programming, so CJNT devotes 100% of its hours from 6am to midnight on Saturday and Sunday to make up the difference, and it does so with less than half an hour to spare)
- Not less than 50% of programming broadcast monthly between 6pm and midnight must be ethnic programs (the fall schedule shows 50% for 7pm to 11pm – assuming it continues with OMNI newscasts from 11pm to midnight it would meet this requirement and could still air sitcom reruns at 6pm to 7pm)
- Not less than 75% of programming broadcast monthly between 8pm and 10pm must be ethnic programs (the fall schedule shows 79% in those hours)
- Not less than 50% of programming between 6am and midnight must be Canadian (the current schedule has weekdays with 10 of 18 hours being Canadian programs)
- Not less than 40% of programming between 6pm and midnight must be Canadian (with OMNI newscasts produced in Toronto, this isn’t a difficult threshold to reach)
- Not fewer than 18 distinct ethnic groups targetted monthly
- Not fewer than 15 languages monthly (with five language versions of the OMNI daily newscast, much of this and the previous requirement is met with weekly weekend programs)
Then there’s the matter of local ethnic programming.
In the CRTC decision awarding a license to Channel Zero, it’s not listed as a “condition of license” but rather a “commitment” – the new owner had actually proposed a slight increase in the amount of local ethnic programming to 14 hours a week.
But in the three years it owned the station, Channel Zero hasn’t produced a minute of local ethnic programming. Instead, it has been airing years-old repeats of local programs that were produced under Canwest, much to the annoyance of the people who ran those programs who would like to be able to reach their audiences again. When I spoke to Channel Zero’s programming director Jennifer Chen a few months ago, she said that there were setbacks because a deal with a local producer fell through, and that the company was in talks with another producer. But she also admitted that to a large extent Channel Zero focused more on CHCH at first than CJNT.
With the CRTC holding a hearing into the sale of CJNT to Rogers, there’s not much point in complaining about how Channel Zero has failed to keep the station on its mandate. But legitimate questions can be raised over what plans Rogers has for local ethnic programming.
Looking at the fall primetime schedule above, it seems Rogers is prepared to continue with the other conditions of license.
Other OMNI stations have similar programming requirements, and produce regional editions of their newscasts. The Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi editions of OMNI News that air on CJNT are national newscasts, while the Italian and Portuguese versions are regional Toronto editions. (This is why, for example, the latter two only go from Windsor to Ottawa when giving the weather.)
No application has been published by the CRTC for Rogers to acquire CJNT. It’s at that point that we’ll have an idea of its plans, whether it will ask the regulator to reduce ethnic programming requirements (unlikely, since it rejected two requests from Canwest to do that) or reduce local ethnic programming requirements in favour of non-ethnic local programming (like Metro Debut or another morning show).
The biggest part of CJNT’s new schedule, and perhaps the most unfamiliar to Montreal audiences, is OMNI News, the foreign-language daily newscasts that make up a large part of ethnic programming requirements for OMNI stations.
The newscasts look about as identical as their title screens make them look. Low-budget with only a single anchor (except the Italian edition which has a separate sports anchor). All are in high definition. The Italian edition is an hour long, the others are half an hour long. The Italian and Portuguese editions are actually local Toronto versions that cover the Ontario region, so they qualify as local programming. Other regions (there are also OMNI stations in Alberta and British Columbia) have other regional editions in various languages.
The newscasts tend to have similar-looking stories, usually with the same top headlines (and using the same video for them). They distinguish themselves where it matters to their communities. More talk of Italian soccer in the Italian edition. More about what’s happening in China in the Cantonese and Mandarin editions. The newscasts make use of foreign news reports in their language and even add the homeland to their weather forecasts.
It might be fun to have something like this in Montreal, a daily newscast perhaps attracting a bit more attention from local ethnic viewers than the low-budget newsmagazines of the old CJNT days. But Rogers’s plans for local programming for the station are still unknown.
Not coming back
With many new programs coming to the station, there’s also a long list of programs that have been pulled off:
- Fifth-rate American programming (mainly CW network shows) whose Canadian rights are owned by Channel Zero: The Insider, Nightline, Hart of Dixie, The Secret Circle and Supernatural, as well as some NBA games. They have been replaced by third-rate American programming from Citytv.
- The daily sports show Sportsline, produced for CHCH but also aired on CJNT
- Shows featuring Ed the Sock that are produced mainly for CHCH
Frank D’Angelo’s vanity programming(it’s still airing, at least for now)
- Much of Metro 14’s music video programming, with shows like The Main Line and World Beats
Independently-produced local ethnic programming of questionable technical quality, such as Bossbens Show and Amet.tv. Amet.tv disappeared for the first weekend, but returned to the schedule, taking over Saturday afternoons. Religious infomercial Il est écrit is also continuing to air.
Also gone are those three-year-old reruns of former CJNT local programming, like Soul Call, Foco Latino, Hellas Spectrum and Magazine Libanais.
Metro Debut remains
The only show that remains on the schedule is Metro Debut, the morning show hosted by Evan Arppe, who ironically looks like the whitest man on television. The show consists mainly of music videos (some of which are produced in HD, converted to standard definition then converted back into HD, meaning they take up only a tiny box on the screen), interspersed with the host giving news headlines, traffic and weather information with no help from graphics, reporters, live images or anything else. It’s about as low-budget as you can possibly get.
Another program that was on Metro 14 and will come back to it is Jimmy Kimmel Live. This is just a coincidence – Citytv has picked up the Canadian rights to the show from Channel Zero. It will start airing this fall, and CJNT fills the midnight to 1am hour with Seinfeld reruns in the meantime.
There’s still a lot that’s unknown and will be determined through the CRTC process. It’s unsurprising that OMNI content will fill much of CJNT’s schedule, and that the schedule maximizes the amount of American programming that airs during weekdays. A look at the station’s programming page shows that it looks to get a lot of its viewers, at least during the summer, from afternoon programming. And much of that will benefit from simultaneous substitution: General Hospital at 3pm (WVNY), Judge Judy at 4pm (WPTZ), 30 Rock at 5pm (WFFF), The Office at 5:30pm (WFFF) and Two and a Half Men at 6pm (WFFF).
If Rogers is planning on local ethnic programming for CJNT, expect it to take the form of new regional OMNI newscasts (Spanish, Italian and Arabic might be good choices here) and weekly newsmagazines.
Will Videotron pull CITY or OMNI Toronto?
With the arrival of Citytv in Montreal carrying much of OMNI’s programming, there’s a question about what will happen to two Toronto stations on Videotron’s illico digital cable system: CITY-DT Toronto (Channel 78 in SD and 678 in HD) and CFMT-DT Toronto (OMNI.1, Channel 80). I’ve asked Videotron about its future plans for these channels, particularly since one uses up a bandwidth-hogging HD slot. I’ll update this when I hear back.
CJNT’s schedule differs from CITY’s enough that there’s probably a good argument to keep the latter. But with ethnic programming all over CJNT’s schedule, there might be less of one for keeping OMNI.
Rogers announced today it is buying Montreal multi-ethnic station CJNT from Channel Zero.
I just wrote a story about it for The Gazette, so rather than rewrite it for a blog post, I’ll just point you there.
I may have more analysis here later.
The axe fell Tuesday at CityTV. Everyone found out yesterday that long-time Toronto anchor Anne Mroczkowski and about 60 others have lost their jobs in a new round of cutbacks at Canada’s fourth-largest English broadcast network, which will also result in a lot of local programming being cancelled.
Coverage at the National Post, Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, Financial Post, Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and all the usual Toronto blogs. Eye has a timeline of City cuts. Breakfast Television’s Kevin Frankish has a video of remaining employees talking about how much it sucks.
The irony in this is that CityTV is owned by Rogers, which is part of that Stop the TV Tax campaign by the cable and satellite companies against fee for carriage. Rogers has argued through it and appearances in front of the CRTC that local television doesn’t need the extra funding and that it is committed to local television without government funding.
With the cuts at City, and more importantly the cuts to programming at all City stations, we can formally call bullshit on that claim. Rogers doesn’t oppose fee for carriage because it believes that’s what’s best for City, it opposes fee for carriage because its cable business is more important to it than its TV business.
And so Rogers continues to sabotage its TV stations for its own benefit, and people like Anne Mroczkowski pay the price.
Well, not quite.
The CRTC on Monday decided to hike the fee (temporarily, at least) for its Local Programming Improvement Fund from 1% to 1.5% of cable and satellite provider revenues (revenues, not profits), which would give broadcasters an additional $32 million a year ($100 million total in the new fund) to devote to local programming.
It’s a victory for broadcasters and a defeat for cable and satellite companies (and probably consumers). CBC is happy. Canwest is happy. CTV is happy. Bell is sad. Cogeco is sad (PDF). Rogers is sad. Videotron is sad. Bill Brioux is annoyed.
Especially when you consider how much the television industry is already subsidized through mandatory fees from cable and satellite companies (now 6.5% of their revenues) and funding from the government, all without us having a say in programming, you have to wonder whether it’s all worth it.
Best of all, the broadcasters say they need more.
The CRTC also released its conditions of license for one-year renewals for the major networks:
Many of the decisions below come from these renewals.
Finally, the CRTC has kicked the fee-for-carriage can (which was in turn kicked to them by a parliamentary committee) and other issues down the road to a hearing in September, where it will discuss that and other issues affecting broadcast television. The indication, however, is that the CRTC supports a fee-for-carriage idea, provided the fees are negotiated with broadcasters and cable/satellilte companies.
Harmonized local programming minimums
And how much more local programming will we be getting for all this extra money? We won’t! In fact, we’re getting less! Thanks to new “harmonized” minimum requirements, most stations in the country will now have to produce less local programming.
For English-language stations, the minimums will be 14 hours a week for large markets (Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver), and seven hours a week for smaller markets (including Halifax, Hamilton and Victoria), with some exceptions. This will mean reductions for CKMI (18 hours a week) and CFCF (15.5 hours a week). Stations with really high requirements might see massive cuts and layoffs. CHCH Hamilton, for example, has dropped from 36.5 hours to only seven, though they’re going to make a go at more local programming, at least in the short term.
For French-language stations (effectively just TVA since TQS has a special exception), it’s on a case-by-case basis:
- CFCM (Quebec City): 18 hours a week, down from 21
- CFER (Rimouski): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10
- CJPM (Chicoutimi): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10
- CHLT (Sherbrooke): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10
Independent stations owned by Radio-Nord (TVA Gatineau) and Télé Inter-Rives (SRC/TVA/TQS in Rivière du Loup, TVA in Carleton) maintain their current requirements.
Note that for French markets, only Montreal is larger than a million and is ineligible for LPIF funding.
In the same decision, the CRTC also rejected requests from broadcasters to eliminate requirements for priority programming (expensive dramas) and independent production (as opposed to in-house).
Global Quebec is now Global Montreal
After again rejecting union complaints that Global’s produced-out-of-Vancouver plan violates local programming requirements for Global Quebec (not saying it wasn’t in violation, only that there is “insufficient evidence” and it will “continue to monitor the situation”), the CRTC has approved a request to change CKMI from a Quebec City-based regional station to a local Montreal-based station.
CKMI-TV was once based in our provincial capital, but since it was purchased by Canwest and turned into a Global station it has effectively been headquartered in Montreal, with retransmitters in Quebec City and Sherbrooke (technically, the transmitter was in Quebec with a retransmitter, CKMI-TV-1, in Montreal). Global Quebec was licensed as a regional station, which meant it couldn’t take any local Montreal advertising. The license change makes it a local station which opens up that door (as small as it is) and allows the station to compete directly with CFCF and CBMT for local advertising.
A similar move was made for CIII, which is de facto Global’s Toronto station but was technically licensed to Paris, Ontario, which is west of Hamilton.
CJNT keeps ethnic minimum
A request from Canwest to relieve money-losing ethnic station CJNT Montreal of its ethnic programming requirement was denied. Canwest wanted 5 hours a week, but will be stuck at the original 13.5. Since the station is being sold, it won’t sadden Canwest too much to lose this battle.
Mandatory digital transition (or not?)
The CRTC recognized that some broadcasters are lagging behind in transitioning to digital. U.S. broadcasters were forced to make the switch last month (in a deadline that was delayed from February), but Canadians have until August 2011. The CRTC’s decision doesn’t suggest that this deadline will change for smaller markets (though it suggests perhaps a “hybrid model” may emerge), but it does say it “expects” that major markets will make the transition. It released a list of markets larger than 300,000 it “expects” will do so without complaint, and says it will discuss the issue further in September. The list includes Montréal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Rivière-du-Loup, Saguenay, Ottawa-Gatineau, territorial and provincial capitals and large cities across Canada. Essentially any market with more than one station.
The issue (which also includes whether there should be U.S.-style subsidies for converter boxes) will be dealt with again in September.
CTV-Shaw rejects get renewed
Even though Shaw’s offer to buy them has fallen through, the CRTC has renewed licenses for CKX-TV in Brandon, Man., CHWI-TV in Wheatley/Windsor, Ont., and CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ont., for another year, despite CTV’s request that they be terminated. They’re still expected to shut down in August, although CTV says it is “reviewing” CHWI in light of the new funding. UPDATE: CTV says it will continue operating CHWI until Aug. 31, 2010. CKNX will be converted into a retransmitter, and CKX is still being shut down.
Other CTV stations which had the bare minimum of local programming have been relicensed as strictly retransmitters only:
- CKCO-TV-3 Oil Springs (Sarnia), Ont.
- CFRN-TV-3 Whitecourt, Alta.
- CFRN-TV-4 Ashmont, Alta.
- CFRN-TV-6 Red Deer, Alta.
Separate requests from Canwest and Rogers to allow them to duplicate content on E!/Global and City/OMNI respectively were denied by the CRTC. The stations (CHAN-TV Vancouver/CHEK-TV Victoria, CIII-TV Toronto/CHCH-TV Hamilton, and City/OMNI pairings in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) are currently limited to 10% overlap since they are stations with the same owner in the same markets. Requests to be relieved of that restriction were denied.
City stays special
In addition to allowing more overlap between City and OMNI, Rogers asked to be allowed to redirect “priority programming” money (money for expensive Canadian dramas) into local programming, and remove an unusual requirement at City to air Canadian feature films. Both were denied. The Globe has a story.
CHOI News Talk?
RNC Media has applied to the CRTC for a license amendment for CHOI-FM in Quebec City, which would change it from an alternative rock format to 50% spoken word. CHOI has a rather rocky past with the CRTC.
Radio was doing OK last year
The CRTC has released financial statistics of Canadian radio stations (taken as a whole). Looking at all of Canada and Quebec in particular, the numbers are fairly stable on both sides of the balance sheet. Of particular note is AM radio in Quebec, which shows significant losses year after year while the rest of the country just about breaks even.
Asians Asians Asians!
Asian Television Network has gotten approval for a slew of new specialty channels:
- Hindi Movie Channel
- Hindi Movie Channel Two
- ATN Cricket Channel One
- ATN Cricket Channel Two
- ATN South Asian News – Hindi/English
- ATN South Asian News – English
- ATN South Asian News – Hindi
- ATN Music Network One (Hindi Music)
- ATN Music Netowrk Two (Hindi Music)
- ATN Asian Sports Network (English coverage of cricket, ball hockey, badminton)
ATN announced on Tuesday that nine channels, including some of the ones above, will premiere on Rogers Cable in the fall. The channels are being renamed to more interesting names.
Ashes to ashes, SCREAM to DUSK
Corus is rebranding its SCREAM! horror channel to DUSK, and expanding its niche to include “paranormal” and “supernatural” stuff that might not be so scary. I guess this means more X-Files? The change takes effect on Sept. 9 (09/09/09, as if that’s scary or paranormal or something).
In other news
- TVA got a slap on the wrist (hell, not even that) for failing to meet expectations regarding airing of Canadian films and closed-captioning. The CRTC “expects” they’ll meet those requirements in the future, or else they’re going to get a sternly-worded letter, I guess.
- The Globe and Mail is reporting that Al-Jazeera English may be close to approval as a specialty channel.
- CPAC has gotten approval for a license amendment that would allow it to broadcast non-CPAC-sounding stuff like music on Canada Day every year. Now it can let loose in an explosion of patriotism on July 1.
- Vision TV has given up and is now asking viewers to figure out its programming.
- Cogeco has asked to move its transmitter for CFGE-FM (Rhythme FM) in Sherbrooke and increase its transmitter power to improve reception.
- MusiquePlus has gotten authorization to hand over its 3.4% of revenues required for the production of Canadian music videos to MaxFACT instead of VideoFACT. The difference is mainly that MaxFACT is what MusiMax gives its money to and this would simplify things for them. The request got an intervention from ADISQ which was concerned that there would be less money for youth-oriented music videos as well as those from Quebec anglophones. MusiquePlus responded that it has no control over the procedures used by MaxFACT to allocate it money.
- The CRTC is mad at CHRC in St. Catharines for violating a number of conditions of its license. There is, of course, no actual penalty associated with such violations as long as you promise not to do it again.
- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has dismissed a complaint against CJMF-FM in Quebec City regarding a promotion related to driving while on a cellphone. The CBSC concluded that the station was not, in fact, advocating that people drive while illegally talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device.
The big news this month is that Rogers has been given permission to launch its own 24-hour all-news channel in the Toronto area called CityNews.
Now, you might think, doesn’t City already have a 24-hour all-news channel for the Toronto area?
No, silly. CP24, the existing all-Toronto, all-news station, was owned by CHUM, which also owned City. But CHUM was acquired by CTV, which was forced to dump City as a result to satisfy the CRTC. For some reason known only to the CRTC, that didn’t include CP24, even though it was heavily linked to CityTV. Rogers ended up buying City, and is now the one behind this new network.
Even under CTV, CP24 is very much a City network. It even airs City News three times daily. Now, not only does CTV have to figure out how CP24 and CTV Newsnet are going to coexist, it has to deal with this new channel from Rogers which is no doubt going to take all the City content for itself.
Oh, and how does the CRTC justify having two Toronto all-news stations like this? Well, they split hairs like I’ve never seen before (emphasis mine):
CITY News (Toronto) would provide a niche news service targeted to Greater Toronto. In contrast, CP24’s mandate is and has always been to serve the region of Southern Ontario.
Yes, that’s right. CITY is for Toronto, while CP24 is for Southern Ontario. Therefore they don’t compete directly with each other. Yeah.
I might have understood if the CRTC pointed to its recent decision to allow more competition for news and spoirts programming. Instead, it came up with the flimsiest excuse in the book to pretend like the obvious isn’t true.
The application was opposed by CTV (for obvious reasons) and by The Weather Network, because of City’s unhealthy obsession with providing information on the weather.
Elsewhere in the news/blogosphere:
CTV wants HD loophole
CTV is applying for special permission from the CRTC to distribute HD versions of its local stations (including CFCF Montreal) to cable and satellite networks, even though those stations do not have digital broadcast licenses (and the CRTC normally requires that before distributing HD feeds). CTV offers excuses for not getting those licenses, and says that they should be granted this loophole to keep Canadians from seeking the same programming on U.S. networks. Deadline for comments is Jan. 9.
TSN2 is OK
Following complaints about the launch of TSN2 by the CBC and The Score, the CRTC has concluded that, though TSN is essentially exploiting a loophole to create a new channel, it has every right to do so. TSN2 takes advantage of time shifting and a special allowance to replace up to 10% of its programming on split feeds (presumably to get around regional blackouts for live sporting events) in order to create a second channel which shows 90% identical programming (though time-shifted three hours from TSN) and 10% different live sporting events from TSN.
Two new French-language networks
The CRTC approved Category 2 digital licenses for two new French-language networks:
- Chaîne de Divertissement Clovys Entertainment Channel, which I assume will shorten its name at some point, will be a music channel devoted to “urban, world and Latin music and black culture.”
- Le Réseau des combats is the French-language version of the Fight Network, which carries boxing, wrestling, martial arts and similar programming
Category 2 networks, which most new specialty channels are approved as, has no protection from direct competition (though it can’t directly compete with existing analog channels). They also have no guaranteed carriage rights, which means they have to negotiate with cable and satellite providers for a spot on their grids (and then get subscribers to add them).
The following networks have received approval to setup high-definition versions of themselves: