A consortium of 15 of Canada’s largest radio broadcasters have united to select Radioplayer Canada as its digital streaming app of choice. Radioplayer will serve listeners with music, talk and entertainment from almost 500 radio stations, on their connected devices, anytime, anywhere… and in both official languages. The participating companies are Central Ontario Broadcasting, Clear Sky Radio, Cogeco, Corus, Durham Radio, Golden West, Harvard Broadcasting, Larche Communications, Newcap, Pattison, Rogers, Rawlco Radio, RNC Media, Saskatoon Media Group, and Vista Radio, with more expected to join. But one company that won’t be part of the consortium is Bell Media. That company announced a partnership with U.S. based streaming service iHeartRadio in January. Radioplayer UK was launched in 2011 as a partnership between the BBC and commercial radio and now Radioplayer Worldwide has licensed Canada as its seventh country (the first outside Europe) to launch the app. The Canadian consortium will be steered by CAB’s CEO Radio Council. A launch date for Radioplayer Canada has yet to be announced.
Editor’s Note: Read more in our “Radioplayer Comes to Canada” feature below.
Rogers has increased its footprint in Southwestern Ontario with the acquisition of Tillsonburg Broadcasting Company Limited. The Lamers family has run the business for more than 60 years. Stations Country 107.3 (CJDL-FM) and Easy 101 (CKOT-FM) serve the communities of Tillsonburg, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Woodstock, and St. Thomas. John Lamers and partners obtained a licence for CKOT-AM in 1954 to serve Oxford, Norfolk and Elgin counties. Lamers died in 1994. His son, John Lamers Jr. took over the operation and granddaughter Carolyn Lamers is now the general manager. The deal is expected to close in early 2017, pending CRTC approval. Carolyn Lamers will remain with the stations to assist with the transition of ownership.
SiriusXM is getting ready for a possible court battle. The company announced Sept. 22 they are aware of applications to authorize a Class Action lawsuit that have been filed with the Quebec Superior Court. The litigation is said to be in connection with Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act and SiriusXM says it also includes “bringing a class action litigation against certain other prominent Canadian companies in the media, technology, telecommunication and financial sectors.” SiriusXM says this is the last it will comment on the issue for now.
Classic Hits Coast 101.1 (CKSJ-FM) in St. John’s, NL has apologized to a local woman’s group for a Tweet on Sept. 21 from announcer Joel North. North, host of the afternoon drive show Coast Home, upset a local woman with a tweet that said “You’d get more viewers if you were stripping.” The president and owner of Coast Broadcasting, Andrew Bell, issued a statement saying “The individual is no longer with the company.”
CFTX 96.5 FM Capitale Rock, Ottawa’s only French language rock station, debuted a new format on Sept. 22. The Gatineau station is now playing favourites of the ‘70s ‘80s and ‘90s and calling themselves Pop 96.5. RNC Media says the first song played on the new station was Pop Music by M.
CKVS 96.7 FM, The Voice of the Shuswap, is planning to ask Salmon Arm, BC city council in November to cover its operating costs as it faces a funding shortfall. The not-for-profit station relies on fundraising and grants to cover costs averaging $3,600 a month, including rental and antenna site costs and one part-time person to manage the studio. The radio station broadcasts over 60 hours of programs per week, produces 110 podcasts and develops First Nations programming.
CKLU 96.7-FM, Laurentian University’s campus and community radio station in Sudbury, ON, has moved to a new location off the main campus and downtown at the university’s McEwen School of Architecture. The station held an open house Sept. 26 to show off the new digs. Station manager Rob Straughan said it is smaller than their home for the past 30 years, but the more prominent, open space makes up for it.
Lew Dickey, former CEO of Cumulus, has released a new book that examines the changing media landscape and the challenges radio faces going forward. The New Modern Media – Remaking Media for a Mobile Culture also tackles the implications of the new mobile culture.
Bob Coburn is bringing Rockline back to rock radio for one night only Oct. 6 to celebrate the upcoming Desert Trip classic rock festival at Coachella. The festival will feature The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Coburn will reprise the best interviews and in-studio performances with each of these icons from his personal archives for this not-to-be-missed 3-hour Rockline Festival Edition special. Email Michael Olstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
shomi, the Rogers video streaming service that was supposed to take on Netflix, will go dark Nov. 30. The company announced Sept. 26 they were going to wind down operations, admitting the business was more challenging than they expected. There are 74 full time and 33 contractor/temporary/part-time jobs affected. Rogers is actively trying to place people within its organization where there are roles. Rogers said it expects to incur a loss on investment of approximately $100-140 million in its third quarter, which ends Sept. 30. Current customers can continue to stream shomi until the end of November.
The BBC opened a Canadian bureau on Sept. 22, with a small, online-focused Toronto news operation. The move paves the way for a Canadian edition of BBC.com. Jessica Murphy, a former Washington correspondent for Sun Media, is news editor for the Canadian operation. She is joined by video producer Dan Lytwyn, formerly of Huffington Post Canada, and audience engagement producer Robin Levinson King, who was most recently a digital reporter at the Toronto Star.
City has become the first over-the-air broadcaster in Canada to be available on Apple TV. On Sept. 22 Rogers launched the City Video app to watch programming in HD. Rogers said City content was already available across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices so the move to Apple TV was the natural next step.
DHX Media has inked a deal with Amazon Prime Video to provide more than three-dozen of its kids’ shows through subscription-video-on-demand to the UK and Germany. In the UK, content includes Teletubbies, Messy Goes to Okido, Looped, Hank Zipzer, In the Night Garden and Caillou. In Germany, Amazon Prime Video has licensed Messy Goes to Okido, Teletubbies, Slugterra, Hank Zipzer and Fireman Sam.
The CRTC has turned to Reddit to get Canadian’s feedback on differential pricing as the regulator prepares to set rules on the controversial practice. A five-day discussion thread on the online forum was launched Sept. 26. The CRTC is hoping to hear from people who normally would not participate in a government process. Differential pricing is a practice where internet and mobile providers charge different prices for different types of data traffic. Opponents say it hurts competition and net neutrality.
DHX Media Ltd. is reporting positive growth with fiscal year-end results for the period ending June 30. Full year revenue grew 15 per cent to $304.8 million with adjusted EBITDA up 15 per cent to $103.7 million. Net income rose 42 per cent to $27.7 million. The Q4 results for the three months ending June 30 were also released. Revenue was $75.3 million and adjusted EBITDA rose 9 per cent to $24.8 million while net loss was $1.7 million. The losses were blamed on currency exchange fluctuations with the British Pound.
Canadian Heritage held the first of six in-person cross-country consultations on Canadian content in a digital world in Vancouver on Monday Sept. 26. Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly met with representatives from a variety of sectors as well as members of the general public to converse and gather input on how the government might help the cultural sector meet new challenges and harness opportunities. The consultation process is intended to help inform future policy announcements. In response to jitters being felt by television producers, Joly took the opportunity to say she is not willing to step in and interfere with new CRTC regulations in the TV production sector that reduce the need to hire Canadians to obtain funding. Joly said the CRTC is independent from her and her department.
The CRTC has introduced an interactive map showing every radio and TV station broadcasting emergency alerts across Canada. A number of cable and satellite providers who relay these messages are also included on the map. The map will be updated annually. Since March 2015 most radio, TV, cable and satellite providers are already sending emergency alerts. The CRTC will next examine how wireless services can participate in the public alerting system as well.
The Atlantic Journalism Awards are heading to St. John’s, NL for 2017. The reception and awards presentations have been announced for May 6, 2017 at the St. John’s Convention Centre. Tickets will be on sale in the coming months. Journalists wanting to be considered for awards can submit their work starting Dec.1 here.
Netflix CFO David Wells announced at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference on Sept. 27 that the company has set a goal of achieving a 50 per cent mix between its own in-house programming and that which it licenses from outside studios. Currently Netflix is one third-to-halfway to the 50 per cent goal but hopes to get there in the next few years. The announcement could be a boon for the Canadian production industry, where Netflix offerings such as The Killing, Hemlock Grove, The 100, and Shadowhunters are already shot.
Hagan Beggs, 79, on Sept. 16 in Vancouver, BC. Born in Belfast, he immigrated to Canada as a young man and made a career on stage, radio, TV and film as an actor, a set decorator and a props man. As an actor, he played George Dunbar on “Danger Bay” and Lt. Hansen on the first season of the original Star Trek. Cremation has taken place and the family says there will be no service.
Radioplayer Comes to Canada
By Lisa Blackburn with Shawn Smith
Five years ago the entire radio industry in the United Kingdom – including public broadcaster BBC Radio and commercial radio broadcasters alike – did something previously unthinkable. They sat down and agreed to tackle their industry’s challenges with regard to digital streaming, together. They created a consortium to build and launch one common platform for all which would be called Radioplayer – a digital radio streaming service that is now available on iOS, Android, and through a desktop player.
Now Radioplayer is crossing the pond with Canada becoming the seventh country (the first outside Europe) to launch the digital streaming app. Radioplayer Canada will allow listeners from coast-to-coast to enjoy almost 500 radio stations on their connected devices, anytime, anywhere… and in both official languages.
Fifteen of Canada’s biggest radio broadcasting companies are the first to join the Canadian coalition, which will be steered by CAB’s CEO Radio Council. The groups involved are Central Ontario Broadcasting, Clear Sky Radio, Cogeco, Corus, Durham Radio, Golden West, Harvard Broadcasting, Larche Communications, Newcap, Pattison, Rogers, Rawlco Radio, RNC Media, Saskatoon Media Group, and Vista Radio. More participants are expected to join imminently.
However, one company that won’t be part of the consortium is Bell Media. It announced a partnership with U.S. based streaming service iHeartRadio in January.
Launching later this year, Radioplayer Canada will give listeners immediate access to their favourite entertainment, news, sports and talk radio content. Users will be able to access live and past radio broadcasts across the country through the Radioplayer browser-player, and on connected devices through the iOS or Android app, including integrations with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Chromecast, and smartwatches.
Julie Adam, Senior Vice President, Rogers Radio and the CEO Radio Council member who is leading the partnership, said the move gives listeners unprecedented access to content from Canada. “The way Canadians listen to radio is changing,” she said. “Radioplayer gives our listeners access to their favourite local stations and allows them to discover others across the country.”
Michael Hill is the Founder and Managing Director of Radioplayer UK. He told Broadcast Dialogue when the service launched in 2011, the technology of the day made it a challenge to listen to radio on a computer.
“I know it’s impossible to imagine a time before smart phones and tablets, but there was one and it was when people used laptops and computers to do their browsing,” he said. “It was incredibly difficult to listen to the radio on your computer. It was a problem we were trying to solve.”
Hill said with radio stations all using different platforms, trying to listen online was often awkward with listeners having to download different players.
When Radioplayer launched, Hill said streaming content was still fairly new and low risk for radio stations. “They knew they didn’t have much to lose,” he said. “There was only stuff to gain by doing this together.”
Hill explains that Radioplayer is different from other internet radio web tuners in that it is much more flexible and allows participating stations to keep their identity.
“We pitched an idea that was going to solve the user problem,” he said. “While allowing stations and groups to retain control over their streaming commercial arrangements and actually have their branding still.”
From the moment it launched in the UK, Radioplayer caught the notice of radio industry leaders from around the world who recognized the opportunity it presented. “We have to give some initial credit to Pat Bohn and his company for bringing the idea to Canada,” says Jule Adam. “He was really the one that brought it to the broadcasters.”
In every country where Radioplayer has been rolled out, it’s been done by a consortium of broadcasters. “It’s radio owning radio,” Hill said.
This spirit of cooperation appealed strongly to the Canadian groups and sold the CEOs. According to Julie Adam, being able to work together as a radio community is key. “It’s really exciting, we’re really pumped about that,” she said.
Hill maintains this approach has created harmony and mission alignment among radio partners everywhere it has been deployed. The motto is “Agree on technology, compete on content,” he said.
Radioplayer offers broadcasters consistency. With ever changing technology, it is difficult for radio stations to keep up with the newest players and methods of consuming content. Hill says Radioplayer solves the problem of keeping radio compatible with all the different platforms because their programmers are constantly evolving the technology.
Creating and maintaining the Android app proves a particular challenge because of the various versions of Android available. Hill said the key is in the testing process. “We’re very good at that, so our Android Radioplayer app is undoubtedly the best in the world,” he said.
Hill said he welcomes both Radioplayer and iHeartRadio apps to Canada. “It’s all good,” he said. “It’s all about the strategic growth of radio, so if we can make radio easier to find and use, let a thousand apps bloom. It’s fine.”
Next up for Radioplayer Worldwide is a tweaking of the organization so the various countries using the platform can work with each other to create more technology to benefit radio. “We need to come up with a way [all of] radio can talk with one voice,” Hill said.
The Radioplayer experience in the United Kingdom and Europe has been extremely positive. Julie Adam adds, “They’ve turned the advertising and revenue around in the UK and radio is doing well, both public and commercial radio are doing extremely well.”
In Canada, the radio industry has taken a giant leap forward into the future by uniting so many groups and adopting one proven technology platform to serve the needs and desires of listening public.
In the end, Adam said Radioplayer is a superior technology. “The product is really well built and it’s simple and it simplified the listening experience.”