CRTC, Telecom and Conference News In Brief – BCAB changing format, timing of annual conference

The British Columbia Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) has announced that it’s moving its annual conference from mid-May to October and trying on a new streamlined format. The 72nd Annual BCAB Conference will now take place Oct. 2-3, 2019 with the revamped event condensed from three days to one and a half. The host location will be Victoria’s The Inn at Laurel Point. Rob Bye, president of BCAB, said the changes are in response to feedback from delegates and the broadcast ownership groups, who felt the May conference was a little too close to Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB), and Canadian Music Week (CMW). Funded by the ongoing membership of broadcast ownership groups, Bye also confirmed that Bell Media pulled its support of the regional association over the summer. Read the full story here.

The Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) has announced the main speakers lineup for its 85th Annual Conference. Four-time Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser, former Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall, and media strategist Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media will join delegates in Banff, AB from June 5-6, 2019. Additional speakers will be announced in the New Year. More info here.

The CRTC has dismissed an appeal by Bell and given the company until Jan. 16 to pay more than $433,000 in tangible benefits, stemming from several deals, including its acquisition of Astral. Bell’s application for reversal followed an audit that found bringing in UK artist Ellie Goulding for Bell’s 2014 Canadian Music Week FanFest event didn’t count as appropriate Canadian content development. The commission also criticized Bell for how it distributed tickets for the event, finding that 675 of the 2,703 tickets were not available to the public because they were contested or given to industry guests. To be eligible for tangible benefits spending, the CRTC says events like concerts must maximize the exposure of the artists by being open to the general public.

Faith Goldy

Faith Goldy has been ordered to pay more than $43,000 in legal fees incurred by Bell Media, following dismissal of her lawsuit against the company for refusing to air her election ads. An Ontario Superior Court judge refused to hear the case in October, citing jurisdiction. The former Rebel Media contributor and conservative commentator finished third in the Oct. 22 mayoral election.

Mike Duffy

Mike Duffy’s lawsuit against the Senate of Canada has been dismissed. The original suit targeted both the Red Chamber and the RCMP, seeking $6.5 million in general damages, $300,000 for loss of income and benefits, and $1 million in punitive damages related to the treatment he faced during the Senate expense scandal. An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled the Senate and its members are protected by parliamentary privilege, and therefore immune from judicial scrutiny. The former CTV journalist, who still represents P.E.I. in the Senate, is moving forward with his suit against the RCMP.

Ian Scott

The CRTC has announced that Bell, Rogers and Telus will offer data-only wireless plans for as low as $15/month, as part of the regulator’s effort to make lower-cost data-only wireless plans more widely available to Canadians. The plans, which will come into effect within the next 90 days, will range from as low as $15 for 250 MB to $30 for 1GB of monthly data, with a mix of prepaid and postpaid options, on both 3G and LTE networks. The announcement follows a public process launched in March that saw the national wireless providers ordered to come back with low-cost proposals not once, but twice, after the CRTC still found the first-round of proposed options too expensive. CRTC chair Ian Scott said the commission remains concerned by the overall condition of the market and will look at the state of mobile wireless competition more broadly in its upcoming review of mobile wireless services. Read the full story here.

The CRTC has mandated standards to enhance the user experience of message relay services, which enable Canadians with a hearing or speech disability to make and receive phone calls via text with the assistance of a relay operator. New standards will require relay operators to achieve a certain typing speed, rate of accuracy, and call-answer time. The commission says this will mean that users will experience faster response times and increased accuracy, as well as accessible IP relay interfaces. Given that many Canadians are disconnecting their home phones in favour of cellphones, the CRTC has also directed mobile wireless service providers to offer IP relay services to their customers by June 14, 2019.

The CRTC is taking further action to reduce the number of unsolicited and illegitimate calls Canadians receive, ordering telecommunications service providers to implement a system to block calls within their networks by Dec. 19, 2019. Calls with caller ID info that either exceeds 15 digits or does not conform to a number that can be dialed (for example, 000-000-0000) will be blocked before reaching the subscriber. Providers that offer their subscribers call-filtering services, which provide more advanced call-management features, will not be under the obligation.

Vantage Data Centers is acquiring the operations of Videotron’s 4Degrees Colocation data centers for $259 million, subject to adjustments. Videotron acquired Québec City-based 4Degrees Colocation in 2015. As part of Videotron, 4Degrees expanded its Québec City center and extended its operations to Montréal, where it built its data centre. The transaction expands Vantage’s coast-to-coast presence in North America to five markets, bringing Vantage’s total number of operational facilities to nine and total number of data centers under development to four.

Phil Lind, vice-chair of Rogers Communications, is out with a memoir that looks at the more than four decades he spent working alongside Ted Rogers. Right Hand Man: How Phil Lind Guided the Genius of Ted Rogers, Canada’s Foremost Entrepreneur is an insider’s look at Rogers move into live sports with the purchase of the Toronto Blue Jays and the launch of Sportsnet. The book includes a forward by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Alyssa Stoyanowski and Amanda Vocke

Jim Pattison Broadcast Group has awarded its annual Prairie Equity Scholarships, which support would-be broadcasters from under-represented groups, including those with disabilities, women and visible minority groups. Alyssa Stoyanowski,  a first year student at SAIT, with a particular interest in small-market radio, suffers from Severe Auditory Processing Disorder, a hearing problem that interferes with the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds. Despite those challenges, she’s maintained good marks, was active in student government, helped with a number of charitable causes and was a competitive swimmer, coach and lifeguard. The second scholarship winner is Amanda Vocke, a second year Broadcast News student at SAIT, who is of German/Filipino ancestry. Stoyanowski and Vocke have each received $2,000 to assist them in pursuing their education and career goals.


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