The Weekly Briefing

RADIO/AUDIO/PODCAST:

iHeartMedia, the largest radio conglomerate in the U.S. with more than 850 radio stations, has announced a new organizational structure for its Markets Group as it moves to maximize its investment in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) and create “Centers of Excellence” that will consolidate programming, marketing, digital, podcast, sales and sales support. The reorg announcement was accompanied by a wave of layoffs, concentrated in small and medium markets, with some estimates putting the number of employees let go at close to 1,000. In a statement, iHeart said the number of layoffs is “relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500.” All Access has been keeping a running list of some of the on-air and programming talent impacted by this week’s cuts.

The CRTC has issued a call for comments on radio market capacity in the Ajax/Pickering, ON area. The commission has received an application for a broadcasting licence to operate a new commercial, ethnic station serving the region. The commission will accept interventions received on or before Feb. 10.

Megan Twohey, David Shing, and Matt Britton

Canadian Music Week (CMW) has unveiled the preliminary speakers who’ll address a revamped version of its annual Radio Active Summit May 20-21 in Toronto. Among the speakers announced so far are Megan Twohey, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement; Australian futurist, creative director, and “Digital Prophet” David Shing; and Gen Y and Gen Z consumer expert Matt Britton. Other program highlights include a new research study from Audience Insights Inc. taking a deep dive into the audio listening habits of a group of 25-54-year-olds, and Lori Lewis, Director, Digital & Social Strategist, with Jacobs Media, who will lead a panel discussion on Driving Listener Loyalty with Social Media. Read more here.

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced singer/songwriter Jann Arden as the first 2020 inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. With accolades that include 19 top 10 singles and eight JUNO Awards, Arden will be inducted and perform during the 49th Annual JUNO Awards on Sunday, Mar. 15 at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. The 2020 JUNO Awards will be broadcast live on CBC, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, and the CBC Listen app.

Jeff Woods

Jeff Woods, host of syndicated radio show and podcast Records & Rockstars, has compiled a special Neil Peart tribute that’s being made available free to radio stations this week. Woods developed a relationship with the RUSH drummer and lyricist, who passed away Jan. 7 after a private battle with cancer. That relationship led to several hours of recorded interviews in which the two connected over music, motorcycles and more. The two-hour tribute is comprised of a conversation from the year before Peart fell ill, alongside a RUSH playlist, carefully curated by Woods. Read more here.

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is launching live weekday program NOW with Dave Brown. The program will air at 9 a.m. ET on AMI-audio and AMI-tv beginning Monday, Feb. 3. A two-hour news and current events show, NOW with Dave Brown promises to nationalize regional issues and regionalize national issues and will feature local reporters from the blind and partially-sighted community. AMI-audio content is available as podcasts through all major podcasting apps and platforms.

Spotify unveiled new ad-tech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) will be available to Spotify’s original and exclusive shows, to help further monetize podcasts available on the platform. The proprietary podcast ad tech will allow advertisers to buy listener micro-targeted, inserted spots. SAI promises to generate unprecedented data including ad impressions, the number of times a listener heard an ad, reach and audience analysis by age, gender, and device used. 

Spotify is now the single biggest podcasting platform, depending on how you crunch new data from MIDiA Research Group. MIDiA’s Q4 tracker finds that Spotify now leads in all markets outside the U.S. when you differentiate Apple Music and Apple Podcasts as singular apps. The findings are part of MIDiA’s forthcoming Podcast Platforms report.

SIGN-OFFS:

Ralph Lockwood

Ralph Lockwood on Jan. 12 in York, PA. Lockwood got his start in radio in his home state of Pennsylvania hosting a nightly polka show. He first entered the Montreal market in 1968 at CFOX, briefly leaving to take a morning show job in West Palm Beach, FL, before returning to Montreal in 1972 to do mornings at CKGM. “The Birdman,” as he was nicknamed, quickly established himself as a wise-cracking, high-energy presence. From there, he went to afternoons on CFCF Radio and later CFCF-TV where he’d host a daily morning show. Lockwood also dabbled as a play-by-play announcer for Montreal Concordes’ football broadcasts on CJAD. He was re-hired by CKGM in 1985 to revive the station’s morning show, but had his contract cut short amidst underperforming ratings two years later. In addition to his hosting, he was known for appearing in quirky local television commercials for businesses like Dorion Suits and the Bar-B-Barn, among others. Lockwood returned to the U.S. in 1988 and spent the next decade at WSBA York, PA, before going on to work as a radio consultant.

Ross Willson

Ross Wilson, 94, on Jan. 9 in Shediac, NB after a lengthy battle with cancer. Born in Sault -Sainte-Marie, ON, Ross spent his entire 34-year broadcast career at CHML Hamilton as the station’s Chief Operator. He was responsible for hundreds of live broadcasts of “Meet Me At The Brant Inn” from the 1950s through 70s, featuring live big bands like Count Basie, Guy Lombardo, Les Brown and vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. The CHML broadcast was also fed to CBC Radio and networked across the country Saturday nights. Wilson retired in 1982.

 

Peter “Cam” Kjellbotn

Peter “Cam” Kjellbotn, 69, on Dec. 30. Born in New Westminster and raised in Coquitlam, BC, Kjellbotn started his television career at BCTV in Vancouver before moving to Edmonton in 1974 for the launch of ITV (now Global Edmonton). Kjellbotn started in Master Control and worked on station productions of the day including the In Concert music series and sketch comedy show SCTV, on which he served as studio director. Kjellbotn retired in 2013 after 38 and a half years with the station in various roles. 

 

TV/FILM/VIDEO:

Maria Gracia Turgeon, Meryam Joobeur, and Sami Khan

Brotherhood and St. Louis Superman – two short films backed by Canadian talent are among this year’s Oscar nominees. Brotherhood, co-produced by Quebec’s Maria Gracia Turgeon and directed by Montreal-based filmmaker Meryam Joobeur, is nominated in the Live Action Short category, while director Sami Khan, who was born and raised in Sarnia, ON, earned a nomination for St. Louis Superman in Documentary (Short Subject). Read more here.

SCatherine O’Hara

Catherine O’Hara has been named the recipient of the 2020 ACTRA National Award of Excellence, which annually recognizes an ACTRA member’s career achievements and contributions to the Canadian entertainment industry. O’Hara has won four consecutive Canadian Screen Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Moira Rose on CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek, in addition to the 2016 ACTRA Toronto Award for Outstanding Performance. She began her comedy career at Toronto’s Second City and went on to help create iconic sketch comedy show SCTV. Her extensive film and TV credits include Beetlejuice, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, HBO miniseries Temple Grandin, and Six Feet Under. O’Hara will receive the award at a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles Apr. 18. Read more here.

ACTRA Toronto has announced the nominees for the 18th Annual ACTRA Awards, set to take place at The Carlu in Toronto on Feb. 22. Among this year’s nominees are the casts of Anne with an E (Northwood Entertainment); Baroness Von Sketch (Frantic Films); Kim’s Convenience (Thunderbird Entertainment); Schitt’s Creek (Not a Real Company); and Tokens (Tokens on Call Productions), up for Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) and the Canadian Association of Content Exporters (CACE) have announced a new program to fund the predevelopment of export-focused Canadian content. The CMF-Distributor Pilot Predevelopment Matching Program will help support Canadian television projects intended for international export by encouraging early collaboration between qualified distribution companies, writers and producers. Applications for financing will be accepted beginning Jan. 30. Find the program guidelines here

Telefilm Canada is currently accepting entries for the Canadian production and distribution companies wishing to join the Canada Pavilion and attend MIPTV 2020. MIPTV 2020 will offer a redesigned experience, from the exhibition hall to the conference program. The event will be preceded by the MIPDOC and the MIPFORMATS (Mar 28-29) and will take place parallel to the Cannes International Series Festival (Mar. 27 – Apr. 1). More info here

TSN and RDS have picked up the Canadian broadcast rights for 3ICE, a new independent three-on-three professional hockey league set to make its debut in June 2021. Helmed by E.J. Johnston, son of former NHL goalie, coach and general manager Eddie Johnston, and Hockey Hall of Famer Craig Patrick, the new league builds on the three-on-three overtime concept, introduced in 2015. 3ICE games will be played on a full-sized rink and comprised of two, eight-minute halves using a running clock and aimed at showcasing fast-paced, skill-driven hockey. An inaugural season tour is planned for Summer 2021 with stops in nine cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Read more here.

hayu, the all-reality SVOD service, is now available to TELUS Optik TV customers in Western Canada. TELUS customers in B.C. and Alberta can access hayu directly via either channel 336 or from the app home page. The NBCUniversal International-owned service, which launched in Canada last year, features episodes from over 250 reality shows, including Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Real Housewives and Million Dollar Listing franchises.

Nish Media is set to launch Season 2 of 13-episode documentary series Skindigenous, which explores Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world. The English version premieres Jan. 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET on aptn hd & aptn e and 8:30 p.m. MT on aptn w. A Dene version will also be broadcast on APTN. Skindigenous 2 visits tattoo artists in LeBret, SK, Kahnawake, Que., Nimkii, Northern Ontario, Haida Gwaii, BC, Iqaluit, Nunavut, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, India, Taiwan, Tunisia and New Zealand.

Cityline is celebrating a decade of its Weight Loss Challenge (WLC) on Citytv, which follows four Canadian women chosen from several thousand entries, as they embark on a wellness transformation. This year’s team of experts includes holistic nutritionist Dr. Joey Shulman, celebrity stylist Jessica Mulroney, fitness expert Brent Bishop, life coach Karlyn Percil and design expert Victoria Tonelli.

marblemedia has acquired the rights to The Other Boy, M.G. Hennessey’s bestselling novel about a transgender boy on the cusp of puberty. The Other Boy will be developed as a light comedic drama series for family audiences, with the author onboard as a consultant. 

Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund has announced the inaugural round of selections for its HGF/Territories Shorts Program. The initiative – developed in partnership with Northwest Territories Film Commission (NTFC), Nunavut Film Development Corporation (NFDC), and the Government of Yukon’s Media Development Unit – marks the first time all three territories have been brought together under one funding program supporting filmmaking. The short film projects each receiving $20,000 in combined financial contributions from the program are: Nahga from writer/director Mason Mantla; Weight from filmmaking siblings Gabriel Bullen and Thomas Bullen, and producer Kelly Milner; and Leah’s Moustache Party from writer Thomas Anguti Johnston and director Nadia Mike.

ONLINE/DIGITAL:

Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs) for 2019 were handed out Jan. 9 in Toronto. Victoria-based Hakai Magazine was the night’s big winner claiming six Gold and three Silver, including the award for Best Digital Content for their investigative article on Human Smuggling. Hakai also won Gold for Independent Publisher of the Year. HuffPost Canada won three Gold and three Silvers, while Bell Media claimed five awards total. Gold for Best Publication was awarded to upscale Chinese lifestyle publication Fête Chinoise. Vancouver Magazine won Silver in the category.

Ontario Creates has released a study conducted by VICE Insights that finds 90% of those ages 14-22 – the demographic dubbed “Gen Z” – are willing to pay for content. “Gen Z: The Culture of Content Consumption” surveyed 500 Ontario Gen Z’ers online and an additional 150 Millennials (ages 23-39) for comparison. In addition to being willing to pay for content, the survey found that Gen Z wants to see more diversity in the stories and people they see, with one in two survey respondents citing a gap in gender, sexual identity and ethnic representation in cultural content. The survey also found Gen Z is more interested in being entertained by content than informed, and that the demo values ease of discovery, looking to social media channels like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok to find new content and form relationships with creators. Read more here.

MTM JR has released a new report on the use of social media by Canadian teens. It finds that 72% of Canadian teens now use social media, with anglophones and females more likely to have an online presence than the rest of their peers. The three most popular platforms among Canadian teens are Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Facebook remains the most popular platform with both adults and teens with 91% of Canadians aged 18+ on the platform, in addition to 65% of teens who use social media.

TIFF and Bell Media have struck a partnership that will see 11 feature films that had their World Premieres at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival distributed for streaming on Crave.  The first collection of “Tiff Selects” films includes Canadians features like Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone (February); Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (spring); and Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century (March). The new film series builds on the previously announced “Best of TIFF” – a selection of 82 films curated by Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Artistic Director and Co-Head – currently available to Crave subscribers. 

CBC, in partnership with Sonar Entertainment, has announced the streaming premiere date for new original young adult sci-fi drama Utopia Falls. All 10 one-hour episodes will be available exclusively on CBC Gem, starting Feb. 14. Part of CBC’s commitment to offer expanded content for younger audiences, Utopia Falls is set in the not-too-distant future amidst the charred ruins of Earth, and follows a group of teens chosen to compete in the prestigious Exemplar performing arts competition in the seemingly idyllic colony of New Babyl. The series showcases a variety of musical genres and dance styles, including hip hop, latin, classical and Indigenous, and features themes of afrofuturism, youth activism, and eco-awareness. The series stars emerging actors Robyn Alomar (Riot Girls), Akiel Julien (American Gods, Warigami), Robbie Graham-Kuntz (Full Out), Phillip Lewitski (Supernatural), Humberly Gonzalez (Orphan Black), Devyn Nekoda (Degrassi: The Next Generation), and Mickeey Nguyen (Make It Pop). Hip hop icon Snoop Dogg serves as the voice of the “Archive.”

MEDIAPRO Canada has secured exclusive broadcast rights in Canada to all national team tournaments organized by Concacaf, the continental confederation encompassing the 41 soccer associations in North and Central America and the Caribbean, from 2020-23. The Concacaf package of national team tournaments includes the Concacaf Gold Cup, the men’s national team competition, in 2021 and 2023, and the women’s equivalent, the Concacaf Women’s Championship in 2022. The OneSoccer streaming service will serve as the exclusive home to a total of 13 tournaments and up to 300 games over the four-year period, starting with live coverage of the 2020 Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Texas and California later this month.

Joule, the publisher of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), is removing the paywall on its weekly online edition. Past issues will be available starting Mar. 1. Joule President Deborah Scott-Douglas said in a release that the move is aimed at expanding their content to a broader audience, including the patient community and the public, to “generate greater dialogue on issues affecting health care, informed by evidence.” While weekly online content will be open to all readers, CMA members will continue to receive the monthly printed journal as a member benefit.

QYOU Media, the Toronto and L.A.-headquartered digital-first curator and distributor, has announced the launch of The Q India on Airtel Xstream, a converged digital entertainment experience offering a wide catalog of live TV channels, movies, and more in 14 Languages. Q India content will be monetized via ad sales across the platform. Curt Marvis, CEO of Q India, says the partnership expedites the company’s move to an ad revenue model as it targets young Indian audiences in an anywhere/anytime on-demand viewing world.

GENERAL:

Rogers is starting to roll out Canada’s first 5G network ahead of 5G devices becoming available later this year. The Rogers 5G network initially uses 2.5 GHz spectrum in the downtown cores of Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and will expand to use 600 MHz 5G spectrum later this year. 600 MHz is best suited to carry wireless data across long distances and through dense urban buildings, creating more consistent and higher quality coverage in both remote areas and smart cities. Rogers will also turn on 5G in the Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Arena to enhance how fans watch the game in the future as innovation and applications develop. The company says its 5G network will expand to over 20 more markets by the end of the year. Rogers has also announced its membership in the global 5G Future Forum, a 5G and mobile edge computing forum that includes Verizon, Vodafone, Telstra, KT, and América Móvil

Cogeco Communications has announced that its U.S. subsidiary Atlantic Broadband has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Thames Valley Communications, a broadband services company operating in Southeastern Connecticut. The purchase price is USD $50 million. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close within three months. Upon completion of the deal, Atlantic Broadband will add approximately 10,000 customers to its operations in Connecticut. Cogeco CEO Philippe Jetté is continuing to look to expand its presence in the U.S. broadband market.

Cogeco Inc. has announced financial results for the first quarter ended Nov. 30, 2019. Revenue increased by 1.8% year-over-year to $618.5 million, driven by growth of 1.8% in the Communications segment and 3.1% in the Other segment, respectively. Revenue increased in the Communications segment mostly as a result of the American broadband services operations’ growth in both residential and business Internet service customers. Revenue increased by 3.1% in the Other segment due to the acquisition of radio stations from RNC Média inc. during Q1 2019, offset by a soft advertising market and increased competition in media activities. Adjusted EBITDA increased by 5.2% to $290.5 million mostly attributable to higher adjusted EBITDA in the Communications segment resulting from increases in both American and Canadian broadband operations.

Corus has released Q1 2020 results, reporting consolidated revenues for the three months ended Nov. 30, 2019 of $467.9 million, consistent with $467.5 million last year. Net income attributable to shareholders for the quarter was $78.1 million ($0.37 per share basic), as compared to $60.4 million ($0.28 per share basic) last year. Television segment revenues were up 1% in Q1 2020, as were advertising revenues. Subscriber revenues were down 2%, but flat on a proforma basis when adjusted for the disposal of TLN. Merchandising, distribution and other revenues were up $2.6 million (15%). Radio segment revenues decreased $3.4 million in Q1, with segment profits down $1.0 million. Segment profit margin of 32% was consistent with the prior year.

Shaw’s Q1 2020 report shows a consolidated revenue increase of 2.1% to $1.38 billion and adjusted EBITDA improvement of 8.1% year-over-year to $588 million, in line with expectations (and including the impact of IFRS 16 in fiscal 2020). Adjusted EBITDA growth was approximately 1.1%. Wireless service revenue increased 18.1% year-over-year as Freedom Mobile continues to grow its customer base, including net postpaid additions of approximately 67,000 customers in the quarter. In the Wireline segment, consumer internet net additions grew by approximately 5,600.

Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor, France Lauzière, President and CEO of TVA Group, Jean-François Pruneau, President and CEO of Videotron, and Sarah Houde, CEO of Propulsion Québec.

Quebecor has announced a plan to electrify all 1,100 in its vehicle fleet. It will initially focus on accelerating the electrification of Videotron’s 900-odd vehicles by purchasing new electric cars and converting gasoline-powered light trucks, using Québec technology developed by Ecotuned Automobile. Between now and 2024, more than $14 million will be needed to transition nearly 200 Videotron vehicles, purchase electric charging stations and upgrade infrastructure. The company says achieving the 100% electric goal will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%. For its part, TVA plans to electrify nearly 60 mass-market vehicles, including those operated by TVA Nouvelles, within five years. It’s also aiming to reduce the number of such vehicles by 10%. 

Linda Vennard and Christopher MacDonald

The CRTC has posted its openings for its vacant commission seats in Alberta and NWT and Atlantic and Nunavut. Linda Vennard’s term ended in May, while Christopher MacDonald’s came to an end in June.

The CRTC has released the Internet and Broadband and Retail Mobile portions of its Communications Monitoring Report. It finds that 88.8% of Canadian households were subscribing to internet services in 2018 and 29.0% to broadband services with speeds of 50/10 Mbps and unlimited data transfer. In 2018, residential subscriptions exceeded 13 million (88.8% of the 14.9M households), a 3.5% increase from 2017, more than twice the population growth rate. Cable-based carriers and incumbent TSPs had an 85.5% share of the market by subscriptions while wholesale-based service providers and other facilities-based carriers continued to increase their share of the market, reaching 8.9% and 5.6% of subscriptions, respectively. The retail mobile market remained the largest telecommunications market sector, with revenues of $27.1 billion in 2018, a growth of $2.63 billion (10.7%), over 2017 revenues. Retail mobile represented over 55% of all retail telecommunications revenues in 2018.

CRTCCRTC consultation comments on CBC’s licence renewal collected via Facebook from Nov. 25 – Dec. 9 are now available online. Among the comments collected, there are more than a few accusing the public broadcaster of a left-wing bias in its news coverage. In terms of accessibility and discoverability, there are calls to make local CBC newscasts easier to find online, and in regards to whether Canadians see themselves reflected in CBC content, several members of the LGBTQ community raise concerns. The comments submitted in French can be viewed here.

Amnesty International Canada has extended the application deadline for its 25th annual Media Awards to Jan. 17. The awards honour journalistic efforts to increase Canadians’ awareness and understanding of human rights issues. All entries must have been published or broadcast in Canada between Oct. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2019. More info here.

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma has announced that applications are open for two Canadian awards for excellence in reporting on mental health issues in the workplace, each with a $1,000 prize. The parallel awards for work originating in English and French are known respectively as the Mindset Award for Workplace Mental Health Reporting and le prix En-Tête pour le reportage en santé mentale au travail. The awards are open to journalists writing or broadcasting in the designated language anywhere in Canada, with submission of work first published or broadcast in Canada during 2019. The deadline for applications is Feb. 14.

BROADCAST TECH NEWS:

Nielsen Global Connect has announced completion of its acquisition of Precima, a Toronto-headquartered SaaS-based provider of retail and customer data applications and analytics, from Alliance Data Systems Corp. Precima’s collaboration programs and retail relationships will be extended to Nielsen Global Connect clients globally and its employees integrated into the Nielsen Global Connect organization. Using AI and machine learning algorithms, Precima’s industry-leading Transaction Log (TLog) and Loyalty/Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data platform will allow Nielsen to accelerate its new product capabilities, while also strengthening existing products within its analytic suite. Going forward, the company will be referred to as “Precima, a Nielsen company.”

Blackmagic Design has announced that production company Echo Bay Media used its Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks, Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 to shoot Japanese-Canadian mini series Into the Rising Sun, which premiered on CHCH-TV in December. Echo Bay Media shot the series in Blackmagic RAW and relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio for color grading. By pairing two Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks with a Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Scott Wilson, Andrew Dupuis and the team were able to capture specific moments of Japanese culture without being obtrusive. In addition, Dupuis used the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 for spoken content, such as interviews.

LISTEN: Matrix Solutions CEO Mark Gorman was a guest on Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast to talk about the platform’s evolution and the future of the automated media sales process. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:


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