The Weekly Briefing


Jay Switzer

Jay Switzer, 61, on Jan. 29, of brain cancer. Born into a life of television, Switzer was raised by journalist mother Phyllis, who covered the Canadian broadcasting industry, and dad Israel – a pioneer in Canadian cable. When Phyllis went on to co-found Citytv in 1972, Switzer’s first full-time job was working the station’s switchboard. That was followed by a gig as floor director for Saturday “Fight Night” broadcasts. After getting his MBA from the University of Western Ontario, Jay returned to Citytv as program manager and went on to help launch specialty channels MuchMusic, Bravo!, CP24, Space, and many other CHUM channels. He was appointed CEO in 2002. A champion of Canadian content, CHUM produced over 200 Canadian feature films during his tenure. In 2010, he co-founded cable portfolio Hollywood Suite, where he served as chair of the Board of Directors. Switzer has been recognized with awards including the Friend of Women in Film and Television (Toronto) Award (1994), the Queen’s Jubilee Medal (2002), and the Human Relations Award (2005) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in December. He’ll be posthumously awarded the Academy Board of Director’s Tribute at the Canadian Screen Awards this March.

Tommy Banks

Tommy Banks, 81, on Jan. 25. Banks made his professional jazz piano debut in 1950 in the touring band of saxophonist Don (D.T.) Thompson and went on to tour North America, Europe, Japan and southeast Asia. His foray into broadcasting started in 1968 as host of “The Tommy Banks Show” which ran on CBC until 1983, “Somewhere There’s Music”, “What’s My Name”, “ Love and Mr. Smith”, “Celebrity Revue”, “Symphony of a Thousand”, “Tommy Banks Jazz”, and numerous other programs. He provided musical direction for Expo ‘86, the XV Olympic Winter Games, and served as a guest conductor for numerous symphony orchestras. Before being appointed to the Senate in 2000, Banks was a founding chairman of the Alberta Foundation for the Performing Arts; chair of the Music Programme at Grant MacEwan; and a member of the board of the CKUA Radio Network Foundation. Among his many awards and honours, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada, won the 1979 Juno Award for Best Jazz Album and the 1992 Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Variety Program.

George Kelso

George Kelso, Jan. 25, on Vancouver Island. Kelso started his broadcasting career at UBC Radio in the late 1950s and went on to work at CFJC Kamloops, and CHQM and CKLG Vancouver as the host of shows like “Jukebox Saturday Night” and “Lunchtime Oldies,” sometimes under the handle “Jockey G,” before landing at CFRN Edmonton in 1964. Kelso worked both in front of the camera and in management until his retirement in 1992.

Laura Foster

Laura Foster, 98, on Jan. 13. Born in Hartland, NB, Foster was initially a school teacher and assistant director of the Canadian Red Cross in New Brunswick, before she was offered a job in 1961 by CHSJ-TV Saint John to produce and host the program “Magazine” and other programs like “You and the Law.” Over her 15 years on-air, Foster conducted over 20,000 interviews. In addition to her television work, she promoted the interests of Maritime businesses, founded the Women’s Atlantic Council and the NB Kindness Club, and became the first female director of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. In retirement, she obtained an interior design diploma, and wrote poetry and essays, published in the Atlantic Advocate, Maclean’s, and the Telegraph Journal.

Jacques Languirand

Jacques Languirand, 86, on Jan. 26, of Alzheimer’s disease. Known for his radio show Par 4 chemins, which was broadcast for more than four decades on Radio-Canada, Languirand also worked as a playwright, writer, television presenter, actor, director, and teacher. Born in Montreal, his career in broadcasting started after he was drawn to Paris and landed a job at RDF (Radiodiffusion française) as a columnist. In 1953, he joined the international service of Radio-Canada and over the years worked on both radio and television, as a host, public affairs reporter or on theatrical adaptations, before entering a 12-year career as a professor and lecturer at the National Theatre School and McGill University. Languirand returned to Radio-Canada in 1971 when Par 4 chemins debuted and quickly earned a following.


Harvard Broadcasting has launched X100.7 (CKRI-FM), Red Deer’s Alternative, which will feature artists like Portugal. The Man, July Talk, Imagine Dragons and Arkells. The station rebrands from its classic hits format under the CRUZ FM i.d. It had used since 2014.

Arthur Black

Arthur Black, former host of long-running CBC Radio Saturday morning program Basic Black, has revealed he’s dying of pancreatic cancer. Black, 74, who calls Salt Spring Island, B.C. home, is chronicling his journey in a series of blog posts.

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac will launch a limited-run SiriusXM channel The Fleetwood Mac Channel (channel 4) on Feb. 1. The channel will showcase music from the band’s extensive Rock & Roll Hall of Fame career, including solo material, live songs, rare demo tracks and musical influences, as well as special hosted shows by band members.


The CRTC will not take action against The Weather Network after a viewer complained that featured temperature graphs displayed dates for only 27 or 28 days in the network’s 30-day forecast. The complainant had asked the commission to review an Oct. 2017 Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) decision that found there was no breach of code. Pelmorex has since changed the graph’s title to “Next 4 Weeks.”

Bell Media’s request for a stay of the CRTC’s Super Bowl simultaneous substitution policy has been denied by the Supreme Court of Canada. Bell had filed for leave to appeal to the SCOC, requesting suspension of the policy for this year’s game, set for Feb. 4. While the court dismissed the stay, it will grant the company’s request to consider its leave to appeal. If granted, the court could hear the case as early as this fall.

Russell Peters

Bell Media is ramping up its offerings during and leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl LII broadcast, as it tries to keep Canadians tuned in. In addition to $300,000 in prizes, CTV, CTV2 and TSN2 will air Russell Peters comedy bits during Super Bowl ad breaks. The coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET, with the pre-game broadcast starting at noon ET on CTV. Bell has also created a link on where Canadians can watch advance release American Super Bowl ads and favourites from years past.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) says City Toronto did not breach the privacy article of the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics when it showed handwritten letters strewn about a Mississauga neighbourhood following a June 2016 blast that killed two people. With police ruling the cause of the explosion to be a purposely set natural gas leak, in order to commit a double suicide, the letters contained details describing the decedents’ health and financial problems. A viewer was concerned that showing the letters violated the couple’s privacy. The CBSC agreed with the broadcaster that there was an overriding public interest because they provided insight into the motivation for causing the explosion.

Esther Enkin

CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin says there is room for point-of-view documentaries, but they must be clearly labelled as such. Enkin was responding to a complaint from a sled dog operator about perceived bias in the documentary Sled Dogs and the advocacy work of the independent filmmaker, Fern Levitt, after the film aired on the CBC’s documentary Channel. Enkin says there is room for single perspective documentaries, as long as they aren’t financed by an advocacy, lobby group or government. Enkin says there was violation of CBC policy in that the film was at no time labelled point-of-view. Enkin is recommending CBC management develop standard language and presentation elements around the issue.

The JUNO Awards will be heading to southwestern Ontario with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announcing that London will host in 2019. The 48th Annual JUNO Awards will be broadcast live on CBC from Budweiser Gardens on Mar. 17, 2019.  

Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan

HBO has picked up Canadian-Israeli co-production The Oslo Diaries. Directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, the film was produced by Intuitive Pictures and Israel’s Medalia Productions. The Oslo Diaries will premiere on HBO later this year.

Sadaf Foroughi

Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava is the winner of this year’s Canadian Screen Award for best first feature film. The film, a Canadian co-production with Iran and Qatar, has a total of nine nominations heading into the awards, including best film, actress and supporting actress, in addition to best direction and screenplay nods for Montreal-based Foroughi. The Canadian Screen Awards gala will be broadcast live on CBC TV on Mar. 11.


VICE Canada has laid off 23 contract and permanent employees, amounting to about 10 per cent of its workforce. The move comes on the heels of Rogers pulling out of its $100-million joint-venture with the company that helped launch the Viceland TV channel and production studio. Viceland is set to go off the air on Mar. 31.

The CRTC has denied the efforts of a coalition of advocacy groups seeking a firmer stance on internet affordability. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) Canada, the National Pensioners Federation, Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC, and the Consumers’ Association of Canada proposed that the regulator’s 2016 basic services decision be reviewed to include internet subsidies for low-income Canadians. The CRTC rejected ACORN’s argument that it erred in law by intervening in availability and accessibility, but not in affordability matters.

FairPlay Canada, a broad industry coalition including Rogers, Bell Media, Quebecor, CBC and Corus Entertainment, has filed an application with the CRTC proposing the commission establish an independent review agency to identify websites blatantly engaged in content theft. The agency would then make recommendations to the CRTC, which in turn would order internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to those sites. While piracy is illegal, FairPlay says it can’t be effectively combatted through the drawn out court process.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says Canadians need better tools to help protect their online reputations. A new report highlights measures such as the right to ask search engines to de-index web pages that contain inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information; removal or amendment of information at the source; and education to help develop a more informed online public. The report also calls on Parliament to establish measures that would allow youth to request deletion of information they’ve posted to social media, or posted about them online by parents or guardians, when they reach the age of majority.

Hootsuite and creative agency We Are Social have released Digital in 2018, looking at social media and digital trends in 239 countries. The report finds the number of internet users has now surpassed the 4 billion mark globally, more than half the population. Global social media usage increased by 13 per cent in the last year, reaching 3.196 billion users, while mobile social media usage increased 14 per cent year over year to 2.958 billion.


Shaw is offering buyout packages to 6,500 employees as it looks to reinvent its customer service delivery model in a move toward more digital, online, and e-care. About 10 per cent of those Shaw and Freedom Mobile employees are expected to accept the package offered under the Voluntary Departure Program. Details are not being disclosed.

Denise Donlon

Denise Donlon will be honoured by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) at the 2018 JUNO Awards with the 2018 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award. The award recognizes industry leaders who have greatly contributed to the development of the Canadian music industry. Donlan’s nearly 40-year career has seen her rise through the ranks at MuchMusic to become VP and GM. She went on to become the first female president of Sony Music Canada, and then general manager of CBC/Radio-Canada English Radio. The honour will be presented at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards Presented by SOCAN on Mar. 24 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The CRTC has set a Mar. 31, 2019 deadline for Canadian telecoms to develop a system to stop caller ID spoofing. The commission is also calling for an industry administrator to authenticate and verify IP-based voice calls and has asked Canadian TSPs to develop a call traceback process. The CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) has been ordered to file a report on the process within nine months.

Rogers Communications reported $419 million in profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, and a three per cent gain in revenue compared with a year ago, largely driven by wireless revenue growth of seven per cent and a greater number of subscribers on higher rate plans. On an adjusted basis, Rogers earned $455 million or 88 cents per share, compared with an adjusted profit of $382 million or 74 cents per share a year ago. Cable revenue increased two per cent during the quarter due to continued internet revenue growth. Media revenue decreased four per cent primarily due to lower revenue from the Toronto Blue Jays and their 2016 postseason success, and lower publishing-related revenue due to the strategic shift to digital media. That was partially offset by higher Sportsnet revenue and increased sales at Today’s Shopping Choice (TSC).

ZoomerMedia Limited has announced its financial results for the first quarter ended Nov. 30. The company reported revenues of $14.0 million, operating expenses of $12.6 million and EBITDA of $1.4 million. Net income for the three months ended Nov. 30 was $0.5 million. That compares year-over-year to revenues of $14.3 million for the three months ended Nov. 30, operating expenses of $12.2 million and EBITDA of $2.1 million. Net income for the three months ended Nov. 30, 2016 was $1.2 million.

Cogeco Connexion has announced the continuation of its DOCSIS 3.1 network enhancement program over the next three years which will enable the progressive roll-out of its gigabit offering in Ontario and Québec. Cogeco will continue to augment its node segmentation efforts and drive fibre deeper into its access network.

Barbara Williams, Paul Vallée, Jules Andrew, and Carolyn Jarvis

Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) has released the report from a national consultation on why Canadian digital industries continue to struggle to attract and retain women, which make up just 27 per cent of the workforce. Closing the Gender Gap:  A Blueprint for Women’s Leadership in the Digital Economy suggests employers adopt gender-blind recruitment and promotion practices, set targets for women’s engagement, and ensure corporate policy and culture fully align. WCT presented an executive panel in Toronto on Tuesday to celebrate the report’s release that included Barbara Williams, COO of Corus Entertainment, Paul Vallée, president and CEO of Pythian, and Jules Andrew, SVP at RBC, moderated by Carolyn Jarvis of Global News.

The BBC says six of its highest-paid male broadcasters have agreed to take pay cuts after revelations that two-thirds of the public broadcaster’s top earners were men. Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson, and Jeremy Vine have agreed to reduce their salaries. BBC China editor Carrie Gracie quit this month to protest what she called a failure to address the pay gap.

The Western Association of Broadcasters 2018 Awards of Distinction are inviting nominations until Apr. 6. Nominations are being accepted for the Gold Medal Award for Community Service, Leader of Tomorrow and the Hall of Fame. This year, digital entries are being considered for Gold Medal Awards, along with Radio and Television. Applications are also invited for the Broadcast Order of Achievement from employees of WAB member stations, recognizing 25 and 50 years of service to broadcasting. Winners will be announced at the WAB Gold Medal Awards Gala on June 7 in Banff, following the 84th Annual Conference.

The RTDNA 2018 Regional & Network Awards entry period has been extended to Feb. 4. Click here to view the entry guidelines and awards categories.