Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – CRTC approves Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw broadcast assets

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The CRTC has approved Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw’s broadcasting assets, subject to conditions including hiring more journalists at Citytv and independent carriage requirements. The approval only addresses the broadcasting elements of the $26 billion merger, including 16 cable services, based in Western Canada; a national satellite television service; Shaw’s stake in CPAC; and other broadcast and television assets. The CRTC will require Rogers to pay five times more in benefits to the broadcasting system than it had originally proposed, amounting to $27.2 million to ithe Canada Media Fund, Independent Local News Fund, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and the Broadcasting Participation Fund, among others. The commission also says it wants to ensure independent programming is not placed at a disadvantage when negotiating with Rogers. Thus, Rogers will be required to distribute at least 45 independent English and French-language services on each of its cable and satellite services. Cable providers relying on signals delivered by Rogers will also be assured continued service to their communities. The decision also stipulates Rogers must amend its conditions of licence so that Corus Entertainment, which is indirectly controlled by the Shaw Family Living Trust, is not advantaged in its dealings with Rogers and vice versa. Read more here.

TekSavvy’s second appeal of the Federal Court ruling enacting the first national website-blocking order has been dismissed with costs to Bell, Rogers and Quebecor. The Nov. 2019 decision ordered all Canadian ISPs to block GoldTV, a subscription service offering thousands of pirated channels. TekSavvy’s VP of Regulatory Andy Kaplan-Myrth argues that enforcing copyright is a policy framework that should be laid out  by government, not the courts.

The CRTC has given itself until Aug. 31 to review CBC/Radio-Canada’s licence renewal. The commission says it still intends to issue a decision on the new licence term no later than June 30 to ensure the corporation has sufficient time to implement any changes, prior to the beginning of the next broadcast year.

The CRTC has announced that seven projects will receive up to $19.5 million from the Broadband Fund. The projects will benefit approximately 1,255 households in 10 communities, including seven Indigenous communities in B.C. and Alberta. Funds will be allocated to service providers: ATG Arrow Technology Group (Alberta), East Shore Internet Society (British Columbia), South Kountry Cable Ltd. (British Columbia), and TELUS (British Columbia). The Broadband Fund to date has committed up to $206 million to improve broadband services for 170 communities, representing approximately 30,405 households.

Xplornet Communications has purchased the fibre Internet infrastructure of the Municipality of the County of Annapolis in Nova Scotia. The deal will ensure that over 8,500 residents and businesses have access to reliable, high-speed internet. Xplornet will acquire, manage, and expand the network that the county began installing several years ago, capable of delivering up to 1 Gbps service to residential customers and up to 10 Gbps service for businesses.

SOCAN has reached a reproduction rights settlement with CBC, following a 2020 Copyright Board of Canada decision concerning “post-synchronization copies” created when a broadcaster uploads original video content containing copyrighted music to a content management system to make copies for internal use to facilitate viewing on different digital or broadcast platforms. While financial details of the settlement aren’t being disclosed, the Copyright Board decision had awarded SOCAN clients $1.5M for the period from 2012-18. SOCAN is currently the only music rights organization in Canada licensing and distributing post-synchronization royalties with negotiations underway with other broadcasters. 

Corus Entertainment is launching two new scholarships to support post-secondary broadcasting students from under-represented communities, anchoring all of its student support initiatives under newly-created brand, corus.Futures. The Susannah Therrien Radio Scholarship and the Corus Television Broadcast Scholarship are open to students entering their final year of studies in September. The Susannah Therrien Radio Scholarship is open to women pursuing studies in radio, created and funded by the Corus Radio sales executive in recognition of her 20-year anniversary with the company. The Corus Television Broadcast Scholarship is targeted at students who identify as racialized, Indigenous, living with a disability and/or 2SLGBTQ+ and pursuing studies in television broadcasting. Both scholarships will support one student per year with tuition assistance (up to $5,000). Selected students will also receive a three-month paid internship at either a Corus Radio or Global News station. Read more here.

(L-R) Christine Dobby, Toronto Star; Anupreeta Das, The New York Times; Anne Gaviola, Global News; and Rita Trichur, The Globe and Mail.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation’s (CJF) next J-Talks Live webcast features a panel of business journalists on future coverage and how newsrooms are adapting to attract a new generation of younger, more diverse readers. The free event takes place Wednesday, April 20 at 12 p.m. ET. Featured speakers are Anupreeta Das, Finance Editor at The New York Times; Anne Gaviola, Senior Digital Broadcast Journalist at Global News; and Rita Trichur, Senior Business Writer and columnist for The Globe and Mail. Leading the discussion is Toronto Star business reporter Christine Dobby. Register here.

IIC Canada’s (International Institute of Communications) Canadian chapter has announced its roster of speakers for its annual conference, May 16-17, to engage business and government leaders in broadcasting, media, telecommunications and technology on key issues affecting the future of the Canadian communications sector. Panels will explore topics on Competition Policy and the Regulation of Digital Platforms, the Online Streaming Act, Cybersecurity and Ransomware, and Compensation for News Media. Advance registration is required.

The Western Association of Broadcast Engineers (WABE) has announced its 2022 conference will be back in-person for the 72nd annual convention, Oct. 4-5 at the Westin Calgary Airport Hotel. Registration for exhibitors and delegates will open this summer with more details to follow at www.wabe.ca.

Alex Lupul

Alex Lupul, a photojournalism student at Loyalist College in Belleville, ON is the winner of the 2022 Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, presented by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) and The Canadian Press (CP). Lupul’s portfolio was selected among submissions from students and early-career photojournalists from across the country. He’ll be recognized at the CJF Awards ceremony on June 7 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.