CRTC, Telecom and Awards News – Bell requests permission to shutter 28 rebroadcasting transmitters

Ontario Association of Broadcasters

Bell Media is asking the CRTC for permission to shutter 28 rebroadcasting transmitters that it says either require significant repair or are at the end of their useful life. Bell has already shut down 40 transmitters after a similar application two years ago. With many Canadians now accessing television in other ways, Bell maintains that repeater network distribution is becoming an “increasingly lower priority and an outmoded business model.” Comments are due Apr. 24. Corus asked for permission last fall to shut down 44, small market, television rebroadcasting transmitters, arguing they’ve become too expensive to operate and maintain.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) says the federal government’s exclusion of broadcast media from journalism support tax credits in Budget 2019 is unfair. Last week’s budget detailed a $595 million, five-year plan to support Canadian journalism that includes a labour tax credit for qualifying media outlets, a non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital news, and access to charitable tax incentives for not-for-profit journalism. Broadcast media is ineligible for both tax credits, which Lenore Gibson, chair of the CAB board of directors, says flies in the face of numerous studies on how Canadians are consuming news content. The CAB touts the Reuters Institute’s 2018 Digital News Report, which indicates more than 75 per cent of Canadians are getting their news from TV and radio, while just 31 per cent cite newspapers as their primary source. Reuters found the majority of Canadians are regularly (three days or more per week) turning to CTV (27 per cent), Global (21 per cent) and CBC (20 per cent) for their news. Just 13 per cent are regularly reading a community or local newspaper. Eight per cent indicated they regularly read the Toronto Star, while six per cent indicated they were regular Globe and Mail readers. The association says it will be consulting its member broadcasters to explore next steps. CAB vice-president of Finance and Administration and CFO Sylvie Bissonnette told Broadcast Dialogue, CAB hopes to go back to government with potential solutions, generated by its membership.

Global’s complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director has resulted in charges against a Hamilton police officer who arrested two photojournalists – Jeremy Cohn and freelancer Dave Ritchie – at the scene of a fatal crash in Waterdown, ON in May 2017. Const. Jeff Todoruck seized a camera belonging to Ritchie, cuffed him and put him in the back of a cruiser. Global’s Cohn called a police media relations officer to express concern about the arrest and that’s when he too was arrested, with his camera rolling. Andrew Collins, another freelance journalist captured a second video which shows Todoruck pushing Cohn to the ground, kneeing him in the back, zip-tying his hands and roughly moving Cohn toward a police vehicle. No charges were ever laid against Cohn. Charges of obstructing police and resisting arrest laid against Ritchie were later dropped after he reached an agreement with the Crown to do 10 hours of community services and donate $250. Todoruck faces five acts of misconduct, including two counts of discreditable conduct, two counts of neglect of duty, and unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority.

Unifor is seeking assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service after weeks of unproductive talks with SaskTel in an effort to negotiate a new collective agreement for 3,000 workers. Unifor says its bargaining committee has declared an impasse and hopes the assistance of an independent third party will move talks in the right direction towards a fair tentative agreement. The bargaining committee says it has yet to receive monetary proposals from the employer, despite repeated requests.

The Western Association of Broadcasters Awards nomination deadline is Mar. 29. Nominations are open for the following categories: Gold Medal Award for Community Service for Radio & Television; Gold Medal Award for Digital Innovation; Leader of Tomorrow; and Broadcast Hall of Fame. Details on criteria for each award category is available at wab.ca. Nominations are open to WAB member stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.    

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom and Carleton J-School will talk fake news and politics on Mar. 30 with CBC’s Rosie Barton and BuzzFeed editor Craig Silverman. Journalists, decision-makers and all those who care about civic democracy are invited to the day-long 2019 federal election boot camp in the Richcraft Hall Atrium at Carleton. Find ticket info here.

Vassy Kapelos, Sarah Kendzior, and Alison Smith

The Canadian Journalism Foundation’s (CJF) annual Ottawa J-Talk will feature Sarah Kendzior, popular St. Louis-based op-ed columnist for The Globe and Mail and co-host of the Gaslit Nation podcast along with Vassy Kapelos, host of Power & Politics on CBC News. The event, The Fight for Truth: Political Journalism in 2019, takes place on Apr. 9 at the National Arts Centre. Ticket info here.


RTDNA Canada’s (Radio Television and Digital News Association of Canada) annual conference will be held May 10-11 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto. This year’s conference will explore what the future holds for the journalism profession with sessions on Strategies to Preserve and Strengthen Local News Coverage; Election Year 2019 – the Bureau Chief’s Perspective; New News Business Models; and using AI in newsrooms. Early bird registration ends Apr. 19.


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