The Weekly Briefing


Stingray has taken its Toronto hip hop station 93.5 The Move (CFXJ-FM) back to its roots, signing on Monday morning as Flow 93.5, the brand it originally launched with in 2001, as Canada’s first urban contemporary station. The station was rebranded as The Move in Feb. 2016, deviating to an expanded playlist that included more pop and dance from the late 1980s, 90s and 2000s, in addition to current and classic hip hop hits. While initially successfully at attracting a younger and different audience, program director Josie Fenech told Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast that over time, programming staff realized that the station’s strongest asset was the legacy of its original brand. Listen here:


Stingray says its revenues and adjusted profits doubled in the third quarter following its acquisition of Newfoundland Capital Corporation and its radio stations in October. Stingray reported net revenues of $70.8 million, while recurring broadcasting and commercial music revenue increased 16 per cent to $33.4 million, up from $28.8 million year-over-year. Excluding expenses related to tangible benefits from the $506 million dollar acquisition, adjusted net earnings doubled to $12.4 million or 18 cents per share, up from $6 million or 11 cents per share a year earlier. The company’s quarterly dividend increased 8.3 per cent to 6.5 cents per share, payable to shareholders around Mar. 15.

UNESCO World Radio Day was celebrated Feb. 13 with this year’s theme Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace. Celebrated annually since 2012, World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the day the United Nations established United Nations Radio in 1946. While the Canadian relationship to radio may be changing in the internet age, according to the Numeris Fall 2018 Diary (12+) and Edison Share of Ear Canada 2017, Canadians still consume 445,661,000 hours of radio per week, reaching 85 per cent of the population. Radio still accounts for 61 per cent of all audio consumed by Canadians. The Media Technology Monitor (MTM) says 22 per cent of Canadians report having listened to radio online in the last month, with 88 per cent of all Canadians still tuning in. That compares to 92 per cent a decade ago.

The Corus Radiothon for London’s Children’s Hospital raised a record-breaking $174,352 on Feb. 8. The radiothon was broadcast live over 12 hours on 980 CFPL, FM96 (CFPL-FM), Country 104 (CKDK-FM) and 103.1 Fresh Radio (CFHK-FM).

The Country 105 (CKRY-FM) Caring for Kids Radiothon in Calgary on Feb. 8 raised a record $6.6M for Alberta Children’s Hospital. Matched donations from the Crist Family Foundation and an anonymous donor, helped triple donations during the 16th annual event. Global News Morning Calgary was also live on location throughout the radiothon.

Jerry Howarth, who  retired as the radio play-by-play voice for the Toronto Blue Jays after 36 years in 2018, has penned a new book. Hello, Friends! Stories from My Life and Blue Jays Baseball is an honest memoir about Howarth’s life, family, and baseball.

James Cridland

Canadian Music Week’s Radio Interactive Summit will welcome back radio futurologist James Cridland. Cridland will be speaking on the Future of Radio. Find registration info for Radio Interactive 2019, taking place May 9-10, here.

Country Radio Seminar (CRS) 2019 is underway in Nashville. The 50th anniversary of the annual industry gathering kicked off with the Warner Music Nashville Lunch, headlined by Blake Shelton. Garth Brooks went on to cap off day one with an intimate solo acoustic performance at the Bridgestone Arena. Thursday highlights include a town hall conversation with Brooks, and Universal Music Group performances at the Ryman Auditorium.


Joe Schlesinger, 90, on Feb. 11.

Joe Schlesinger

Born in Vienna, Schlesinger spent his early childhood in the former Czechoslovakia. As the Third Reich rose to power, Schlesinger’s parents decided to send an 11-year-old Schlesinger and his brother Ernie, 9, to a study program in Britain for Jewish children in 1939. Their parents were later killed in the Holocaust. Schlesinger and his brother returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, where he took a job with The Associated Press in Prague in 1948. In the era of post-war Communism, Schlesinger inevitably ended up in Vancouver in 1950 as a refugee. He took work as a waiter and construction worker before enrolling at the University of British Columbia, where much of his time was spent at the campus newspaper. Eventually that led to a job with the Toronto Star, followed by UPI London, and the Herald Tribune in Paris, before he returned to Canada to work with the CBC in 1966. While he worked his way up to management, Schlesinger made the decision to return to field where he would go on to cover many key events of the 20th century as a foreign correspondent including Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China, the Iranian Revolution, the Contra war in Nicaragua, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and the first Persian Gulf war, among many others. Schlesinger retired in 1994, but continued to contribute to CBC as a correspondent and an occasional columnist for until 2015. He was inducted into the CBC News Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mike Cleaver

Mike Cleaver, 72, on Feb. 10, of kidney disease.

Cleaver started his broadcasting career in his hometown of Kelowna right out of high school where he developed a passion for radio early on and was part of the Radio Drama Club. From 1961-67, Cleaver worked as an announcer, news reader and engineer at CKOV. From there, he made the move to CJOC Radio and TV Lethbridge, moving on in 1970 to read morning news at CKXL Calgary. Cleaver joined the newsroom at 1050 CHUM Toronto a year later where he’d stay until 1976. That was followed by an eight-year run at CJCA/CIRK-FM Edmonton, before he returned to CHUM as the news and assignment editor in 1984. Cleaver held that role for 10 years, before joining CFRB and later CFTR Toronto, eventually making the move to the CHUM Group in Ottawa in 1999. He returned to the West Coast in 2001, joining CJNW and CKNW Vancouver as a news anchor, up until 2005. He also held roles as a news writer at CTV Vancouver and was an instructor in the radio program at BCIT. He passed just days ahead of his 73rd birthday on Feb. 19.

Harris Sullivan

Harris Sullivan, 80, on Feb. 7 of cancer.

Born in Richibucto, NB, Sullivan began his journalism career while still in his teens, spending the summer months in the newsroom of the Moncton Times-Transcript. He joined the paper full-time in 1956 as an editor, reporter and columnist, and by the age of 19 was named news editor. Sullivan moved to Halifax in the 1960s, getting his feet wet as a sportscaster, reporter and producer at CJCH Radio and Television. He also hosted and executive produced daily supper hour news program “ID.” He went on to work briefly with CFCF-TV Montreal, before joining CBC TV in 1974 where he spent eight years as a reporter, host and field producer in Halifax and Toronto. In 1982, he joined ATV (now CTV) Halifax as Executive Producer and was eventually named Director of News and Public Affairs. He retired to New Brunswick in 1992, finding a new outlet as “The Bongo Poet.” He published three books of poems: Taking Notes, Voices and Good Intentions, accompanying himself on bongo drums during his live readings. He also released a CD of his live poetry.

Robert ‘Bob’ Bliss Manship

Robert ‘Bob’ Bliss Manship, 88, on Feb. 5.

Manship grew up in Antigonish, NS and after completing high school and a year at St. F-X University, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Ultimately his passion for radio led him to  seek out a career in broadcasting with stints at CJFX Antigonish and later CBC, CJCB and CHER in Sydney. With a lifelong interest in electronics, Manship was also an avid ham radio operator.

Lawrence (Laurie) Mills

Lawrence (Laurie) Mills, 80, on Feb. 2.

Mills was an announcer with CBC for 35 years, starting in 1964 at CFPR Prince Rupert, BC.  He moved to CBC Calgary in 1973. Among the programs he hosted was “Country Style” on CBC Radio One. He retired in 1996 and remained active with a number of volunteer organizations including the Calgary Boxing & Wrestling Commission, Calgary Vintage Motorcycle Group, and the Foothills Bluegrass Society.

Tom Houston

Tom Houston, 85, on Jan. 22.

Houston was a long-serving engineer with CBC, initially at the public broadcaster’s engineering headquarters in Montreal, before joining CBC Vancouver as a senior technician in 1966. He retired after 32 years with the station. Houston died aboard his sailboat “Toroa,” while moored in Mazatlan, Mexico.

David Zand

David Zand, 86, on Jan. 20 at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

Zand graduated in the early 1950s with the first Ryerson Radio and Television class. He initially landed a radio job on-air in Sault Ste. Marie, but returned to Toronto to pursue advertising and marketing. Zand joined Vickers & Benson as the firm’s first sales promotion manager, with clients from Mattel to 7-Up. He later joined Brooks Advertising as vice-president while also teaching Media at Sheridan College one day a week. He went on to form his own company Zand Advertising with clients that included Bulova, Trivial Pursuit, Aurora Toys, Laura Secord, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and Honda, among others. The business evolved into FC&D Advertising when son Carl and daughter Fern joined the firm, eventually joined by daughter Cindy and wife Rose. Zand built a reputation for quick wit, creative flair and the ability to entertain his clients, who inevitably became friends – among them Bill Evanov of the Evanov Radio Group.


STARZ channel and streaming service will launch in Canada, beginning Friday, Mar. 1. Lionsgate-owned STARZ is the second most-watched pay TV service in the U.S., delivering premium content, including series like Vida, Counterpart and Sweetbitter, in addition to Lionsgate series like Nurse Jackie, and a growing roster of feature films. On Mar. 1, Bell Media pay TV network Encore will rebrand as STARZ across two linear channels and on-demand platforms. The following week, STARZ will be available direct to Canadians as an add-on to Crave for an additional $5.99/month. The addition of STARZ to Crave’s offerings comes as the streaming service announces that its current subscriber base has reached 2.3 million subscribers since its re-launch last November, which saw content from the former CraveTV, HBO Canada and The Movie Network, rolled into one service.

Read more here >

TVA Group has closed its acquisition of Serdy Media and its specialty channels Évasion and Zeste. They join TVA Group’s existing line-up of specialty channels including LCN, TVA Sports, AddikTV, CASA, MOI ET CIE, Prise 2 and Yoopa. Évasion went on the air in 2000 with a schedule of travel, tourism, adventure and food discovery programs.

Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) has selected 21 up and coming Vancouver actors to participate in the 2019 WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program. Launched by Vancouver actor Krista Magnusson (Limitless, Lost Solace, Bloody Knuckles) in 2013, the program aims to provide women actors with guidance and support as they work to advance their careers. Running from Jan. to July, mentees will work on their individual goals, including relationship building, developing their own projects, branding, and work/life balance as the pairs meet for one hour, once a month, for six months. Applications for the 2020 edition of the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program will open in Oct. 2019.

Crave is debuting a series of all-new comedy specials from Mark Forward, D.J. Demers, and Robby Hoffman. Produced in partnership with Just For Laughs and Counterfeit Pictures, the three specials join the Crave Originals Collection, beginning Friday, Feb. 22. Filmed at Toronto’s Longboat Hall in front of a live audience during 2018’s JFL42 Festival, the specials are part of Bell Media’s ongoing partnership with Just For Laughs, which includes six seasons of JUST FOR LAUGHS: ALL ACCESS and the recent specials HOMEGROWN COMICS HOSTED BY K. TREVOR WILSON, TREVOR NOAH @ JFL, and THE STAND-UP SHOW WITH KATHERINE RYAN.

DHX Media has signed an exclusive agreement with Nickelodeon that will see Dorg Van Dango, air on its international channels, including the UK, Australia, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Spain, Central Eastern Europe, Poland, Israel, Latin America, Asia (excluding China), India, the Middle East and North Africa. Family Channel will air the Canada-Ireland co-production from DHX Media and Cartoon Saloon, in Canada. A brand new animated comedy for six to 11-year-olds, Dorg Van Dango (52 x 11′) follows the adventures of Dorg, a normal kid, living in the very normal town of Normill, until he meets “The Magicals” – a group of escapees from Area 51 that include an alien, ghost, ancient witch and unicorn – in need of refuge. Production on the series is underway at DHX Media’s Vancouver studio. Dorg Van Dango is expected to roll out internationally in 2020.

DHXDHX Media has reported Fiscal 2019 second quarter and first six-month results for the periods ended Dec. 31, 2018. Q2 2019 revenue was $117 million compared with $121.9 million year-over-year. In H1 2019, revenue was largely flat at $221.1 million vs the first-half of Fiscal 2018. In the quarter, distribution (excluding WildBrain) was $13.7 million vs $16.6 million in Q2 2018, down $2.9 million. WildBrain views increased 29 per cent to 7 billion in Q2 2019. Revenue grew 13 per cent to $19.9 million, WildBrain’s strongest quarter to date. However, the rate of revenue growth slowed in the quarter, impacted by management transitions and a shift of kids’ viewing from the main YouTube platform to the new YouTube Kids dedicated app. CEO Michael Donovan says strategic shift and disciplined cost management allowed the company to pay down $9.5 million in debt in the quarter.

Blue Ant Media has entered into an agreement with BBC Studios to be the first to license series format rights for the international hit Life Below Zero. BBC Studios production arm in Los Angeles first launched the series in 2013, which recently celebrated its 100th episode on the National Geographic Channel. Blue Ant Media’s newly-acquired Saloon Media will start production this month on Life Below Zero: Canada (8×60). The new observational docuseries is being shot on location with a focus on Canadian people and stories and is set to air on the Cottage Life channel in 2020. A special 30-minute, sneak peek documentary episode will premiere on the channel this April.

Catherine Tait

CBC/Radio-Canada President and CEO Catherine Tait told the annual international Kidscreen Summit that the public broadcaster’s goal is to double the amount of content for young audiences on the CBC Gem streaming service over the next year to match that already available on ICI TOU.TV. With a focus on live-action scripted series for the 6-12 and tween demographics, new original programming includes tween action-adventure series Detention Adventure (10×11, LoCo Motion Pictures and Broken Compass Films). CBC’s first original kids scripted series for CBC Gem, it will premiere this spring. CBC has also greenlit Let’s Talk About Sex (35×5, Echo Media), the English-language version of On parle de sexe, which will provide tweens with age-appropriate information on healthy sexuality. It will premiere as the first original factual series for kids on CBC Gem in 2020.

Rogers says the 19th annual Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada broadcast reached a total 9.6 million Canadians on Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, Citytv and CBC – a five per cent increase from the 2018 marathon broadcast. According to Numeris data, the Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens game was the most-watched program in Canada on Saturday with an average minute audience of 2 million viewers. Saturday’s broadcast marked the fourth consecutive year of audience growth for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.

The 53rd Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon returned to Global BC on Sunday, Feb. 10, raising $5,512,778 over the live broadcast from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The eight-hour broadcast, from Hard Rock Casino Vancouver’s Molson Canadian Theatre, was highlighted by a special appearance from Star Trek alum George Takei, in addition to members of the Global BC team.

The CAFTCAD Awards took place Sunday, Feb. 10 in Toronto, honouring costumers in Canadian film and television. The inaugural event saw awards handed out in over 50 categories with the teams behind Oscar-winning feature film Shape of Water, and series Killjoys, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Murdoch Mysteries, taking home honours in multiple categories. Find the full list of winners here.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has revealed this year’s Canadian Screen Award nominees in 135 film, television, and digital content categories. The Canadian Academy has also announced its 2019 special award recipients. They include The Kids in the Hall (Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson) who will receive the Academy Icon Award; director Deepa Mehta, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; and actress Mary Walsh who’ll receive the Earle Grey Award. Homecoming actor Stephan James will receive the inaugural Radius Award, which honours a Canadian making waves globally. Best News and Information Series nominees include W5, CBC News: Marketplace, ATPN Investigates, and The Fifth Estate. Global National, CBC News: The National, and CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme are in competition for Best National Newscast, while in the Best Local Newscast category, City News Toronto, CBC Toronto News at Six, CTV Vancouver News at 6, and CTV News Toronto at 6 are nominated.

Find the nominees for other selected media categories, including Best Local Reporter and Best Host, here >


Facebook and Twitter took over as the top recipients of federal advertising dollars in the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to new figures. Of the $39.2 million spent on government ads last year, almost $18.2 million went toward digital ads (46 per cent of the total budget). Social media ads accounted for 43 per cent of that digital spending ($7.8 million), with the vast majority purchased on Facebook (73 per cent). Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat were also a target of government digital ad buys. That compares to spending of $4.5 million on TV ads, $570,00 on print and $392,000 on radio advertising.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has earmarked $10M in funding for 49 digital media projects. A total of $3.9M will be invested in 21 projects through the second round of funding of its Experimental Stream’s Innovation Program, Prototyping and an additional $2.2M is being invested in 10 projects through the Experimental Stream’s Innovation Program, Marketing and Promotion. A further $3.9M is being invested in 18 projects through the Web Series Pilot Program. Recipients include games, interactive media and software applications, in addition to 14 web dramas, and four children’s and youth projects. Click here to view a list of projects receiving funding through the Web Series Pilot Program.

BuzzFeed staff in Canada have filed to unionize with the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).  In a post to Medium this week, employees write that “being isolated from the New York City mothership while working alongside it has had its issues. As revealed in the recent round of layoffs, there is a lack of uniform severance and communication standards across the company. We also have serious concerns regarding contract and freelance work, as well as equal distribution of benefits. We are striving to improve transparency, equity, diversity, and better working conditions across the company.” U.S. BuzzFeed News employees are also unionizing under the NewsGuild of New York, which represents staff at the New York Times, Reuters, the Daily Beast, and Los Angeles Times.


TekSavvy Solutions Inc. has issued a letter to the CRTC calling for greater transparency and disclosure regarding the 2018 Communications Monitoring Report, published in December. The independent telco, which has offices in Chatham, ON and Gatineau, PQ, says without explanation, the 2018 Communications Monitoring Report broke with past standards and omitted data highly relevant to CRTC proceedings. TekSavvy says the 2018 report did not follow standard practices which the CRTC has applied in past reports. TekSavvy is asking the commission to explain the changes. It also wants an amendment to the report presenting the omitted data.

The CRTC has established a so-called “jitter metric” determining that to define fixed broadband internet serve as “high-quality,” it must meet, among other things, a jitter threshold of five milliseconds. Fixed broadband internet access service is defined as a high-quality service if it provides the subscriber with a smooth experience when using real-time QoS-critical applications. A high level of jitter can cause visible and audible effects, like video pixilation, sound distortion, or delays in loading web pages.

BCE Inc. has reported 2018 Q4 and full-year results, with operating revenue up 3.0% in Q4 to $6,215 million, driven by a 1.5% increase in service revenue to $5,231 million that reflected year-over-year growth for all Bell operating segments. Product revenue increased 11.3% to $984 million, the result of a higher sales mix of premium smartphones and stronger data equipment sales to large business customers. For full year 2018, BCE operating revenue increased to $23,468 million, up 3.1% over 2017. Wireline revenue growth accelerated to 2.4% – its best organic quarterly result in more than 10 years. Postpaid and prepaid net additions totalled 143,000 in Q4, generating 4.6% revenue growth and 5.1% higher adjusted EBITDA. Bell Media financials saw revenue up 1.9% and adjusted EBITDA up 2.9% in Q4 on stronger TV advertising demand and cost management. Media operating revenue grew 1.9% in Q4 to $850 million, due to advertising revenue growth in entertainment and sports specialty TV, conventional TV, outdoor advertising and digital media. Subscriber revenue was essentially flat compared to Q4 2017. Media adjusted EBITDA increased 2.9% to $176 million as higher revenue more than offset operating cost growth of 1.7%, which was driven mainly by the higher cost for sports broadcast rights and ongoing Crave programming expansion.

The Media Technology Monitor’s (MTM) newest report series Technology Through The Ages looks at how Anglophone Canadians engage with media. MTM says Generation Xers – those aged 38 to 51 – are most likely to stream AM/FM radio. Other highlights from the Generation reports include the finding that in a typical week, Millennials (18-37) invest more time overall online than any other age group; Generation X spend most of their media consumption time online, but when it comes to TV viewing they still lean toward traditional television. MTM says Seniors (73+), on average, report spending twice the amount of time watching TV on a TV set that younger Anglophones, with 91 per cent of Seniors still subscribed to either a cable, satellite, or fibre optic service.


GDS Communications, based in Surrey, BC, is now representing DBi Broadcast & Asset Management Solutions. DBi’s product line includes broadcast program and news automation control products, on-air automation and storage, newsroom automation, asset management and archiving, on-air verification and warning, disaster recovery, and broadcast centralization.

Autoscript, the world’s leading teleprompting company, is offering special packages for broadcasters seeking to upgrade to the latest version of its WinPlus software, part of the Intelligent Prompting (“IP”) product range. Anyone can now move up to a WinPlus-IP system at a discounted rate by trading in their existing prompting equipment from any brand. WinPlus-IP is Autoscript’s latest prompting software, compatible with all leading newsroom computer systems.

MainConcept, a leading provider of video codec technology, has announced the availability of a cross-platform SDK enabling developers to ingest Apple ProRes video from MOV and MXF containers in any software solution or workflow. The MainConcept ProRes Decoder SDK 1.0 is now available for licensing to support native ingest from both MOV and MXF container formats for use in transcoding, editing and player applications without the need to install third party tools. MainConcept is first to offer a SDK for professional licensing that allows import and real-time playback of ProRes footage on Windows, macOS and Linux.

The Audio Engineering Society (AES), Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Society of Motion Picture and Technology Engineers (SMPTE), and the Video Services Forum (VSF) — all co-sponsors of the IP Showcase at the 2019 NAB Show — have issued a call for presentations for the event. The IP Showcase is an education and demonstration pavilion at the NAB Show in Las Vegas that will highlight the benefits of and momentum behind the move to standards-based IP for real-time professional media applications. The submission deadline for speaking proposals is Feb. 25. More details and the submission form are available here. The IP Showcase will take place at Booth C12534 in the Las Vegas Convention Center during the 2019 NAB Show, April 8-11.

SMPTE has announced the title and theme for the 2019 NAB Show’s Future of Cinema Conference (FoCC), produced in partnership with SMPTE. The FoCC, “Now, Next, and Beyond the Yellow Brick Road,” will take place April 6-7 in Las Vegas in conjunction with NAB. Julina Tatlock, who is CEO of award-winning immersive-entertainment company 30 Ninjas, is serving as chair of the FoCC program committee. SMPTE members can register here and use code EP07 to take $100 off the NAB Show non-member rate for a Conference Flex Pass registration or to get a free Exhibits Pass. The offer expires Mar. 25.

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