CBC/Radio-Canada has shared its Accountability Plan for the federal government’s reinvestment in the public broadcaster

GENERAL:

Hubert T. Lacroix

CBC/Radio-Canada has shared its Accountability Plan for the federal government’s reinvestment in the public broadcaster. President & CEO Hubert T. Lacroix says as part of its priority to create more compelling, distinctive Canadian content, CBC is already developing additional Indigenous content; creating new evening content on ICI Radio-Canada Première; creating a new CBC digital service in London, ON; hiring new digital creators; and expanding international coverage with a new bureau in Istanbul, Turkey. The plan also includes new performance indicators. Read it here.

 

Employees at Corus television in Toronto, including Global TV and Corus Entertainment specialty channels, have voted to join the Canadian Media Guild. The Canada Industrial Relations Board has recognized that employees in Master Control, Broadcast Technology and INR in television at Corus Quay have voted to join the union. CMG is now working to schedule dates to meet with the company, so that negotiations can start on a collective agreement.

Stingray is reporting an improved third quarter for 2017. The Montreal-based, multi-platform music and in-store media solutions provider generated revenues of $25.9 million in the third quarter, an increase of 12.3 per cent compared with revenues of $23.1 million a year ago. Music broadcasting revenues increased 13.4 per cent to $19.3 million, mainly due to the acquisitions of iConcerts, DMD and Much Channels, and the new MVOD contract signed in the U.S. Commercial music revenues rose 9.1 per cent to $6.6 million, mainly as a result of organic growth in music and digital signage recurring revenues and the acquisition of Nümédia in Canada. Adjusted EBITDA increased to $8.7 million or 33.6 per cent of revenues, compared to $8.0 million a year earlier. For the third quarter, the corporation reported a net income of $2.7 million, or $0.05 per share (diluted), compared to $3.2 million, or $0.06 per share for the same period last year. Adjusted Net income remained the same at $6.2 million, or $0.12 per share (diluted).

Stingray Digital Group has signed distribution agreements with eight pay-TV providers that will boost the company’s potential reach by more than one million subscribers. Stingray has struck multi-year agreements with Vodafone Portugal, Orange Polska, Vodafone España, UPC Hungary, T-Mobile Netherlands, United Group Balkans, Sat-Trakt Doo and PT Telecom Hungary for its various products.

Groupe Média TFO has released a strategic plan on the role the public media company can play in strengthening French nationally while continuing to enhance its role as a digital leader, both in Canada and abroad. Initially created as a television station serving Franco-Ontarians, the company has transformed itself into a leading digital content producer and aggregator, operating the number one French YouTube channel in Canada. Its vision includes expanding bilingualism across the country with a call to use its educational content and resources in schools nationwide.

The CRTC has opened an online discussion forum until Feb. 14 to allow public discussions relating to this week’s public hearing on the Wireless Code and whether it should be updated to reflect the current market. Consumers groups have called for greater parental control over household cell phone data charges and clearer rules governing service cancellation fees and data overage caps. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre told this week’s hearing that wireless users need greater controls put in place to avoid suffering bill shock.

BCE Inc. is attributing an improved fourth quarter and fiscal year to strong wireless subscriber growth and a 41 per cent bump in data usage. BCE beat analyst expectations, adding 315,311 net wireless subscribers during the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, up 19 per cent over 2015. In its fourth quarter, BCE added 112,393 wireless customers, up 23 per cent year-over-year. Bell’s video-streaming service, CraveTV, also experienced one of its best months in December, as Rogers and Shaw pulled the plug on competitor Shomi at the end of November. BCE raised its quarterly dividend on the news to 71.75 cents per common share, up from 68.25 cents per quarter. The company reported profit of $657 million in the fourth quarter or 75 cents per share, up about 30 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2015. BCE’s adjusted earnings totalled $667 million or 76 cents per share in its latest quarter. For the year, BCE earned $2.89 billion or $3.33 per share, up from $2.53 billion or $2.98 per share in 2015.

The federal government has extended the deadline to submit funding applications for its new Connect to Innovate rural broadband program. The five-week extension, to April 20, now gives applicants a total of 18 weeks to prepare. Announced in December, the program will invest $500 million by 2021 to bring high-speed Internet access to 300 rural and remote communities across Canada.

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, which supports initiatives improving accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities, has issued its third Call for Letters of Intent, the initial step in its application process. The Fund recently announced the completion of its second round of applications, committing $667,000 to six different projects. Total funding commitments over two full rounds of applications is $1.4M. The deadline for submissions is March 23.

Ben Makuch

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), together with a coalition of media and labour organizations, held a rally in support of VICE News reporter Ben Makuch Monday as he appeared in a Toronto courtroom. Makuch was challenging an RCMP production order for chat logs between himself and a suspected ISIS fighter. Last year, an Ontario court ruled in favour of the RCMP, and Makuch filed an appeal. Monday was the final court date in the process. The decision will set a precedent in Canadian law for press freedom and protection of confidential sources. CJFE is calling on the Canadian government to support Private Member’s Bill S-231, which would create a federal press shield law and strengthen protection for advocates, whistleblowers and journalists.