Reshmi Nair, Heather Butts, Lindsay Hamilton and Kayla Grey have been named as the new hosts behind Bell Media’s ‘Daily Essentials’ content for the Quibi short-form mobile video platform. Launching Apr. 6, Butts will host Newsday by CTV News, while Nair will helm its Newsnight counterpart. Highlight show Sports AM by TSN will be hosted by Hamilton weekdays and Grey on weekends. Read more here.
Mike Smyth and Jill Bennett are officially filling Simi Sara’s midday timeslot on 980 CKNW Vancouver, following her move to mornings. Following Mornings with Simi, The Mike Smyth Show will air from 9 a.m. to noon, hosted by the longtime The Province columnist. After two decades as a CKNW contributor and guest host, Smyth is joining Corus Entertainment full-time and will also contribute as a columnist for GlobalNews.ca. From noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, Global BC reporter Bennett hosts The Jill Bennett Show. She’s hosted CKNW’s Weekend Morning News for the past 11 years. Jon McComb, who retired from the morning show in December, will also return as the station’s imaging voice. Read more here.
JJ Clarke (aka Ron Rowat) has parted ways with CTV Ottawa. Clarke started his career in radio as a part-time announcer at CHAM Hamilton while studying at McMaster University. He joined CTV Ottawa in 1985 as weathercaster and staff announcer.
Beatrice Britneff is joining Global’s parliamentary bureau as an online political reporter, starting Apr. 6. Britneff has been an online reporter covering local Ottawa news for Global since 2018. Prior to that she spent two years as a reporter with iPolitics.
Maggie Parkhill has left Postmedia to join CTV News as an overnight digital producer. Based in Hamilton, Parkhill has been a copy editor with Postmedia since 2018, working on publications including the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun.
Mahem Abadi has taken on a new role with Global News as Supervising National Online Journalist, News Planning. Abadi has been a news editor and writer with the network for the past three years, specializing in breaking news.
Christian Lind, who had worked as a creative producer with Momentum Media Marketing for nearly 12 years, has left the company to pursue other opportunities. Lind had served as Broadcast Dialogue’s art director since 2016 when Momentum acquired the publication.
RADIO / AUDIO / PODCAST:
Soft 103.9 (CKOO-FM) Kelowna is expected to go off the air Friday after filing for bankruptcy. The station is believed to be the first Canadian radio outlet to do so as media outlets face COVID-19-related ad revenue challenges. Glacier Media acquired Soft 103.9, along with the assets of the Castanet digital news sites, in Apr. 2019 from Avenue Radio Ltd. Combined, Glacier paid $24 million (including $2 million for Avenue Radio’s shares). Owned by Castanet founder Nick Frost, Avenue acquired the station from Vista Radio in late 2017 with an eye to increasing its local news coverage in BC’s Okanagan region. The station, which originally carried the CJUI-FM call letters, flipped to an oldies format initially, before adopting the CKOO-FM call sign and flipping to a soft adult contemporary format in Jan. 2019. The station’s talent lineup includes veteran Kelowna broadcaster Gord Vizzutti on mornings, Ryan Watters on afternoon drive, and Kevin Rothwell on weekends. Read more here.
Cogeco Media, which owns 23 radio stations across Quebec, is laying off 130, almost a quarter of the company’s staff. The layoffs, blamed on a downturn in advertising revenue, are mostly contained to off-air positions, including sales, promotions and accounting. For the time being, programming on Rythme FM in Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières will be replaced by network shows out of Montreal, with the exception of local news. At FM93 (CJMF-FM) Quebec City, about a dozen employees have been temporarily laid off, including on-air personalities Doc Mailloux, Josey Arsenault, and Dany Poulin. The morning show, hosted by Stéphan Dupont, will be extended by a half hour, among other programming changes.
The CRTC has approved a temporary FM transmitter for CKDY 1420 AM in Digby, NS, owned by Maritime Broadcasting System (MBS). The station was knocked off the air after the theft of copper and equipment from its transmission site. A new 50W transmitter at 99.7 FM will allow it to get back on-air.
The CRTC has granted a six-month extension to Oct. 20, 2020 for Radio Dhun, the owners of CFAJ 1220 AM in St. Catharines, to launch. The station was first approved in 2016. Radio Dhun says transmission equipment has been installed and testing is underway. The commission has also granted an extension to May 2021 for Faith Baptist Church in Sydney, NS to launch its Christian FM music station serving Greater Sydney.
Pure Country host Shannon Ella is hosting new virtual video series, Home Hangouts. Available on Pure Country Radio’s IGTV and YouTube channel, Ella interviews country stars like Dallas Smith, who shows off his games room and jersey collection, and discusses how he feels about toilet paper hoarding; Jess Moskaluke shares her thoughts on the strange time we’re in, and why it’s important to support local businesses, in addition to interviews with Florida Georgia Line, RaeLynn, Russell Dickerson, Jason Blaine, and Sykamore.
Marilyn Denis has launched a new podcast from Bell Media Studios she’s hosting from her home. Marilyn Denis Does A Podcast is conversation-driven, tackling the “unprecedented times Canadians and the rest of the world are trying to navigate.” Making its debut Apr. 1, Denis’ first guest was family therapist Joe Rich offering practical advice on the challenges many families are facing during isolation. Future guests will include designer Debbie Travis, actress Andrea Martin, TV personality Carson Kressley, and TV host Daphne Oz, among others. New episodes will drop every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Bob Layton, News Manager for Corus Radio Edmonton, celebrated 50 years in broadcasting on Apr. 3. In his current role, Layton manages news programming for 630 CHED, Global News Radio 880 Edmonton, 92.5 The Chuck and CISN Country. Born in England, Layton was raised in Alberta and graduated from the Columbia School of Broadcasting in 1969. Layton began his career with CKNL Fort St. John, BC in 1970 and started with 630 CHED the following year. He was named News Manager, Radio in 1994. Layton is an RTDNA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and was inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 2018.
LIFE 100.3 (CJLF-FM) Barrie held its annual Sharathon fundraiser, Mar. 25-27, from its studios. In a normal year there would be dozens of volunteers manning the phones, and pastors and artists in-studio. Sharathon still wrapped the event reaching 90% of its monthly goal and 85% of its one-time goal. LIFE 100.3 has repeater stations in Owen Sound at 90.1FM, Peterborough at 89.3FM and Huntsville at 98.9FM.
SiriusXM is offering free access to its full lineup of Premier Streaming content to listeners in North America through May 15. Howard Stern kicked off Stream Free Apr. 1 while hosting The Howard Stern Show, on channel 100, from his home. Anyone who is not already a SiriusXM subscriber can download the SiriusXM app or go to SiriusXM.ca/streamfree, and start listening free of charge. Listeners can access more than 300 channels, including #StayHome Radio (channel 179), a feel-good, ad-free music channel featuring artists like Lizzo, Coldplay, P!nk and Bob Marley. SiriusXM is also bringing back The Billy Joel Channel, Dave Matthews Band Radio, and a new channel full of the Top 1,000 songs across multiple genres.
Crackdown, a podcast about the drug war covered by drug users themselves, is the winner of the 2020 Hillman Prize. Hosted by Garth Mullins, Crackdown won for Change Intolerance 1 and 2 that investigated a B.C. government move to transition nearly 15,000 methadone patients from so-called “compound methadone” onto a new, pre-concentrated “Methadose.” To stave off withdrawal, many turned to heroin. Honourable mention went to Les Accents, produced by the ONFR+, the online current affairs unit of TFO. The five-part web series explored how different French accents are perceived in Ontario and how that impacts one’s choices and opportunities.
Lisa Keys and Erin Setch are among the Canadians named to the Benztown 50, which annually lists the top 50 imaging voices in North America. This year, Benztown also recognized six emerging voices including Canadians Gary McClenaghan, Ron Tarrant, and Amanda Madi, along with Staxx, Bob Schmidt, and Oscar Vasquez.
NuVoodoo Media Services has released data indicating that 40% of those surveyed are listening to radio more during the current pandemic. Of 5,000 Americans, aged 16-54 who participated, 37% said they were listening more on weekday mornings; 36% middays; 38% weekday afternoons and 26% were listening more at night. Another 39% said their tuning was up on weekends. NuVoodoo says just 19% of those asked said they were listening to radio less on weekday mornings. News stations are gaining more listeners with 58% saying they are listening to news and information more, with 33% listening to more talk radio. 35% of music listeners are listening to their usual station, while 29% said they were listening to a new or different station than they had been prior to the pandemic.
Podsights has released aggregate data that indicates podcast listening is holding steady. News podcasts are seeing the biggest gain, followed by Health and Fitness and Education, while Sports is the clear loser. Download times are also shifting from peaking in mornings in February to later in the day in March. On the advertising side, Podsights concludes that Q2 revenue will be down about 20%, with quite a bit of podcast media now being pushed to Q3 and Q4.
Jacobs Media has released its annual TechSurvey which has the participation of more than 500 commercial radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. Collected online from Jan. 7 to Feb. 9, television and video were at the top of the TechSurvey pyramid, with 95% tuning in at least one hour a day. AM/FM radio use edged down from 91% daily to 90%, while radio and music apps grew from 65% to 69%. Weekly audio streaming jumped from 59% to 65%. The survey also found that YouTube dipped in popularity among respondents, falling from 48% to 41%. Among Radio listeners, 44% are listening in-car, while about 21% tune in at home, work or school.
LISTEN: On the latest Sound Off Podcast, Matt Cundill’s guest is Sunni Puric, a host at Rhythmic CHR station WPGC 95.5 in Washington, D.C. Puric spent her teen years in a Bosnian refugee camp, didn’t learn English until her family moved to the States, and now is living the “American Dream” on-air in the nation’s capital.
Momentum Media Networks is offering A Better Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta to radio stations FREE for the next 90 days. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent delivers facts and dispels rumours related to the spread of COVID-19. Learn more here.
TV / FILM / VIDEO:
IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has been holding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) drives for hospitals with thousands of its members off work. Several chapters, including locals 873 in Toronto and local 891 in Burnaby, BC, have been collecting thousands of N95 masks, latex gloves, paint suits and gowns, and respirator filters, used by the film industry. Unused and preferably still packaged PPE items continue to be collected.
Telefilm is extending the deadline for Production programs with a budget under $2.5M and projects in the Indigenous Stream until Apr. 30. Telefilm is maintaining a rolling deadline for English projects with a budget over $2.5M and continuing to assess delays caused by COVID-19. Projects facing delays are urged to contact their National Feature Film Executive. The schedule for French Market projects with a budget over $2.5M remains unchanged.
Thunderbird Entertainment Group has transitioned 95% of its team, more than 1,000 people, to work from home, with the remaining team members to be set up this week. Thunderbird says it’s working closely with its partners to minimize workflow disruptions. Thunderbird programming includes Highway Thru Hell, Heavy Rescue: 401, $ave My Reno, Kim’s Convenience, 101 Dalmatian Street, Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla of Nublar, Hello Ninja, and The Last Kids on Earth.
TSN digital sub-brand BarDown is airing on the main network as of Mar. 30. Featuring more than two dozen contributors, aka “BarDownskis”, the show features extended content from their YouTube videos, video game reviews, and fan-favourite quizzes across eight, 30-minute episodes.
Jamie Oliver’s new show, Jamie: Keep Cooking And Carry On, offers viewers meal prep guidance as many sheltering-in-place are tasked with coming up with meal ideas using staples. Airing weeknights at 5 p.m. ET, beginning Apr. 6 on CTV Drama Channel, the 10-part series was quickly conceptualized and produced in response to COVID-19. Each half-hour episode features Oliver sharing recipes that make the most of everyday kitchen staples. He also shows viewers how to make simple bread dough and pasta from scratch. Recipes from each episode will be made available on The Loop’s recipe hub. Back-to-back episodes will air Fridays at 9 and 9:30 p.m.ET beginning Apr. 10, on CTV Life Channel.
Discovery’s spring schedule includes the premiere of new documentary Back To The Titanic on Apr. 12 and the return of Deadliest Catch for a 16th season. Airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, starting Apr. 21, the new season will kick off with a two-hour premiere. Viewers can watch three recap specials airing Apr. 14, including a two-hour Season 15 recap.
FX Canada is now available to more Canadians on free preview until May 11. Participating carriers include Rogers, Access Communications, Cogeco, Eastlink, Sasktel, Shaw (starting Apr. 11), TELUS, and Videotron. The FX free preview comes ahead of hotly-anticipated, nine-part miniseries Mrs. America, starting Apr. 15 on FX and FX NOW. It tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash. Cate Blanchett leads a cast portraying iconic women of the era, including Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale (American Crime Story) as Bella Abzug, Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) as Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) as Jill Ruckelshaus, and Tracey Ullman (The Tracey Ullman Show) as Betty Friedan. Season 2 of What We Do in the Shadows also returns with a double-episode premiere Apr. 15
Super Channel’s Fuse, Heart & Home, Vault and GINX Esports TV Canada channels, in addition to Super Channel On Demand are in free preview with select cable providers across the country until Apr. 30. Programming highlights include Season 2 of American Gods, premiering Apr. 14 on Fuse; new episodes of When Calls The Heart, including the Season 7 finale Apr. 26 (Heart & Home); and a Dance Across The Ages Movie Marathon on Vault, Apr. 11, featuring Dirty Dancing, Fame, and Saturday Night Fever.
Youth Media Alliance (YMA) has named the eight recipients of the YMA Thérèse-Pinho Scholarship: Eric Baril (screenwriter and director), Josiane Blanc (screenwriter, director), David Bourgeois (screenwriter), Sony Carpentier (director, screenwriter), Marie-Eve Larivière (screenwriter), Marie-Andrée Picard (screenwriter), Émilie Poirier (director) and Wanda Jemly (director and producer). Due to the physical distancing measures and constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, training will be postponed to a date to be determined. The winning candidates for this third edition are from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. The scholarship honours the memory of content producer Thérèse Pinho, who passed away in 2016 and worked in the field of children’s television for 25 years, at both TFO and Pixcom.
Open Screenplay, the collaborative screenwriting platform founded by Canadian entrepreneur Khaled Al Sabawi, has opened its annual screenwriting contest early to motivate writers struggling with isolation. The featured theme of the 2020 contest is “The World After COVID-19.” Learn more here.
ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:
Netflix has agreed to reduce the default quality of its video in Canada, following an appeal by the Canadian Network Operators Consortium, Canadian Communication Systems Alliance, and Independent Telecommunications Providers Association. Last week, the coalition of independent internet and telecom service provider advocates, sent a letter to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and other OTT video providers urging them to adjust offered video bitrates to 1080p or lower to better serve Canadians during the high demand for residential internet. The three organizations say collectively OTT video has contributed to a 20 to 30% increase in aggregate internet transit over the last seven to 10 days. “This will definitely help the independent members in managing increasing capacity issues as we’ve seen a dramatic spike in traffic during COVID-19,” Jeff Brownlee, Executive Director, Canadian Network Operators Consortium, told Broadcast Dialogue in an email. “Video is by far the largest consumer of bandwidth and with Netflix striving for a 25% reduction, it will free up much-needed bandwidth to keep Canada connected during this crisis.”
MX Player, owned by Indian media conglomerate Times Internet, is launching its video OTT service in Canada and six other countries including the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Nepal. Streaming premium content for free in multiple languages, the ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) platform hosts a repository of over 10,000 hours of licensed content from content creators and partner platforms like FilmRise, Shoreline, Screen Media, Sonar Entertainment and New Films International. MX Player is already one of India’s leading OTT services with over 175 million MAUs in its home market alone.
Houseparty is now the most downloaded free app in the iOS store in Canada, the UK and New Zealand, and in sixth place in the U.S. where Zoom is number one, as those sheltering-in-place look to socialize virtually. The Houseparty app, which allows users to chat with up to eight people at a time, reshuffles the screen when people enter or leave the chat. According to App Annie, Houseparty has seen user growth from 130,000 downloads a week in February to about 2 million last week. A more laid back version of the Zoom video-conferencing app, which can support up to 100 meeting attendees in its free offering and 1,000 in its paid tier, Houseparty was acquired last June by Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite.
Sportsnet hosted its inaugural Digital Watch Party on Mar. 31. Airing on Sportsnet’s Facebook and YouTube channels, the select Raptors Rewind and NHL Rewind broadcasts bring fans together online to chat with Sportsnet hosts and celebrity guests, while reliving memorable moments from the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 championship run and legendary NHL games from the past two decades. Hosted by Danielle Michaud, Faizal Khamisa, and Donnovan Bennett, the inaugural Watch Party was joined by Raptors legends JYD (Jerome Williams), Alvin Williams, Matt Bonner, Popeye Jones, Tracy Murray and Leo Rautins.
In Conversation with Ron MacLean – a new 20 to 30-minute virtual roundtable show available on Sportsnet’s Facebook and YouTube channels and sportsnet.ca – made its debut Wednesday night. Featuring guests like Wayne Gretzky, Hayley Wickenheiser, and Peter Mansbridge, the Hockey Night in Canada host will have in-depth discussions with notable Canadians every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT. In Conversation with Ron MacLean will also be available to listeners across the Sportsnet Radio network following the online edition. Guests for upcoming episodes will be announced on Sportsnet’s Twitter account.
TIFF and Crave have announced more virtual Stay-at-Home Cinema events, following the inaugural Q&A and screening Mar. 27, that saw TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey joined by Mandy Patinkin via Instagram Live, followed by a screening of The Princess Pride. On Apr. 1, Bailey was joined by actor/director Sarah Polley before a screening of her 2007 award-winning film, Away from Her on Crave. On Apr. 3, Catherine O’Hara and Bo Welch will join Bailey in a virtual Q&A, followed by Beetlejuice on Crave. O’Hara portrayed Delia in the film, while Welch is an award-winning production designer who worked on Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Men in Black.
MUCH Studios creators have produced new content stressing the importance of maintaining connections with online communities amidst COVID-19. Creators including YouTwoTV, Dan Rodo, Joey Kidney, Alayna Joy, Vancouver-based model Melissa Merk, and travel and lifestyle YouTuber Istiani Bestari have produced videos ranging from self-quarantine ideas and workout classes, to stress lowering tips and relaxing activities.
REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:
The CRTC will waive Part I licence fees for broadcasters for the 2020-21 fiscal year, representing a collective savings of $30 million for more than 100 radio and television providers as the industry weathers a pandemic ad revenue slump. Part I Licence Fees require broadcasting licensees to contribute to the CRTC’s regulatory costs on a prorated basis, calculated using a formula that takes into consideration the estimated costs of the commission as well as broadcasters’ respective gross revenues. Canadian Heritage said the government will transfer necessary funds to the CRTC to support its operations. The move follows two other federal olive branches extended to the media industry, including the promise of $30 million in federal ad spending for newspapers, magazines, radio and television on a COVID-19 awareness campaign. Last week, the government also announced that Canadian Heritage is working to simplify the process for submitting and processing requests for 2020–21 funding for the Canada Book Fund and Canada Periodical Fund, which provides financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals.
The CRTC is extending the deadline for wireless service providers to file 2020 Wireless Code compliance reports. Compliance reports were due by Mar. 31, but following an appeal by Iristel’s Ice Wireless, the commission has approved an extension to Apr. 30 due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 situation.
Quebecor has temporarily laid off 10% of its employees as it complies with a provincial order to close businesses deemed non-essential. About 25% of the layoffs, more than 480 employees, are Groupe TVA employees. However, the company said newsrooms are not impacted. In order to minimize the financial toll on employees, Quebecor said it’s improving government assistance benefits to ensure that salaried employees who make less than $54,200 receive 95% of their regular salary. They’ll also be able to obtain a two-week salary advance to make up for delays in government assistance programs. For those earning more than $54,200, the bonus will maintain 80% of salaries, with a salary cap set at $80,000. The measures will be in effect until May 31.
TekSavvy has laid off 130 employees and is raising rates to deal with what the internet service provider says are increased costs associated with COVID-19 and an ongoing court challenge following a Federal Court move to suspend the CRTC’s wholesale rates decision. Customers will see a $5 flat bill increase.
Corus Entertainment has released its Q2 2020 financial results reporting consolidated revenues for the three months ended Feb. 29 were $376.0 million, down 2% from $384.1 million last year. Net income attributable to shareholders was $18.5 million ($0.09 per share basic) for the quarter and $96.6 million ($0.46 per share basic) year-to-date. Television segment revenues decreased 2% in Q2 2020 and were flat year-to-date. On a proforma basis, when adjusted for the disposal of the Telelatino Network in Mar. 2019, segment revenues were flat for the quarter and up 1% year-to-date. Advertising revenues decreased 6% in Q2 2020 and 2% year-to-date. Subscriber revenues were down 2% in both Q2 2020 and year-to-date. In Radio, segment revenues decreased $2.5 million (8%) in Q2 2020 and $5.8 million (8%) year-to-date, while segment profit margin of 16% in Q2 2020 and 25% year-to-date was comparable with the prior year. Corus says it’s too soon to gauge the impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, but is conserving cash out of an abundance of caution. As such, the company expects to put its share buyback program on hold in the immediate term.
TELUS has made a $500,000 donation to the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC), Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and University of British Columbia (UBC) Hospital Foundation to assist in the search for therapeutic antiviral treatments for COVID-19. Led by Professor Art Cherkasov, VPC and UBC scientists have joined forces with experts from Cambridge in the UK, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, University of North Carolina Pharma Science, and Enamine, the biggest small molecule supplier in the world, in Ukraine. VPC platforms, developed for precision cancer drug discovery, have been repurposed to find a cure for COVID-19. Organizations interested in funding this research can learn more here.
TELUS is expanding its support for low income families by automatically waiving fees for the TELUS Internet for Good program for two months, giving customers enrolled in the program access to high speed internet in their home at no cost for 60 days. Currently more than 200,000 Canadian families, who receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit, qualify for the program, which offers low cost monthly internet service at $9.95/month as well as access to a low cost computer and free digital literacy training.
Shaw is making free online programming available to K-12 students through a new partnership with social impact education provider, EVERFI. Modules include personal health, financial education, mental health, digital wellness and more. Digital courses will be available to students until the end of June.
The Slaight Family Foundation is donating over $3 million to four organizations, including the Breakfast Club of Canada, Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, and Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank, as concerns grow around the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on food security for vulnerable Canadians. Many food banks have seen drastic reductions in food recovery and volunteer efforts. The foundation says many food banks only stock to provide 10 to 14 days for existing food bank clients, with an anticipated rise in demand resulting from the economic impact of the pandemic for months to come.
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