Weekly Briefing

REVOLVING DOOR:

Bob Weirers

Bob Weiers, the Executive Producer of Elections and Live Events for CBC News, is retiring. Following writing and lineup editor stints at Global and CTV, Weiers joined the public broadcaster in 1990, working as a producer in the Queen’s Park bureau, for CBC Newsworld, and on The National, among other programs. He’d been a Senior Producer with Elections and Live Events since 2004.

Ginette Viens has joined Montreal-based Pixcom as VP, International Productions and Executive Producer. The former Quebecor VP of Brands & Content will oversee all international scripted and non-scripted development and production slates.

Frédéric Perron

Frédéric Perron will assume the role of President of Cogeco Connexion, effective Sept. 1. Perron currently serves as Chief Commercial Officer at T-Mobile Poland, where he leads a team of 3,000 people serving 7 million customers. Prior to T-Mobile, he held senior leadership roles at Rogers Communications, Vodafone, Booz & Company and Capital One. He replaces Ken Smithard, who retired earlier this year. 

Ian Spencer

Ian Spencer has joined the Canadian Communication Systems Alliance (CCSA) as Manager of Contracts. Based in Whitby, ON, Spencer will support Lori Rosenberg, CCSA’s VP of Contracts, in negotiating CCSA master programming agreements, among other duties. He replaces Debbie Randon, who retires in July after 20 years with the organization. Spencer was most recently Manager, Television and News Distribution at CBC/Radio-Canada and prior to that held various content sales and marketing roles with Bell and Rogers.


Lorna Dueck

Lorna Dueck is retiring after 35 years in broadcasting. Dueck started her career in 1977 as a reporter with Golden West Radio’s stations in Southern Manitoba. She went on to land her first TV job at CKX Brandon before moving to Ontario in the early 1990s where she joined Crossroads Christian Communications. Best known for her time hosting 100 Huntley Street, for the past four years she’s served in the role of CEO of Crossroads in addition to hosting Context with Lorna Dueck on YES TV. 

Rod McDonald

Rod McDonald has retired after 45 years in broadcasting and the last 10 as Agriculture Director at Harvard Broadcasting’s GX94 (CJGX-AM) Yorkton. McDonald started in radio in his hometown of Lethbridge in 1972. His career took him to Langley, BC; Edson and Fort McMurray, AB; Swift Current, Regina, and Rosetown, SK; Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Along the way, he also spent three years as Executive Director of the United Way in Fort McMurray.

Farhan Mohamed

Farhan Mohamed is stepping down as Editor-in-Chief of Daily Hive, the online publication he co-founded eight years ago. Darcy Matheson, Daily Hive’s Vancouver City Editor and the former Head of Digital at CTV Vancouver, will take over the Editor-in-Chief role. Matheson is currently on maternity leave and will return full-time this fall. 

Willow Fiddler

Willow Fiddler is The Globe and Mail’s new Thunder Bay bureau chief with her coverage focusing on Northern Ontario and Manitoba, particularly Indigenous issues. Fiddler, who hails from the Sandy Lake First Nation, has been a VJ with APTN, based in Thunder Bay, for the last four years.

Claire Allen

Claire Allen is moving on from CKNW Vancouver after eight years. The lead producer on the Simi Sara Show for most of that time, Allen has been in a producer/contributor role since Jan. 2019 that included helping develop and execute national projects for Corus.

Ainslie MacLellan

Ainslie MacLellan is returning to the host’s chair on CBC Radio Montreal weekend morning show, All in a Weekend. She replaces Sonali Karnick, who is on maternity leave. MacLellan was most recently filling in for Mike Finnerty as host of Daybreak. 

Divya Gill

Divya Gill has joined CFTK-TV Terrace, BC as a news reporter, based in Prince Rupert. Gill, who hails from Caledon, ON, is a recent graduate of the College of Sports Media in Toronto.

Todd Shapiro

Todd Shapiro has joined the Board of Directors of Toronto’s Datametrex AI Limited. The former Dean Blundell sidekick who was most recently heard on SiriusXM’s Canada Laughs channel, has stepped away from media to concentrate on being CEO of psychedelic truffle purveyor Red Light Holland. Shapiro also sits on the boards of JamStacked and Mogul Productions.

Dennis Wharton

Dennis Wharton, executive vice-president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), has announced his retirement effective July 1. A 24-year veteran of NAB and the organization’s longest serving spokesperson, Wharton will continue to serve in an advisory capacity.

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams has been named the incoming CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, effective June 15. Williams, a former CTV/The New VI/CFAX Victoria host and producer, has been co-owner of communications firm Spark Strategic Group since 2017 and serving as interim CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. He takes over from Catherine Holt.

RADIO & PODCAST:

Canadian Music Week (CMW) organizers have hit the pause button for 2020. CMW, which was originally set to take place May 19-23 in Toronto, was rescheduled to September, but President Neill Dixon now says it’s clear that “at this point in the public health emergency, September represented too many unavoidable obstacles.” “Not least of these would be the participation of international artists and delegates, many of whom might not be free to travel at that point, and some of whom have already declined to attend,” said Dixon in a statement. “Even in a best-case fall scenario, wherein the spread of COVID-19 has been mitigated and limited public gatherings allowed, high-attendance events such as concerts, sports and conferences will likely be the last public activities to resume. The fallout is huge, for events like ours and for the entire music industry.” This year would have marked the 38th edition of CMW, which sees bands showcase at 40 different venues in downtown Toronto, in addition to concurrent music industry and radio conferences. Read more here.

Vividata’s Spring 2020 Study finds household ownership of voice activated smart speakers has more than doubled. 16% of households now own a voice-activated smart speaker, compared to 7% a year ago, with Google Home the most popular, followed by Amazon Echo.   40% of Canadian adults reported streaming music in an average week with music streaming greatest among Gen Z adults at 71% doing so weekly. Nearly one in four listen to podcasts with the highest reach occurring among Gen Z adults (at 35%) and Gen Y (at 33%). YouTube (at 20% reach), Spotify (at 15%), and Apple Music (at 7%) were cited as the top three audio streaming services used by Canadians.

Maru Canada and Angus Reid Forum tracked behaviours week over week in March and April finding that even with fewer cars on the road, Canadians 12+ are being reached by radio – retaining 85% of reach since before COVID-19. As listening locations shift, Canadians are rediscovering radio at home: A18+ in-home tuning is up +19%, A18-34 +16%, A18-49 +24% and A25-54 +26%. Streaming AM/FM Radio is gaining share of minutes tuned, up +32% A18+, +62% A18-34, +52% A18-49 and +52% A25-54, vs. pre-COVID-19. The study also found listening is occurring across multiple platforms with streaming on smart speakers up +24 % since pandemic measures were instituted.

Quebecor has unveiled QUB musique, billed as the first music streaming platform designed and produced in Quebec. Available for both mobile and desktop, the QUB musique app is launching with a catalogue of 50 million songs available on demand, in addition to hundreds of playlists created by “local curators who understand Quebecers’ needs and tastes.” Quebecor is also promising better compensation for artists, a much maligned aspect of the rise of music streaming. Read more here.

CBC Atlantic has launched Sports Talk with John Hancock, a new podcast that features the veteran sportscaster in conversation with Atlantic Canadian athletes about their journey through sport. The first four episodes have dropped featuring Halifax Olympic gymnast Ellie Black; Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ryan Graves, who hails from Yarmouth, NS; Dieppe, NB para-triathlete Kamylle Frenette; and Newfoundland Olympic curler Brad Gushue.

 

Larry Gifford

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has launched a limited series podcast for those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast is hosted by Corus National Talk Radio director Larry Gifford, who received his own Parkinson’s diagnosis at age 45. Gifford is also the host of award-winning Curiouscast podcast When Life Gives You Parkinson’s.

Andrea Dunn

Corus’ Curiouscast, in partnership with the MS Society of Canada, is set to debut new branded podcast THIS IS MS. Focused on demystifying Multiple Sclerosis, the podcast aims to change listeners’ understanding of the frequently invisible disease by delivering inspirational stories of those living with the illness. Launching May 21, THIS IS MS will be hosted by FM96 (CFPL-FM) London afternoon host Andrea Dunn, who was diagnosed with MS at age 31. New episodes will drop bi-weekly.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is hosting a new well-being podcast series for WE charity aimed at busting the stigma around mental health. Offering hands-on advice, tools and strategies to foster well-being, new episodes drop every Monday. Each 45-minute episode features Grégoire Trudeau in conversation with inspirational guests and mental health experts, including Olympians Silken Laumann and Tessa Virtue, former NFL player “Mr. Aloha” Esera Tuaolo, mental health advocate Margaret Trudeau, and French Canadian entertainer Mitsou Gélinas, among others. Grégoire Trudeau, the official Ambassador and Ally of WE empowerment inititiative WE Well-being, is a former eTalk Quebec and LCN entertainment correspondent, in addition to other TV and radio credits.

Virgin Radio stations are hosting a Virtual Prom Party on May 15, featuring DJ Starting from Scratch. Starting at 8 p.m. ET on Virgin Radio in Toronto, London, Kitchener, Halifax, iHeartRadio.ca, and the iHeartRadio app, host Dames Nellas will encourage listeners to upload their photos throughout the two-hour live event, and be registered for the chance to win $1,000 towards fall tuition. Using the hashtag #VirtualPromParty, listeners will also be able to make music requests and shout-outs to their class and friends.

iHeartRadio stations in Quebec are continuing to come up with initiatives to support frontline and essential workers. Énergie 98.7 (CIKI-FM) Rimouski has launched the Solidarité Pour Nos Héros campaign, asking listeners to submit a frontline or essential worker to win a full day house cleaning. Rouge 105.3 (CHRD-FM) Drummondville has launched Les Héroes du 105.3 Rouge, asking listeners to register an essential service worker to be recognized as hero of the day and win a ready-to-eat box, courtesy of Chef Chez-vous; and Boom 106.5 (CFEI-FM) Saint-Hyacinthe and Boom 104.1 (CFZZ-FM) Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu are encouraging listeners to reward those putting their health on the line to help others with a free meal and a shout-out with Du Bonheur à la Douzaine! campaign.

Corus stations in Guelph and Kitchener will kick off National Nurses Week on Monday May 11 with 12-hour broadcasts. The Beat Breakfast with Scott and Kat on 91.5 The Beat (CKBT-FM) Kitchener and The Breakfast Club with Lisa and Brent on Magic 106 (CIMJ-FM) Guelph will host shows from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. dedicated to frontline healthcare workers. Listeners can request songs and do shout outs to those in the medical field.

SiriusXM has launched a collection of curated music channels dedicated to megastars David Bowie, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, George Strait, Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Prince, and The Rolling Stones. The channels will feature music spanning their respective careers, rare live and demo tracks, musical influences, and commentary from some of the artists and band members themselves. SiriusXM has extended its Stream Free offer through May 31 which allows free access to SiriusXM’s full lineup of Premier Streaming content to listeners in North America on the SiriusXM app.

LISTEN: Matt Cundill’s guest this week on the Sound Off Podcast is Dana Marshall from 103.3 WKFR in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Marshall is the brand manager and morning host. He’s also branched out with his “My Prince Story” podcast where guests discuss how they have been touched by the presence or music of Prince. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

SIGN OFFS:

Rudy Morelli

Rudy Morelli, 86, on May 1, of brain cancer. In addition to being a respected member of the legal community, Morelli was one of the original six partners in NL Broadcasting, which started in 1970 with the founding of CHNL-AM Kamloops and CJNL-AM Merritt. Morelli was the only remaining original shareholder when NL Broadcasting, which expanded to include CJKC-FM and CKRV-FM Kamloops, was sold to Newcap in 2017. 

Ron Hill

Ron Hill, 87, on Apr. 27. Born in Port Credit, ON, Hill had his own radio program on CJRT-FM Toronto called “Rhythm with Ron” while attending the Radio & TV Arts program at Ryerson. Having studied piano and voice from the age of five, Hill would play the piano to accompany his announcing. He went on to work at CHAT Medicine Hat where he hosted “Rambling with Ron” and “The Mayfair Melody Time.” He would go on to showcase his musical talent and knowledge again on CKCO-TV Kitchener where he hosted early morning show “This Morning” in 1959-60. Hosting roles at CFCF-TV in Montreal followed including shows “Coffee Break” and “You’re Going to Expo,” celebrating Expo ‘67. In 1973, Hill joined CBC Radio and TV in Halifax, presenting the news during “Information Morning” and “Daybreak” on radio, and hosting “Sunrise” and “Atlantic Week.” He also did a turn as weatherman during the supper hour newscast. He retired from the public broadcaster in 1997. He went on to work as a background performer on locally shot television productions including “Haven,” “Trailer Park Boys,” “Jesse Stone,” and feature film “Hobo with a Shotgun.”

TV & FILM:

Wildbrain is temporarily reducing salaries and furloughing some employees. In releasing its Q3 2020 earnings, the Halifax-headquartered children’s entertainment company revealed it’s initiated $2.0 million in quarterly operating expense savings to preserve cash, including a temporary 20% reduction in salaries for senior management, who will receive new Restricted Share Units in lieu, and a temporary reduction in salaries at WildBrain Spark (its YouTube business) as well as furloughing some employees as part of the UK government’s funding support during the coronavirus crisis. Wildbrain’s Board of Directors has also agreed to receive Deferred Share Units in lieu of cash fees. Wildbrain’s preliminary Q3 revenue is estimated at between $96 and $100 million, down from $110 million in the same quarter last year. Aaron Ames, WildBrain’s CFO, acknowledged that advertising declines of 60% year-over-year in April are having an impact. Read more here.

WOW! Unlimited Media says it plans to adapt the Work From Home model beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to expand its production capacity without leasing additional facilities. With the onset of the crisis, the Mainframe team pro-actively leveraged its Global Studio Pipeline transitioning its entire 400+ Studio crew within one week, without interruption to operations. WOW! says production on company titles has continued with minimal disruption to client commitments with 200 half-hours of episodic animation and seven animated movie specials currently in production or contracted and scheduled. The company announced its fourth quarter and fiscal year-end results for the period ended Dec. 31, 2019, completing its third full year of operations with revenue of $103.9 million in 2019, compared to $78.6 million in 2018. For Q4 2019, the company recorded its first operating profit of $1.6 million.

Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble donations have now topped more than $8 million to date, benefitting Food Banks Canada. It’s the most money raised through a text-to-donate channel in Canada in such a short period, raising more than $1.6 million in four days. Updated audience data indicates the special was watched in some part by more than 12 million viewers, or one in three Canadians. With three days of delayed viewing, the 90-minute special now has an average audience of 5.9 million viewers. Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble is available to watch on demand on CBC Gem, Citytv.com, Crave, CTV.ca, CTV app, GlobalTV.com, Global TV App, ICI TOU.TV, iHeartRadio.ca, iHeartRadio Canada app, Stingray Qello, and Super Channel On Demand. Canadians can continue to donate by texting COVID to 30333 or visiting FoodBanksCanada.ca/StrongerTogether until May 26.

Lilly Singh

CTV and WE have announced WE CELEBRATE: CLASS of 2020, a virtual coast-to-coast road trip culminating in a celebration to mark the end of the school year. Airing Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and everywhere CTV content can be found, the special will be hosted by Lilly Singh and feature Tyrone Edwards, Selena Gomez, Brett Kissel, Shawn Mendes, Shay Mitchell, Natalie Portman, Jacob Tremblay, Liz Trinnear, Chloe Wilde, and WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger. 

Jasmin Mozaffari

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Netflix have announced the creators and feature film projects selected for the inaugural CFC/Netflix Project Development Accelerator, a three-month program designed to offer advanced project development and workshopping support. The English language projects receiving funding are The Path Travels Me, written and directed by Jasmin Mozaffari, producer: Caitlin Grabham (Prowler Film); and Runaways, written and directed by Rama Rau. The French films selected are Kanaval, writer/director: Henri Pardo, producer: Éric Idriss-Kanago (Yzanakio), associate producer: Marie Ka; and T’es belle Maryse, writer/director: Maxime Desmons, co-writer: Marie-Ève Perron, producer: Damon D’Oliveira (Flimshow Inc.), co-producer: Babe Nation Inc. Two additional accelerators, the Calling Card and Marketplace Accelerators, are yearlong accelerators that began in Sept. 2019. To date, they’ve supported more than a dozen projects, ranging from shorts to features and TV series. 

Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund has announced the new projects that will receive funding through the Shorts-to-Features Program and HGF/Newfoundland & Labrador Shorts Program. This year’s chosen films for the Shorts-to-Features Program are: Kiskosimakan (aka Whistling) from writer/director Thirza Cuthand and producer Sera-Lys McArthur; North of Harbord from director/writer Jeremy Diamond, writers Jamie Michaels, and producers Lisa Baylin and Mike Valiquette; and The Day We Left from director/writer Kaio Kathriner, writer/producer Elma Begovic, and producer Tony Cerciello. Each team receives $32,000 towards the production of their short film projects, designed to be calling cards for future long-form features. In addition, The inaugural selections for the HGF/Newfoundland & Labrador Shorts Program were also announced: Wish You Were Here from writer/director Allison White and producer Kerrie Mattie; and Animal Arrangements from writer/director Kerry Gamberg and producer Micah Martin. Both projects will receive a $20,000 in financial contributions.

TSN is continuing to air classic Hockey Canada moments from recent years. Jonathan Toews performance at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship highlighting his heroics in Team Canada’s semifinal matchup and Gold Medal Game, will be broadcast May 14. TSN will also broadcast all three of Team Canada’s round robin games at the 2013 IIHF World Juniors, starring a roster dubbed ‘The Next Dream Team’, on May 16. More classic Hockey Canada games on TSN will be announced in the coming weeks.

LISTEN: Ron McLean is our guest on the latest Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast talking about his new Sportsnet digital series In Conversation with Ron McLean and revisiting classic NHL games, alongside hockey legends. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

Discovery launches six-part Deadliest Catch spinoff Deadliest Catch: Bloodline beginning May 19. Following the tragic passing of legendary Bering Sea Captain Phil Harris, the new series follows his son, Alaskan legacy fisherman Josh Harris, after he discovers a trove of Hawaiian fishing charts scribbled with Captain Phil’s handwriting. He and business partner Casey McManus take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii’s Kona coast and learn about the time his father spent there decades earlier. According to Numeris data supplied by the network, the Season 16 premiere of Deadliest Catch on Apr. 21 was the show’s highest audience for any episode since 2017 among total viewers, helping make Discovery the most-watched entertainment specialty channel in its timeslot. 

Investigation Discovery unlocks a nationwide freeview, beginning May 13. Available until June 10, the channel’s free preview features the debuts of all-new series If I Should Die (May 19), Deadly Secrets (May 21), Homicide City: Charlotte (May 26); Harvey Weinstein: Breaking Now (May 31); and new seasons of Grave Mysteries (May 14), Dead of Winter (May 22), and On The Case with Paula Zahn (June 7). The freeview includes Bell, Bell Aliant, Bell MTS, Cogeco, Eastlink, Rogers, Telus, Shaw, Shaw Direct, and SaskTel, among other providers.

Crazy Like A Lynx will have its world premiere on APTN on Friday, May 8 at 7 p.m. ET (Ojibway) and Thursday June 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET (English). Produced by InterINDigital, the docuseries is an intimate look at some of Canada’s most successful and interesting Aboriginal organizations, businesses, programs, and people. The series follows co-hosts and comedians Don Kelly and Dakota Ray Hebert as they travel across Canada and immerse themselves – oftentimes with self-deprecating humour – into the lives of Aboriginals accomplishing amazing things. Their travels take them from the First Nations Snowboard Team in Vancouver to the Canadian Forces Black Bear program at CFB Gagetown.

Quebecor is launching a buy local movement that includes showcasing Québec talent. Organized around the hashtag #culturedici, the initiative encompasses a new show on TVA, Ça va bien aller; a special “Culture d’ici” showcase on Videotron’s illico platform and Helix, bringing together all Québec content on on-demand platforms; a campaign supporting Québec authors; and a Buy Quebec campaign running on QUB radio and Porte-Monnaie, in addition to multi-platform advertising dedicated to local businesses. 

Stingray’s Earth Day initiative with U.S. not-for-profit One Tree Planted will see 19,894 trees added to the organization’s reforestation efforts. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Stingray committed to planting one tree for every hour of Stingray Naturescape streamed on Apr. 22. Stingray Naturescape (previously branded as Stingray Ambiance) features relaxing scenery from around the world, including majestic forests and woodlands. 

XITE, an interactive music video streaming app, is now available on Rogers Ignite TV, joining  Netflix, Prime Video, Tubi and hayu. XITE includes a vast library of music videos from current artists to one-hit wonders. It’s available free and ad-supported or via XITE Premium, an ad-free version for $7.99 a month with features like unlimited skips and personalized dynamic playlists. 

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

John Boynton, Publisher, Toronto Star; Bob Cox, Publisher, Winnipeg Free Press; Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO, The Globe and Mail; James C. Irving, Vice President, Brunswick News; Jonathon J.L. Kennedy, President and CEO, Glacier Media Group; Pierre-Elliott Levasseur, President, La Presse; Brian Myles, CEO, Le Devoir; Rick O’Connor, President and CEO, Black Press Media; and Lyne Robitaille, President and Publisher, Quebecor have signed an open letter to the federal government urging the implementation of measures that would force Facebook and Google to subsidize content. Accusing the digital giants of exploiting tax loopholes, the letter calls on the Canadian government to follow the lead of France and Australia which “have set deadlines to have mandatory solutions in place by July. That means paying for copyrighted content and sharing the advertising dollars and data that flow from it.”

APTN and The Discourse have launched IndigiNews, a new digital platform for local news serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Based in BC’s Okanagan Valley, the joint venture will soon expand to Vancouver Island with an eye to addressing a long history of poor representation in Canada media and perpetuated stereotypes about Indigenous communities. To start, IndigiNews will distribute coverage produced by a team of Indigenous reporters hired by The Discourse in the Okanagan Valley with funding support from the Local Journalism Initiative. Content will also be published by The Discourse and APTN.

The Digital Publishing Award nominees have been announced recognizing Canadian digital publications and their creators. The Globe and Mail and CBC are tied for 1st with 21 nominations (CBC nominations are across various divisions), while Radio-Canada earned 13 nominations. Dmitry Beniaminov is the 2020 winner of the Digital Publishing Leadership Award. A 20-year tech consultant and digital marketing advisor, under the banner of web design firm Pixel Studioz, Beniaminov has worked on projects for The Walrus, Running Magazine, Avenue Calgary, Canadaland, Cottage Life, Canadian Living, Elle Canada, The Hockey News, Toronto Life, Fashion Magazine, Wedding Bells, and Quill and Quire, among other outlets. 

Amazon Prime Video has launched the Prime Video Store in Canada, giving customers the opportunity to rent or buy new movie releases from major studios, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Lionsgate, with recent titles like Jumanji: The Next Level, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Joker available to watch now. Amazon customers can rent or buy titles in the Prime Video Store through primevideo.com and the Prime Video app on Smart TVs, Android mobile devices, game consoles, streaming media players including Amazon Fire TV, and select MVPDs. The Prime Video Store had already rolled out in the U.S., UK, Germany and Japan, and in addition to Canada expands to Australia, France, Italy, and Spain. 

Knowledge Network is now available on the Roku app and Roku devices. The BC public broadcaster is now available to stream on its website, iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV.

REGULATORY, TELECOM & GENERAL MEDIA:

Kenneth Jackson

APTN reporter/producer Kenneth Jackson is the winner of the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) 2020 Press Freedom Award for his work relentlessly pursuing information on the fate of Indigenous children who died in care in Ontario. The award annually recognizes Canadian media workers who produce public-interest journalism, while overcoming secrecy, intimidation or other efforts to thwart their work. Jackson’s reporting entailed tracking down relatives on the streets of Thunder Bay, filing access to information requests, and going to court to get access to files in civil lawsuits. Nova Scotia-based editorial cartoonist Michael de Adder, and freelance journalist and author Joan Baxter, who is also based in Nova Scotia, received honourable mentions. This year’s Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to David Pugliese, who covers the military beat for The Ottawa Citizen and has been a frequent challenger of the Department of National Defence record on Access to Information. 

J-Source, the site run by the donor-supported Canadian Journalism Project, is the recipient of the new Michener-L. Richard O’Hagan Fellowship for Journalism Education. It’s been awarded $40,000 to support the launch of the Canadian Press Freedom Project, championed by editor-in-chief Sonya Fatah, publisher Christopher Waddell, former managing editor H.G. Watson, and managing editor Steph Wechsler. Similar to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the J-Source/Canada Press Freedom Project will track examples where press freedom is threatened across the country, with the goal to create a database documenting violations of press freedom.

The Michener Awards Foundation has also announced the finalists for the 2019 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. This year’s finalists include CBC News, The Globe and Mail, The London Free Press, The Halifax Examiner, La Presse, and the Institute for Investigative Journalism. Read more here.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has awarded its annual Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Intended to call attention to governments, government departments and agencies that put extra effort into denying public access to information, Environment and Climate Change Canada was singled out for a seven-month delay in fulfilling a request from Ottawa Citizen journalist Tom Spears. In the lead-up the federal election, Spears filed an Access to Information request wanting to know if Environment and Climate Change Canada had timed the release of research showing Canada is warming at double the global rate to coincide with their new carbon tax taking effect. 

CBC News has launched the Lives Remembered project, gathering information to learn who is being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. A team of dedicated journalists has been building a database of Canadians whose deaths have been linked to the pandemic.

StingrayStingray Group Inc. has acquired Marketing Sensorial México (MSM), the Mexican leader in point-of-sale marketing solutions. As the current partner of Stingray Business for the 1,500 pharmacy locations and additional 1,500 medical clinics operated by Farmacias del Ahorro in Mexico, MSM specializes in digital signage content production, in-store music and the sale and/or lease of audio and visual equipment. The company serves customers in a range of industries including banking, retail pharmacy and automotive dealership sectors with clients such as Grupo Financiero Santander México, Scotiabank México and BMW. Stingray says the strategic acquisition supports its growth strategy by offering Stingray Business customers a “one-stop” shop for digital signage, customized background music, custom messaging and AI-driven customer feedback. Under terms of the acquisition agreement, Stingray will fully own and operate the business and assets of MSM with the continued support and direction of the company’s current leadership team. 

TELUS has won the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) Americas award for Most Effective Recovery for its response to the 2019 wildfires in Northern Alberta. The BCI Awards recognize the business continuity and resilience of organizations during times of crisis. With 604,946 hectares of forest decimated before being brought under control, TELUS infrastructure had tremendous exposure to the wildfires that raged across the province. TELUS’ Corporate Business Continuity Office activated its cross-functional crisis management team for a total of 17 days, leveraging its experience from previous wildfire seasons and strategically prioritizing maintenance and restoration of affected telecom networks and emergency services to ensure first responders could communicate while in the field and customers and potential evacuees in affected areas could receive emergency notifications and stay in contact with loved ones. TELUS also supported the community during the crisis with $750,000 in kind and through donations, including donating devices and tablets to evacuees, waived mobility overages, comfort kits to evacuation centres, and more than 7,000 volunteer hours in support of relief efforts.

Bell MTS is expanding its all-fibre broadband network to approximately 800 homes and business locations throughout the Town of La Salle, MB in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald. Fully funded by Bell MTS, the new network will deliver Internet access speeds of up to 1.5 Gigabits per second. Construction is set to begin in June, with the first customer connections expected this summer. La Salle joins over 30 communities across the province that now have access to Bell MTS fibre with expansion to Flin Flon and Churchill also anticipated this summer, in addition to approximately 275,000 homes and businesses in Winnipeg.

BROADCAST TECH:

Vizrt, a Norwegian-based software-defined visual storytelling solutions provider, is offering a glimpse into the sci-fi future of remote live interviews. Using IP and the built-in Fusion renderer in the Viz Engine 4.1, two individuals located in separate countries appear to be in the same room having a conversation in a live, one-on-one TV talk show format on online platform Vizr.TV. Social distancing mandates not only moved up VizrTV production up by several months but added the extra challenge of having to produce from multiple locations remotely, a similar challenge faced by many Vizrt customers. Host Chris Black appears seated next to guest Gerhard Lang, CTO for the Vizrt Group, however Black is at Vizrt headquarters in Bergen, Norway while Lang is in the Vizrt office in Vomp, Austria more than 2,000 kilometres away. A virtual set provides a common background. Two Matrox Monarch Edge devices were used to send and receive SRT streams from Norway to Austria. Using Viz Engine 4.1, only two frames of latency for audio and video, in and out, in both SDI and IP mode were introduced into the stream. The low latency provided an IP stream for reference monitors and for the final live production. 

RealmSmith.tv is using Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks to live stream its tabletop gaming series “Into the Mist” on Twitch, and using DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut page to quickly edit each show’s highlights for YouTube. The Toronto-based live streaming and tabletop gaming company, which started in a garage two years ago, features improvised live play of Dungeons & Dragons’ “Curse of Strahd” campaign setting. RealmSmith.tv uses two Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks to capture front shots, one pointing at the Dungeon Master and the other to capture a wider shot of the entire table of six players. The other two cameras are used on either side of the table, looking across and over players’ shoulders. Additionally, RealmSmith.tv uses an ATEM Television Studio HD to switch between the cameras and map out sequences of camera changes and animations. Following each week’s three hour live stream, RealmSmith.tv uses DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut page to create a recap for the beginning of each show on their respective YouTube channels.

SMPTE, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, has announced changes to its educational programming designed to make it easier for industry professionals to keep up with the latest technology and learn new skills. Virtual course prices have been cut by 50%, while SMPTE tech webcasts are now available online to everyone. The society has also opened a collection of freely accessible SMPTE Standards and articles from the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal. It’s working with local SMPTE Sections to get meetings streamed so members can stay on top of technology, no matter where they are. SMPTE Toronto will stream its next session Mar. 12. Attendees are asked to register.