Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Canadian telecom and TV complaints up 35% for 2018-19

Québec Press Council

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) year-end report indicates complaints from Canadian telecom and TV customers were up another 35% for 2018-19, with CCTS ending the year having received nearly 19,300 complaints. An all-time high in the organization’s 12-year history, Canadians complained most often about their wireless service, followed by internet, TV and local phone service. CCTS says it received 20,000 complaints alone in regards to billing issues, with complaints up 65.9%, followed by issues related to disclosure of information about a service. Complaints about information not being clear or fully provided were up 21.4% this year after a 125% increase last year. Bell Canada was the target of more than 39% of all disclosure complaints, up from 38% last year (2,163 issues raised). Overall however, Bell’s share of all complaints declined from 33% to 30% (almost 5,900). Rogers’ share also declined from 10% to 9% (just over 1,800), while complaints about TELUS increased by 1.5% to 8%. Read more here.

The CRTC has launched an online survey as part of its review of mobile wireless services, which began in February. The results will help determine if the needs of Canadians are being met in the mobile wireless market. Canadians have until Dec. 31 to complete the survey. The CRTC will hold a public hearing starting Feb. 18, 2020 as part of the review, which is also examining whether mobile virtual network operators should have mandated access to the networks of the national wireless providers (Bell, Rogers and TELUS) until they can establish themselves in the market, and whether regulatory measures are needed to facilitate the deployment of 5G network infrastructure in Canada.

Quebecor is asking the CRTC to outright deny Bell Media’s application to acquire the French-language V network. In its intervention to the commission, filed Friday, Quebecor stated its opposition to the proposed acquisition “in view of Bell’s national dominance across Canada and the damaging repercussions of the acquisition, including fragmentation of the advertising market, the bidding up of content acquisition costs, and deterioration in the general quality of French-language television in Québec.” Bell Media currently owns 30 television stations and 29 specialty channels, in addition to 109 radio stations in 58 markets. V Média owns and operates TV stations in Montreal, Quebec City, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, and Trois-Rivières. The network’s Elle Fictions and Max specialty channels aren’t included in the deal, first announced in July, however it does encompass V’s related digital assets and ad-supported VOD service Noovo.ca. A CRTC hearing on the proposed acquisition is set for Feb. 12. Read more here.

The CRTC has released the third instalment of its Communications Monitoring Report 2019. The report finds that private commercial radio revenues fell 0.5% in 2017-18 to $1.5 billion, operating at an 18.3% profit margin, down 0.1%. Revenue from Canadian-owned internet-based audio services soared 16.6% to $423 million. The average weekly number of hours Canadians 18+ spent listening to traditional radio decreased slightly from 15.0 to 14.6 from 2017 to 2018. The average weekly number of hours spent listening to streamed audio services grew from 7.2 to 8.1 during the same period (up 12%). TV revenue in 2018 dropped 1% to $6.9B, with private conventional television stations reporting a drop in revenue of 4.2%. Internet-based video revenue rose to $4.3B, up more than 38% from 2014. In 2018, Canadians 18+ watched on average a total of 29.4 hours of television per week, with traditional television representing 89% of the viewing and Internet-based television only 11%.

Ian Scott

CRTC Chair Ian Scott addressed the Cable TV Summit of the National Communications Commission in Taipei City, Taiwan on Nov. 28. Scott’s message explored the theme that “paradigms have shifted. New thinking is needed. Regulators must adapt.” Scott told the gathering that while content has never been more abundant from a consumer perspective, for regulators that abundance creates challenges and that “new approaches are needed for a new era.” Read his full speech here.

CBC/Radio-Canada is proposing several changes to its existing regulatory commitments as the CRTC undertakes a review of its broadcast licences. In its renewal application, the public broadcaster says by 2020, more Canadians will subscribe to digital streaming services than traditional television. CBC says to meet the challenges of the evolving broadcasting and digital environment, and ensure Canadians see themselves reflected in its digital services, it’s proposing enhanced programming commitments across programs of national interest (PNI), children’s and youth, and local; renewed and expanded commitments for independent production in audio-visual content; new consultation and reporting commitments on content created by and for Indigenous people; and new reporting commitments for reflecting diversity on-air in content production and across the CBC workforce.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s 11th Environmental Performance Report indicates that from April 2018 to March 2019, the public broadcaster shredded and recycled 95 metric tonnes of paper, equivalent to saving 1,800 trees; recycled 130 metric tonnes of electronic waste (up 30 metric tonnes from last year); and donated or recycled 89% of unneeded furniture (diverting 65 metric tonnes from landfills), as part of nine renovation and consolidation projects in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg. Other ongoing green initiatives include beehives at the public broadcaster’s stations in Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg, which produce honey that is sold to employees, with proceeds donated to local food-based charities; vegetable and flower gardens in Yellowknife and Sherbrooke, planted and maintained by employees; and allowing local farmers to use land near CBC transmission towers for livestock grazing and haying, as well as planting grains, soybeans and other crops.

TELUS Health is expanding its LivingWell Companion personal emergency response service (PERS) nationally, through the acquisition of DirectAlert, a Quebec-based, bilingual PERS company. The acquisition makes TELUS the largest Canadian-owned PERS provider. By early next year, all TELUS PERS customers will be backed by the LivingWell Companion brand nationally. The service, featuring optional fall detection, provides immediate access to emergency assistance 24 hours a day and allows users to speak live with a trained operator in the event of an emergency.

Bell Media garnered 18 wins at the 2019 Media Innovation Awards, which recognizes the role media plays in the marketing mix while celebrating those deploying and implementing breakthrough media programs. Winners included Hershey’s Canada for bringing Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) to the masses with Reese The Movie: A Movie About Reese, which had its streaming premiere on Crave in June. Other winners included GE for the “Bring your kitchen to life” campaign in partnership with The Marilyn Denis Show and iHeartRadio’s partnership on the “Telus x SonReal” anti-bullying campaign. Corus Entertainment earned the award for Best Media Company for its work with the John Frieda hair care brand.

RTDNA Canada is now accepting submissions for Regional and Network programming awards, recognizing the best in Canadian television, radio, and digital news journalism. Find more information on entry guidelines here. The early bird submission period closes Jan. 12, with the final entry deadline Jan. 23. National and Network winners will be announced at the RTDNA Canada National Conference in Toronto, May 8-9.


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