NAB Show, which was set to take place in Las Vegas Apr. 18-22, says that after carefully monitoring coronavirus developments over the past few weeks, they have made the decision to cancel this year’s event. The move comes following a World Health Organization (WHO) declaration Wednesday morning, officially classifying COVID-19 as a pandemic. The annual industry gathering which draws thousands of attendees from the digital, media, and tech sectors, joins the Worldwide Radio Summit, Radiodays Europe in Lisbon, SXSW, the Collision tech conference, the Google I/O developer conference, and Shopify’s May developer and partner conference, Unite, in either cancellating or postponing their events. Canadian Music Week (CMW) has issued a statement saying that at this juncture, it’s proceeding as planned with its conference and expo, May 19-23. Read more here.
CBC Sports has announced a commitment to gender-balanced coverage of sports and athlete stories. The public broadcaster says in addition to its weekly Road To The Olympic Games broadcast, the commitment will be reflected in its digital streams, online articles at cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app, social media content, and on-air personalities, writers, producers and new hires. According to Canadian Women & Sport’s 2016 report Women in Sports: Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation, only four per cent of sports programming on national Canadian networks is comprised of women’s sport. Read more here.
Innovation, Science and Industry has released the 2019 Price Comparison Study showing that average prices from regional providers were up to 45% lower than plans provided by the three big national carriers. Min. Navdeep Bains says while the progress is promising, prices for mid-range plans have not moved. To that end, the government will report on wireless pricing quarterly by establishing a benchmark. For cellphone plans that offer 2 GB to 6 GB of data, the three big national carriers – Bell, Rogers and TELUS – will be expected to lower their prices by 25% in the next two years. Bains says if those targets aren’t met, the government will take action using “other regulatory tools” to further increase competition and help reduce prices.
The CRTC has opened a call for comments on whether television, wireless and internet providers should be required to continue to offer paper bills at no charge. The commission says as many service providers transition to electronic billing, it’s seeking a better understanding of whether intervention is warranted. In the meantime, the commission has denied a request by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation to require Koodo Mobile and other wireless service providers (WSPs) to provide paper bills upon request.
Bell has announced its extending funding for its Bell Let’s Talk initiative through 2025 with an increased funding commitment to at least $150 million. Bell Let’s Talk was launched in 2010 as a five-year initiative with a $50-million donation from Bell. It was extended again in 2015 for another five years, with a target of at least $100 million in total funding for mental health. The 10th anniversary Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 29 resulted in a record 154,387,425 eligible interactions and, with a Bell donation of 5 cents per message, a further $7,719,371.25 in Bell funding.
Videotron carried out its first wireline installation in Abitibi, Que. last week following its agreement to acquire the Cable Amos network. Videotron’s first customer in the region was none other than Sylvie Dufresne, the daughter of Télédistribution Amos Inc. founder Édouard Dufresne. For now, residents are being offered residential phone service with the full line of Videotron services to be rolled out.
The Wesbell Group of Companies has completed its acquisition of Alberta-based microwave installation provider Vista Telecom Networks. The acquisition allows Wesbell Technologies to operate in Alberta while at the same time accelerating its growth into B.C. Wesbell provides a range of services to the communications industry including wireless construction, engineering, installation, electrical contracting, network integration, and recycling.
RTDNA Canada has announced the finalists in its regional award categories. Eastern Region winners will be announced at a regional awards ceremony Apr. 4 in Dartmouth, NS; Central Region winners will be announced Apr. 4 in Toronto; the Prairie Region awards ceremony will take place Apr. 4 in Calgary, while the Western Region awards will be handed out Mar. 28 in Vancouver.
Symcor Inc. has been named the 2020 Company of the Year by Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) for exemplary leadership in creating a workplace that is diverse, inclusive and supportive of women. The company’s executive leadership team is 64% female, led by Chameli Naraine, President and CEO, who made it her mandate to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership. Sabrina Geremia, VP & Country Manager, Google, is this year’s WCT Woman of the Year. Sonia Brar, VP–IT, Bell Media and BCE Corporate Systems, is being honoured in the Innovator category, while Cheryl Fullerton, EVP, People & Communications, Corus, has been named the 2020 WCT Leader. WCT’s Annual Awards Gala is set to take place in Ottawa May 7.
The European Union Delegation to Canada and the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) have opened the 2020 edition of the European Union-Canada Young Journalist Fellowship for applications. The fellowship annually selects three candidates to participate in a week-long study tour to experience the EU institutions, the Canadian Mission to the EU, and media outlets in Brussels. Winners will also attend the daily European Commission press briefing. Students, 18-30, actively enrolled in a Canadian university/post-secondary institution or active in the field of journalism are eligible to apply. Applications close May 11.
The Slaight Family Foundation marked International Women’s Day by donating $15 million to 15 international organizations working to improve human rights and opportunities for at-risk women and girls. The #SlaightWomenAndGirls initiative is expected to support over 1 million women and girls in impoverished, fragile or conflict-affected regions. Charities receiving support include AIDS-Free World in sub-Saharan Africa, Canadian Feed the Children in Ethiopia, the Canadian Red Cross in south Sudan and the Central Africa Republic, CARE Canada in Somalia, Crossroads International in Senegal, Human Rights Watch, Right To Play, the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and Save the Children.
Stingray has announced it’s acquired a 30% interest in The Podcast Exchange (TPX). Toronto-based TPX was founded in 2017 by president and CEO Jean-Marie Heimrath, and Jeff Ulster, who serves as chief content officer. It’s grown to become a leader in Canadian podcast advertising, representing Stitcher advertising arm Midroll on this side of the border, in addition to partnerships with Corus Entertainment, Acast, audioBoom, Wondery, and iHeartMedia. In a release, Stingray said the acquisition will allow the company to reap the benefits of podcast digital ad revenue, supporting growth in the key 18-34 demographic. Those benefits include leveraging existing TPX partnerships, proprietary research like the TPX-sponsored Canadian Podcast Listener study, and brand equity with agencies and advertisers. Read more here.
The Podcast Exchange (TPX) has signed an exclusive marketing and sales agreement with the Apostrophe Podcast Company, the new podcast production venture co-founded by longtime ad man and Under The Influence host, Terry O’Reilly. Apostrophe, which launched earlier this year, will release its first podcast, We Regret to Inform You, on Mar. 16. The highly-anticipated series will explore the stories of famous people who overcame repeated, debilitating career rejection to achieve remarkable success. Read more here.
Chartable is publishing a new Top 200 weekly podcast chart based on the podcast analytics company’s IAB V2-certified measurement of audience size. The Top 200 and Trending charts will reflect listening in 20 different countries, based on weekly changes in audience among the 5,000 podcasts using Chartable’s proprietary feed integration. The charts are opt-in, and open to any publisher to join, free of charge. The company has also launched genre-specific charts in 19 categories from Arts to Technology.
Canadian Music Week (CMW) has opened nominations for its RadioActive Awards, which this year will include new categories, including Broadcast Executive of the Year and Podcast of the Year. Set to be handed out at the inaugural Canadian Radio & Audio Awards luncheon on Wednesday, May 20 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, the awards will celebrate and recognize achievement in Canadian radio and audio over the past year. They’ll be hosted by Toronto comedian Adam Growe, the host of Cash Cab. Find the full list of awards and their criteria, here. The deadline for nominations is Mar. 28.
The Allan Waters Young Broadcaster of the Year Award in Honour of Steve Young will be presented to an outstanding young broadcaster for the 12th year in a row at Canadian Music Week. Nominations close Monday, Mar. 16. Anyone working in the industry can nominate a worthy broadcaster under the age of 30 as of Apr. 20, 2020. Nominees can work in On-Air, Programming, Promotion, Production or Creative, must be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, and must have made a documented contribution to the community they serve, the radio industry or their craft. Find more info, here.
The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) 15th Annual Career Day event was held Mar. 2 at Corus Entertainment in Toronto. Fifty broadcast professionals volunteered to host tables for 300 students from Conestoga College, Confederation College, Durham College, Fanshawe College, Humber College, Loyalist College, Mohawk College and Seneca College. The 2020 Michael Monty Scholarship Award, in memory of the late Seneca prof, was presented to May Gabreyohannes from Humber College. 2020 winners of the OAB Pro Radio Committee contest were also announced with Fanshawe students RJ Lowe, Ethan Ralph, Vanda Di Michele & Abe Peters, among the winners for their submission in the Power of Local Radio category. They tied for the award with Chris Hunchak of Byrnes Communications, who also claimed the win for Power of Radio During an Emergency. Kieran Berry of Durham Radio claimed the award for Power of Radio – Amber Alert, while Kyle Taylor, creative director at Indie88, won the Power of Advertising award. Listen and download the spots for use on your station, here.
Calgary Arabia, heard weekly on Calgary multicultural station Red FM (CKYR-FM), is celebrating five years on-air. Heard every Thursday at 10 p.m. the show speaks to the Canadian Arab community. Calgary Arabia is hosted and produced by Noha Mohamed, who started the show to create space for Canadian Arabs to share their stories.
LISTEN: Josie Dye, morning show host at Indie88 (CIND-FM) Toronto, alongside Matt & Carlin, is Matt Cundill’s guest on the latest Sound Off Podcast. Dye opens up to Matt about radio, television and that whole thing with the national anthem in 2010.
Earl Pomerantz, 75, on Mar. 7 in Los Angeles. Hailing from Toronto, Pomerantz wrote a weekly column for the Toronto Telegram in the late 1960s before breaking into television writing on The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour, which starred his brother Hart Pomerantz and Lorne Michaels. Pomerantz moved to Hollywood in 1974, where he began writing scripts for shows including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Taxi. He went on to develop and executive produce Major Dad and Best of the West, in addition to screenwriting credits on Cheers, Newhart, and The Cosby Show. He later served as a creative consultant on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Lateline and According to Jim. Pomerantz earned two Emmy Awards over the course of his career – one as part of the writing team on The Lily Tomlin Special (1976) and another for The Cosby Show in 1985. He was also honoured with a Writers Guild of America Award, the Humanitas Prize and a CableACE Award. As recently as 2014, Pomerantz also contributed several commentaries to NPR program All Things Considered.
SXSW 2020 and SXSW EDU March dates have been cancelled following a call by the City of Austin to shut down the film, interactive media, and music festival amid fears of exposing attendees and the community at large to the COVID-19 virus. The festival’s cancellation also follows moves by Apple, Netflix, CNN, Warner Media, Twitter, Amazon Studios and others to pull out of the event, with many companies deferring all non-essential travel. Telefilm Canada, the sponsor behind Canada House @ SXSW, which brings together the Canadian film, tech, and music sectors under one roof to promote Canada’s creative industries, says any activities related to Canada House – which was scheduled to run Mar. 15-19 – will not go ahead. Read more here.
The Canadian Game Awards are shifting from a live event to a pre-recorded show that will air on GINX TV Canada on Apr. 9. Organizer Northern Arena says the inaugural edition of the show is being re-formatted so that it’s not dependent on participants travelling amid COVID-19 concerns. All ticket holders will receive a complete refund.
The WGC Screenwriting Award nominations are out, recognizing the writing behind Canadian-made series, films, documentaries and webseries. Among the series with multiple nominations are comedies, JANN and Schitt’s Creek, CBC drama Coroner, tween series Holly Hobbie, and pre-school offering Dino Dana. Find the full list of nominees here. The awards will be handed out Apr. 27 at Toronto’s Koerner Hall and hosted by Gavin Crawford, host of CBC Radio’s Because News, along with awards show writer Kyle Tingley.
The Manitoba Government is introducing an enhanced Film and Video Production Tax Credit to encourage private-sector investment in permanent film infrastructure and attract more animation, visual effects (VFX) and post-production companies to relocate or do business in the province. In the 2020-21 budget, a new Manitoba Production Company Bonus of eight per cent will be added to the 30% cost-of-production credit, increasing the total cost-of-production credit to 38%. The province is attempting to build momentum following moves by Toronto-based post-production and VFX house Urban Prairie Post, and prodco The Cartel, to open offices in Manitoba. Cartel has since produced over a dozen movies of the week in the province.
The City of Ottawa has greenlit a $40 million loan to get a proposed film hub off the ground that would bring four state-of-the-art sound stages to the capital’s west end. The 30-year loan to the Ottawa Film Office will finance the construction of four 20,000-sq. ft. sound stages and a creative hub encompassing 25,000 sq. ft. of workshop space and 50,000 sq. ft. in co-working and production space. Toronto’s TriBro Studios would run the hub, to be located on the former National Capital Commission Greenbelt Research Farm across from the Nepean Sportsplex, and will be responsible for all operating costs.
REEL FX Creative Studios has launched an ambitious project to expand and upgrade its Montréal facilities, which the animation studio says will lead to the creation of 250 full-time jobs. REEL FX has been granted a repayable $1.5 million loan from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. The funding will support the purchase of cutting-edge computer equipment used in film and video production, as well as a computer network upgrade.
The Government of Canada has announced $60,000 in support, through the Official Languages Support Program, for the Fondation Québec Cinéma’s touring film festival, the Tournée Québec Cinéma. The project is designed to promote exchanges between Francophone and Francophile movie fans by showcasing works by Quebec, Franco-Ontarian, and Indigenous filmmakers. The funding will help organizers roll out the tour, which will showcase films through activities such as screenings and after-movie discussions, film workshops in both official languages, and talks with media arts professionals.
The National Screen Institute (NSI) and CBC have confirmed a two-year partnership renewal in support of the CBC New Indigenous Voices training program, a 14-week training course that introduces young Indigenous storytellers to a variety of employment opportunities in film, television and digital media. CBC has been the program’s title, presenting and tuition sponsor since 2017. During the first three years of the partnership, 48% of participants were women and 85% of graduates are working in the arts sector or pursuing related education. The program is currently accepting applications for its latest offering until Mar. 20.
Amazon Prime Video is reviving iconic Canadian sketch comedy series Kids in the Hall, making it the first Canadian Amazon Original Series. Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch and Kevin McDonald will return for the eight-episode revival where they’ll reprise characters like “The Chicken Lady” and “Headcrusher.” Lorne Michaels will executive produce under the banner of his Broadway Video prodco, alongside Project 10. The original series ran from 1989 to 1995 on CBC and later CBS, HBO, and Comedy Central in the U.S.
Wynonna Earp is back in production after an extended hiatus with leading lady Melanie Scrofano set to make her directorial debut for one episode in the upcoming 12-episode fourth season. New cast members confirmed for this season include Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience), Ty Olsson (Supernatural), and newcomer Marina Ortiz-Luis. Season 4 is expected to debut later this year. Viewers can catch up on Seasons 1-3 streaming now on Crave.
CTV has confirmed that Cardinal is returning for its fourth and final season Mondays at 10 p.m. ET, starting Apr. 6. The fourth season welcomes back series leads Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse. Subtitled Cardinal: Until The Night, Nathan Morlando directs as this season sees a seemingly mundane missing-persons case turn into a spree of nightmarish murders.
Stingray Music says according to the latest Canadian Listenership Study conducted by Maru/Matchbox, its music channels continued to increase weekly and monthly reach in the last quarter. Stingray says 44% of Canadians with pay-TV subscriptions reported tuning into a Stingray Music channel in January, a 10% increase over September and January of last year, with that number going up to 52% in Quebec. 24% of those surveyed reported using the Stingray Music app via mobile, tablet or online in the past, a 14% increase over previous year. 26% of respondents said they would consider switching to a different pay-TV provider if their current provider removed the free music service and mobile app access.
Stingray’s application for a broadcast licence to operate the previously exempt Stingray Hits video channel has been approved, now that it exceeds more than 200,000 subscribers. The channel will be licensed as an English-language discretionary service despite the fact it targets the French-language market and broadcasts about 40% French-language programming. Stingray expressed its intention to the CRTC to eventually broadcast all programming other than music video programming in French.
Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund has ended its second fiscal quarter with $400,000 in support for 27 new Canadian feature film projects through its Script Development Program. Projects from established Canadian filmmakers include David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, his first original script in 20 years; Brandon Cronenberg’s new project Infinity Pool; Shaftesbury Productions’ King Lear, a feature adaptation of the Shakespeare classic featuring Christopher Plummer and directed by former Stratford artistic director and two-time Tony award winner Des McAnuff; and Rude Awakening, an original script from Anne Wheeler (Anne With An E). A full list of projects supported for 2019/20 can be found here.
Women in Film and Television Atlantic (WIFT-AT) closed its 10th annual Women Making Waves conference in Halifax with the 2020 WAVE Awards. Honouring outstanding contributions by women in film, television and digital media in Atlantic Canada, awards were presented to Deanne Foley (Newfoundland), Kimberlee McTaggart (NS), and Kristin Arason and Debi Jonatanson (NS). New Brunswick filmmaker Tracey Lavigne, chosen from five finalists, was the recipient of the CBC Pitch Competition award.
Quibi, the short-form, mobile video platform set to launch Apr. 6, has announced a media partnership with Bell that will see CTV News and TSN provide daily content for the platform. Under the agreement, Bell Media becomes the platform’s exclusive Canadian news and sports provider as part of Quibi’s “Daily Essentials” which will feature curated news, entertainment and inspirational content. Bell will also market Quibi in Canada, through both Bell Media and Bell Mobility channels. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Quibi is targeting the on-the-go mobile viewer, with all of its content 10 minutes or less in length. The app, which will go head-to-head with free mobile content offerings like Instagram and TikTok, has already raised USD $1.75 billion in funding – a testament to investor confidence in Katzenberg, former Walt Disney Studios chairman and the co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. Quibi will launch in Canada in two price tiers – an ad-supported version at CDN $6.99/mo. and an ad-free version with a monthly fee of $9.99/mo.
Torstar Corporation has signed an agreement with digital platform Innocode and launched an initiative called Torstar Local, which recently proceeded with its first test product in North Bay, ON. Known as The North Bay Local, the digital-only news and information site combines local news with contributions from community groups, available as an app and at thenorthbaylocal.com. Torstar says all of the app’s news and community content is locally generated and will be ad-supported. The company says the initiative is part of a series of transformation investments in new digital platforms, partnerships and first-party data capabilities.
BritBox, the subscription streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, has announced its subscriber base has grown to 1 million, doubling its audience since last January. The streaming service, which purports to offer the largest collection of British television, says it’s been able to to tap into the underserved audience of women 45+ and super-serve them, reflected by a low single-digit churn rate.
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting is set to stream a series of short documentary films in an effort to bring attention to Canadian stories that aren’t being told. The Tell Our Stories series will be released Monday, Mar. 16 at tellourstories.ca. Among the shorts to be released are Down with the King, directed by Vancouver’s Ryan Sidhoo, which profiles street basketball legend Joey Haywood; The Out-of-the-Way Dwellers, directed by Quebec’s Louise Abbott, recounting the story of the Ahiarmiut (an Inuit group in Nunavut the Canadian government forcibly relocated from 1949-59) through the eyes of survivors; and Summerside Kitchen Party, directed by PEI’s Louise Lalonde, which invites viewers to a traditional live music gathering at the Summerside Legion.
A note from our publisher
As you are aware, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, NAB announced the cancellation of the show in April.
We are disappointed in this turn of events as Broadcast Dialogue was preparing to move into a full-on promotional phase with the Great Canadian Suite event – the annual gathering of Canadian attendees and vendors serving our industry – thanks to overwhelming sponsor support. Thank you for helping us get there! We will be back, whether it’s a rescheduled show in 2020 or NAB 2021.
In the meantime, Broadcast Dialogue is committed to helping our industry partners in the wake of the cancellation.
Michael Olstrom and I, and the entire Broadcast Dialogue team, look forward to working with you on the next Great Canadian Suite.
Publisher, Broadcast Dialogue
President, Momentum Media Marketing
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