The Weekly Briefing


Save JAZZ.FM91, the group making a bid to replace the board of directors of troubled Toronto not-for-profit JAZZ.FM91 (CJRT-FM), has been successful. At a Friday morning meeting at the Toronto Public Library, the station’s donor members elected an alternate slate of board members by a vote of 446 to 435. They include communications consultant Brian Hemming, who has been the face of the Save JAZZ.FM effort; Rohit Bhardwaj, CFO of Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund; Christopher Churchill, former president of Churchill Cellars; Dave Cole, founder of Specialty Data Systems (SDS); Pat Holiday, former VP of Programming for Astral Media; Noëlle Jenkinson, an agent and manager at AMI – Artist Management Inc.; former JAZZFM board member Joseph Manzoli, founder of Colourfast Corp Inc., who resigned in early 2018 over governance concerns; Catherine Mitro, a professor in the Humber College Music Department; Lorie Russell, former GM of Newcap Radio’s Toronto stations, who is now self-employed as a consultant; and Bryan Snelson, Vice-president, Associate Portfolio Manager with RBC Dominion Securities. Snelson is a former station fundraiser and on-air financial commentator. Read the full story here.

Corus Entertainment and Bell Media are named in a class action lawsuit filed Jan. 22, representing at least 30 people who were duped by so-called foreign exchange experts who bought airtime on a number of radio stations throughout southern Ontario in 2016 and early 2017. The “Trans-Atlantic Direct” infomercial investment segments were heard on Corus’ AM 900 CHML Hamilton, AM 980 CFPL London and Bell’s NewsTalk 610 CKTB St. Catharines, among other stations. The Ontario Securities Commission says on-air experts Stewart Price and Martin Schwartz are actually Mark Lee Singer and Bernard Justin Sevilla, who have a history of investment fraud and theft in the U.S. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Stingray has expanded its distribution deal with Telus. The agreement brings five new music television channels, Stingray Festival 4K, Stingray Now 4K, Stingray Hits!, PalmarèsADISQ par Stingray, and Stingray Classica to Optik TV subscribers in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. Stingray’s music video channels Stingray Loud, Stingray Vibe, Stingray Retro, and Stingray Juicebox also become available to all Optik TV customers in HD. Stingray Festival 4K and Stingray Now 4K are now available to subscribers with a 4K digital box.

George Garrett

George Garrett, longtime investigative reporter with CKNW Newstalk 980 Vancouver, has written a new book about his life and career. George Garrett – Intrepid Reporter will be released Mar. 2. The book explores Garrett’s rise from Saskatchewan farm boy to legendary radio reporter.

Earl Seitz

Earl Seitz is being inducted into the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame. Seitz started his career in 1968 as a radio DJ in Cranbrook, BC, later making his foray into sports when he landed in Nelson in 1970. He arrived in Kamloops in 1974 to be the play-by-play man for the Kamloops Chiefs on 910 CFJC, before going on to become the TV face of CFJC Sports. Seitz, who is celebrating 51 years in broadcasting this year, was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the RTDNA in 2011.

The 2019 Care from the Heart Radio-a-thon raised over $235,000 on Feb. 14 for the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation. Six Lethbridge, AB radio stations came together to donate airtime to live broadcasts from Chinook Regional Hospital, including Pattison stations Country-95 (CHLB-FM) and B-93.3 (CJBZ-FM); Vista’s 94.1 CJOC-FM and 98.1 The Bridge (CKBD-FM); and Rogers’ 106.7 Rock (CJRX-FM) and KiSS 107.7 (CFRV-FM). Over the past decade, the Care from the Heart Radio-a-thon has raised nearly $2,200,000, funding new equipment, various programs and special projects.

Larry Gifford

Corus Entertainment’s Curiouscast network has announced a content partnership between its original podcast When Life Gives You Parkinson’s and the 2019 World Parkinson Congress (WPC). Hosted by Larry Gifford, who is also senior PD for Corus stations AM 730 (CHMJ-AM) and CKNW NewsTalk 980 Vancouver, the special series launches Feb. 27, highlighting topics and speakers leading up to the summer event in Kyoto, Japan. The international forum on Parkinson’s disease hosts more than 3,600 world-renowned neurologists, neuroscientists, and health care professionals, along with those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.


Barry Erskine

Barry Erskine, 73, on Feb. 14, of complications from dementia. Erskine hosted Sunday morning show “Let’s Talk Gardening” on CHQR Calgary for 30 years, also representing Calgary’s Ward 11 as a city councillor from 1992 until 2007. Erskine was one of the first councillors to raise environmental issues. He served three terms, with the last starting in 2004, winning his seat by acclamation twice. He also ran as independent candidate provincially in 2008 and took a run at the mayor’s chair in 2010. With horticulture his lifetime passion, Erskine was also involved with the Calgary Horticultural Society and Calgary Home & Garden Show. Erskine’s family plans to set up a fund in his name at the University of Calgary for continued research into brain diseases.

Ursula Thomas

Ursula Thomas, 98, on Feb. 11. Thomas was a CBC pianist and accompanist, who appeared as “Paulie” on radio school broadcasts, designed to supplement classes. Thomas also taught singing, organ and piano at Jericho Hill School, a boarding school for the deaf and blind, where she founded and directed Canada’s first blind children’s choir, among other musical endeavours. In 2009, she received the Joyce O. Maguire Award from the British Columbia Choral Federation, in recognition of her long-term service as a choral accompanist.


Netflix has announced it’s creating a dedicated production hub in Toronto, that will include multi-year leases with Cinespace Studios and Pinewood Toronto Studios. At Cinespace, Netflix will lease four sound stages, along with office and support space totaling approximately 164,000 square feet. The streaming giant will lease another 84,580 square feet at Pinewood encompassing four sound stages and adjacent office space. Netflix says both sites will support upcoming series and films providing production jobs for up to 1,850 Canadians per year. The new spaces add to Netflix’s existing production footprint in Canada, which already includes a lease of B.C’s Martini Film Studios, as well as production sites set up across the country on a production-by-production basis. Since 2012, Netflix has produced more than two dozen projects in Canada including horror series Hemlock Grove (Toronto), A Series of Unfortunate Events (Vancouver), Lost in Space (Vancouver), and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Vancouver). Netflix says it is still on track to exceed its 2017 commitment to invest $500 million in Canadian content production over five years. In a release issued by Cinespace, the company credited the Doug Ford government for keeping Ontario competitive as a destination for film and TV production. Read the full story here.

MusiquePlus will be no more by the end of August. Groupe V Média, which also operates the Max and V, is rebranding to cater to a female audience with the yet-to-be-named channel featuring series like Gilmore Girls and romantic comedies. The famous MusiquePlus glass studio, at the corner of De Bleury and Sainte-Catherine streets, will also disappear with Groupe V’s lease expiring this summer. Groupe V is hoping to repeat the success of Max (formerly MusiMax until 2016), whose market share was bumped by its transition to mostly American scripted drama, including FX series like Feud and American Crime Story.

The CRTC has approved France’s Museum channel for distribution in Canada. The 100 per cent French-language channel targets art lovers, with a window into museums and prestigious exhibits. The channel’s Canadian sponsor is Canal+ pay TV distribution company THEMA Canada.

Amazon says the coming fourth season of Man In The High Castle, the Vancouver-produced series based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel depicting an alternative history where the Nazis and Imperial Japan won WWII, will be its last. Season 4 is set to launch this fall. Cast and crew were notified of the cancellation over the past couple of days. 

Jonathan and Drew Scott

HGTV has greenlit a new series from Jonathan and Drew Scott. Produced by Scott Brothers Entertainment, Property Brothers: Forever Home will see the reno twins meet with couples who want to unlock their property’s full potential via a full-scale home makeover.

VisionTV will premiere The Big Downsize on Mar. 11, a new five-part Canadian series that follows two families as they seek expert advice from organizational guru Jane Veldhoven. The Big Downsize was co-written by Donna Gabriel and Jennifer Adcock, directed by Adcock, and produced by Edward Peill and Erin Oakes from Halifax-based Tell Tale Productions Inc. (Radical Age, The Curse of Oak Island).

Citytv is set to premiere original two-hour documentary Cool Black North this Friday – a special two-hour presentation featuring the personal and professional stories of 15 Black Canadians spanning the arts, entertainment, law, business, science and social activism. Those profiled include singer and radio host Jully Black and Cityline host Tracy MooreProduced by Second Time Around Productions, in association with Citytv, Cool Black North will air Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and will be available next day post-broadcast on Rogers on Demand, Rogers Anyplace TV, and the City App for iOS, Android and fourth-generation Apple TV.

Family Channel’s new series Bajillionaires will debut as a two-day television event Mar. 2-3 at 10 a.m. ET/PT. The live-action comedy follows a group of neighbourhood pals as they try to invent an amazing product, change the world and maybe even make a bajillion dollars in the process. Watch the series trailer here.


Ben Mulroney, Danielle Graham and Lainey Lui will cover this Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards for CTV. The network’s Oscar coverage starts with special ETALK Live At The Oscars at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT, leading into Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live From The Red Carpet at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on CTV,, and the CTV app. Digital special ETALK Live From The Oscars Balcony returns for a second year. In partnership with Twitter, it starts streaming live at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. Canadians Mike Myers and Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk) are among the award’s shows presenters.

The Canada Media Fund’s MADE campaign, recognizing and celebrating Canadian creative talent, will make its world premiere during the ETALK Live At The Oscars special. The star-studded 60-second commercial, which features actors Karine Vanasse (Cardinal) and Jacob Tremblay (Room), is voiced by Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer and pays homage to Canadian success stories like Arrival, Deadpool, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Orphan Black. Following its debut, a supplementary 30-second commercial is set to air on additional Canadian networks, starting Feb. 25.

Amy and Tassie Cameron

Amy and Tassie Cameron, the writer/showrunner/executive producer team behind Cameron Pictures, will receive the sixth annual Canadian Film Centre (CFC) Award for Creative Excellence. The award annually honours CFC alumni who have made significant creative and entrepreneurial contributions to the international screen-based entertainment industry. CFC founder Norman Jewison will present the award to the Cameron sisters at an invitation-only reception in Los Angeles on Mar. 20. Cameron Pictures has most recently produced Mary Kills People, set to air its third season this spring on Global, and Little Dog, whose second season is currently airing on CBC.


The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) says a December survey found that 70 per cent of Canadians are concerned that fake news could affect the outcome of this year’s federal election, with the majority in favour of government fines for social media companies that don’t take steps to remove fake news from their platforms. Released Tuesday, the CIRA report takes the temperature of Canadians on the internet and fake news, privacy, cybersecurity and access. Based on a survey of over 1,200 Canadian internet users, the survey found that traditional media sources, including newspapers, TV broadcasters and radio remain among the most trusted sources of information/news in Canada. 75 per cent of those surveyed said they have encountered fake news, with 57 per cent reporting they’d been taken in by a fake news item. While eight in 10 Canadians are confident in their ability to recognize fake news stories online, just one quarter are very confident. The report concludes that Canadians must be better skilled at recognizing fake news online and to accomplish that more investment in digital and media literacy is required. 83 per cent of respondents believe public schools should be teaching more media literacy skills. 68 per cent of those surveyed believe media outlets and broadcasters have a key role to play in countering fake news that is spreading online.

YouTube is the mobile king according to Sandvine’s 2018 Global Internet Phenomena Report. The video sharing platform now accounts for over 35 per cent of worldwide mobile traffic, dwarfing Netflix’s 15 per cent share. YouTube was consistently the top source of traffic in each region surveyed. In regions where Netflix is highly ranked, data plans are more likely to be unlimited. The report also indicates Facebook and Instagram are both top drivers in the mobile space from both a volume as well as an engagement point of view. Multiple Facebook properties (Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp) appear as top 10 contributors to overall downstream and upstream traffic, while messaging apps continue to replace traditional SMS. The report says the popularity of WhatsApp, LINE, Snapchat, and Facebook in the top 10 was consistent.

Nokia has enlisted Shaftesbury to produce Futurithmic, a six-part original documentary series that explores the big societal changes expected to result from 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and automation. Hosted by veteran news reporter Michael Hainsworth (BNN), Futurithmic is part of the company’s “social-first” marketing approach to reaching everyone who wants to leverage 5G-enabled capabilities like AI to help their run their business more efficiently and develop new revenue opportunities. The first episode of Futurithmic, featuring thought leader and author Galit Ariel, is available on and YouTube. Additional episodes will be released monthly through July.

Leah Cameron and Natalie Novak, the filmmakers behind web series The Communist’s Daughter, which won the Just for Laughs Comedy PRO Pitch Competition in July, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the web series. Set in 1980s, Reagan-era Toronto, the series is loosely based on Cameron’s own upbringing, following the teenage daughter of two Communists who struggles to fit in their conservative neighbourhood. So far, the campaign has raised about $10,000 of its $33,000 goal. Along with executive producer Lauren Corber, the group has already secured $150,000 of equity financing through the Independent Production Fund (IPF).


The CRTC says it will implement a nationwide secret shopper program, among other measures to be considered, to try to combat misleading sales practices by the big telcos. The commission released its Report on Misleading or Aggressive Communications Retail Sales Practices on Wednesday morning. Following 2,300 interventions, an Ipsos survey of 6,300 Canadians and five days of hearings in October that saw a rare, full panel of CRTC commissioners convened, the regulator’s report says misleading and aggressive sales practices are present in every type of sales channel, including in store, online, over the telephone, and door-to-door. The commission is looking at a range of actions, most of which will be subject to additional public process, including requiring a pre-sale quote that would require contract terms to be provided in writing; requiring service providers to offer trial periods to allow customers to cancel a service that did not match what they were offered; requiring service providers to ensure offers and promotions match a customer’s needs and means; and expanding the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services’ (CCTS) mandate to include handling complaints of misleading or aggressive retail sales practices. Read the full story here.

The CRTC has issued a call for comments on its Application Guide for the Broadband Fund. The deadline for submissions is Mar. 18.

Telus says it would be able to manage a ban on Huawei 5G technology after initially warning of increased costs and delays if the federal government were to ban wireless carriers from working with the Chinese company. As Ottawa and Britain conduct cybersecurity reviews, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia have already announced restrictions on next-generation Huawei equipment. In a discussion and analysis paper released in conjunction with its fourth quarter financial report, Telus said a decision prohibiting the deployment of Huawei technology could translate to an incremental increase in the cost and timing of its 5G network deployment. CEO Darren Entwistle later assured the company’s earnings conference call that it would be able to manage a potential ban, noting its 5G equipment supplier has yet to be chosen.

TELUS reported strong fourth quarter results with consolidated operating revenue of $3.8 billion, up 6.3 per cent over the same period a year ago. Growth was driven by higher wireless network revenue and wireline data services revenue growth, as well as higher wireless equipment revenue. Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 1.1 per cent to $1.2 billion due to higher revenue growth and higher wireless equipment margins. The company also posted strong customer growth, including 164,000 new postpaid wireless, internet and TV customer additions, its strongest fourth quarter result in four years.

Lorraine Mansbridge

Lorraine Mansbridge, veteran Global Edmonton/ITV reporter, is the featured speaker for the Edmonton Broadcasters Club 2019 Spring Luncheon. The event will be held Weds., April 10. More info here.

Callam Rodya

CTV News Sudbury reporter Callam Rodya is facing a number child porn-related charges. The 32-year-old, whose real name is Callam Senyk-O’Flanagan, is charged with three counts each of possession of, accessing, and making available child pornography and one count of possession of a Schedule 1 controlled substance believed to be cocaine. The Greater Sudbury Police Service Cyber Crime Unit arrested Rodya last week after evidence of child pornography was located on computers seized from a residence, following execution of a search warrant. Rodya had been with CTV as a VJ and reporter covering Northern Ontario since Sept. 2017. He previously held positions with and helmed communications for the Sudbury Theatre Centre.


Sony Electronics’s next-generation motion picture camera system, VENICE, has been used for principal photography on Entertainment One-produced political thriller Official Secrets, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Designed for high-end cinematography, VENICE’s full-frame sensor can capture images with a resolution of up to 6048 x 4032 in almost any format, and offers flexibility and creative freedom to match a filmmaker’s shooting requirements – from aspect ratios to bokeh and lenses.

DVB, an industry consortium that develops open interoperable tech specifications for digital media delivery, will demonstrate how it’s enabling an open standards-based approach to OTT and broadband television at NAB 2019. It will also showcase Low Latency DASH (LL-DASH) and Multicast Adaptive Bit Rate (mABR) for video streaming applications. This marks the first time DVB has exhibited at the NAB Show since 2010. DVB is offering a free exhibits pass for the 2019 NAB Show with the code LV4984.

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