Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Bell Media appeals to CRTC for local programming relief

Bell Media is appealing to the CRTC to delete numerous conditions of licence (COLs) around local news coverage for its English- and French-language television stations, saying that regulatory relief is “critical in light of the uncertainty that lays ahead for private Canadian broadcasters.” One of the largest broadcasters of local news with 35 local television stations – including 14 markets where they are the only local television news voice, according to the application – Bell is asking the commission to eliminate minimum local news programming requirements, saying even without those COLs, its stations “will continue to cover a wide range of quality news that our viewers in markets large or small have come to expect from us.” Bell’s application states that the COLs are no longer sustainable in the current economic and competitive environment, referencing last year’s CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal decision, which while referred back by Cabinet for re-evaluation, saw the CRTC remove certain exhibition requirements finding “that as audiences change their viewing habits, the risk of continuing to rely solely on exhibition requirements would be to the detriment of both the CBC and Canadian viewers.” Bell’s application argues there is no valid policy reason that same flexibility shouldn’t be applied to its stations. Read more here.

Image Credit: Alamy

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) is among the organizations applauding the passage of Bill C-18, the Online News Act, as Meta confirms it will end news availability on Facebook and Instagram, prior to the Act taking effect. The bill, which would compel online search engines and social media platforms to negotiate compensation agreements with media outlets for news content, received royal assent on Thursday with a Senate vote of 56–22. The CAB, representing Canada’s private broadcasters, and News Media Canada, which represents the interests of the country’s top publishers, tout the legislation as a sustainability lifeline for news organizations as financial challenges are amplified by the advertising dominance of foreign online platforms. While Meta continues testing a product solution that would end news availability in Canada – a vital source of referral traffic for many news outlets – Marla Boltman, Executive Director of public broadcaster watchdog FRIENDS, says she’s optimistic the tech giants will comply with the Act. Read more here.

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has written to the ministers of Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science and Industry asking for protection for Canadian creators in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). The national association, representing 2,500 professional screenwriters working in English-language film, television, radio, and digital media production, says it has growing concerns around the rapid development of AI and the threat it represents to Canadian artists and creators. Among the WGC recommendations is that AI not be recognized as an “author” under the Copyright Act. It also wants public funding for culture to remain for the benefit of human creators. Read more here.

Duncan McCue

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has selected Duncan McCue as the recipient of the 2023 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award. The award honors NAJA’s mission and the exemplary people who have led the way with outstanding work and contributions to the field of journalism. McCue, who has been with CBC News for 25 years, is a leading advocate for fostering the connection between journalism and Indigenous communities. He recently released new textbook Decolonizing Journalism: A Guide to Reporting in Indigenous Communities and is joining Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication as an associate professor specializing in Indigenous journalism. McCue will be recognized during the NAJA Membership Meeting as part of the 2023 National Native Media Conference in Winnipeg, Aug. 10-12.

RTDNA Canada is inviting nominations for its new Emerging Journalist Award, recognizing the achievements and work of Canadian journalists in the early stages of their career. Awarded to an emerging journalist who displays excellence in the coverage of original (enterprise) journalism on a single topic, investigative reporting, or continuing coverage of a beat or a major breaking and developing story, nominations are being accepted until Aug. 15.

The City of Prince George has been selected as the municipal winner of the 2022 Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy. Presented annually by the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), the Centre for Free Expression at Toronto Metropolitan University, and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), the award highlights the city’s repeated failures to transparently share how taxpayer dollars are spent on city projects and operations. Among what his year’s jury determined to be “egregious” actions were evidence showing how the city manager hid from city council the cost overrun of a local parkade for more than two years. The city also provided misleading information to the public about the suspension of city workers based on their vaccination status. After city officials said no city employees had lost their jobs, nearly two dozen workers spoke out about being suspended without pay and, subsequently, having their jobs posted and filled.

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