Tag Archives: TVA

TVA hates Lagacé

I’ve always admired Patrick Lagacé. The way he works hard, the way he does his homework before putting together insightful commentary (instead of knee-jerk reactions), his hair, and the fact he puts me on his blogroll.

But more importantly, I admire the impact he has. Like being able to piss off the entire management team at TVA.

Yesterday, La Presse published a really long letter signed by four executives at TVA which accuses Lagacé of not checking his facts in a recent column about the network burying embarrassing news about itself and friends of owner Quebecor.

As Lagacé mentions at the end of the column, TVA is suing Gesca and Lagacé personally for his previous remarks on this issue.

For the benefit of those who don’t want to read the long letter, or whose French is rusty, here’s TVA’s main points:

  1. TVA’s news coverage is dictated by TVA, not Quebecor. Quebecor has no control. No control my ass. You don’t get to own the media unless you can tell it what to do occasionally. Obviously TVA decides what the day-to-day news is going to be, but don’t tell me there isn’t some middle manager who knows he’s more likely to get a promotion and less likely to be fired if he suppresses bad news and promotes good news. Just look at its collusion cooperation with Quebecor-owned Journal de Montréal or Quebecor-owned Videotron.
  2. TVA did, in fact, allow clips critical of TVA to be aired, contrary to Lagacé’s insinuations. OK, sure. I’ll concede that point, though Lagacé got his information from Le Soleil, which got a quote from TVA saying they can decide what to air and what not to air. But stories can be buried without being totally eliminated. Newspapers do it all the time: putting good news on A1 or A2, while leaving bad news to a brief at the back of the business section.
  3. TVA didn’t talk about 15 job cuts at TVA Québec because it was a non-story, and it was really four job cuts, and only one in news. As Lagacé mentions, it was still 15 job cuts at a regional station, whether or not some people stayed on part-time in another role.
  4. Lagacé made no attempt to contact TVA before his article was published to check these facts. Lagacé says he tried to contact Quebecor but got no response.

Left unmentioned by both parties is that Lagacé used to be part of the Quebecor family when he worked for the Journal and blogged for Canoe. To say there’s bad blood between the two might be considered an understatement.

But, of course, Quebecor doesn’t control TVA. So this silly conspiracy theory has no basis, right?

TVA mad at La Presse for suggesting they have managers

The petty legal war between the francophone media continues, as Groupe TVA (read: Quebecor/TVA/Journal de Montréal/Canoe) sent a lawyer’s letter to Groupe Gesca (read: La Presse/Cyberpresse) demanding that they retract statements that suggested the whole blurring-the-face-of-Bernier’s-biker-girlfriend thing was done on orders from management, according to Le Devoir (subscription-locked, sorry).

Specifically, it takes issue with an article from Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien and a blog post from Patrick Lagacé, both of which suggest that the decision was suspicious (the latter suggests that a friendship between Maxime Bernier and Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau might have something to do with it).

I honestly have no idea what’s going through the minds of people at Quebecor (or just TVA?). Are they suggesting that management was not involved in this decision, and that any statement otherwise libels them somehow? Are we to believe that some non-management person made such a controversial decision on a major news story without discussing it with higher-ups?

And are we just to take it as coincidence that the Journal and TVA, both owned by Quebecor, are the only two news outlets that have kept her name secret?

Seriously, what’s their problem?

UPDATE: The Gazette’s Liz Thompson is also like: Dude, WTF?

Journalist, criticize thyself

This is why people don’t trust the media anymore: La Presse says TVA isn’t covering the Journal de Québec situation fairly, because both are owned by Quebecor.

There’s this thing with the media that’s always annoyed me:

  1. Journalists love to talk about their industry with other journalists
  2. People love reading about the media (within reason, of course)
  3. Journalists are hesitant to write about matters that are “in the family” (owned by the same company) or within the media outlet itself, whether because of paranoid self-censorship or orders from upper management not to pursue a story
  4. Journalists and their media outlets will never talk about their competition, unless it’s to report something bad about them, in which case they go all out.

La Presse isn’t immune to this. Neither is The Gazette (the paper I work for), nor any other media outlet I can think of. And the larger the corporate empire, the worse the problem gets.

Why can’t they be more honest about themselves? Giving a union boss criticizing a platform to criticize you makes you look bad, but denying that union boss a voice makes you look worse.

Remember: It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

Don’t act in competing TV series in Quebec

La Presse reports that Louis Morissette, who stars in Radio-Canada’s C.A., was scrubbed from a list of potential actors for the upcoming season of TVA’s Lance et compte, even before he could audition for a part.

The reason is simple: The two shows air at the same time, opposite each other.

I’ve always found it cute when I could see one person on two different channels at the same time, for whatever reason. But I hadn’t considered the idea that the network would care so much about it.

Karla Homolka found… again

Where in the world is Karla Homolka?

The winner of this round of Where is Karla Homolka Now? goes to TVA, for their EXCLUSIVE report that she’s trying to make a new life for herself in the Antilles.

Did I mention it was an EXCLUSIVE report? An EXCLUSIVE special report, even? Because this report has special EXCLUSIVITY written all over it. EXCLUSIVITATION is what it’s all about. EXCLUSIVELY.

The “reporteurs d’un réseau anglophone” they EXCLUSIVELY speak of (God forbid they should name another media outlet in their EXCLUSIVE report) is Global Quebec’s Domenic Fazioli, who EXCLUSIVELY tracked her down to an East-end apartment in July 2006.

But that doesn’t make TVA’s report any less EXCLUSIVE.

UPDATE: Both CanWest News Service and Canadian Press have put out wire stories that rewrite what TVA reported, even though TVA doesn’t provide a source for their report and nobody can verify any new information about her.

Québec à la une: An advertorial in three parts

I was tuning into TVA this evening to catch the series finale of Vlog, when I stumbled on a documentary about the Journal de Montréal called Québec à la une.

The documentary is an interesting look at the history of the newspaper known for its attention-whoring headlines, spending its first episode concentrating on the October Crisis that brought it into the mainstream and launched its Sunday edition.

But I can’t get over the fact that this is airing on TVA, which is owned by the same company that owns the Journal. In fact, Quebecor is run by Pierre-Karl Péladeau, and his father Pierre Péladeau is the guy getting a posthumous public blowjob in this rather one-sided documentary. (No mention of the Philadelphia Journal here.)

The appearance of the younger Péladeau on screen after the end of the documentary talking about how great Quebecor and the Journal de Montréal are sealed the deal. I’m still not sure if that was a paid advertisement or part of the documentary. Of course it doesn’t matter, because Péladeau would have just been paying himself.

It’s unfortunate, because a look at the big Montreal newspaper upheavals of the 1960s and 70s makes for interesting storytelling.

Québec à la une airs Tuesday, Dec. 4 and 11 at 9pm on TVA. The show is also available for free for Videotron Illico digital TV subscribers on its video-on-demand service (Channel 900, under “TV on demand” -> “TVA on demand”).

Vlog cancelled

The rumours are true. TVA confirmed this morning that Vlog, Dominic Arpin’s web video show, will be aired for the last time on Dec. 2.

The network hasn’t shut the door completely on having an overhauled version come back in the new year, although that glimmer of hope sounds a lot like what your ex-girlfriend tells you about the possibility of getting back together someday, to soften the blow when she dumps your ass on the curb.

Arpin, who has stayed mostly silent since he heard the news on Friday, opened up on the show’s Facebook group. He’ll be technically unemployed by the end of the year after leaving both journalism and his blog to focus all his energies on this project which has now slipped through his fingers. He still hasn’t decided what to do with his future (welcome to the club), but he isn’t too keen on going back to his old job.

His text is reposted here for those who don’t have Facebook:

Désolé pour le silence-radio des derniers jours, les amis. Par respect pour TVA, il était préférable que le département des communications se charge d’annoncer le sort de Vlog plutôt que moi ou un membre de l’équipe. Ça explique notre discrétion ici depuis que le début des rumeurs. Ainsi donc, Vlog cessera d’être diffusé à compter du 2 décembre prochain. Nous l’avons appris vendredi dernier, sur l’heure du dîner. Déçu? C’est certain. J’ai dû me mordre l’intérieur de la bouche pour ne pas pleurer devant les producteurs lors de l’annonce. J’ai tellement investi de temps et d’espoir dans cette émission que je me suis senti anéanti, l’espace de quelques heures. Et puis j’ai réfléchi. J’ai réfléchi au bonheur que ce projet m’a procuré, à tout ce que j’ai appris durant les derniers mois, à ces nouveaux amis qu’il a mis sur ma route, au privilège que j’ai eu d’animer une émission novatrice en prime time à TVA. Ça, personne ne pourra me l’enlever.

Bien sûr, il y a ce sentiment d’échec qui me tourne autour, qui tente de m’écraser de tout son poids. Il a bien failli réussir, d’ailleurs. Mais savez quoi? Il n’arrive pas à la hauteur de la fierté que j’ai d’avoir participé à ce projet. Je suis fier de ce que je vois en ondes, fier de notre petite équipe qui travaille comme des malades depuis septembre, fier d’avoir créé la première émission du genre au Québec. Tant pis si elle ne revient pas en janvier, on en aura toujours bien fait une dizaine. Et TVA dit ne pas fermer la porte à un retour futur de l’émission.

Que va-t-il m’arriver maintenant? Honnêtement, je n’en sais rien. Techniquement, je peux retourner travailler dans la salle des nouvelles de TVA, mais je dois réfléchir avant de prendre ma décision.

En terminant, merci de votre support, merci pour le groupe Sauvons Vlog sur Facebook, merci de vos messages de sympathies, vous m’avez fait un bien immense durant la tempête des derniers jours. Presque autant que ma collection de scotch single malt ;-)

There was also a note from director Jean-François Desmarais:

Ce qu’est Vlog?

Vlog se veut être une représentation de la communauté web à l’antenne d’un généraliste. Avec Vlog on peut faire une intégration parfaite de la famille Québecor tout en donnant une voix à la masse. Enfin l’empire peut être en lien avec sa base. Enfin, le public peut participer de façon active au fonctionnement d’une émission. Enfin, le spectateur peut influencer un contenu et enfin le web rejoint entièrement la télé.

Vlog se veut être le porte voix des phénomènes hétéroclytes que l’on peut retrouver sur la toile.

Partir un nouveau show demande réflexion et énergie de la part de bon nombres d’intervenants. Partir un nouveau concept exige une dose de courage et de persévérance.

Pour moi, Vlog fut l’occasion de travailler avec une équipe qui voulait apporter un vent de fraîcheur ;)avec un nouveau look et un nouveau contenu.

Mais avant tout Vlog fut une porte qui nous a mis un lien directe avec ce qui est le plus important en TV: notre téléspectateur.

En terminant, ce fut un réel plaisir de travailler avec toi, Dominic, et je me dois de le mentionner publiquement. Merci pour cette expérience!

PS. En mon nom, je vous remercie sincèrement, membre du groupe Vlog et l’autre (comment y s’appelle encore;)))) pour votre support et vos commentaires.

Maintenant, moi, j’opte pour un rhume on the rock!

Réalisateur Vlog

The Facebook group to save the show, meanwhile, already has 172 members and is growing. (The official Facebook group is at over 1,200.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an article to rewrite.

Vlog in danger of cancellation

UPDATE (Nov. 13): It’s official: the show has been cancelled. See the latest post for more details.

Vlog, the TVA viral video show that airs after Occupation Double on Sundays, is apparently in danger of cancellation. Within hours of the rumour starting there’s already a Facebook group to save the show and suggestions for what host Dominic Arpin should do now. (He’s already shut down his blog, despite my objections.)

According to a funny-looking, funky-dancing, hairline-receding source at the show who I won’t name (at least not in this paragraph), the rumours have some truth to them. Director Jean-François Desmarais mentions on the Facebook page that “sad news” is coming tomorrow (Monday).

If the show is cancelled (and rumours like this tend not to propagate until after the decision has been made), that would be a shame. Despite its popular lead-in show, the start-up series has been a victim of horrible scheduling (it always starts late, and it’s on against Tout le monde en parle), insufficient advertising and a general lack of effort on the part of TVA to give it a chance to succeed.

But there’s a more important issue here: How this affects me. You see, I interviewed Arpin for an article I wrote about Vlog, which probably won’t be published for a week or two. If the show is cancelled by then, the article will be dated before it’s even printed. It’s not like I could just add a line that says “oh yeah and the show was cancelled”. So please, TVA, for my sake, don’t cancel the show (at least not until next month).

Vlog airs Sunday nights at an entirely unpredictable time between 9:30 and 10:30 on TVA. Let’s hope tonight’s episode won’t be the series finale.

Media don’t take quizzes seriously

First CBC’s Test the Nation had a small problem with its algebra, then a Cyberpresse quiz was riddled with grammatical errors. Now comes news that a TVA spelling quiz had errors of its own.

The blog post points out that the test was developed by a French teacher and that this teacher made the errors. It also gives some complete B.S. about how the media is thorough in its research, which it clearly isn’t.

Having a professional create the test was a good move for TVA. But not having the test verified by another professional was where they failed. It’s relying on a single source to verify that something is accurate. This is one of the first things they tell you in journalism school not to do.

But TVA wasn’t concerned too much with accuracy, because they didn’t take it seriously. Just like the other tests given in the media, it was nothing more than a gimmick to fill air time and possibly generate ratings. Infotainment that had nothing to do with quality journalism.

Until the media start taking these kinds of tests seriously and having them properly verified, the public can put about as much faith in them as they have in the spelling accuracy on this blog: not mcuh.

Quebecor’s newsrooms 99.9% separate

Quebecor Media is getting a slap on the wrist from a committee setup to oversee the separation of its newsrooms. They found three instances where the Journal de Québec took photos from TVA, which violates the promise Quebecor made to the CRTC to keep their newsrooms completely separate.

I think the cat’s out of the bag when it comes to merging newsrooms. Quebecor has already combined its online properties into the monster Canoe. They’ll just keep finding ways to consolidate their assets without pissing off the CRTC too much.

Another thing that’s interesting about this situation is that two of the three instances happened while the Journal de Québec was in a labour disruption (which is still going on, by the way). The union might have something to say about that.

Vlog: Getting better

I just finished the third episode of TVA’s Vlog, which I’ve been following since its debut with a critical eye.

I find myself liking the show a bit more this time around, partly because of subtle changes made to it, and partly because I think I might have been a bit harsh in my original analysis.

The show is showing more videos I haven’t seen before, and is showing more of them. The hosts also seem a bit more comfortable in their roles, and their banter seems a bit less fake. The fact that host Dominic Arpin is listening to his audience is also worthy of praise.

Nevertheless, there’s still some issues with the show, and I hope Arpin & Co. will take this criticism constructively:

  • A fantastic video of George W. Bush singing Sunday Bloody Sunday was shown with subtitles explaining the lyrics. I’ve always gotten annoyed by Quebec media (and especially Montreal media) who seem to ignore the fact that 40% of Quebecers are bilingual (in Montreal, the percentage is even higher, around 50%). But even if you ignore the statistic, what’s important isn’t so much the lyrics as the editing that made the words match. (Or am I on the wrong track here? Francophones who can’t understand English can respond below)
  • Can we be done with the Occupation Double Top 3 videos please? They’re not funny, they’re not interesting, and for some strange reason they’re not even of very good quality. Due to how fast they go through them, it seems the Vlog people are being ordered by TVA to plug the show in this way, which would be a shame. It serves no useful purpose.
  • Any chance you could start on time once in a blue moon? I’m sure there’s a valid reason why the show is always delayed by up to half an hour. But this is not the way to gain viewership to a new show. The few who remembered to tune in an hour later than “usual” this week saw some woman being interviewed on a terrace. If you don’t care about anyone but those who watch Occupation Double and want to stick around, that’s fine, but some of us don’t want to watch that crap on Sunday night.
  • When asking people to submit videos of themselves doing things, don’t relegate them to a tiny corner of an otherwise blank screen showing the credits while an announcer promos upcoming shows. Give them at least a bit of spotlight, or they’ll stop producing.
  • And Dominic, as for your dancing…

One thing I’ll stop criticizing the show for, however, is using old videos. The Sunday Bloody Sunday video referenced above is good, and many people haven’t seen it. I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t be showcased on the show. (If anything, an old video that’s out of the spotlight will have been seen by fewer viewers than one that’s burning up YouTube.) Unless it’s tied to some dated news event, go ahead and show it.

Your website still sucks

I’m debating putting that subhead in bright orange just so the powers that be at Canoe figure it out. As far as I can tell, not a single improvement has been made to the website for the show since its launch, despite some very serious problems with it:

  • The URL (tva.canoe.com/emissions/vlog/) is way, way too long
  • The homepage automatically plays a video with audio without asking permission
  • Navigation is done using Flash instead of HTML links (overuse of Flash and Web 2.0-ish bad design is a problem all over the site)
  • There’s a button to watch the show live, but it only works when the show is on TV. This goes against the entire point of the Web.
  • Links to videos featured on the site force new windows to pop up instead of just being HTML links that people can control based on their browsing preferences
  • Clicking on the link for “Blogue” still brings you to a page that’s devoid of content and is missing the navigation buttons related to the show.
  • Doing anything on the website requires going through the 17,000-step Canoe registration process.

All these things need to be dealt with before we can even get to suggestions to improve it (like having an RSS feed with links to all the videos seen in the show).

More suggestions for Vlog

After the Domster asked me to hold my judgment about his new show Vlog, I promised to take a look at their second episode and report back.

The second episode was pretty well identical to the first in format and style. Still, I’m noticing more things about the show worthy of improvement.

The show’s format seems to be pretty simple. Borne and Arpin stand in an all-white room with TV screens and a couch, banter among each other like a cheesy infomercial and show clips (between 5 and 15 seconds) of videos that are popular online, including:

  • Corporate “viral” advertising campaigns: The first video that played for more than a few seconds was the latest video of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which features a young girl bombarded by images from the media presenting unrealistic ideas of the ideal female form. Ironically, it was introduced by Geneviève Borne, who while I’m sure isn’t a bimbo in real life, was clearly hired to do this show because she looks like one.
  • Game shows in other countries: This week, it was other-language versions of Deal or No Deal (or Le Banquier, which amazingly enough is a TVA show). There’s also more Japanese game show videos, which look like they’re going to become a weekly feature here.
  • YouTube’s top 10: Clips we’ve seen before but maybe TVA’s grandmother demographic hasn’t, like ol’ Miss U.S. Americans and the Swiss firefighters. The argument, and I suppose it makes sense, is that their target audience isn’t us web geeks but normals who aren’t browsing the YouTube or the blogs. I think that audience will be shrinking.
  • Blatantly transparent cross-promotion: In this case, their “top 3” videos from Occupation Double, the reality show that precedes it (for those unfamiliar, it’s like porn, only the plots aren’t as interesting, the makeup is more caked on and the sex isn’t as graphic). As bad as it is to feature clips from your own network’s show as if they were the most popular videos on YouTube, what’s worse is that the clips are meaningless and entirely uninteresting to people like me who avoid such crap programming.

In the spirit of constructive criticism, allow me to make some additional suggestions on how to improve the show:

  • Kill the silly banter and lame jokes. You’re not actors, and it comes across as fake. It’s bad enough I have to endure that on the local news, but at least they can make the excuse that it’s live TV. (For that matter, why does this show have two hosts anyway?) Dominic, you don’t have to pretend to be hip and cool, because you’re already hip and cool.
  • Find some unsung heroes. Look at videos that haven’t yet become popular and give them some mainstream attention.
  • Forget the Occupation Double videos. Your viewers aren’t idiots, and you’ll lose what little respect you have if you start giving special treatment to everything TVA/Canoe/Quebecor.

I wish I had some more suggestions, but you’re really going through uncharted territory here. In the U.S., ABC’s iCaught seems to focus on interviewing video creators and discussing issues related to online video. I’m not sure if that’s the way to go, but it’s an option. And it feels less weird than just profiting off other people’s creativity.

That said, my criticism’s of the show’s website still stand. It’s nice that it shows the videos you use, but it’s still far too hard to navigate. Fix that and you’ll earn more respect from me.

Plagiarism from those who should know better

Shouldn’t TVA know by now that grabbing whatever comes up under Google Image Search isn’t free for you to use as you wish?

TVA plagiarism

Apparently not. On the left here is a screenshot from a TVA news report. On the right is the photo they used, taken by a Montreal blogger who isn’t happy about it being used without his permission. (For those who think it’s a coincidence, check out the train in the lower right corner of the photo.)

Meanwhile, Canoe, the Quebecor-owned web portal, also used the same photo to illustrate a Journal de Montréal story (not sure if it was in the paper itself), though they credited the author, as if that somehow gives them free reign to use other people’s copyrighted work without permission or compensation.

As a freelancer, you can imagine how much this annoys me.