Film & TV News – Retraining, layoffs underway at CTV

Bell has told journalists and field technicians to expect a mix of retraining, layoffs, and new “digital” jobs, with a net reduction of staffing, according to Unifor which represents local TV news staff across the CTV chain. Stations affected by the digital-first restructuring include the CTV1 stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. The union says cameraman and reporters have been told they must reapply for new classifications that involve a mix of duties, or take severance packages (reportedly equivalent to 66 weeks). Editors and cameramen in some bureaus have been issued layoff notices or severance packages. “Retooling local news for digital is necessary and, hopefully, a successful business plan because local TV is being starved for advertising revenues and anything that brings in a bigger audience and more ad revenue is welcome,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a release. Dias is urging the federal government to accelerate its review of Canadian broadcasting. “There are obvious actions the CRTC and the federal government can take to strengthen Canadian programming,” said Dias, referring to the commission’s “Harnessing Change” report on Internet-broadcasting issued last June.

Rogers Media has made the move to cancel its fall UPfront presentation where its programming lineup for Citytv, FX, OMNI, and Sportsnet is rolled out to ad buyers. In an email to agencies, Rogers says it’s made the “difficult, but fiscally responsible decision” to instead focus on customized agency presentations that offer more of a two-way dialogue.

Global TV has announced that all of its programming is now available on Roku streaming devices in Canada. Global becomes the first Canadian broadcaster to join the platform, making its television offerings available via the Global TV App on Roku streaming players and Roku TVs. Full episodes of Global series will be available, free, on Roku streaming devices for the first seven days after they air on television. Viewers with cable subscriptions will be able to access Global’s full lineup by signing in to the Global TV App with their TV service provider credentials. Global News will be available in the “Live” feature, meaning viewers can watch the news broadcast live from the app when it’s on air. Additionally, full episodes of various Global newscasts, including Global Toronto, Global BC, Global National, The Morning Show, and The West Block, are available on demand for free. Global’s offering through Roku is ad-supported and sold through Corus. Read more here.

Groupe V Media  is partnering with Lagardère Group to launch ELLE fictions – the new channel that will replace MusiquePlus – starting this fall. Aimed at female viewers, the channel will predominantly feature scripted drama like Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, and Road to Avonlea, among others.

Telefilm Canada is inviting applications to its Production Program for francophone projects with budgets of $2.5M and more. The call follows a $7.5M funding intervention from Canadian Heritage Min. Pablo Rodriguez following reports that Telefilm had already exhausted its 2019-20 budget for French-language feature films. The deadline to apply is June 10. Guidelines, eligibility and evaluation criteria are available here.

A Maru/Blue survey finds The Big Bang Theory ranks as Canada’s favourite comedy, ahead of ratings contemporaries Friends, Seinfeld, Cheers, The Office and I Love Lucy. The Big Bang Theory hour-long series finale is set to air May 16 on CTV. According to the network, the show has been the most-watched comedy series in Canada 10 years in a row.

Sir Patrick Stewart

Bell Media will be the Canadian home to the new untitled Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard television series. With Bell Media’s acquisition of the linear television and subscription video on demand (SVOD) rights in English and French in Canada, each episode will be available simultaneously with its release in the U.S. on Bell’s Space and Z channels, streaming the following day on Crave. The new series features Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his role as the venerable Jean-Luc Picard, which he played for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the U.S., the series will be available exclusively on CBS All Access, CBS’ direct-to-consumer digital SVOD and live streaming service.

Robbie Robertson

Imagine Documentaries, White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios and Universal Music Canada’s Shed Creative have partnered on feature documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, about legendary musician and founding member of The Band, Robbie Robertson. The film is directed by Daniel Roher (Survivors Rowe) and will be executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Inspired by Robertson’s bestselling 2017 memoir Testimony, the film blends rare archival footage and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Martin Scorsese, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, David Geffen and Ronnie Hawkins, among others.

Grant Hardy

AMI-tv has unveiled its summer lineup. Sea School Marine Science Camp debuts May 24 with AMI This Week’s Grant Hardy joining a group of blind and partially sighted high school students as they travel to the remote village of Bamfield, BC to learn about the sea. Level Playing Field premieres May 31 featuring Keely Shaw, who had a promising future in hockey until a brain injury left her with partial paralysis and an eating disorder on the road to becoming one of the Top 5 Para-cyclists in the world. Accidental Activist (June 21) is an in-depth documentary looking at the life of Halifax disability activist Paul Vienneau, while Sound Insight premieres June 28 exploring the impact sound has on the lives of people with disabilities.

Atomic Cartoons, the kids and family division of Thunderbird Entertainment Group, and Cyber Group Studios have entered into a Master Toy Agreement with JAKKS Pacific Inc., for The Last Kids on Earth series created by Max Brallier. JAKKS Pacific will develop and bring to market a range of merchandise inspired by the bestselling book series and upcoming Netflix production about the post-apocalyptic adventures of Jack Sullivan and his friends. The consumer brand will debut at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in June 2019, and the animated series will premiere on Netflix later in 2019. The star-studded voice cast includes Mark Hamill, Rosario Dawson, Catherine O’Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, Garland Whitt, Montse Hernandez and Charles Demers, in addition to Nick Wolfhard as the lead character Jack Sullivan.

Encore+! – the Canada Media Fund YouTube channel featuring iconic Canadian television and film – recently surpassed eight million public views and 42,000 subscribers. CMF says thus far, 1.5M hours of content has been viewed on the channel. Interestingly, 60 per cent of that viewership is coming from outside Canada.

 


Subscribe Now – Free!

Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 25 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.

The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Let’s get started right now.