Tag Archives: TQS



This one is a bit old, but I haven’t noticed much coverage of it in the anglo media: TQS has signed a deal with UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) to air 52 hours of UFC programming in Quebec, including four live matches, the first one on April 1. The programming will be produced by IDI, the production company of Marc Trudeau and Anne-Marie Losique, who I guess want a little violence to combine with their sex.

It’s a pretty big step for the bankrupt television network whose budget was so small it couldn’t put a simple entertainment news program on the air without it becoming a laughing stock.

Quebec Press Council roundup

A new round of decisions from the Quebec Press Council has been posted to its website. In addition to the Gazette case I mentioned earlier, and other dismissals, were some slaps on the wrist:

UPDATE (April 3): Le Devoir reports on these decisions a week later, saying the decisions were released “yesterday” which I guess means I’m psychic.

Politicien noir de la télé

TQS announced today (though La Presse had the scoop this morning) that Mario Dumont will be joining the network as a show host starting in September. You’ll recall TQS already has a daily newsish show hosted by a politician in André Arthur (who’s been a bit lacking in his Parliamentary attendance duties lately because of it).

Perhaps more interesting, Dumont is also being brought on as a consultant to the Rémillards, to advise them on the regenesis of their television network.

What do you think Dumont is going to recommend as far as TQS’s regional stations go?

UPDATE: Pat Lagacé has some tips for someone trying out TV for the first time. Richard Therrien meanwhile points out that the ADQ opposed Remstar’s gutting of TQS’s news division, and now Dumont is profiting off of it.

Not gonna sugarcoat this: 2 laits un sucre taken off the pot

Hey, remember TQS? It used to be a TV network until it cancelled all its programming and replaced it with ubercheap crap.

Guess what they’re doing now.

Yep, they’re cancelling the ubercheap crap. Goodbye Monsieur Showbiz, Le Retour and 2 laits, un sucre. On the plus side, there’s hints that news might be coming back (no doubt with cheaper, nonunionized and inexperienced multiplatform journalists).

UPDATE: Lise Lareau of the Canadian Media Guild has some thoughts on TQS and local TV in Canada.

TQS union suffers court setback


The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from the union representing (former) employees of TQS in Quebec City. The union had demanded that certain payments to emplpyees (severance pay and pay equity payments) be bumped to the head of the line before other creditors in the network’s bankruptcy dealings. A lower court rejected that demand, ruling that these payments should be dealt with on the same level as other creditors.

Other regular payments to employees (salary, vacation and other benefits) still had priority over creditors.

The union says it’s not giving up and will pursue other avenues to secure these payments for its members.

CTV/Rogers announce Olympic lineup

The consortium of private broadcasters headed by CTV has announced a huge lineup of play-by-play announcers, news anchors, former Olympians and other analysts who will travel to Vanvouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It also tells us what networks coverage will appear on.

In English, the team is headed by Olympic veteran Brian Williams, who left CBC in 2006 after CTV won the rights to the 2010 Games. English Games coverage will be carried on CTV’s main network, CTV-owned TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, Rogers-owned OMNI, Rogers-owned OLN (Outdoor Life Network), and ATN, along with Rogers radio stations, CTVOlympics.ca and the Globe and Mail.

There’s also, I’m sorry to say, entertainment (eTalk/Ben Mulroney) and music (MuchMusic) reporting to go along with it. (I’m not quite sure how much music-related coverage there can be of the Olympics, but whatever…)

In French, the team will be headed by Canadiens play-by-play man Pierre Houde and Olympic broadcasting veteran Richard Garneau. French Games coverage will be carried on RDS, RIS Info-Sports, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and … TQS.

There’s a certain irony in TQS being part of the deal. Its participation predates its bankruptcy and change in ownership, going back to when it was part-owned by CTVglobemedia. At the time (2005), TQS was supposed to be the primary broadcaster of French Olympic coverage. Now it seems clear that, even if TQS is going to have original Olympic programming and priority for the big-ticket events like hockey, the main network behind coverage in French is RDS.

TQS also has another problem: Unlike Radio-Canada (and to a lesser extent TVA), it doesn’t broadcast outside Quebec. So francophones outside Quebec who don’t get TQS or RDS on cable or satellite (let’s for the moment assume this is a nontrivial figure) are out of luck. On the plus side though, apparently a deal has been worked out to give cable users outside Quebec free access to RDS and TQS during the Games.

Meanwhile, advertisers are noting the highly inflated rate card CTV is using to make up for the $150 million it spent to secure rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games.

It’s just the federal government, after all

For the record:

Networks covering the Prime Minister’s address and Liberal leader Stéphane Dion’s response:

  • Radio-Canada/RDI
  • CBC/Newsworld
  • Global
  • City
  • CTV NewsNet
  • CPAC

Networks covering the Prime Minister’s address and bailing on Dion because his party couldn’t get its taped response out in under a half hour:

  • CTV (which showed Hollywood gossip show eTalk instead)

Networks who consider a prime ministerial address and a change in government insufficiently important to suspend crappy regular 7pm programming:

  • TQS
  • Télé-Québec
  • Sun TV

Networks who went the extra mile and covered a news conference by Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe:

  • Radio-Canada/RDI
  • CBC Newsworld
  • CTV Newsnet
  • CPAC

Networks who even let Jack Layton get his two cents in:

  • CBC Newsworld
  • CTV Newsnet
  • CPAC

On s’en fou un peu

You know, every time I see Prenez Garde aux Chiens, I wonder: What are these people doing on VOX?

The video above is a good parody of the whole TQS situation with the CRTC that I found on Richard Therrien’s blog. (Incidentally, there are some people – mostly male – who wonder if Bleu Nuit will return to the airwaves.)

Also be sure to check out member David Lemelin’s interview with Christiane Charette on Première Chaîne.

CRTC caves, bends rules for TQS

The CRTC today decided to bend its rules requiring a minimum amount of local news, in order to keep cash-strapped TQS alive and allow Remstar to take over as its owner.

From the CRTC press release:

In this case, we have taken into account TQS’s precarious financial situation and will allow, as a short-term measure and on an exceptional basis, a reduced amount of local news. We fully expect that TQS’s situation will permit it to improve upon this amount within three years.

While these amounts are much lower when compared to other conventional television stations, the Commission recognizes that TQS has suffered, and continues to suffer, important monetary losses. For this reason, it has allowed for a temporary measure on an exceptional basis in order to give Remstar an opportunity to improve TQS’s financial situation.

“Much lower” is right. Whereas other television stations are required to have 18 hours a week of locally-produced programming, TQS Montreal requires only 15, of which 2 would be newscasts. Stations in the regions have it even worse. Quebec City gets 10 hours of programming, and Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières only 1.5 hours a week.

The final numbers are only slightly above what Remstar suggested in the first place, and the CRTC is spinning this as them clamping down by raising a level that has been brought down crazy low so that it is slightly less crazy low.

That said, it’s nice to see that the CRTC plans to revisit this in three years. Somehow I doubt TQS will magically become solvent in that time, which probably means that this temporary measure will be de facto permanent. Remstar will see to that.

As you might expect, the union representing former TQS workers has denounced the decision, and demanded that the government get involved in the case. (And really, the only way to screw this all up even further is to get the House of Commons involved.)

But what’s the alternative? Enforce the same restrictions as the rest get, and TQS would file bankruptcy. Some suggest that’s even the way to go, because Montreal simply cannot sustain two private networks, two public networks in addition to community and ethnic stations.

I think another compromise might make more sense: Cut TQS’s broadcast license, and make it into a cable network. If they don’t want to bother with local news, they don’t have to. They can take their programming and bring it to the cable dial, where most viewers would still have access.

Local programming and news should be the price to pay in exchange for the privilege to broadcast on public airwaves.

Thanks to the CRTC, that price is lowered for the simple reason that one company doesn’t want to cough up the cash.

UPDATE (June 28): The Gazette’s Brendan Kelly has some thoughts on how everyone expected the CRTC to stand up for its rules and instead they totally caved.

Sorry, TQS, no sale

On Thursday, TQS-owner-to-be-maybe Remstar decided to cave, slightly, into the CRTC’s demands that it not completely eliminate its news department. The new plan would have 15 hours of locally-produced programming a week in Montreal, including two hours of news; 10 hours of programming with 2 hours of news in Quebec City; and 1.5 hours of programming with 50 minutes of news in Sherbrooke, Trois Rivières and Saguenay.

I’m sorry, but this shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out negotiation. The CRTC has to set limits on the amount of programming that stations need in order to have the right to broadcast on TV airwaves here. If Remstar wants to meet that requirement with TQS, fine. If not, they lose their broadcast license and they can try their luck on cable.

Looking at the anglo TV stations will quickly give an idea of the pressures against local programming. The CTV and Global stations teeter on the edge of the 18 hours of local programming required every week. Global Quebec makes a mockery of it, repeating an evening newscast at 6am the next day (a newscast, produced out of Vancouver with a local host, and which includes packages produced by other Global stations outside the province).

For more on the TQS situation by the way, check out the union-driven website TQS SOS.

TQS: Pourquoi les Pac-Man?

A video (Part 1 of 7) from TQS’s launch way back when, starring André Arthur, Jean Pouliot and all the tie-wearing executives in the TQS family.

(via Dominic Arpin)

But you’re not here for boring promotional videos, you want jingles. Here you go:

(As a bonus game, try and guess which of those clips come from original TQS shows, and which are imported U.S. hits)

CTV, TQS move to sucker-generated content

CTV has launched a new website to collect sucker-generated content, err, I mean “citizen journalism” called my.ctvnews.ca. Because their professional journalists are doing their jobs with the insight of a 15-year-old recounting gossip, it’s expected that this new citizen-generated content will provide free material for CTV to make advertising money off of.

People are encouraged to submit their own content to the website, and some have (there’s even a video from that helicopter crash last month).

But beware, doing so means you agree to their terms of service, which include:

  • By submitting your Content, for good and valuable consideration, the sufficiency and receipt of which you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to CTV Television Inc. and its affiliates and agents and each of their assigns and successors (collectively, “CTV”), a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to televise, broadcast, transmit, exploit, use, edit, reproduce, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, communicate, publicly display and perform, distribute and create compilations and derivative works from, such Content, or any portion thereof, in any manner, media or technology, including, but not limited to all forms of television, display screens, wireless and online technology, now known or later developed, without payment or any other compensation to you or any third party. (That’s all one sentence, by the way, and it means that CTV could develop the next hit comedy series based on an idea or video you submitted, and they wouldn’t have to pay you a dime or even ask your permission. They could also sell your content to others and not have to give you a cut)
  • You warrant that all “moral rights” in such materials have been waived. (This means they’re not obliged to credit you or keep the substance of your work intact)
  • If your photo or video is accepted, CTV will endeavour (but is not obliged) to publish your name alongside it.
  • In turn you’d have to accept an entirely different terms of service, which include:
    • You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless each of CTVglobemedia, its affiliates and licensors and each of their respective officers, directors, employees and agents, including all third parties mentioned on a CTVglobemedia Site, from and against any and all claims, actions or demands, including without limitation reasonable legal and accounting fees (That means if anyone sues CTV about something related to something you’ve submitted, you agree to pay their lawyers)
    • UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL ANY DISCLOSURE OF ANY IDEA AND/OR SUGGESTION OR RELATED MATERIAL TO CTVglobemedia BE SUBJECT TO ANY OBLIGATION OF CONFIDENTIALITY OR EXPECTATION OF COMPENSATION. (So if you have evidence that the prime minister is stealing cash and eating babies, they can broadcast your identity to the world.)
    • Oh, and they can change those terms without notice.
    • And if they violate what little rights you have left in this agreement, you agree not to sue. Instead, you sit with an arbitrator … in Toronto. At your own expense, of course.

And though the site advises people to “stay safe” and “don’t endanger yourself,” of the five videos listed on the page, three were of fires and two were of tornadoes. The implication clearly is that the closer you get to a disaster in progress, the more likely your video is going to be accepted and you’ll be famous.

But hey, all this is a small price to pay in exchange for … uhh … nothing.

At TQS, the image is much clearer. They’re literally replacing professional journalists with suckers willing to work for free. This hasn’t escaped the eye of some local Web 2.0 enthusiasts like Michel Dumais and Mario Asselin, who point out that this isn’t a magic bullet and citizens cannot replace professionals.

The big problem is that big media is putting up a giant, blank canvas with their Web 2.0 projects. There’s no guidance (beyond tip sheets for how to shoot acceptable video), no communication or feedback, and terms of use policies that are downright insulting, if not outright illegal. Everyone is doing this (including the people I work for), because they don’t have to spend any money on it, and they look at Web 2.0 and think they can do that too.

I looked at the issue in March, where Evan Prodromou made the point that successful Web 2.0 sites are about communities, and provide services that help them. They don’t see users as things to exploit.

But exploitation will continue so long as some people are motivated solely by that “look, I’m on the news!” and skip over terms of service that demand everything short of a first-born child with nothing in return.

I don’t want that motivation to disappear entirely (if it did, professional journalists wouldn’t be able to do their jobs anymore), but there should be some happy medium where news organizations don’t rely exclusively on amateurs willing to produce crap for free.

At what point will users rise up and demand rights in exchange for their free content?

TQS gutting news division

Well, you couldn’t say this one was unexpected. TQS is gutting its news departments across Quebec, laying off dozens of workers. (Radio-Canada incorrectly refers to this as “decimating”, when it’s clearly more than 10% of staff).

Regional news will be hardest hit, with just about every newscast outside of Montreal being cut to nothing. The entire news department is being eliminated, with 110% the only locally-produced show left. Here, some newscasts (like the morning Caféine) will be cancelled, and others reduced in length.

The changes are happening over the summer. By fall, TQS will be practically unrecognizable, and will no doubt find ways to suck even more than it already does.

The drastic cuts to local programming will require CRTC approval. But considering the alternative (bankruptcy and the loss of an entire network), a compromise will probably be worked out.

Jean-Michel Vanasse, by the way, will be among the victims.

UPDATE (April 24): The Canoe blog asks whether the loss of TQS’s news department is a big deal, since they don’t do any real journalism anyway. The Canoe blog. Sun Media’s Canoe blog. Yeah.