Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – RCI won’t seek appeal of B.C. Supreme court ruling greenlighting new board of directors

Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI) won’t seek an appeal of last week’s B.C. Supreme Court ruling effectively giving Edward Rogers control of the company’s board of directors. The company declaration late Sunday followed  Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick’s decision granting Edward Rogers’ petition to replace five of RCI’s independent directors with nominees of the Rogers Control Trust (RCT) – which controls 97.5% of Class A voting shares or approximately 29% of RCI – through a written resolution, without convening a meeting of shareholders. In her decision, Fitzpatrick likened the family “squabbles” to a Shakespearean drama. She ultimately agreed with Edward Rogers’ assertion “that if a sufficient majority of shareholders support a course of action, they should be able to act quickly and decisively without the expense and delay of a meeting. Neither the Board nor management should be able to interfere with the will of an overwhelming majority of a company’s shareholders.” Read more here.

Ericsson has announced Rogers Communications as the first North American service provider to join its global Startup 5G program. Designed to help communications service providers (CSPs) accelerate the commercialization and monetization of 5G by introducing them to the right consumer innovation partners, the program will also encourage 5G innovation transfer between start-ups and Rogers to create new business opportunities for both sides. As part of the program, Rogers will receive access to an exclusive list of companies developing scalable services, devices, and applications over 5G. 

BCE Q3 net earnings grew 9.9% to $813 million with net earnings attributable to common shareholders increasing 9.4% to $757 million, or $0.83 per common share. Quarterly wireless service revenue and adjusted EBITDA recovered to pre-COVID levels, growing 5.0% and 5.6% respectively in Q3. Media revenue grew 14.5%, reflecting higher advertiser spending across all platforms; digital revenue increased 32% and now represents 22% of total media revenue. Media operating revenue increased 14.5% in Q3 to $719 million, driven by increased ad spending across TV, radio, out of home and digital media platforms as COVID-19 economic recovery takes hold more fully, as well as higher subscriber revenue. Advertising revenue increased 18.6% in the quarter, driven by stronger conventional and specialty TV performance, due to a timelier start to the new fall TV programming season, more live sporting events compared to 2020, and revenue generated from the recent federal election. Subscriber revenue was up 12.3% in Q3, driven by a 5% year-over-year increase in Crave subscribers. Digital revenue grew 32% due to rapid expansion of CTV’s AVOD product, continued scaling of the SAM TV media sales tool and continued Crave growth.

Quebecor reported its Q3 financial results for the third quarter of 2021, consolidated with its Quebecor Media subsidiary. Revenues of $1.15 billion were recorded in the third quarter, up $36.5 million (3.3%) from the same period of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was $520.3 million, up $6.9 million (1.3%) despite the $18.8 million unfavourable impact of the recognition of a one‑time item in the Telecommunications segment in the third quarter of 2020. Telecommunications segment revenues grew by $1.6 million (0.2%) in Q3, while Videotron significantly increased its revenues from Internet access services ($15.9 million or 5.6%) and mobile telephony ($13.4 million or 8.0%) in the quarter.

Stingray Group announced its financial results for the second quarter of Fiscal 2022, ended Sept. 30, 2021. Revenues in Q2 2022 rose $7.1 million or 11.1% to $71.4 million, from $64.3 million for Q2 2021. For the quarter, revenues in Canada increased $7.0 million or 17.6% to $46.7 million, from $39.7 million for Q2 2021. The revenue growth was reflective of further recovery in Radio and rapid growth in advertising, partially offset by FX. Broadcasting and Commercial Music revenues were essentially flat at $39.1 million, with the increase in advertising revenue offset by foreign exchange headwinds. Radio revenues improved 28.6% year-over-year to $32.3 million as the Canadian economy reopened at varying degrees provincially. In Q2, the number of subscribers continued to rise, reaching 611,000, an increase of 27% over the same period last year and 7% sequentially. 

The COVID-19 News Support Fund (NSF) for private, independent TV and radio broadcasters is now officially open for applications as the broadcast industry continues to emerge from the pandemic. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) is once again acting as the fund’s administrator on behalf of the federal government. The $9.4 million fund, directed at independent local TV and radio broadcasters, is for qualifying stations that can demonstrate: they provide news and/or information programming; have eligible Canadian programming expenditures of at least $5,000 annually; and have been negatively impacted by the pandemic resulting in financial hardship to their operations and therefore in need of government funding. The deadline for applications is Dec. 3. Read more here.

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) has handed out its annual awards recognizing member stations across four categories. Logan Strauss of Blackburn Media is the winner of this year’s Best in Class Sales Award, while Community Service Awards went to Quinte Broadcasting and Starboard Communications; and Central Ontario Broadcasting’s Indie88 (CIND-FM). The winners of this year’s Creative Awards were Durham Radio’s Larry MacInnis and Brian Cox for their Shop Local Promo; and Liam Myers and Dawson Houle from Vista Radio’s 2day FM (CHGK-FM) and Juice FM (CJCS-FM) Stratford for their Frauds and Scams PSA. Station Promotion Awards were won by Corus Peterborough’s Fresh Radio 100.5 (CKRU-FM) and Wolf 101.5 FM (CKWS-FM) for “Gitty on the Go.” Durham Radio’s KX94.7 (CHKX-FM) Hamilton and KX96 New Country (CJKX-FM) Ajax were also recognized for their “Thank A Farmer Week.”

The Webster Awards, recognizing excellence in journalism in British Columbia, have announced their 2021 winners across 16 categories. Among this year’s winners are CTV News Vancouver, which claimed the award for Best Feature/Enterprise Reporting – TV/Video for Unmarked Graves: Canada’s Reckoning. Best Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Radio/Podcast was won by Laura Palmer of Rogers’ Frequency Podcast Network for Gone Boys: Island Crime, Season 2. Best Breaking News Reporting – TV was awarded to Global BC for Unmarked Graves Discovery, while the Breaking News award for Radio went to Yvette Brend and Drew Kerekes of CBC Vancouver.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Canadian Hillman Prize honouring excellence in investigative journalism in service of the common good. The Hillman Prize celebrates print, digital and broadcast reporting that highlights social or economic injustice, hopefully leading to meaningful public policy change. Entries must be published or broadcast in 2021 and have been made widely available to a Canadian audience. Nominated material can be submitted here. The deadline for entries is Jan. 15.

Ipsos has conducted the first-ever Canadian survey of online harassment against journalists, which indicates 72% of media professionals experienced some form of harassment over the past year. Conducted online between Sept. 27 and Oct. 13, a total of 1,093 journalists, news managers, videographers, camera operators, and publishers participated in the survey. The results were shared with participants at the #NotOK — Stand Up for Journalism and Democracy virtual forum, a two-day event hosted by CBC/Radio-Canada and attended by media workers from across the country. Among other findings, the survey indicates that harassment of journalists is on the rise with 65% experiencing harassment online. One in five experience online harassment weekly or more than once a week. Read more here.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is joining the Coalition Against Online Violence. As a member of the coalition, the CAJ will work with journalism organizations around the world to identify solutions to the ongoing problem of online abuse and harassment faced, in particular, by female journalists and journalists of colour. The CAJ is the first Canada-specific journalism organization to be accepted as a member of the coalition.