Weekly Briefing

REVOLVING DOOR:

Jeff Collier

Jeff Collier is the new Global News National Managing Editor – Weekends. Collier has been with Global since 2015, most recently as Executive Producer in Toronto. In his new role, he’ll take the lead on all aspects of editorial coverage for weekends across the country and add an additional layer of oversight across network platforms. Prior to Global, Collier held senior producing roles with QMI News Agency, CTV News and CBC News.

James Moore

James Moore has left Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM) Toronto after eight years as a reporter with the station to pursue opportunities outside broadcasting. Prior to Newstalk 1010, Moore worked as a reporter and anchor in Kelowna at both AM 1150 (CKFR-AM) and 103.9 The Juice (CKOO-FM).

Craig Stone

Craig Stone has moved into a new role with Pulse 107.7 (CISF-FM) Surrey, BC as afternoon host and assistant program director. Stone has been with the station since last July as PD. Stone’s previous stops include Power 97 (CJKR-FM) Winnipeg, CFOX Vancouver, 102.7 The Peak (CKPK-FM) Vancouver, and Mountain FM (CISQ-FM) Squamish, among others.

Marina Di Pancrazio

Marina Di Pancrazio has joined the senior management team of Just for Laughs Group as Chief Content Revenue Officer. Di Pancrazio will oversee the global content business, including the group’s Los Angeles development office, spearheaded by Spencer Griffin. Di Pancrazio spent 12 years at Disney, most recently in TV distribution as the Director of Sales Service for Disney properties, Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, the Academy Awards, ABC and Freeform. Prior to that, she was the Disney Channels Worldwide executive for Canada. Before joining Disney, she was the original programming executive at The Movie Network.

Judith Beauchemin

Judith Beauchemin, Vice-President of English Content for Montreal-based media group Attraction, is stepping down to pursue new professional opportunities outside of TV production. Beauchemin joined CMJ Productions in 2002, working with the prodco’s founder to grow the company from the ground up. In addition to serving as producer and executive producer for 500+ hours of content, she also launched a post-production division. Beauchemin was promoted to President in 2016, when Attraction acquired CMJ and elevated earlier this year to VP of English Content when Attraction brought CMJ under its banner. Nicole Hamilton, who first joined CMJ in 2017 as Head of Development, has been promoted into the role. She previously served as Senior Director of Factual at Temple Street and VP of Development for Peace Point.

Allan Thompson

Allan Thompson is the incoming head of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. Thompson first joined the faculty in 2003 after 17 years with the Toronto Star. He’ll step into the role July 1.

RADIO & PODCAST:

Radio Connects says as Canadians continue to shelter-in-place, they’re still connecting to radio. According to the industry advocate’s latest data analysis, more Canadians tuned in at home during the week of Apr. 13 vs. the week of Feb. 24 and they listened for longer with A25-54 home tuning increasing by +27%. Numeris has released its own data analysis highlighting that streaming of AM/FM radio online continues to grow, now representing about 8% of Total Radio Consumption for Canadians 18+. The Average Minute Audience (AMA) for March recorded an 11% increase in audio streaming from the previous month, up 26% vs. the same month last year. Read more here.

 

Fox FM morning hosts Nik & Reader

Harvard Broadcasting Yorkton and the Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan held their annual Airwaves for Health Radiothon on Apr. 27-28. Instead of being held at the Regional Hospital, the Radiothon was a social distancing event with GX94 (CJGX-FM) and Fox FM (CFGW-FM) staff in their studios and guests by phone. The decision to go ahead with the Radiothon resulted in a record-breaking $173,090 raised for the purchase of medical equipment for the ICU, ER, Operating Room & Dialysis unit. The Radiothon also provided an opportunity for health care workers to talk about their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Vista Radio’s Moose FM stations in Timmins, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst, and Iroquois, marked “Thank-You Thursday” Apr. 23 by offering up their airwaves to recognize community heroes shining during the COVID crisis. Listeners with great stories of thanks were invited to request a special song. The stations plan to continue the effort as long as stories keep coming in.  

Country 600 CJWW Saskatoon dubbed Apr. 22 “Music is Medicine Day” with the intention of lifting the spirits of essential service employees and providing company to those feeling isolated. Throughout 13 hours of programming, station personalities Dave Thomas, Steve Chisholm, Jay Richards, Jason Lee, Ben Brooks and Landen were joined by celebrities ranging from leaders of all political stripes to Stanley Cup champions, country music stars, professional athletes, local television personalities and listeners from all corners of the province of Saskatchewan. The day culminated in a “Stick Tap For Saskatchewan” – three minutes of noise at 7 p.m. to show listeners we’re all in this battle together. The station also partnered with the Do-More Ag Foundation to bring awareness to mental illness that can be present at a stressful time for communities with the agriculture sector in the process of planting the 2020 crop.

boom 97.3 (CHBM-FM) Toronto has launched “Covid-Free Fridays,” committing to two hours of up-tempo music and good news every Friday morning, without mention of the ongoing pandemic. Hosted by Stu Jeffries, the two-hour commercial-free block debuted last Friday, accompanied by new imaging. Program director Troy McCallum says overwhelmingly positive response affirmed their suspicions that listeners were ready for a reprieve from the last few months of pandemic-dominated content. Read more here.

Tara McCarthy & Mark Connolly

CBC Edmonton morning show, Edmonton AM, is hosting virtual radio road trips, taking listeners to a new Alberta destination every Friday. On the first edition of the series, hosts Mark Connolly and Tara McCarthy turned up the volume on an oldies playlist and headed up Hwy 16 to Jasper National Park, with among their stops Jack’s Diner in Spruce Grove and Folding Mountain Brewing in Hinton. 

Taz & Jim will pull a 12-hour shift on London’s FM96 (CFPL-AM) May 1 in honour of all healthcare heroes working long hours. Broadcasting live from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. for the full duration of a typical hospital shift, the morning show duo is encouraging healthcare workers to request songs and share their stories on the show. Friends and family members of healthcare workers are also welcome to dedicate songs of support for their loved ones.

Rod & Jill of Country 105 (CFDC-FM) Shelburne, ON are doing a 12-hour shift to honour frontline workers on May 1. From 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., they’ll be sharing healthcare worker stories and doing ‘Shout Outs’ from family and friends. 

106.5 ELMNT FM (CFPT-FM) Toronto and 95.7 ELMNT FM (CFPO-FM) Ottawa have launched Ca$h Tunes! – a new contest responding to those struggling with unemployment, slow business, and other financial challenges related to the pandemic. Every weekday at 6:20 a.m., the ELMNT morning shows will reveal the Ca$h Tune of the day. When they hear it, listeners can text ELMNT FM, the name of the song, and the artist. The 15th person to text can win up to $500.

99.3 County FM (CJPE-FM) Prince Edward County is launching H.E.L.P. – Homegrown Exciting Live Performances with Friends, a new artist-meets-community initiative airing Friday nights at 10 p.m. that will showcase a local artist’s original video concert distilled to 30+ minutes in audio format, followed by short musical clips of other artists coming up in future broadcasts. Created by Ras Bingi, a long-time volunteer DJ with the community station, the show responds to the lack of adequate internet service in many areas of Prince Edward County that inhibit the ability to stream video concerts.

99.3 County FM will be the recipient of proceeds from the sale of “Into the Sunset,” local musician Bill McBurney’s new album. McBurney worked with a large group of local musicians to produce the album and said donating the proceeds to the community station was a natural fit: “County FM is our station, helping County musicians to get our music out there, especially now when people are isolated and need a little boost.” The non-profit, member-owned, volunteer-driven station, has felt the sting of COVID-19 through reduced ad revenue, but has persevered with a full-slate of programming throughout the current crisis. The CD is selling for $15, which includes shipping to anywhere in the County; $20 shipped anywhere in Canada. More info at 993countyfm.ca.

iHeartRadio Canada stations across Western Canada are continuing to launch initiatives to thank and support frontline workers and local businesses. CFAX 1070 Victoria has launched the Win and Shop Local contest, asking listeners to choose from a list of local businesses and tell the CFAX team why it’s their favourite. The weekly winner receives a shout-out for their favourite spot and a $100 gift card to spend when they reopen. Penticton’s EZ Rock 800 AM and 97.1 Sun FM are running a Front Door Food Drive in support of the Salvation Army Food Bank. In Edmonton, Virgin, The Bear, and CTV Edmonton have launched online fundraiser Feed Your Friends for the Edmonton Foodbank. It quickly surpassed an initial goal of $10,000 when Ryan Reynolds, Nathan Fillion, and Darnell Nurse made donations. In Winnipeg, 103.1 Virgin Radio and 99.9 BOB FM have launched the Harvest Hero campaign, helping provide food to those in need through Winnipeg Harvest. In Regina, Pure Country 92.7 is raising funds and awareness for Family Services Regina, who deal with domestic abuse situations, which are on the rise with families now spending time in close quarters.

Tamara Taggart

TELUS has launched a weekly podcast series hosted by veteran Vancouver broadcaster Tamara Taggart. TELUS Talks with Tamara Taggart features interviews with doctors, healthcare professionals, and others with guests sharing how they have adjusted to living through the crisis and strategies on staying mentally and physically well. Recent podcast guests include businesswoman and CBC Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson; B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry; Canadian Olympian and hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser; and life coach Liesse Wilcox. The podcast is available on all major podcast platforms, and video accompanying each episode can be found on Optik TV On Demand.

Jennifer Smith, Cliff Dumas and Don Shafer are behind the recently-launched EveryPodcasts.com – a Vancouver-based venture offering podcast development, marketing and media buying. Smith is the former Director of Sales & Marketing, Western Canada, for CBC TV and the former VP & GM of Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio (CIRH-FM). Dumas is a producer and writer with experience at both CBC and CMT Canada, while Shafer is a veteran radio programmer and the former CEO of Roundhouse Radio. 

LISTEN: on the latest Sound Off Podcast, Matt Cundill talks with Sheryl Worsley from KSL Radio in Salt Lake City. After 20 years as a news director, she shifted to audio and audience development in the Bonneville cluster’s digital space and helped launch hit true crime podcast series COLD, which was picked up by podcast powerhouse Wondery. 

SIGN OFFS:

Russ Peake

Russ Peake, 80, on Apr. 27 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Peake was in broadcasting for nearly five decades, starting in radio in Red Deer at age 17, hauling equipment to various remotes and operating the board, before moving into announcing. He eventually moved over to CHQR Calgary as sports director from the mid-1960s until 1971 when he joined CFCN where he became sports director until his retirement in 2006. Peake also acted as the PA announcer for both the World Hockey Association (WHA) Calgary Cowboys in the 1970s and continued as the arena voice of the Calgary Flames until 1996. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

Dian Duthie

Dian Duthie, 68, on Apr. 14. A former CBC and CTV television reporter, Duthie is best known for her many years at CBC Ottawa where she hosted and produced The Health Beat, a weekly CBC TV feature on health, medicine and fitness. Duthie’s coverage earned many awards over the years including a 2011 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Media Award for Health Reporting and recognition from the Canadian Nurses Association.

Dave Budgell

Dave Budgell, 68, suddenly on Apr. 6. Originally from Toronto, Budgell joined CBC Toronto right out of college as a cameraman. In 1976, he did a brief stint volunteering as a teacher in the West Indies before moving to British Columbia where he would go on to a 35-year career with BCTV/Global BC. Starting as a cameraman, he retired as technical director, overseeing news broadcasts for both Global Vancouver and Montreal. Budgell retired from Global five years ago. Watch Global BC’s video tribute, here.

John Sinclair

John (Jack) Sinclair, 83, on Mar. 27 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. Sinclair was an early pioneer on the Toronto film production scene. In addition to working in post-production at CFTO and CBC, Sinclair co-founded the Toronto-based Motion Picture Video Company. He was also involved in early green screen development. Among other career highlights, Sinclair helped design the network broadcast facilities for both the Atlanta and Vancouver Olympic Games, in addition to the new CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto.  

Susan Cardinal

Susan Cardinal, 65, on Mar. 24, of cancer. Cardinal’s journalism career spanned print, radio and television, including hosting, reporting and producing both for CBC Calgary and nationally for CBC Radio, producing documentaries that aired on CBC Sunday Morning and CBC Ideas. She went on to independently produce The Thirsty Traveler, a show exploring the world of wine and spirits that originally aired from 2002-06 on Food Network Canada and later more than 70 countries. Among other credits, Cardinal also wrote and directed 2006 documentary Dream Makers, which had its debut on Bravo. Narrated by Tantoo Cardinal, the film told the story of Aboriginal people in the Canadian film industry, from substituting Mexicans and Italians in Indigenous roles to fighting stereotypes.

TV & FILM:

The 24th annual Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards have been announced with Jann Arden and Jennica Harper winning the Best Comedy honour for JANN, and Noelle Carbone taking the Drama Series award for Coroner. The 2020 WGC Showrunner Award went to Dennis Heaton, the Sondra Kelly Award to Cynthia Knight, and the Alex Barris Mentorship Award to Nathalie Younglai. This year’s winners will be celebrated at the 25th Annual WGC Screenwriting Awards, set to take place Apr. 26, 2021 in Toronto.

Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble, the all-Canadian special that aired across 120 platforms, including 44 television networks, has made history as the most-watched (non-sports) Canadian broadcast on record, drawing 11.5 million viewers. According to preliminary Numeris data, nearly one in three Canadians watched some part of the broadcast with audiences peaking at more than 6.1 million viewers during the world premiere of ArtistsCAN’s “Lean on Me” charity single. Overall, the 90-minute special has a preliminary overnight audience of 5.6 million viewers. The special also reached hundreds of thousands of others on radio, online and on demand with more than $6 million raised in support of Food Banks Canada. Read more here.

ET Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association Foundation’s collaborative, week-long broadcasting event, Canada Together: In Concert Presented by TD, raised more than $300,000 for Food Banks Canada and the Unison Benevolent Fund. In addition to sponsoring the concert series, TD also donated $100,000 to assist Canadians in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Spotify helped stretch donations to the Unison Benevolent Fund even further through their #SpotifyMusicRelief project. Featuring intimate performances with artists from their homes, Brett Kissel, Dallas Smith, Dean Brody, Gord Bamford, Jess Moskaluke, Lady Antebellum, Lindsay Ell, Luke Combs, and The Washboard Union, were among those lending their talents to the broadcast. A collection of interviews and performances can be viewed on ET Canada’s Youtube, Facebook and etcanada.com.

Numeris says the Apr. 30 TV diary release will be delayed as it continues operating with a virtual workforce. While recruitment of the TV diary data is complete, diary processing can’t be done remotely and the agency says it will require four weeks to process the remaining diaries, following reopening of its offices. TV PPM data processing, meanwhile, is automated and panel management continues is continuing remotely with meter data flowing daily. Numeris says to date, the transition to virtual call centres and remote panel maintenance hasn’t negatively impacted panel performance, however some services like recruitment of new homes, can’t be done remotely. Numeris says it’s continuing to review options to address those logistical challenges.

Media Technology Monitor (MTM) has released new report, Pass the Remote: Co-Viewing TV Content. It finds that while watching TV has increasingly become a more individualized experience, there is still a place for watching a show with someone else. Key findings from the Co-viewing Report include: Two-fifths of online Canadians report co-viewing TV content, younger Canadians (those under 50) and families with young children are the most likely to be co-viewers; Co-viewing is more common among those who subscribe to at least one Over-the-Top TV subscription. Canadians who exclusively watch TV via a traditional method such as a subscription or antenna are far less likely to say they have a show they co-view; Drama and comedy are the two most popular genres for Canadians to co-view. 

Family Channel is introducing new series Heirs of the Night and The Bureau of Magical Things. Based on Ulrike Schweikert’s novels, vampire series Heirs of the Night makes its North American debut May 4. Set in 1889, it tells the story of the five remaining vampire clans in Europe, who are training their “Heirs” to survive. The Bureau of Magical Things also premieres May 4 with new episodes weekdays at 6:30pm ET/PT. It follows teenage girl Kyra who accidentally discovers a mystical world that gives her magical powers. 

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd narrates T+E’s new original 10-part documentary series Hotel Paranormal (10×60′), produced by Toronto-based Saloon Media. Each episode features stories of paranormal encounters told from stays at grand hotels, highway motels and short-term rentals around the world. The world broadcast premiere of Hotel Paranormal airs Friday, May 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on T+E. The channel recently extended its nationwide free preview on Rogers running now until June 1.

Citytv is hosting an open casting call for its new contest Canadian Family’s Got Talent presented by Canadian Tire. Citytv is inviting Canadians to showcase their unique talents alongside their families, closest companions, or support networks from a distance for their chance to win thousands in cash and prizes from the comfort of their living rooms. Select entries will be featured on the expanded national hour of Breakfast Television and posted for online voting. The month-long contest culminates on Tuesday, May 26 when America’s Got Talent creator Simon Cowell will judge the three finalists live on Breakfast Television. Canadian Family’s Got Talent entries can be submitted online at breakfasttelevision.ca until May 13. Season 15 of America’s Got Talent is set to premiere this summer in Canada on Citytv and Citytv NOW.

TSN Hockey has launched the All-Time 7 Project, identifying the greatest players and forming all-time teams for each of the seven Canadian NHL clubs from the team’s inception to its current roster. Fans are invited to join in on the debate starting with the all-time roster for the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames, live now on TSN.ca. Lists to be unveiled over the coming weeks include the Edmonton Oilers (May 1), Toronto Maple Leafs (May 4), Ottawa Senators (May 6), Winnipeg Jets (May 8), and Vancouver Canucks (May 11). The full roster breakdown will debut on TSN.ca, accompanied by video analysis and discussion during the same day’s evening edition of SPORTSCENTRE. Also, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button will answer fan questions about each all-time team on Twitter and share his own stories about the players from each lineup.

Distribution360 has acquired the rights to AnimalFanPedia, the new series from Mobius.LAB Kids. The international distribution rights cover North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. D360 has also signed a deal with Worldwide kids’ app Azoomee to acquire marblemedia’s craft show, Super Mighty Makers (13 x 30), as well as Super Simple Draw (26 x 7) from Skyship Entertainment, and fun science title, ScienceXplosion (45 x 3.5). It has also renewed MathXplosion (50 x 3). In Canada, Splatalot (52 x 30), the medieval-themed physical gameshow for tweens, produced by marblemedia, has been licensed to both CBC Gem and Game TV; while more than 150 hours of Heartland, the long-running family drama series, has been licensed to both Corus (Season 12, 11 x 60) and Radio-Canada (Seasons 1-8, 140 x 60) for French-speaking Canada.

Network Media Group Inc. has released financial results for the quarter ended Feb. 29, including revenues of $4,221,988, net income of $298,307, and adjusted EBITDA of $884,318. Q1 operational highlights include strong backlog with contracted future revenues of $14.3M; delivery of The Age of A.I., the Robert Downey Jr.-hosted YouTube Originals series that’s received more than 41M views to date for the first episode alone; and an agreement with ExtendedSession LLC to produce podcast programming based on Network’s award-winning properties.

Pierre Théorêt

The Youth Media Alliance will award its Prix pour une carrière vouée à l’excellence (Outstanding Achievement Award) to Pierre Théorêt and the Prix de la relève (Emerging Talent Award) to Érika Mathieu. Théorêt has worked in television production since 1982. Among his recent youth production credits are Les Mutants (15 episodes), comedy Les Sapiens I and II (53 episodes) and Salmigondis. Mathieu began her writing career by contributing to the series Cochon dingue, which garnered 12 Gémeaux awards and is currently helping write Season 5. In 2019, she penned her first drama series, Nomades, a 10-episode webseries for teenagers broadcast on Tou.tv. They’ll receive their prizes at an online awards ceremony May 27. 

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has added new assistance programs and funds to its COVID-19 Information Hub for Canada’s screen-based industries. Among the programs added to the online directory are the Nunavut Film Development Corporation’s Story Telling Fund and ‘Digital Originals’ micro innovation grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and CBC/Radio-Canada.

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

Aalia Adam and Mike Arsenault

Global launched Global News Weekend this past Saturday, a new morning show co-hosted by Aalia Adam and Mike Arsenault, that streams exclusively on the Global TV App and Global News digital platforms. Airing every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET, the three-hour program will feature a mix of news, weather and in-depth interviews. Read more here.

CBC and the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) have adapted the JUNOS 365 SONGWRITERS’ CIRCLE virtual series for an online audience after the popular ‘Jewel of the JUNOS’ event was cancelled in Saskatoon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented by SOCAN in association with Music Publishers Canada, JUNOS 365 SONGWRITERS’ CIRCLE is a series of five virtual events beginning Friday, May 1, featuring some of Canada’s best songwriters telling the stories behind the songs and performing from their homes. The first episode will feature JUNO Award winner Brett Kissel bringing together stories and songs from nominees Dominique Fils-Aimé, Kaia Kater, and Devon Portielje from Half Moon Run. It will stream on CBC Gem, CBC Music’s Facebook and YouTube pages and cbcmusic.ca/junos. The remaining four episodes will be released every other Friday until June 26. 

Tracey Moore

Slice and Pinterest have launched new so.da original series Made You Look, hosted by Tracey Moore (not to be confused with Cityline’s Tracy Moore) which explores the latest trends and tests new products. New episodes will be released on the third Wednesday of every month on Slice.ca along with associated episode Pins on the Pinterest Canada profile. 

Media Central Corporation is rolling out an initiative with telehealth provider Tia Health that will see health content published by Toronto NOW and the Georgia Straight include referral links or a call to action directing readers to Tia Health. NOW and the Straight will collect an affiliate fee every time a reader or their family engages with one of Tia Health’s remote services. MediaCentral says a portion of its profits will be directed to community-based healthcare in Toronto and Vancouver.

Peter Kim

FEATURE: COVID-19 has put the spotlight on data journalism. Peter Kim, former Global Toronto data journalist and founder of Data for Good Vancouver, writes about the rise of visual data storytelling. Read more here.

 

 

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

J-Source, the Local News Research Project at Ryerson’s School of Journalism and the Canadian Association of Journalists have created a COVID-19 Media Impact Map that finds upwards of 2,000 workers have been laid off over the past six weeks at 100 outlets, including the shuttering of 50 community newspapers. The cuts include those at Postmedia which announced Tuesday it will lay off 50 sales people, temporarily cut pay for employees, and permanently close 15 of its community newspapers in Ontario and Manitoba. The cuts do not affect any of CWA Canada’s 281 members who work at nine of Postmedia’s 15 daily newspapers. The media union pointed out in a release that the company is eligible for both the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, intended to avert layoffs, as well as able to access labour tax credits under the $595-million journalism support fund.

Quebecor has filed a complaint with the CRTC against Bell, alleging it’s engaging in uncompetitive practices by denying Videotron access to Super Écran’s video on demand (VOD) content at reasonable rates. Videotron alleges that Bell Media is abusing its dominant position by making requests for linear and multiplatform tariffs not in line with the fair market value of Super Ecran and by introducing a new agreement for the distribution of the multiplatform service. Comments are open until May 25.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) says repeating video of a horse being mistreated 11 and a half times during a 1 minute, 37 second long report breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code. The CBSC decision concerns a story that aired on LCN’s public affairs morning show Le Québec matin on Nov. 27, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. It repeatedly showed a horse being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged through the snow. The video was shown three times before the host warned that the images were not easy to watch. It was then repeated a further seven and a half times in full screen mode. A viewer complained that his wife had been “traumatized” by the video. Read more here.

Cogeco Communications is acquiring Quebec telecommunications provider iTéract Inc. Cogeco will acquire 15 exclusive 3.5 GHz spectrum licenses for which the transfer was approved by Innovation, Science & Economic Development (ISED) Canada. iTéract’s network and spectrum licenses cover a large region of rural southern Quebec and serve approximately 2,000 customers. For the time being, it will continue to operate under its brand name, Internexe. The transaction, which is expected to close in the coming weeks, is the third acquisition of spectrum licenses by Cogeco over the last two years. 

Bell has accelerated the rollout of its new Wireless Home Internet (WHI) service in rural Canada as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis, and is on track to reach 137,000 more homes than originally planned this month in 180 individual communities in Quebec and Ontario. Bell says it’s experienced a 40% increase in Bell Home Wireless Internet usage due to COVID-19, but has been able maintain overall network reliability of 99.99+% throughout the crisis. With millions more working remotely from home, Bell Internet data volumes have increased as much as 60% during the day and 20% in the evening. Landline and wireless voice traffic has surged by up to 200% at peak times, while conference calling is up 250%, alongside increased demand for 1-800 services to support public health and other government information lines. Bell says it’s also seen a 40% increase in Bell TV volumes and a 75% jump in usage of Bell Media’s Crave video streaming service, including record increases in viewership of Bell Media news channels.

SaskTel is extending the waiving of data overage charges to May 31 for business and consumer customers on its postpaid Wireless plans, noSTRINGS Prepaid wireless plans and SaskTel fusion Internet plans. SaskTel also continues to provide additional free content to its residential maxTV and maxTV Stream customers, with current access to over 50 channels on free preview. Since mid-March, SaskTel’s networks have experienced an increase in wireless data traffic of approximately 37%, fusion Internet network traffic has increased of up to 96%, Internet data traffic is up about 10%, and maxTV has seen an increase in content delivery traffic of 37%.

MLSE, Scotiabank, Tangerine Bank, Rogers and Bell have teamed up to create a large-scale meal program to support and thank Toronto’s frontline health workers, their families, and the city’s most vulnerable. Operating out of Scotiabank Arena, as many as 10,000 meals a day are being prepared by MLSE chefs and food and beverage staff and delivered to local hospital frontline workers and community agencies. Supporting partners include Sobeys, Sysco, Maple Lodge Farms, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Maple Leaf Foods, McCain Foods, Unico/Primo, Mars Wrigley, Coca-Cola, Weston Foods, Pinnacle Caterers and food rescue organization, Second Harvest.

The TELUS Friendly Future Foundation has made a $250,000 donation to support COVID-19 assessments; triage service at temporary isolation shelters; and personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to ensure a clean and safe environment for patients and clinicians. TELUS has also announced it’s crediting monthly rate plan charges for two months for frontline healthcare workers at select hospitals in Ontario significantly impacted by COVID-19. The credit will be available to eligible TELUS and Koodo customers, including staff at University Health Network, Toronto; St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto; Sinai Health Systems, Toronto; Trillium Health Partners, Peel; North York General Hospital; and The Ottawa Hospital. TELUS is expanding the program to hospitals in Quebec, and soon BC and Alberta. 

ESChat broadband Push-to-Talk (PTT) service has launched on the TELUS wireless network. The solution has been in soft-launch with a number of marquee customers since late 2018. The ESChat solution is commercially available for TELUS business and government customers offering Secure Push-to-Talk, Live Location Tracking and Mapping and Secure Group Multimedia Messaging, as well as historical bread crumb tracking at an additional monthly charge.

Cision’s 2020 State of the Media Report, which surveyed more than 3,200 journalists in 15 countries, finds that accuracy continues to be deemed most crucial by reporters. For the second year in a row, 51% of journalists say that ensuring content is 100% accurate is more important than revenue, exclusivity, or being first to publish. The survey also found that social media algorithms are ranked the most important new technology impacting journalists today, while the heady promise of AI continues to fade. 41% of journalists agreed that social media algorithms will change the way they work the most, up from 38% in 2019. Only 15% of respondents see AI/machine learning as the most important technology to affect the industry, down from 19% in 2019. Journalists also reported looking for more optimistic, human stories in response to the current news cycle. Cision conducted the survey between Jan. 28 and Feb. 20, 2020.

Ben Nelms

The News Photographers Association of Canada has named the winners of its 2019 National Pictures of the Year competition. CBC Vancouver’s Ben Nelms was named Photojournalist of the Year, while colleague Maggie MacPherson placed first in the Personality category for her photo of legendary radio DJ Red Robinson.

The Jack Webster Foundation will be postponing its fall 2020 Webster Awards gala, however the awards themselves will still take place with the foundation considering new award presentation options. The annual media awards dinner celebrates excellence in B.C. journalism across print, radio, television and online platforms. The foundation will continue to operate its Professional Development Fellowship Program for the media and its Student Journalism Awards and Indigenous Student Award programs this year. Planned professional development seminars will be evaluated and may be converted into webinars. 

LISTEN: Broadcast Dialogue contributor Eric Blais, Director of Customer Success at StatsRadio, joins us on the latest episode of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast to talk strategic foresight and planning for an uncertain future. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here: