Tag Archives: Radio-Canada

CRTC Roundup: Videotron must closed-caption porn

We made fun of this a bit when it came out, but there was a serious policy question being asked by Videotron: Should cable companies be required to spend money closed-captioning on-demand pornography and programming aimed at preschool children who can’t read?

The month, the CRTC ruled that, well, yes, they should.

While you might think it common sense that such programs should be excluded from closed-captioning requirements, the CRTC said that children should have access to captioning so they can learn to read, and parents should have access to what their children watch. There wasn’t much discussion about the porn angle, namely that nobody cares what people are saying in pornographic movies.

In any case, the CRTC said Videotron hadn’t made a case that it’s so financially strapped that it can’t afford captioning costs, so the application was denied.

Konrad’s oopsie

The CRTC chairman said sorry for saying that conventional broadcasters like CTV and Global wouldn’t commit to taking carriage fees from cable and satellite providers and putting all that money into local programming. It turns out they were ready to make just such a commitment.

That certainly makes the TV people look better. But what guarantee would we have that they wouldn’t take back their existing funding to local stations now that this new source of revenue is available to them?

Bye Bye was wrong

You hate to still be talking about this, but the judgment is in about Radio-Canada’s Bye-Bye: It really was racist. The CRTC passed on complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and asked them to judge the show. The CBSC normally rules only on private broadcasting, but the CRTC asked them for their advice (if anything, this shows that there’s no reason the CBSC shouldn’t also deal with complaints about public broadcasting).

The CBSC’s ruling dismissed most of the complaints (though some only barely), including those about jokes on anglos, the poor, immigrants, dépanneur owners, Indian call centre operators, Julie Couillard, Céline Dion, politicians, and a single complaint saying they were unfair to GM. It also said that the show did not go over the line in its treatment of Nathalie Simard, and didn’t even hint at the abuse she suffered at the hands of Guy Cloutier, father of Bye Bye hotst Véronique Cloutier.

The council did rule that three things crossed the line:

  • Jokes against blacks, particularly the sketch involving Denis Lévesque and Barack Obama as well as comments from Jean-François Mercier about Obama being easier to shoot in front of the White House.
  • The portrayal of violence against women in a sketch involving the family of Patrick Roy.
  • The rebroadcast of the show the next evening without viewer advisories.

The racist jokes, the council said, were gratuitous and abusive. Though Radio-Canada, the show’s producers, its writers and its performers did not intend to foster racism and intended for the comments to be ironic, the council ruled that the context didn’t make this sufficiently clear, and the comments could easily have been taken at face value. It brought up a number of previous cases to support its view that comedic irony isn’t a blank cheque to make racist comments.

It’s hard not to agree with the council’s well-thought-out decision. Bye Bye didn’t intend to be racist, but it did intend to shock. And when you’re spouting racist comments just to shock people, how is that different from just being racist?

This decision is worth reading if only for the words “a rather cartoonish rabbit-like act of intercourse.”

Technically, this is just a recommendation to the CRTC. It is up to the commission to decide if it agrees, and if so what kind of sanction it will impose. Normally, private broadcasters are required to air a notice of the decision to viewers. We’ll see if the CRTC orders Radio-Canada to do the same.

More power for radio

It’s going to be a bit easier to listen to some out-of-town radio stations thanks to some CRTC approvals of power increases:

  • CKOY 104.5 FM in Sherbrooke, the sister station to Montreal’s CKOI, gets a huge power boost to up to 50,000 Watts. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to hear, especially with CBC Radio One’s second 100W transmitter at 104.7 FM in the west end. But if you’re in the Eastern townships and had trouble hearing the station, you should have much less of that now.
  • CJLM 103.5 FM in Joliette gets a modest boost from 3,000 to 4,500 Watts, which will help people on the north side of the island and on the north shore.
  • For those on the south side, they’ll be hearing FM 103.3 in Longueuil, which in the same decision saw its allowed power output grow more than five-fold. It’s still a low-power community radio station, but maybe now it won’t disappear off the dial when I hit the Plateau.

Haitian station wants change of frequency

CJWI, a Haitian AM station currently on 1610 AM, wants to change its frequency to 1410, which is where CFMB used to be. The move would put CJWI in the regular, non-extended AM band, allowing people with older radios to hear it. It also wants to increase its output power from 1kW to 10kW, and relocate its transmitter.

Rogers, small cable companies get nannied

The Canadian Cable Systems Alliance asked the CRTC to intervene in stalled negotiations it was having on behalf of small cable companies across the country with Rogers over its SportsNet service. The CRTC has the power to intervene in these cases, but it prefers not to. However, since regulations require some cable companies to carry SportsNet (and will until new regulations take effect in 2011 that deregulate the cable sports channels), it decided it must step in here. Details are kept in confidence to protect both businesses, so that’s about all we know.

Slice wants less CanCon

Canwest-owned Slice channel has noticed that its Canadian content requirements are much higher than what other specialty channels require, so it wants to get the same deal. It’s asking that its CanCon minimum programming requirement be dropped from 82.5% to 60%, and that it be forced to spend only 45% instead of 71% of revenues on Canadian programming.

City wants less CanCon movies

Citytv has asked the CRTC for a change in license that would eliminate a requirement to air 100 hours of Canadian movies each year – which works out to about a movie a week. Rogers (which owns City now) argues that it is the only conventional broadcaster that has this requirement and it shouldn’t be singled out. Canadian movie-makers say Rogers has pulled a bait and switch, praising Canadian movies when it bought the network and now quietly wanting to get rid of them.

Want Al-Jazeera?

The CRTC is opening up the can of worms about allowing Al-Jazeera English into the country. The commission had previously approved the Arabic-language version of the network, with unique requirements that distributors monitor and censor its content, something that requires far too much work for the cable and satellite companies.

The commission is considering adding the English channel to eligible foreign networks that cable and satellite can add to their lineups, but it wants comments from Canadians who might be opposed to it. They specifically want evidence of abusive comments, with tapes if possible.

More specialty channels

Conventional TV may be dying, but specialty channels are exploding like nobody’s business. The CRTC is holding a hearing on July 21 where it will listen to proposals for new networks:

  • Black Entertainment Television Canada (English and French) – self-explanatory, I would imagine.
  • Reality TV – A Canwest proposal for reality shows, DIY programs and scripted reality shows. This network was originally approved by the CRTC in 2005, but expired before Canwest could launch it, forcing them to start over from scratch.
  • AMET-TV, an African and Afro-Caribbean-themed channel that carries programming in English (70%), French (20%) and African languages (10%)
  • New Tang Dynasty Television Canada HD, a generalist network mainly in Mandarin but also other Chinese languages.

CPAC wants to be patriotic

CPAC, the politics channel that carries House of Commons proceedings among other things, is asking for permission to expand its boundaries on July 1 of each year. It wants to add three programming categories which would allow it to carry musical performance, variety, entertainment and related programming from Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill and elsewhere. A reasonable request if I’ve ever heard one, though I don’t think there are similarly specific exceptions to such rules on other channels.

A bold move

The CBC was in the process of getting slapped by the CRTC because it was violating its license with respect to Bold, a specialty channel. Formerly Country Canada, its license says it should air programming directed toward rural Canadians. But since then it’s basically been a dumping ground for whatever content the network wants to put there.

After the CRTC called a hearing, the CBC waved the white flag. It has proposed a license amendment, though one that would keep the rural focus.

Good news, bad news for Olympics

Following a request from the CRTC chairman, CTV and the CBC have been in talks about using CBC stations to broadcast French-language Olympics coverage for the tiny, tiny portion of Canadians who:

  • are unilingual francophones
  • don’t live in Quebec or within range of a TQS station
  • don’t have cable or satellite TV service
  • don’t have broadband Internet access
  • AND want to watch the Olympics in French on TV

You’d think this number would be so small as to be negligible (about 10,000 apparently fit the first three criteria), but in the spirit of political correctness, CTV (which owns the broadcast rights and is part of a giant consortium that’s covering the games) is looking at using some CBC stations to retransmit its TQS/RDS Olympics coverage over the air.

The problem is that the CBC isn’t crazy about donating the stations and getting nothing in return. Specifically, the debate is over ad revenue: CTV wants to keep it all (minus some compensation for what they would have had with their regular programming), and CBC thinks that’s crazy.

On the plus side, Corus has joined the giant consortium, which currently includes CTV (with TSN and RDS), TQS, Rogers and APTN. Corus will have Olympics coverage (though it doesn’t sound like much) on CKAC Sports as well as updates on CKOI, Info 690 and 98.5FM in Montreal.

In other news

And finally, not that anyone doubted it would happen, but the CRTC has allowed CBC Television and Télévision Radio-Canada to continue to operate for another year.

RadCan to air Quebec university football games

For those who think Radio-Canada hasn’t been doing enough to fulfill its mandate as a broadcaster of sports since the last Soirée du Hockey, the Queen’s network has announced that it will air live telecasts of Quebec University Football League games, including the annual Shaughnessy Cup matchup between the McGill Redmen and Concordia Stingers, and playoff games including the national Vanier Cup championship game.

Last year, these games aired on RDS.

The schedule includes two other games involving Concordia University, but no others involving McGill.

Which is as it should be because the Redmen suck.

Go Stingers!

Impact broadcast schedule same as last year

Impact scarf

The broadcast schedule for this year’s Impact games has come out, and it’s exactly the same as last year:

  • Radio-Canada will broadcast nine home games and one away game, as well as all playoff games
  • CKAC and the Team 990 will broadcast all 15 home games, two Canadian Championship games at Saputo Stadium (against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC) as well as all playoff games

Both press releases talk about how the Impact has become more mainstream in Montreal and has attracted a lot of fans, especially thanks to its CONCACAF Champions League run this year.

But the news is still disappointing to me. None of the broadcasters has increased its commitment, and none of them will be broadcasting regular-season away games (besides the one on RadCan). Choosing only to broadcast home games during the regular season no doubt saves a lot of money, but it sounds pretty half-assed.

So for another season, Impact fans who want to catch away games will be forced to fork over money watch it online for free at USLLive.com

CBC cuts 800 jobs

560 at Canwest

600 at Sun Media

100 at Rogers

105 at CTV, plus another 118 at A-Channel

In an environment where about one journalist in six in Canada has lost their job, that number just got a lot worse. CBC/Radio-Canada announced 800 job cuts today (about half split between the two sides to maintain political correctness) as part of an effort to balance a $171-million budget deficit. Even then, most of the money will come not from job cuts but from sales of assets (CBC owns quite a bit of land, for example, including the Maison Radio-Canada downtown, which it is hoping to convert into condos) and other vaguely-described programming cuts. Senior executives’ salaries are also being reduced by 20%.

Some statistics:

  • 393 cuts in English services, 336 cuts in French services, 70 cuts at the corporate level
  • 80% of cuts will come at the network level, 20% at regions. The CBC says it won’t shut down any regional stations
  • 17% of cuts are in radio, 83% in television. No plans to introduce advertising on CBC Radio, and the television schedule is to remain “largely intact” with no additional U.S. programming

Perhaps most telling, the CBC’s Hubert Lacroix said the network wants to transition “from being a TV provider to a provider of video content” (and similarly for radio). Not quite sure what that means exactly, but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Radio-Canada.ca launches Mère Indigne web series

Chroniques d'une Mère Indigne

Caroline Allard has been busy. The blogueuse-vedette known as the Mère Indigne who turned her blog about parenting into a book was on Tout le monde en parle Sunday night and Christianne Charette Monday morning talking about the sequel to the book and a new online video series on radio-canada.ca that launched Monday night starring Marie-Hélène Thibault. (The fact that these are all part of the Radio-Canada family is a coincidence, I’m sure.)

You can also see a video interview with Allard on the series website, as well as a short piece explaining the series.

Unfortunately, Radio-Canada is using Microsoft Silverlight for its video, which meant I had to install that software and then switch from Firefox to Safari in order to see it. Is Flash-based video still too difficult? Or Quicktime? Or YouTube?

Google Maps helping the story

Agrandir le plan

The Minister of Transport today released a list of intersections in Quebec where photo radars will be installed to catch people running red lights.

Radio-Canada did the obvious thing with it: creating a Google map.

These kinds of things are much more useful than lists, as I learned when I created a Google map of dangerous overpasses last year.

CFCF, welcome to Web 1.0

The new Pulse ... err, CFCF ... err, CTV Montreal website

The new Pulse ... err, CFCF ... err, CTV Montreal website

It’s not even that we made fun of CFCF’s website for how bad it was, how it looked like it hadn’t been redesigned since the 90s (actually, its last redesign was in 2004, but that wasn’t much better than its 90s look). It’s that it was so bad it was completely off the radar. You couldn’t link to news stories because there was no archival system for them. Forget Web 2.0, it wasn’t even Web 1.0.

Well, some of that’s changed now. CTV has rolled out new websites for all its local stations, including CFCF in Montreal. It includes crazy Web 1.0 features like having individual stories on their own pages, links to wire stories, and individual pages for special features. The weather page has actual graphics from the show and even an embedded video of the latest local forecast (which for some reason is done exclusively for the web instead of just taking video from the latest newscast). It’s even got an RSS feed, and the video player is improved (it’s embedded instead of being a popup).

Looking for crap? Well they have that too. The community calendar page and lotteries page both have that vintage 90s feel to them. The traffic page is nothing but links to Transport Quebec highway cameras.

If you’re expecting bleeding-edge features like the ability to comment on stories, sadly you’re out of luck. They point you to a contact form if you want to comment on a story. But they include handy Facebook and Digg links, so you can comment on the story on someone else’s website. There’s hints of a mobile site, but apparently that’s available for every local station except Montreal.

Melissa Wheeler continues the tradition of hot web reporters

Melissa Wheeler continues the tradition of hot web reporters

The About Us page includes bios of all the “personalities”, which now (finally) include Daniele Hamamdjian and Maya Johnson, as well as this Melissa Wheeler person, who I’m sure is doing the best she can with this antiquated technology. They also list important executives like Barry Wilson and Jed Kahane.

Radio-Canada redesigned

RadCan also rolled its new design into service recently. It’s apparently to spotlight audio and video (which, coincidentally, is what RadCan is all about), but the audio and video player is just as crappy as it was before, mainly because it’s still based on Windows Media instead of Flash.

Bye-Bye won’t go away

Quebec has two New Year’s traditions: one is watching Radio-Canada’s Bye-Bye variety show. The other is spending an entire fucking week MONTH talking about it in the press.

It’s gotten so bad the anglo media is starting to take notice, with belated articles in the National Post and Globe and Mail. Naturally, the Journal has an article talking about how there’s articles in the anglo media about this now.

Now that this is officially a thing, the media is putting together stories about the stories:

This doesn’t even include all the stuff that was written about it before it aired.

And this is just the beginning folks. Some actual news better break to push this off the front page or Jean Charest is going to have to create a commission on this.

UPDATE (Jan. 9): Véro and Louis’s mea-culpa-but-not-really has ensured at least a few more days of this.

Bye Bye online

I was going to write a post about how Radio-Canada doesn’t put their television programs online for us to watch (unlike Global and CTV) despite being paid for by our taxes.

Turns out they have posted the Bye Bye and other New Year’s Eve programs for viewing, for a month. I realize licensing can be a complicated issue sometimes, but is it really so hard to get new programming to include unlimited online broadcast rights?

You can see the Bye Bye starting here in Windows Media format (and decide for yourself whether it’s as racist as everyone says it is). There’s also Laflaque, Infoman and TLMEP.

Unfortunately, the battle to get CBC and RadCan away from that horrible video format is still ongoing.

UPDATE (Jan. 6): Presse canadienne reports that 28 people complained to the CRTC about the Bye Bye, which doesn’t really tell us anything since it’s the nature of the complaints that matter. Radio-Canada has received hundreds of complaints.

Bernard who?

Luc Lavigne photo (with some improvements)

Luc Lavigne photo (with some improvements)

Back when Bill Haugland, a fixture of CFCF’s newscast for almost a half-century and the long-time anchor of Pulse News, retired from the anchor’s chair two years ago, CTV’s Montreal station made a big deal about his departure. There was even a half-hour special about it, which is saying quite a bit in an era where locally-produced English-language television is extremely rare.

One of the things that special included was some classy sendoffs from anchors of competing newscasts. Not only did Global’s Jamie Orchard (who worked at CTV before joining Global) and CBC’s Dennis Trudeau (for a long time his direct competitor) give heartfelt goodbyes, but there were messages from the anchors of TVA and Radio-Canada’s newscasts, the latter from Bernard Derome.

So when Derome, who has been in RadCan’s anchor chair since (insert lame joke here), retired himself last week (albeit for the second time), the anglos returned the favour. CTV’s newscast had an item on Derome’s departure, and The Gazette had a feature piece and an editorial on it (despite what some in the francophone media may think, my paper doesn’t completely ignore what goes on in the other solitude).

It wasn’t the kind of Deromania that’s been flooding RadCan and La Presse recently (note to self: retire in late December when there’s no other news going on so I get more ink), but there was an acknowledgment that one of Quebec’s biggest vedettes was ending a storied career.

As for TVA, RadCan’s biggest (and with the departure of TQS’s news division, only) news competitor … absolutely nothing, according to Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien. A big “fuck you” without saing a word.

It’s sad what the drive for competition can do to strip some people of any sense of class.

It’s something where, frankly, je souhaite que la tendence ne se maintient pas.

RadCan ReDesign

Radio-Canada is publicizing a beta version of its redesigned news homepage, and is asking people what they think of it. Comparing it with the previous version, and you see the main story is much more prominent, there are some colour changes, and elements are rearranged, but there’s little else to speak of (except, perhaps, the “Error processing SSI file” messages I keep seeing).

This comes on the heels of its new Zone Musique site.

No more glass ceiling at RadCan

Since I don’t want to be the only person not talking about it, I should mention the big news this week that Céline Galipeau will take over from Bernard Derome in Quebec’s most prestigious news position, anchoring Radio-Canada’s Téléjournal, starting next year. This ironically comes after the Quebec council on the status of women went all pissy on RadCan for moving Dominique Poirier and Pascale Nadeau out of their current jobs. (Nadeau takes over as weekend host of the TJ, and Poirier is considering her options, which include Ottawa Bureau Chief.) The council issued a statement today saying it’s totally cool with this appointment.

So is Josée Legault, who writes today that Quebec is a leader in putting female faces in its news broadcasts.

As for the anglo TV broadcasts, while CBC is still relegating women mostly to the sidelines, Global has Jamie Orchard and (currently-on-mat-leave) Amanda Jelowicki, and CTV has, of course, The Great Mutsumi Takahashi, plus the team of weatherbabes, reporterbabes and weekend anchorbabes (including Lori Graham, who’s currently hosting Good Morning Canada from Montreal).

This isn’t the first time the CSF and its president Christiane Pelchat have put their foot in it. Last year, it famously suggested that the Quebec charter be changed to include a hierarchy of rights, putting equality of the sexes above freedom of religion. It also suggested (and continues to suggest) that people in professional positions such as teachers be prohibited from wearing any visibly religious symbol, except for crosses, of course, because Christianity is the One True Religion.

That said, RadCan hasn’t given a satisfactory explanation for why Nadeau and Poirier are being tossed around. By all accounts they’re very capable journalists and anchors. Were they unpopular? Are new shows being launched to take their places? Do they have to fit Jean-Luc Mongrain in there somewhere? What’s the deal?

UPDATE: Poirier says she won’t move to Ottawa and is quitting RadCan.

UPDATE (June 18): The Globe and Mail covers Galipeau vs. Thibault.