The CRTC will waive Part I licence fees for broadcasters for the 2020-21 fiscal year, representing a collective savings of $30 million for more than 100 radio and television providers as the industry weathers a pandemic ad revenue slump. Part I Licence Fees require broadcasting licensees to contribute to the CRTC’s regulatory costs on a prorated basis, calculated using a formula that takes into consideration the estimated costs of the commission as well as broadcasters’ respective gross revenues. Canadian Heritage said the government will transfer necessary funds to the CRTC to support its operations. The move follows two other federal olive branches extended to the media industry, including the promise of $30 million in federal ad spending for newspapers, magazines, radio and television on a COVID-19 awareness campaign. Last week, the government also announced that Canadian Heritage is working to simplify the process for submitting and processing requests for 2020–21 funding for the Canada Book Fund and Canada Periodical Fund, which provides financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals.
The CRTC is extending the deadline for wireless service providers to file 2020 Wireless Code compliance reports. Compliance reports were due by Mar. 31, but following an appeal by Iristel’s Ice Wireless, the commission has approved an extension to Apr. 30 due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 situation.
Quebecor has temporarily laid off 10% of its employees as it complies with a provincial order to close businesses deemed non-essential. About 25% of the layoffs, more than 480 employees, are Groupe TVA employees. However, the company said newsrooms are not impacted. In order to minimize the financial toll on employees, Quebecor said it’s improving government assistance benefits to ensure that salaried employees who make less than $54,200 receive 95% of their regular salary. They’ll also be able to obtain a two-week salary advance to make up for delays in government assistance programs. For those earning more than $54,200, the bonus will maintain 80% of salaries, with a salary cap set at $80,000. The measures will be in effect until May 31.
TekSavvy has laid off 130 employees and is raising rates to deal with what the internet service provider says are increased costs associated with COVID-19 and an ongoing court challenge following a Federal Court move to suspend the CRTC’s wholesale rates decision. Customers will see a $5 flat bill increase.
Corus Entertainment has released its Q2 2020 financial results reporting consolidated revenues for the three months ended Feb. 29 of $376.0 million, down 2% from $384.1 million last year. Net income attributable to shareholders was $18.5 million ($0.09 per share basic) for the quarter and $96.6 million ($0.46 per share basic) year-to-date. Television segment revenues decreased 2% in Q2 2020 and were flat year-to-date. On a proforma basis, when adjusted for the disposal of the Telelatino Network in Mar. 2019, segment revenues were flat for the quarter and up 1% year-to-date. Ad revenue decreased 6% in Q2 2020 and 2% year-to-date. Subscriber revenues were down 2% in both Q2 2020 and year-to-date. In Radio, segment revenues decreased $2.5 million (8%) in Q2 2020 and $5.8 million (8%) year-to-date, while segment profit margin of 16% in Q2 2020 and 25% year-to-date was comparable with the prior year. Corus says it’s too soon to gauge the impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, but is conserving cash out of an abundance of caution. As such, the company expects to put its share buyback program on hold in the immediate term.
TELUS has made a $500,000 donation to the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC), Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and University of British Columbia (UBC) Hospital Foundation to assist in the search for therapeutic antiviral treatments for COVID-19. Led by Professor Art Cherkasov, VPC and UBC scientists have joined forces with experts from Cambridge in the UK, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, University of North Carolina Pharma Science, and Enamine, the biggest small molecule supplier in the world, in Ukraine. VPC platforms, developed for precision cancer drug discovery, have been repurposed to find a cure for COVID-19. Organizations interested in funding this research can learn more here.
TELUS is expanding its support for low income families by automatically waiving fees for the TELUS Internet for Good program for two months, giving customers enrolled in the program access to high speed internet in their home at no cost for 60 days. Currently more than 200,000 Canadian families, who receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit, qualify for the program, which offers low cost monthly internet service at $9.95/month as well as access to a low cost computer and free digital literacy training.
Shaw is making free online programming available to K-12 students through a new partnership with social impact education provider, EVERFI. Modules include personal health, financial education, mental health, digital wellness and more. Digital courses will be available to students until the end of June.
The Slaight Family Foundation is donating over $3 million to four organizations, including the Breakfast Club of Canada, Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, and Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank, as concerns grow around the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on food security for vulnerable Canadians. Many food banks have seen drastic reductions in food recovery and volunteer efforts and the foundation says some only have stock to provide 10 to 14 days for existing food bank clients. A rise in demand is anticipated resulting from the economic impact of the pandemic for months to come.