JR Shaw, 85, on Mar. 23. The founder and Executive Chair of Shaw Communications, JR Shaw developed an interest in television during his youth in southwestern Ontario, sharing in a 2013 interview with NAIT – where he served as chair of the Board of Governors from 1990-97 – that an episode of The Lone Ranger was his first introduction to the then new medium. He moved to Edmonton with his family in 1961 to expand his father’s pipe-coating business, going on in 1966 to found Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd. The start-up connected its first cable customer in Sherwood Park, AB in 1971. From there, the company built a substantial radio and television broadcasting group that was eventually spun out into the publicly-traded Corus Entertainment. JR Shaw stepped down as CEO of Shaw Communications in 1998 when his eldest son, the late Jim Shaw took over, but remained active in the company. He was a passionate supporter of Canadian art and artists, and numerous charitable causes, including Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and held honorary degrees from University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and Graceland University in Iowa. Read more here.
Mike Bezzeg, 66, on Mar. 23. Bezzeg is considered by many to be Canada’s first VJ, launching his Calgary-based music cable show FM Moving Pictures in 1979, before the dawn of MTV and MuchMusic. The interview and music video show ran until 1984. In late 2019, after a 35-year hiatus, Bezzeg launched YouTube series InnerView with Mike Bezzeg, featuring interviews with guests ranging from musician Art Bergmann to Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury. Bezzeg died of injuries sustained in a car accident after delivering food to friends in quarantine.
Larry Steinman, 71, on Mar. 20. Steinman started his career in politics after serving as student president at the University of Western Ontario where he met future Ontario Premier Bill Davis. He went on to become a youth organizer for the Ontario PC party and subsequently worked as executive assistant to the premier when Davis was elected in 1971. Steinman went on to work in satellite communications and long-distance learning. He was a founder of the Canadian Telecommunications Network (CTN), served as vice-president of Canadian Satellite Communications (Cancom), and founded satellite teleconferencing business network Business Television (BTV+) in 1981, serving as its president.
Brandee Broderick is retiring from her role as Manager, Major Accounts at Stingray Ottawa stations HOT 89.9 (CIHT-FM) and LiVE 88.5 (CILV-FM) at the end of March. Broderick caps a 25-year radio career after starting as a street teamer/board op at “The White House of Rock!” 97.7 HTZ-FM (CHTZ-FM) in her home region of St. Catherine’s while attending the Broadcasting program at Niagara College. Following graduation, she moved to Ottawa where she has spent the past 22 years in sales with Standard Broadcasting, Newcap Radio, and Stingray.
Kaleigh Rogers has joined FiveThirtyEight, the ABC-owned website founded by statistician Nate Silver that uses statistical analysis and hard numbers to tell stories about elections, politics, sports, science, and economics. Rogers was a reporter with CBC Toronto up until this past December and has previously been a staff writer at Motherboard in NYC and The Globe and Mail.
Sonia Sunger, Global BC morning anchor, has gone on maternity leave earlier than anticipated. Neetu Garcha will be filling in.
Matthew Moore has left News 95.7 (CJNI-FM) Halifax. Moore, who hails from Glace Bay, NS, is prepping for a move back to Cape Breton.
CBC Radio has revised its programming and schedule effective this week that includes an expanded edition of The Current with Matt Galloway until noon in most time zones to accommodate the latest updates and information on COVID-19. As a result, q is on temporary hiatus, however host Tom Power is still contributing regularly to The Current with stories of how artists are coping, in addition to feature interviews and content recommendations. CBC Music’s weekday schedule has shifted to all-Canadian programming in support of the Canadian music industry. Nationwide weekday programming includes Morning with CBC Music, hosted on a rotating basis by Saroja Coehlo and Daniel Greaves, now extended by one hour from 6 – 10 a.m. local time. A modified daytime show Midday with CBC Music, hosted on a rotating basis by Julie Nesrallah and Tom Allen, is airing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., preempting Tempo and Shift. New program Afternoons with CBC Music, hosted on a rotating basis by Angeline-Tetteh Wayoe and Rich Terfry, airs 3 – 7 p.m., temporarily replacing Drive. Canada Live, also hosted by Tetteh-Wayoe, expands to five evenings a week, 7 – 8 p.m., Monday to Friday on CBC Music.
The Late Shift with Jason Agnew, which originates from Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM) Toronto, is being syndicated to iHeartRadio stations nationally. The overnight talk show, airing live from 1-4 a.m. ET, invites listeners to call in, share their stories, and stay informed. It’s being picked up by CJAD 800 Montreal, CJBK London, CFRA Ottawa, 610 CKTB St. Catharines, and CFAX Victoria. It replaces Coast-to Coast AM with George Noory. In addition to The Late Shift, Agnew also hosts Newstalk 1010’s Sunday Morning Trivia Show and Sunday Night’s Main Event on TSN Radio.
Virgin Mornings with Adam Wylde, TJ & Jax on Virgin Radio (CKFM-FM) Toronto has added a new livestream of their radio broadcast on Instagram from 6:30-7 a.m. and 8:30-9 a.m. ET. Since Mar. 18, the show has been broadcast live from Adam Wylde’s home in Toronto. The brainchild of producer Jesse Blake, the livestream adds an interactive element and allows discussions with viewers while off-air. Wylde is among those who participated in our latest Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast on adapting to working from home.
Bayshore Broadcasting’s Country stations – Country 93 (CKYC-FM) Owen Sound, Country 102 (CJMU-FM) Muskoka, Country 104.9 (CHWC-FM) Goderich and Country 105 (CFDC-FM) Shelburne – are presenting live concert “Tommy Gilham – The Social Distance Tour” on Friday, Mar. 27 on the station Facebook pages. Gilham, a recording artist who has worked with the Charlie Daniels Band, Hank Williams, Jr., and Marty Stuart, among other country legends, doubles as Saturday evening show host on all four stations. The concert gets underway at 2 p.m. ET.
Michael Godin is responding to social isolation by expanding his long-running Treasure Island Oldies online radio show, to go live for one hour, daily Monday to Friday, starting at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). Vancouver-based Godin, a former Montreal disc jockey and A&M Records exec, will spin the music of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. He’ll also continue his weekly four-hour show that airs on online radio stations in Canada, the U.S., UK, New Zealand, and Sweden on the Broadcast Partners Network. Treasure Island Oldies is set to celebrate its 23rd Anniversary on May 4.
The Toronto Star has launched new daily news podcast, This Matters. Hosted by Adrian Cheung, Saba Eitizaz and Raju Mudhar, it features experts and newsmakers talking about social, cultural, political and economic stories. New episodes drop Monday to Friday at 5 p.m.
LISTEN: How are radio and TV adapting to self-isolation? On the latest episode of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast, we hear from a cross-section of programmers, on-air talent and more, on the challenges of the last week that saw most stations pivot to work from home scenarios. Among those sharing their thoughts are Global Toronto anchor Farah Nasser; Golden West Radio engineering director Laverne Siemens; Harvard Broadcasting National Program Manager Christian Hall; Adam Wylde, Virgin Radio Toronto; Mackay Taggart, Regional Director of News, Global News Ontario; Barbara Williams, EVP of English Services, CBC; James Peters, Assistant News Director, CFJC-TV & Radio, Kamloops, BC; Taz & Jim, FM96 London, ON; Anthony Farnell, Global News’ Chief Meteorologist; Shawn Turner, Country Brand Manager, Bayshore Broadcasting; and Lana Gay, afternoon drive, Indie88 Toronto.
LISTEN: On the latest Sound Off Podcast, Matt Cundill’s guest is Susie Erjavec Parker from Winnipeg’s Sparker Strategy Group on Content Creation in Social Isolation. Her and Matt cover adapting to working from home, the increased use of social media over the last week, and why radio’s time is now.
Infinite Dial 2020, the longest-running survey of American digital media behaviour, finds that AM/FM radio is still king in the car; smartphone, tablet and smartwatch growth has stalled; and that monthly podcast listening has now cracked the 100 million listener ceiling. Conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital in January and February of this year by randomly dialing 1,502 Americans, 12+, the survey found that monthly podcast listening grew from 32 to 37% of the U.S. population or 104 million Americans. This year’s study also indicates that in-car shows the most potential for digital audio growth. AM/FM radio continues to lead in-car listening at 81%, down one percentage point from last year. Online radio is now being consumed in-car by 33% of drivers, up from 28%, while online audio via cel phone went up from 41 to 45% year-over-year. Tom Webster, Senior Vice-President at Edison Research, told Thursday’s webinar that how much online audio people are consuming amid the current disruption to most people’s daily routines is unpredictable right now. Read more here.
Radio Sales Cafe (RSC), the online gathering place founded by Grace Broadcast Sales in 2009 for radio advertising sales professionals to share resources, ideas, and solutions related to radio advertising sales, has created a new COVID-19 Roundtable to address the challenges stations are facing. Membership to RSC is free to all radio advertising salespeople, managers, owners, and allies.
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.
CBC plans to restore some local TV news with an expanded 30-minute local news segment on CBC News Network, saying “over the course of this week and next, we will make every effort to have all of the dedicated local shows back up on the main network.” Last week, the network made the move to temporarily scale back local supper hour and late night newscasts, citing stressed resources and the need to now broadcast 35 live events a day compared to the usual eight. FRIENDS’ of Canadian Broadcasting executive director Daniel Bernhard is increasingly worried about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic will have on Canada’s journalism landscape as a whole. Read more here.
TVO is the latest newsroom to be hit by COVID-19 and resulted in sanitization of the network’s headquarters at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto, resulting in a repeat broadcast of The Agenda with Steve Paikin on Mar. 23. Paikin has since moved to a work from home setup.
Breakfast Television has added a daily, one-hour special on Citytv stations across the country. As of Monday, Dina Pugliese, Roger Petersen and news anchor Melanie Ng are hosting a 9 a.m. ET (6 a.m. PT) show focused on conversations around COVID-19. According to a release from Rogers Sports & Media, “the focus of the daily national special is to let viewers not only act as spectators to history but participate in their own way. From calling in to sound off on how they feel, to participating in cooking and exercise demos alongside our hosts, BT is bringing fresh and entertaining content into a brand-new hour to keep the conversation going.” In Vancouver and Calgary, the new national hour airs during the local Breakfast Television morning shows, with live local news coverage continuing via an L-Bar graphic on the screen. In Toronto, it follows the original three-hour BT morning show.
CHCH-TV is expanding its news coverage during daytime hours to share live, breaking news updates from its Hamilton studio every 30 minutes between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. daily. The updates are in addition to its live, local news programs, Morning Live, Inside the Story, and the Evening News at 6 & 11. CHCH is also broadcasting every live public address and press conference held by provincial and national leaders about COVID-19. Combined, CHCH’s local news coverage now totals approximately seven hours per day. In addition to cable, CHCH can be streamed live at chch.com/live. Live public addresses and press conferences are also broadcast on Facebook Live.
A COVID-19 Production Industry Task Force has been struck by the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), Association of Provincial and Territorial Funding Agencies (APTFA), Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM), City of Toronto Film Office, Creative BC, Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Ontario Creates, and Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC). It will collectively work together to assess the scale of the potential impact of production shutdowns on the screen-based industries, inform all levels of government, and work to ensure a strong rebound for Canada’s production sector when the pandemic subsides. It’s asking organizations to fill out a survey by Mar. 31. If you’re a television or film production company, follow this link. If you’re an interactive digital media production company, follow this link. Only one survey should be completed per organization, regardless of size. However, if your company produces both linear and interactive digital media content, complete both surveys.
The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) has announced the 2020 edition of the festival, which had been scheduled for June 14-17, won’t be going ahead. The cancellation is the first in the event’s 41-year history and follows other events either postponed or looking ahead to re-organizing in 2021, including the Cannes Film Festival, SXSW, Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB), and Canadian Music Week (CMW). All delegates currently registered will have the option to transfer their 2020 registration to next year, or receive a full refund. Organizers say the 2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition will move forward with an international jury continuing to judge entries. How they’ll proceed hasn’t been revealed. The festival is also working on a way to continue delivering other programming, including its new fellowship program the BANFF Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media. Read more here.
Global TV and Insight Productions have ended production on Season 8 of Big Brother Canada early in light of escalating precautions around COVID-19. Scheduled to end May 21, the final episode will air Wednesday, Apr. 1 without naming a winner. The Toronto-shot reality show eliminated its live studio audience last week. Big Brother Canada sequestered its 16 contestants on Mar. 4 before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
Conan will begin airing new episodes on TBS and CTV on Mar. 30, shot remotely on an iPhone, without an audience and with guest interviews filmed via video chat. O’Brien’s production staff will remain working from home. The show has been on a pre-scheduled hiatus since Mar. 16, but amidst the pandemic, O’Brien has been filming short videos and recorded a special “Quarantine Edition” of his popular podcast Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend that was released Mar. 13. Conan airs Mon. – Thurs. at 1:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on CTV.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee returned to CTV Comedy Channel in her 10:30 p.m. ET/PT timeslot on Mar. 25, with Bee, like the rest of the country, adjusting to working from home. Executive Producer Jason Jones, Bee’s husband and quarantine roommate, is filming each 30-minute episode from a socially distant six feet away. The show has been on hiatus since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bee has continued to entertain via her mini digital series Beeing at Home with Samantha Bee.
Corus Studios’ original series Fire Masters is returning to Food Network Canada on Apr. 16. Chef Dylan Benoit returns as host, joined by a rotating panel of expert judges and culinary personalities. Each episode will challenge three chefs to show off their grilling talents and creativity in two culinary challenges, with the last chef standing going head-to-head with one of the judges in the third and final round. This year’s competitors hail from across North America, including Toronto and Kelowna, BC.
Media Technology Monitor (MTM) has released its TV Technologies report highlighting Canadian use and ownership of ultra HD TVs, smart TVs and internet-connected TVs. Among the report highlights: Over a third of Anglophone households have Ultra HD TV sets, and report spending more time watching video content than those who don’t own one. Five in eight Anglophone households have internet-connect TVs, while the majority of Anglophone homes have smart TVs. MTM found however that a fifth of smart TV owners don’t have their set connected to the internet and just 40% use its built-in connection.
Saltwire Network, the biggest newspaper publisher in Atlantic Canada, is laying off 40% of its workforce for up to three months and temporarily shuttering some publications. Owned by Halifax daily newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, Saltwire joins Quebec’s CN2i, formerly Groupe Capitales Médias, which has laid off 143 staff at six regional newspapers until the COVID-19 crisis passes. Vancouver alt weekly The Georgia Straight, recently acquired by Media Central Corporation, has also laid off reporters, in addition to Halifax independent The Coast, which has temporarily laid off 20 staff and moved to publishing online only.
Daily Hive is offering free social advertising to small, local businesses. Open to businesses in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle and Portland, the online publication is offering free static Instagram posts and stories directing customers to e-commerce, take-out, gift card, pick-up services, or closure messages. The program will initially run until Apr. 6 with a potential extension.
The Canadian Network Operators Consortium, Canadian Communication Systems Alliance, and Independent Telecommunications Providers Association, have sent a letter to Amazon, 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. OTT providers in Europe, including Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube have complied with similar requests to reduce traffic by 25% there. YouTube has dropped HD streaming in Europe, while Disney+ has announced it’s delaying its launch in France until Apr. 7.
Netflix has established a $100 million fund to help the hundreds of thousands of crew and cast members now without jobs. Most of the fund will be dedicated toward supporting the hardest hit workers on Netflix own productions around the world. That’s in addition to the two weeks pay the company has already committed to the crew and cast on productions forced to shutdown. $15 million of the hardship fund will go to third parties and non-profits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where Netflix has a large production base. In the U.S. and Canada that includes $1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the U.S., and $1 million between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes.
Crave is on one-month free trial offer for new subscribers with access to the internet. Available through Apr. 30, the one-time-only offer is for first-time, direct-to-consumer subscribers, and can be accessed via the Crave app or Crave.ca.
CBC is making more content available for children across the public broadcaster’s platforms including CBC Kids, CBC Gem and educational platform Curio. CBC has made access to Curio.ca free across Canada. Available in English and French and ad-free, Curio provides students, parents and educators with streaming access to educational content for primary through post-secondary levels from CBC and Radio-Canada. That includes thousands of programs and resources, from television and radio, documentaries, news reports, archival material and more. CBC Kids programming has been extended by an hour on weekdays, with content for preschoolers aged two to six now airing on CBC TV from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. CBC Kids’ STUDIO K will also continue to operate remotely during the coronavirus crisis, creating entertaining original content for kids, including the recent “Wash Your Hands Dance.” Upcoming segments will feature tips for kids on how to make the best of their current situation, and have fun from home. CBC Kids News, the news site for Canadian kids ages nine to 13, will continue to operate remotely and publish age-appropriate daily updates on the COVID-19 situation and how it is affecting kids across the country. Weekly news show RECAP, featuring host Myah Elliott, will also continue to operate remotely, summarizing the top stories of the week.
Twitch viewership numbers are up by 10%, according to data from StreamElements and Arsenal.gg. While Twitch is primarily for gamers, social isolation has seen many indie musicians turn to the platform. YouTube Gaming also saw a 15% increase in streaming traffic over the last week.
PressReader has launched a new channel called COVID-19, a news feed of all the latest stories from around the world, also made available as a digital newspaper called COVID-19 News on the platform. The digital newspaper compiles news from over 120 countries in 60 languages. Available free on the PressReader app or pressreader.com, the publication uses advanced aggregation and content personalization to bring readers daily news updates pulled from PressReader’s catalog of more than 7,000 publications.
Numeris is expecting TV and Radio Continuous Measurement diaries to be delayed by one to two weeks, respectively, as diary processing cannot be done remotely. The organization has successfully transitioned employees across four offices (Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, and Richmond) to work from home. Numeris says PPM data is being collected and produced as planned, with delivery times for both TV and Radio unaffected. TV diary recruitment is also complete, with returns now being processed. It continues to work on a plan for Continuous Measurement.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says the 2020 NAB Show in Las Vegas won’t be rescheduled. The organization is currently working on NAB Show Express, set to launch in April, a digital experience that will allow exhibitors to share product information, announcements, demos, and deliver educational content from the original selection of programming slated for the live show. NAB says it will also be enhancing and expanding this fall’s NAB Show New York with new programs, partners, and experiences. The 2021 NAB Show in Las Vegas, has been scheduled for Apr. 11-14.
The British Columbia Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) has postponed its 73rd Annual Conference, scheduled to take place May 8 in Vancouver. BCAB has postponed its next event until Spring 2021.
The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television services (CCTS) is currently running at reduced capacity with some employees working from home. As a result, the CCTS phone lines are temporarily closed. The agency can still be reached by email or using an online questionnaire.
Cogeco says it will not terminate the services of customers unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 situation. Late payment fees will be temporarily waived if they are caused by a financial situation related to the pandemic. To simplify the lives of residential customers working from home who don’t have an unlimited plan, Cogeco is also waiving overage fees until Apr. 30. At the same time, it’s migrating customers to higher speeds based on their needs.
Rogers is leveraging its television and radio assets, and digital and social platforms, to help Food Banks Canada (FBC) raise $150 million to support 650 food banks across the country, some of which are experiencing up to a 50% decrease in donations. Airing for the next four weeks, the public service announcements will air in high rotation across Rogers’ media assets. Additionally, through employee contributions and a corporate donation, Rogers is funding one million meals for families in need across Canada.
Shaw Communications has pledged $1 million to Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) to support the efforts of community food centres and agencies across the country helping the most vulnerable. Shaw will also automatically provide two months credit to all Shaw customers currently signed up to the Government of Canada’s “Connecting Families” initiative that provides low income families with internet connectivity at reduced rates.
King’s University College will award alumnus Sheri Borden Colley with an honorary doctorate. A 1997 King’s Bachelor of Journalism graduate, Borden Colley was a writer for Halifax’s Chronicle Herald newspaper for 21 years, establishing herself as a voice for African Nova Scotians. For the past four years, she’s been a reporter/editor with CBC Nova Scotia. Borden Colley has taught the “News Media and the Courts” course within the School of Journalism and served on the school’s advisory’s board.
The Jack Webster Foundation has announced its 2020 Professional Development Fellowship recipients for British Columbia-based journalists. Mike Hager, reporter, The Globe and Mail, and Stefan Labbe, digital reporter, Tri-City News, will both attend the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, FL where they’ll take the Summit for Reporters and Editors course. Labbe’s fellowship is in the name of the late B.C. reporter Don Matheson, whose estate endowed professional development awards for B.C. born journalists. Clare Hennig, a web writer and digital associate producer, CBC Vancouver, is the recipient of a self-defined fellowship to further her studies in video journalism.
BROADCAST TECH NEWS:
SMPTE Toronto has cancelled all of its meetings, including its Toronto Technical Conference, through the end of June. The conference has been rescheduled to June 2021. The chapter says it’s exploring options to hold some section meetings virtually in the coming months.
Ross Video has temporarily closed its Ontario factory. Although Ross falls into the category of ‘essential business’ as defined by the Ontario government, it’s electing to suspend manufacturing operations for two weeks to protect staff and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The factory closure means new product will not ship until Apr. 8 at the earliest. Technical support staff will continue to be available as they work from home.
D-BOX Technologies, the Montreal-headquartered provider of immersive entertainment experiences, has announced that it’s temporarily laid off of a significant portion of its workforce. Other employees will have reduced work hours and compensation. Many D-BOX clients are movie theatres and other entertainment sectors faced with closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applied Electronics is licensing Never.no’s Bee-On platform for the Canadian marketplace. Bee-On manages and distributes auto-responses such as personalized messages and videos, in response to social media interaction following a call to action within the broadcast or streamed content. The cloud-based SaaS solution can be managed remotely, away from main production hubs and features a social moderation engine that filters audience-generated content – such as images, comments and videos – and manages scalable live polls and competitions, delivered in real-time for live or pre-recorded programming.
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