#CRTC and #Telecom News In Brief

CRTC

CRTC hearings into questionable sales practices by the country’s big telcos opened with the full commission panel hearing that the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing community face barriers in both accessing information and negotiating affordable wireless plans. Hundreds of Canadians have now chimed in on the record via Twitter using the hashtag #CRTCforum sharing their personal experiences with aggressive or misleading sales tactics. Thursday and Friday, the panel will hear from Quebecor Média, on behalf of Vidéotron; SaskTel; Cogeco; TELUS; Shaw; Rogers and Bell.

Marissa Nelson

CBC’s senior managing director for Ontario is defending a decision not to air live, municipal election coverage on the public broadcaster’s television stations Monday night. Marissa Nelson responded after a group of more than three dozen staff from the Ottawa bureau wrote a letter to upper management last week appealing for the decision to be reconsidered, saying the move would “inevitably erode our standing with our audience and Canadians at large.” Instead of airing municipal election coverage on CBC television stations in Ontario, the network aired an episode of Murdoch Mysteries at 8 p.m. ET when the polls closed. While CBC did provide coverage on radio and its internet platforms, it didn’t air results on television until its late night local news shows at 11 p.m. In her response to employees, Nelson reiterated the CBC’s commitment to its “digital-first” strategy, writing “As the public broadcaster, we have to continue to evolve how we serve Canadians. I understand change is difficult — but we will lose relevance if we don’t change to meet our audience’s needs and we know digital is where we can reach the most Canadians.” CTV Toronto was the only television broadcaster in the city to deliver a live, primetime municipal election special featuring up-to-the-minute results. Read the full story here.

Unifor, which represents 11,000 workers in Canada’s media sector, was lobbying on Parliament Hill this week, asking MPs to support tax incentives for Canadian advertisers to keep their media spends within Canada, adequate financial assistance for small market newspapers, and end Netflix’s exemption from Canadian content contributions. Unifor is asking the federal government to change Income Tax Act rules that disqualify non-profit news organizations from accepting charitable funding. It also wants changes to the Act that would see Canadian internet companies subject to the same financial contributions that cable TV companies make to the Canada Media Fund and Independent Local TV News Fund.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has decided that a one-time unexpected use of the f-word in a live news report did not violate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, nor did the characterization of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader as “a bit of a dick”. On Apr. 20 at 2 p.m., CP24 provided live on site coverage of a pro-marijuana rally in Toronto. As the reporter was speaking, a man ran into the shot and unexpectedly yelled the f-word. The reporter immediately commented and moved on, and also apologized at the end of the report. A viewer complained that the station had allowed the word to go to air. The CBSC’s English-Language Panel ruled that in this instance of “mic-bombing”, whereby a bystander suddenly inserted himself into the scene to shout a coarse word, the broadcaster did not violate the code. At 2:13 pm, CP24 broadcast a panel discussion about the upcoming Ontario election featuring representatives from each major party. At one point, the Liberal representative suggested that the electorate felt that PC leader Doug Ford was “a bit of a dick”. The same viewer complained. The CBSC Panel concluded that the word “dick” is not in and of itself a word that must be relegated to post-9 p.m. The majority of the panel also concluded that its specific usage here did not amount to a code breach, particularly since the host immediately apologized for the language.

Corus Entertainment announced its fourth quarter and year end financial results reporting net income attributable to shareholders of $33.7 million ($0.16 per share basic) for the quarter and net loss attributable to shareholders of $784.5 million ($3.77 loss per share basic) for the year due to broadcast license and goodwill impairment charges of $1,013.7 million recorded in the third quarter. Consolidated revenues for the three months ended Aug. 31 were $379.1 million, down less than one per cent from $381.2 million last year. Consolidated revenues for the year ended Aug. 31 were $1,647.3 million, down two per cent from $1,679.0 million last year. In Television, segment revenues were flat in Q4 2018 and decreased two per cent for the year. Ad revenue was down four per cent in Q4 2018 and for the year. Subscriber revenues increased one per cent in Q4 2018 and were flat for the year In Radio, segment revenues decreased two per cent in Q4 2018 and one per cent for the year. Segment profit increased two per cent for the quarter and the year.

Rogers Communications has released Q3 2018 results, reporting total revenue growth of three per cent and adjusted EBITDA growth of eight per cent. The company reported strong financial and operational performance in its Wireless division with postpaid net additions of 124,000 and churn of 1.09 per cent, which improved seven basis points and was the best Q3 postpaid churn result in nine years. Cable revenue grew one per cent with adjusted EBITDA growth of four per cent. Internet net additions amounted to 35,000, up 6,000. Media revenue decreased five per cent primarily as a result of lower revenue from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rogers says the national rollout of its LTE Cat M1 network (LTE-M) to help businesses connect and track assets in real time using solutions like logistics tracking, alarm monitoring and smart metering, will launch in Ontario by the end of 2018. Additional provinces will follow next year with a full national rollout by 2020. LTE-M will connect fixed and mobile low-power IoT devices to carry information over long distances, with longer battery life and better network coverage in hard to reach areas. The investment is part of Rogers multi-year technology plan to bring 5G to Canadians with network partner Ericsson.

The Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs) online entry system will open for entries starting Dec. 1 and close on Feb. 1, 2019. There are 28 individual categories covering newspaper, radio, television, magazines and online. Details of the categories and judges guidelines can be found at AJAs.ca. The gala dinner and awards show, celebrating 2018 journalism, will be held on Saturday, May 11 at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

Hugo Gaggioni and Jeff McGinley

The WABE (Western Association of Broadcast Engineers) annual convention is fast-approaching Nov. 4-6 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel. Highlights include presentations from CTO Sony North America’s Hugo Gaggioni on IP-based broadcast infrastructure. Jeff McGinley of The Telos Alliance will also speak on Pathfinder Core Pro and Windows Tips & Tricks for the Radio Engineer. Find the full schedule here.