Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Corus suspends dividend amid macroeconomic uncertainty, ad weakness

Corus Entertainment has suspended its dividend amidst macroeconomic uncertainty and advertising weakness, combined with the impact of the WGA strike and ongoing SAG-AFTRA labour action, impeding Corus’ ability to deliver new episodes of scripted TV programming. Consolidated revenue was flat for the quarter and decreased 5% for the year, while consolidated segment profit decreased 18% for the quarter and 25% for the year. CEO Doug Murphy says the CRTC’s preliminary view that the company should see relief from its regulatory obligations, at least temporarily, is a significant move because it understands the financial environment it is going through. Last week, the CRTC said it is of the view that Corus should have its spending on programs of national interest reduced to five per cent, instead of the regular 8.5%, and to extend the deadline to pay back what it already owes the regulator from the pandemic relief period. Read more here.

Videotron has locked out 214 employees in Gatineau following rejection of the company’s latest offer. The Quebecor subsidiary says the lockout comes after 18 bargaining sessions with representatives of Laurentien-area Local SEVL‑2815 regarding the collective agreement that expired on Aug. 31, 2021, and high‑level meetings between Videotron management and representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The company’s last offer included a 14.5% wage increase over seven years, plus lump‑sum payments equivalent to 3% of salary, for a total of 17.5%. The company acknowledges it wants to be able to increase outsourcing, since it currently has over 350 unfilled positions at its call centres despite ongoing recruitment efforts. 

CRTCThe CRTC has published details regarding an investigation into a high-volume phishing campaign, issuing a penalty of $40,000 to Quebec resident Sami Medouni. The CRTC launched its investigation after being alerted by a phone company about a potential scam affecting its customers. The investigation found that between Dec. 22, 2020 and Jan. 14, 2021, Medouni used fraudulently obtained telephone numbers to send over 30,000 phishing text messages to Canadians, without consent, mimicking well-known brands to obtain personal data including credit card numbers, banking credentials and other sensitive information.

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters’ (OAB) upcoming conference, Nov. 7-8, will be focused on helping its industry members “find the way” forward in a challenging time for media. Connection 2023 Committee Chair Jody Brooker says “find the way” emerged as a natural theme in the session planning process this year, with an emphasis on keeping up the positive energy and optimism attendees of Connection 2022 walked away with. Among the sessions curated by the committee are how broadcasters can capitalize on new technology, the new reality of remote work, and how programmers can adapt to new digital tools. On the cusp of being sold out, limited tickets for Connection 2023 are still available. Learn more here.

Journalists Connie Walker and Lydia Polgreen will discuss the state of the media at a CJF J-Talk event on Nov 9.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) will present an in-depth conversation on the state of the media with Pulitzer and Peabody Award-winning journalist Connie Walker (Gimlet Media) and Lydia Polgreen, Opinion Columnist at The New York Times on Nov. 9. Followed by an audience Q&A, the discussion will take place at TD Centre. Tickets can be purchased here.  The event, part of the CJF’s J-Talks program exploring pressing journalistic issues, will be followed by a cocktail reception and a chance to meet the speakers. The event will also be livestreamed via CPAC.

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) will host this year’s Night for Rights Gala at Liberty Grand on Nov. 2. Hosted by Devo Brown, Night for Rights 2023 will feature JHR Tunisia’s Nohza Ben Mohamed Albouchi as one of the keynote speakers talking about her experience as a female journalist covering the Arab Spring, and JHR’s role in Tunisia. Afghan Journalist Shogofa Danish, who worked in media for almost eight years, before coming to Canada through JHR’s Meta Fellow program, will also share the story of her move and its impact on her life and career.

The Government of Canada has announced a call for applications for new members for the Independent Advisory Board on Eligibility for Journalism Tax Measures. The Advisory Board is an independent body whose mandate is to provide an independent assessment and a non-binding recommendation to the Minister of National Revenue as to whether an organization that applies for designation is a qualified Canadian journalism organization (QCJO). Applications are currently being accepted for the role of Vice-Chairperson and Member.

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