CRTC, Telecom and Awards News In Brief

Ben Makuch

VICE Media Canada’s fight to protect the communications of one of its journalists isn’t over. Despite a November ruling from The Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) ordering VICE Media reporter Ben Makuch to turn over the notes of his conversations with an alleged ISIS member to RCMP, the media company is heading back to court. VICE is asking an Ontario court to revoke or amend the previous court order, based on new documents submitted Tuesday indicating that Farah Shirdon was killed during an airstrike in Iraq in July 2015. VICE Media’s application argues that the RCMP and Crown can’t prosecute a dead person and thus “due to this material change in circumstances since the Production Order was issued, the Production Order is now moot and unenforceable.” The original Production Order followed a series of articles Makuch wrote about Shirdon in 2014, and was sought by the RCMP on the basis it needed the reporter’s notes and communications via Kik messenger to properly carry out an investigation of the former Calgary man.

The CRTC has dismissed, in part, a complaint against the Bell Fund from a coalition of media producers including CBC, the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and Blue Ant Media, which alleged bias in how the fund decides to disperse funding. Lodged in May, the complaint suggested a new program structure unfairly favoured applications from producers working with large broadcasters like Bell Media. The group also submitted that the composition of the fund’s board of directors did not meet the requirement that at least two thirds of board members be independent as five of its eight board members were independents and three were representatives of the broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) of Bell Canada or its affiliates. In this week’s decision, the CRTC said the fund’s structure need not be revised, however it ordered the fund to be in compliance at all times with the requirement that two thirds of its board members be independent and to fill any vacancy among independent board members within 90 days. In 2017, the fund doled out $9.4 million in grants to 64 projects.

The CRTC has called for comments on a Production Report to be completed annually by large English- and French-language ownership groups with their annual returns filings. The new report would replace the existing PNI Report and include all Canadian programming expenditure categories, except news and sports programming. It would also require licensees to identify how much they are spending on original, first-run programming and other content produced by official language minority communities and Indigenous producers. Additionally, questions would be included to measure the efforts of broadcasters to commission programming made by women occupying the roles of producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor. The deadline to comment is Feb. 6.

Darren Entwistle, Gloria Macarenko, Daniel Lessard, and Daniel Lamarre

Telus CEO Darren Entwistle, CBC Vancouver host Gloria Macarenko, and former Radio-Canada Parliament Hill correspondent Daniel Lessard are among the most recent appointments to the Order of Canada. Other appointees from the Canadian film, entertainment and broadcasting worlds include Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group; André Simard, retired Acrobatic Designer of Cirque du Soleil; Quebec investigative journalist Jean Pelletier; television producers Barbara M. Bowlby and John M. Brunton; Serge Gouin, retired Chairman of the Board of Quebecor Media; Shaftesbury Films CEO Christina Jennings; actor Len Cariou; Cree actress Shirley Cheechoo; BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet; and Decouverte host Charles Tisseyre.

Rogers has announced it now has 300 housing partners in its Connected for Success program. Launched in 2013 as the first program of its kind in Canada, Connected for Success offers low-cost, high-speed internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across the Rogers cable footprint in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Over 200,000 households are now eligible for 10 Mbps download speed, 100 GB of data, free installation, and modem rental for $9.99 per month + taxes without a contract or credit check. Rogers is also participating in the Government of Canada’s Connecting Families initiative, which launched last month and offers the same service to eligible families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit.

The Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) has announced the main speakers lineup for its 85th Annual Conference. Four-time Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser, former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and media strategist Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media will join delegates in Banff, Alberta June 5-6. Find more info on the speakers lineup and register here.

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019 is coming up on Jan. 30 with the mental health initiative’s national awareness campaign already underway The media campaign features 41 Friends of Bell Let’s Talk telling their personal stories of living with mental illness, including Howie Mandel, Quebec actress Marie-Soleil Dion, Michael Landsberg, and Mary Walsh.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) annual Media Awards submission deadline is Jan. 11. Journalists are invited to submit entries published or broadcast in Ontario in 2018 that will be judged by a committee of journalists and nurses at RNAO. Previous winners include CTV News, the Ottawa Citizen, and CBC Radio as well as smaller news outlets such as Watershed magazine and the Etobicoke Guardian for coverage ranging from cuts to nursing staff to post-traumatic stress disorder among first responders.

The Canadian Association of Journalists entry deadline for the 2018 CAJ Awards program, is Monday, Jan. 14. Featuring Canada’s top investigative journalism award, the Don McGillivray Award, you can find more info on the Awards section of the CAJ website.

TVO is the Media Sponsor of An Evening with Bob Woodward on Jan. 17 at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. TVO’s Steve Paikin will interview the legendary journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Woodward has penned 19 bestselling books including his most recent, FEAR: Trump in the White House, which sold over 1.1 million copies in its first week. Find ticket info here.

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is hosting the launch of Emerging Voices, the organization’s study on access to journalism education for Indigenous students, on Jan. 14 at the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre. The evening will feature a panel discussion with CBC host Duncan McCue, Kyle Edwards of Maclean’s, and Tanya Talaga, investigative journalist with the Toronto Star. Register to attend here

On our first podcast of 2019, Esther Enkin, who has retired after six years as the CBC’s complaint watchdog, and four decades as a working journalist that took her from field producing for The Journal to senior editor on The World At Six.

Broadcast Dialogue had the chance to talk to Enkin about the challenges facing Canadian journalism in the era of intolerance, outrage and distrust.


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