Tag Archives: Vancouver Olympics

The Bay hates Canada

First they gave us those awful clothes for the 2008 games in Beijing.

Now, The Bay is offering U.S. Olympic team apparel in their stores:

Clearly The Bay has either given up on this country or, worse, is purposefully trying to undermine it. Perhaps they are being influenced by an evil foreign power, or they’ve become distracted by pretty American things, or maybe we just did something to piss them off.

Either way, as Canadians, we must rise up and perform our duty, assert our national identity and show the world we are Canadian.

I will be the first.

Hey U.S.A., sorry aboot all that, eh?

The CBC-Post monster is getting bigger

Hey, remember when the CBC and National Post signed that content-sharing agreement and everyone was like “dude, WTF?”

Well, it looks like they’re extending it to include coverage of the Vancouver Olympics (press release, press release on NP site), producing a “co-branded” website for coverage.

The CBC used to be king for Olympics coverage, but then it lost the rights to CTV, so it will for the first time since 1994 be covering an Olympics it doesn’t have rights to. And considering how television rights crippled CTV so much it had to show still images instead of video, expect CBC to face similar obstacles in February.

Similarly, the Post’s competitor the Globe and Mail is the official national newspaper of the Games. That won’t mean exclusive rights and it’s not clear if there are any editorial implications of this designation, but it puts the Post one step behind, at least psychologically.

But … the CBC and National Post hate each other.

Or, at least, that’s what they want us to think.

Anyone else think this is like the second season of a bad sitcom where the two main characters’ anger toward each other boils over and they explode in a torrent of rage that’s suddenly interrupted when they spontaneously get aroused and start passionately sucking face, leading to a long night of hot sex?

Are the CBC and National Post … getting it on? Is this Olympics website their illegitimate love child?

If so, when’s the hangover and walk of shame?

The power of the rings

(No, not really)

(No, not really)

It’s hard to think of an organization more anal-retentive about its trademarks than the International Olympic Committee (and, by extension, the organizing committees for the various Olympic Games). It’s bad enough nobody can use the word “Olympic” without getting angry letters from their lawyers, but now it seems they’re going a bit far, even by their own insane standards.

Take Richard Giles, who went to the Beijing Games last year and posted photos to Flickr under a Creative Commons license. That got a cease and desist letter from the IOC, who argued that the license was too generous, and allowed people to use his images for commercial purposes, which would violate the IOC’s copyrights. Even though he took the images, simply being at an Olympic event meant the IOC had a say in how he used his photos.

Or that Free Tibet protest video that was yanked off of YouTube because the group parodied the Olympic rings logo (in one case, using handcuffs). Or the Chicago Olympic bid logo that had to be changed because it contained a torch.

It’s not just the IOC. The City of Vancouver has raised the ire of civil liberties groups with a new bylaw that would make it easier for them to take down “illegal” signs (those that, say, use the Olympic logo without permission to cash in on the Games) and fine the perpetrators.

These things have already been subject to condemnation in editorials, but now it seems the message isn’t getting through.

The reason for all this, of course, is money. The Olympics are big business, TV networks spend hundred of millions of dollars on broadcast rights, and sponsors pay big money to be able to claim that they support our athletes.

That’s why there are a ridiculous amount of official suppliers for these Games. These include an official home improvement partner (Rona), an official lottery and gaming provider (B.C. Lottery Commission, who I guess aren’t concerned with how this might look), an official motor vehicle insurance company (ICBC), an official document solutions provider (Ricoh), an official medal metal supplier (Teck Resources, which is different from the official medal manufacturer, the Royal Canadian Mint), an official supplier of industrial safety and material handling equipment (Acklands Grainger), an official temperature control system supplier (Aggreko), an official hand sanitizer dispenser supplier (ALDA Pharmaceuticals), an official supplier of insulation materials and heat transfer fluids (Dow Canada), an official water management supplier (EPCOR), an official metal detector supplier (Garrett Metal Detectors), an official cereal supplier (General Mills), an official converged network equipment supplier (Nortel), an official network server supplier (Sun Microsystems of Canada), and an official natural gas pipeline operator (TransCanada).

There are also “media” suppliers, official partners that get to put the Olympic logo on their mastheads until the end of the Games. These include 19 official newspapers in Canada: the Globe and Mail is the official national print newspaper, the Canwest chain gets all 10 of its regional newspapers (including The Gazette) in the regional newspaper category, and Gesca gets its eight papers (including La Presse) in the French newspaper category.

I’m starting to think I should take down that image at the top of this post. VANOC will get mad at me for using the logos, and the category I’ve suggested might just be one that they were expecting bids for.

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.

CTV Olympics site goes live



More than a year before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics begin, CTV has launched CTVOlympics.ca and RDSolympiques.ca, where it will have coverage of the games in English and French. (This pretty much seals that RDS, not TQS, will be the primary French-language network.)

This is the first time in over a decade that CTV will be the Canadian Olympic broadcaster, and so much has changed since the early 90s (this thing called the Internet, for example).

For its first Olympic website, it does look pretty impressive. That said, I couldn’t get the video player to work (it’s Microsoft Silverlight-based, though I have that installed), and this is what happened when I tried to play with the past medal count widget:

How dare you try to compare more than four countries!

How dare you try to compare more than four countries? Behold our grammatically-incorrect error message!

Fortunately they have a year to sort that kind of stuff out.

Globe to publish on three Sundays, layoff staff

The Globe and Mail today gleefully announced that during the 2010 Olympics, it will produce special Sunday editions for the first time in its history. Unfortunately, they’ll only be distributed in British Columbia, where the games will be hosted, and they’ll only go out on three days: Feb. 14, 21, and 28, 2010.

Naturally, the article rams down our throats that these will be collectors’ editions and that people should buy 150 copies each.

What it didn’t so gleefully announce, according to J-Source, is a “voluntary separation” program to reduce staff at the paper. The email also threatens non-voluntary layoffs if not enough people choose to leave, which it suggests is likely. No hard number is given as far as the number of reductions the Globe needs. UPDATE: The Globe says between 80 and 90 people need to go, representing about 10% of the total workforce. Other coverage from AP and Reuters.

This appears to be unrelated to the 105 jobs CTV cut in November, as those were at its television assets.

For those who may know someone facing less-than-voluntary separation, Globe blogger Craig Silverman has some suggestions on how to deal with them.

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.

Want to cover the 2010 Games? Act fast

The Canadian Olympic Committee is currently accepting applications for media wishing to cover the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver/Whistler (Feb. 12-28). The catch is you have to apply, like, right now. Deadline is Oct. 6, 2008.

Quoth the COC:

The COC anticipates a great deal of interest from Canadian media wishing to cover the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, but due to the limited quantity of accreditations allotted to the COC by the International Olympic Committee, strict criteria will be applied to the allocation process. The selection criteria will include the following as priorities: national scope in coverage (agencies), readership and circulation (regional coverage or large dailies), previous history in attending and covering Olympic Games, geographical representation and linguistic equity.

Considering that even major newspapers have trouble getting accreditation to these things sometimes, don’t expect your average blogger to have much luck with this process.