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Media & Telecom News – Canadian Heritage names organizations on media bailout panel

Pablo Rodriguez

Canadian Heritage Min. Pablo Rodriguez has named the organizations that will help decide which news organizations get a share of $595 million in tax credits and other incentives to prop up the struggling media sector. As outlined in Budget 2019, the fund excludes broadcast media, trade or specialty publications, and by definition essentially favours traditional print outlets. Rodriguez announced Wednesday that he’s invited eight associations to form an independent panel of experts from the Canadian journalism sector to assist the government in implementing the new measures, including recommending eligibility criteria. Those associations are News Media Canada, the Association de la presse francophone, the Quebec Community Newspaper Association, the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, Unifor and the Fédération nationale des communications. Canadian Heritage says the associations were chosen because they represent the majority of Canadian news media publishers and journalists. Appointment of the panel is planned for mid-June with its recommendations to the minister expected later in July. It’s anticipated the first funds from the journalism incentive will be paid out in 2019–20.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has released its report on the Copyright Act, making recommendations that include regulating streaming services like other Canadian music services and develop mechanisms by which streaming services would develop and promote Canadian content. Shifting Paradigms also recommends limiting the Radio Royalty Exemption (which allows commercial radio stations to shelter their first $1.25 million in ad revenue from the royalties they pay to music performers and record companies) to only community and/or independent stations. It also recommends amending the definition of “sound recording” in the Copyright Act so that recordings used in television programs and films would be eligible for public performance remuneration.

Catherine Tait

CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Catherine Tait has released a new “audience first” three-year strategic plan. “Your Stories, Taken to Heart” explores the theme of strengthening Canadians’ emotional connection with their public broadcaster. “Our new strategy builds on the trust Canadians already have in our journalism, the investment we’ve made in becoming a leader in digital service delivery in Canada and our commitment to bringing the best Canadian stories to our audience at home, and around the world,” summarizes Tait. The plan outlines five key priorities: customized digital services, engaging with young audiences, prioritizing our local connections, reflecting contemporary Canada, and taking Canada to the world.

Rogers has announced its plan to launch Narrow-Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT), a network technology that allows stationary IoT devices and sensors to send and receive small amounts of data over long distances, with low power requirements. Rogers says the new technology, which will rollout in Ontario first, is best used for asset monitoring, industrial automation, smart meters, and smart cities applications, but will also enable personal consumer SOS devices and trackers. Rogers says leveraging Ericsson equipment, the network technology will play a vital role in its 5G network rollout.

Unifor has filed an application with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) claiming that Bell Canada is the rightful employer of technicians and clerical workers at Expertech. Unifor has submitted a common employer application for Expertech technicians and clerical workers to the CIRB, claiming that Bell is the real employer of the wholly-owned Expertech and consequently its members ought to be covered by the Bell Canada Craft and Clerical collective agreements. Expertech is a network infrastructure service provider for the wireline and wireless broadband technology market, employing over 1,200 managers, technicians and administrative staff in Quebec and Ontario.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has published new research that indicates Canadians don’t switch communications providers despite their dissatisfaction with pricing and service. The report looked at home internet, home telephone, mobile phone, and paid television services, finding that contractual penalties and consumer behavioural patterns are among the factors at play. Most respondents to consumer surveys researchers analyzed (one conducted by the CRTC and another by PIAC) showed that over three-quarters felt they had a “real choice” of providers in the four segments of the market, but under a fifth of respondents had actually switched their provider over the most recent two-year period. The low switching number was not because they were greatly satisfied with their current service provider. In fact, a large majority expressed reservations about their present service and in particular, pricing. PIAC says in addition to lengthy contracts with early termination fees for some services and pricing structures such as “bundled” packages that inhibit choice, telecom companies may be taking advantage of so-called “behavioural economics” that inhibit consumer decision-making. The report makes several recommendations including a ban on multi-year contract lock-ins. Read more here.

The Jack Webster Foundation is accepting submissions for the 2019 Jack Webster Awards until July 7. The awards recognize excellence in journalism in B.C. and B.C.-based journalists. Stories published or aired between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019 are eligible and may be submitted by a journalist or team of journalists. Submissions are encouraged from print, radio, television and online sources that cover news, sports, the arts, business, community issues, and more in 13 categories. Read more here.

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