Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – CMPA, CAB, FRIENDS among petitioners calling for CBC licence renewal to be set aside

Image Credit: Alamy

The CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre (Image Credit: Alamy)

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and CBC watchdog, FRIENDS, are among the organizations that have submitted petitions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage asking him to set aside, or refer back, the CRTC’s CBC licence renewal decision. Submitted on Friday, the CMPA petition asserts the organization’s “deep concerns” about the elimination of a licence condition requiring the CBC to work with independent media producers in the production of Canadian programming. While the CMPA told Broadcast Dialogue it’s not aware of any conversations with the CBC suggesting the public broadcaster is considering a shift away from working with independent producers, its petition asserts that “deregulated framework will establish an unnecessary precedent that other private broadcasters will follow, creating the potential for an exponential impact from this Decision.” Petitions from FRIENDS and CAB both continue to ring alarm bells around Tandem, CBC’s controversial branded content initiative. FRIENDS’ petition also calls out the CRTC for what it says is inadequate protection of local journalism and Canadian programming through its failure to impose baseline expenditure requirements. Read more here.

OneSoccer parent company Timeless Inc. has filed an application with the CRTC, alleging Rogers Cable is in breach of Broadcasting Distribution Regulations by refusing to carry the dedicated Canadian soccer channel. The channel is currently carried by TELUS and available via Fubo TV, as well as direct-to-consumer. Timeless argues Rogers will not carry OneSoccer because “It is reasonable to presume that Sportsnet would not want a competitor on Rogers Cable, which would divert audiences and ad dollars from Sportsnet, and may also inflate future broadcast rights fees, due to increased competition,” according to its application. Timeless also noted that Sportsnet approached OneSoccer last fall, offering to carry its broadcast of Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and agreeing to split revenue as long as there was no OneSoccer branding on the programming. Timeless says OneSoccer agreed to the arrangement to demonstrate to Canadian BDUs how popular Canadian soccer programming could be for Canadian audiences.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has filed a request with the CRTC asking for the disclosure of additional information from Rogers in relation to the company’s July 8 nationwide outage. PIAC asserts that Rogers’ response excessively redacted critical information necessary to fully understand what occurred during the outage and how Rogers plans to mitigate future risks, according to a copy of the submission obtained by Cartt.ca. PIAC wants Rogers to disclose a detailed timeline of the outage and recovery, arguing that affected customers need to be able to “corroborate and understand how they were impacted by the outage, and to seek clarification and compensation accordingly.”

BCE has reported results for the second quarter of 2022. Operating revenue increased 2.9% over Q2 2021 to $5,861 million, due to a 3.8% increase in service revenue driven by strong wireless, residential internet and media growth. Adjusted net earnings were up 5.3% to $791 million, delivering a 4.8% increase in adjusted EPS to $0.87. Total wireless operating revenue increased 5.5% to $2,246 million, with Bell adding 110,761 total net new postpaid and prepaid mobile phone subscribers, 139.5% higher than Q2 2021. Media operating revenue increased 8.7% to $821 million compared to Q2 2021, driven by the return of the F1 Canadian Grand Prix, continued digital media growth, advertising increases across Bell Media’s specialty TV sports and news services, stronger radio and out of home advertiser demand as COVID recovery continues, and higher subscriber revenue from Crave. Digital revenue grew 55%, the result of strong Crave direct-to-consumer growth and continued scaling of Bell’s strategic audience management (SAM) TV media sales tool. 

Quebecor has reported consolidated financial results for the second quarter of 2022, consolidated with those of its Quebecor Media subsidiary. Q2 revenues amounted to $1.12 billion, a $16.0 million (1.4%) decrease year-over-year. Revenues decreased in Telecommunications ($15.8 million or 1.7% of segment revenues) and in Media ($10.1 million or 5.1%), while revenue increased in Sports and Entertainment ($11.5 million or 34.3%). Videotron increased its revenues from mobile services and equipment by $27.0 million (11.4%) in Q2, with subscriber connections to mobile telephony service increasing by 34,600 (2.1%). TVA Group results were significantly affected by lower profitability in the Broadcasting segment in the second quarter, due mainly to increased content investments at TVA Network, particularly in reality and variety programming. Net income attributable to shareholders was $157.4 million ($0.66 per basic share) in Q2, compared with $123.5 million ($0.50 per basic share) in the same period of 2021, an increase of $0.16 per basic share.

TELUS has released its unaudited results for the second quarter of 2022. Consolidated operating revenues and other income increased by 7.1% over the same period a year ago to $4.4 billion. Growth was driven by higher service revenues in TELUS technology solutions (TTech) and Digitally-led customer experiences – TELUS International (DLCX). Compared to the same period last year, consolidated EBITDA increased by 9.8% to approximately $1.6 billion and Adjusted EBITDA increased by 8.9% to more than $1.6 billion. In the second quarter, TELUS recorded 247,000 net customer additions, up 24,000 over the same period last year, and inclusive of 93,000 mobile phones and 92,000 connected devices, in addition to 34,000 internet, 20,000 security and 15,000 TV customer connections. That was partly offset by residential voice losses of 7,000. 

Barbara Frum

Barbara Frum, Director X, and The Tragically Hip are among the newly-announced Canada’s Walk of Fame inductees. Frum, who passed away from complications of chronic leukemia in 1992 at age 54, is being recognized in the “Legend” category as one of Canada’s most respected and influential journalists, best known for her work on CBC programs including As It Happens – which she hosted for a decade starting in 1971 – and groundbreaking TV newsmagazine, The Journal. Director X (aka Julien Christian Lutz) has been behind music videos for Drake, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. His latest project – set to air on Global next year – is forthcoming scripted series Robyn Hood, a modern-day reimagining of the classic tale. The Tragically Hip are being honoured for their philanthropy and activism for social and environmental causes. They were previously inducted in 2002 under the Arts & Entertainment pillar. In addition to being celebrated with sidewalk stars in Toronto’s Entertainment District, the inductees will be honoured at an in-person gala Dec. 3 which will be broadcast at a later date on CTV

Sarah El-Shaarawi

Sarah El-Shaarawi has won the 2022 Dalton Camp Award for her essay The Similarities Between Red and Yellow, a reflection on the importance of freedom of the press. The annual $10,000 prize for the best essay on the subject of media and democracy in Canada – presented by FRIENDS (formerly FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting) – honours the memory of the late Dalton Camp, a journalist, politician, and commentator on Canadian public affairs. The winner of this year’s Dalton Camp Award for Best Student Journalist essay is Kevin Seeram, a graduate of McMaster University. In his essay The Memeification of Modern Politics: From TikTok to Deepfakes, Seeram reflects on how social media platforms are shaping the current generations’ political engagement.