Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – CAB, FRIENDS call for ad-free CBC/Radio-Canada

Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) President Kevin Desjardins appearing at Monday’s virtual CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal hearing.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s licence renewal hearing entered its intervention phase this week with Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) President Kevin Desjardins kicking off the presentations Monday stating that a market-driven public broadcaster negatively disrupts an already challenged private broadcasting sector. Desjardins cited decreases in Canadian content on television and more commercial TV programming. He also questioned the public broadcaster’s move to establish Hamilton as a new local digital market, while already well-served by CHCH-TV and The Hamilton Spectator, in addition to controversial in-house branded content initiative, Tandem. At minimum, the CAB is calling for a TV and online ad sales moratorium in markets where local private radio and TV stations are present. FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting also called for a gradual phase-out of all advertising in all languages by the end of 2021. FRIENDS also wants more transparency around digital and linear expenditures, revising its intervention to recommend a three-year licence renewal term. Read more here.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is calling on Canadian newsrooms to guarantee reporters can discuss and report on race and racism without fear of censure or repercussion in light of the arbitration decision vindicating former CBC Winnipeg journalist Ahmar Khan. An arbitrator ruled Khan was improperly fired after sharing with outside journalists how CBC managers compelled him to take down a tweet criticizing Don Cherry as “xenophobic” because it went against the public broadcaster’s Journalistic Standards and Practices. The arbitrator determined the termination was wrong because the information gathered to fire Khan came from a violation of his privacy when a colleague went through private messages on Twitter and Whatsapp after Khan remained signed in on a shared company laptop. “The CAJ supports Khan’s attempts to highlight concerns about racism at Canada’s national broadcaster, and reached out directly to CBC management to express our concerns with some of the facts revealed in the decision,” stated the association. Read more of their statement here.

Michel Bissonnette

Michel Bissonnette, Executive Vice-President, Radio-Canada, has issued a statement surrounding a December trip to Florida, saying he was tending to business regarding a property he owns there. “While there, I worked remotely for two weeks and took 10 days of annual leave. During my stay, I did not go to any restaurants or retail stores. Upon returning to Montreal, I strictly adhered to public health guidelines by quarantining for 14 days,” the statement reads. “Because it was strongly recommended that Canadians avoid travelling abroad, I understand people’s reaction to my trip. I am sincerely sorry, and I apologize to my colleagues and to Canadians.”

Quebecor will have to defend itself in Superior Court following the authorization of a class action after cutting TVA Sports signal to Bell TV subscribers during the 2019 NHL playoffs. The suit seeks $100 million or $250 for each of the 400,000 subscribers impacted. In the midst of a carriage dispute and in spite of a CRTC directive ordering the two companies to maintain their respective services, Quebecor cut its signal as the broadcast was set to begin. Bell later sought an injunction to have TVA Sports restored.

NABS Canada is reporting a record year as the pandemic drove more demand for its services. Offering confidential counselling, addictions support, financial assistance and career advice to media and advertising professionals, free of charge, the agency’s toll-free Supportline saw call volumes soar, with those referencing personal health and wellbeing seeing a 78% increase and calls about relationships up 26%. The number of media professionals accessing the Supportline also increased, now accounting for almost one-third of callers (27.8%). With the pandemic forcing NABS to pivot to offer its services virtually, it’s now trying to raise awareness of its services in secondary markets. Read more here.

The Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) has partnered with TLN Media Group for a special TV presentation of its 42nd Annual Awards for Journalistic Excellence. Broadcast on TLN on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. ET, the best work of some of Canada’s multicultural journalists from the past year will be showcased in the 90-minute special. Read more about this year’s winners, here.

The Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs) is now accepting entries online for the 2020 news year. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28. The AJAs include 29 journalism categories across newspaper, radio, television, magazine and online categories. Nominations are also open for both student journalism awards as well as inductees to the Atlantic Journalism Hall of Fame.

 

The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) is now accepting entries for its 2021 awards and fellowships program. The deadline for all submissions is Feb. 19. New awards this year include the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)-Facebook Journalism Project Digital News Innovation Award, accompanied by a $10,000 prize. The award replaces and builds upon a collaboration between the CJF and Facebook Journalism Project’s News Literacy Award that highlighted the efforts of Canadian organizations promoting news literacy. The CJF Award for Climate Solutions Reporting has also been founded. The $10,000 cash prize will be presented to a working journalist or team of journalists—employed full-time or freelance—who are judged to have done the most in 2020 to shine a spotlight on climate change and innovative solutions in Canadian print, broadcast or online news reporting. 

The Black Journalism Fellowship program, established by the CJF in partnership with CBC/Radio-Canada and CTV News, is now open for applications. The fellowships are aimed at amplifying Black voices, improving coverage of Black issues in the news and cultivating future Black media leaders. Each fellowship provides a unique opportunity for an early-career Black journalist—with one-to-five years’ experience—to be hosted for six months at a CBC/Radio-Canada (English and French) or CTV News newsroom across the country. The three fellows will receive mentoring and training for a variety of skills, including video and audio editing, writing, research and investigative reporting. Each recipient will receive a full-time stipend and write or produce an article/piece during their fellowship opportunity. The deadline to apply is Feb. 19.

Canadian Journalists of Colour (CJOC) and the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) are still accepting session proposals for RISE, their inaugural conference celebrating journalists of colour and reimagining an equitable future for media. The hybrid online/in-person event, is tentatively set for May 1 in Toronto.

Cogeco has reported its Q1 financial results for the period ended Nov. 30, 2020. Revenue increased by 4.5%, compared to the same period of the prior year to reach $646.4 million; adjusted EBITDA reached $321.1 million, an increase of 10.5%; while free cash flow reached $148.2 million, an increase of 36.1%. Cogeco is revising its fiscal 2021 financial guidelines following the acquisition of DERYtelecom, the third largest cable provider in the province of Québec.

Distributel Communications Limited has acquired independent telecom provider Primus Telecommunications. Distributel says Primus’ substantial cable footprint, cloud-based business phone system, and extensive portfolio of access services, as well as Telemarketing Guard® call-screening technology, will enhance its offerings. The investment will also expand Primus’ network and product set through Distributel’s 1,000 competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) coverage areas, SIP trunking, integrated Microsoft Teams unified communications products, and IPTV service. The company says its increased scale will be even more important as fibre connectivity to consumers’ homes advances throughout the country.

TekSavvy Solutions has announced an agreement with Ciena to utilize its optical solutions as the ISP completes its long-haul transport network between Toronto and Windsor. TekSavvy’s 600km fibre ring includes 18 new and established points of presence in major markets throughout Southwestern Ontario. The agreement will support TekSavvy’s ongoing investments in its LTE and FTTH facilities, as well as its deployment of disaggregated wholesale services across the region as part of a five-year investment plan that aims to connect over 60,000 residences and businesses. TekSavvy will deploy Ciena’s optical solutions during the first six months of 2021.

Branded Cities Out-of-Home (OOH) has entered into a new long-term agreement with Rogers Sports & Media for the re-development of Rogers Tower located in the heart of Toronto at its Citytv studio. The deal adds more than 3,000 square feet of digital signage to Branded Cities’ portfolio at Yonge & Dundas. The complete overhaul of the tower will begin in the third quarter of 2021, which will see the installation of a 34ft W x 90ft H digital display offering 10-second ad spots over a three-minute loop. The Tower at 33 Dundas St. E. was first acquired by Rogers Sports & Media in 2007 as the new home of Citytv and OMNI Television.