Tag Archives: Foundation of Stars

We interrupt this programming to ask you for money

Today, Dec. 1, is La grande guignolée des médias, the day during the year when various Quebec media and other groups unite for the cause of raising money and supplies for various charities.

What I like most about this campaign is that it’s entirely independent of the guerre des médias. Its list of participating media includes Quebecor (including the Journal de Montréal, 24H, Canoe, TVA and VOX), Radio-Canada, La Presse, Cogeco (including CKOI, Rythme FM, 98.5, CKAC and The Beat), Astral (including CHOM, Virgin Radio, CJAD, Rouge, NRJ, Canal D, Canal Vie, MusiquePlus, MusiMax, Télétoon, Vrak.tv and Ztélé), V, Télé-Québec, Transcontinental (including Métro), TV5, MétéoMédia, RDS, Groupe Serdy (Zeste and Évasion) and CHOQ.FM (UQAM’s student radio station).

It would probably be easier to list the media not part of this list: Le Devoir, Voir, some community radio stations and a larger number of anglophone media (including The Gazette), many of which have their own holiday fundraising campaigns.

Volunteers will be collecting money at metro stations during the rush hours, and donations can be dropped off at Loblaws/Maxi/Provigo stores or Laurentian Bank locations.

Here’s to hoping they have a day worth reporting on.

UPDATE (Dec. 3): It looks like they raised at least $150,000 in Montreal alone.

La Presse’s Patrick Lagacé, in response to a piece by Le Devoir’s Stéphane Baillargeon asking if it’s the job of journalists to be panhandlers for charity, says there’s plenty of other things journalists waste their time on. He has more on his blog. Baillargeon’s piece is, sadly, subscriber-locked.

La Presse auctions off its journalists

As part of the Grande guignolée, La Presse is once again auctioning off activities with its columnists. These lots aren’t cheap – three or four figures, depending – but they’re for a good cause. Bidding ends at 4pm.

Just please make sure Lagacé doesn’t win.


Another event happening this week is the big annual fundraiser for the Foundation of Stars, formerly known as the Foundation for Research into Children’s Diseases. Last year, you’ll recall, the foundation decided to do away with the telethon they had done for decades, replacing it with a “webothon” that was streamed online. I panned the idea because going online would rob them of the big thing being on television gave them: visibility.

As it turns out, the foundation seems to have realized that, and they’ve abandoned the webothon idea. Without the financial means to put on another telethon, they’ve switched medium and gone to radio, organizing a “phoneothon” on CJAD, Rouge FM and Boom FM stations. It happens Sunday, Dec. 4, from 10 am to 7pm.

As the organization’s latest annual report shows (PDF), the switch from television to the Web resulted in a drop of about $500,000 in fundraising. And because fundraising costs stayed about the same, that drop came out of the bottom line. The result is that there was $700,000 less given to hospital research centres in the 2010-11 fiscal year than the year before.

Let’s hope that using radio instead of television can provide a happy medium between visibility and cost control that results in maximum benefit for the foundation and, of course, the children it’s trying to help.

Sorry kids, no telethon

The Telethon of Stars last year (left to right): CFCF reporter Tania Krywiak, weather presenter Lori Graham, news director Jed Kahane, foundation chair Michel Lanteigne, TVA's Claudia Marques, CFCF reporter/anchor Paul Karwatsky and CFCF sports anchor Randy Tieman

For the first time since 1977, CFCF-12 won’t be airing a fundraising telethon this year.

The Foundation of Stars (formerly the Foundation for Research into Children’s Diseases) has decided this year to forgo the telethon, particularly because it doesn’t have a francophone broadcaster (TQS had been the francophone broadcaster for many years, but V stopped that tradition last year). Instead, it will hold an eight-hour webcast from 11am to 7pm Sunday (warning: video auto-play), and partner with Astral Radio stations like Rock Détente and CJAD in addition to a diminished role for CTV.

“Although disappointed that the annual telethon will not air this year, we are very pleased to continue to work closely with the Foundation in their various fund raising initiatives,” said Don Bastien, CTV Montreal’s general manager. The station won’t air the “webathon”, but will provide hosts including Lori Graham for the event, and will promote the telethon with “short TV clips”, according to a foundation release (PDF). It’s also featuring ads for the foundation on its website.

Maryse Beaudry, spokesperson for the foundation, didn’t respond to a request for comment about why the foundation has pulled the telethon. An email to the foundation sent almost two weeks ago hasn’t been responded to.

My guess is that the decision is mainly a financial one. A look at the foundation’s latest annual report (PDF) shows that the 4.5-hour telethon cost $562,654 in expenses last year (half what it was a year earlier, when it lasted more than 24 hours). And while that number in the photo above looks much higher, it includes a lot of high-profile, giant-cheque, high-money corporate donations that would have come with or without a telethon. The amount of money that actually came in from television viewers calling in could easily have been below what the telethon cost.

And so it’s understandable that the foundation would have wanted to go with a low-cost option this year.

But at the same time it’s sad that Montreal television viewers can’t even fork over enough money over a weekend to pay for the expenses of a fundraising telethon.

Much as I appreciate the effort of a “webathon” to take its place, it kind of misses the point. You don’t stumble on it when you turn on your TV. You don’t catch it and decide to sit through the scrolling telephone numbers while you watch an 80s action movie until you finally feel guilty enough to phone in a donation. Anyone who is going to experience this webcast already knows about it.

It’s also, I think, sad for CFCF itself. The station used to be a powerhouse of television production, with special productions throughout the year. But while its newscast still reigns the Montreal anglophone ratings, there’s little else produced there now. The telethon was an exception, one it highlights on its “About Us” page online as one of two “long-term community projects.” Aside from things like provincial elections and today’s Alouettes Grey Cup parade (which CTV is airing live in place of its noon newscast), special event programming is an endangered species on Quebec anglophone television.

If only they had telethons for telethons.

The Day of Stars webcast runs from 11am to 7pm on Sunday, Dec. 5, at telethon.qc.ca. You can donate to the Foundation of Stars here, because whatever your opinion of CFCF and the telethon, the kids still need help.

Further commentary from Montreal Radio Blog

UPDATE (Dec. 5): The Day of Stars raised $3,540,903 this year, less than the $3,916,620 raised in 2009 and well short of their $4 million goal. More than $2 million of that money came in the form of giant cheques featured in this Flickr gallery (and of that, more than $1 million was from the foundation’s fundraising ball).