Russia Today (RT), Russia’s state-owned television network, has been removed by Canadian cable providers including Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Telus, and faces sanctions on Facebook and Twitter. The moves follow an edict handed down by Russia’s communications regulator banning media outlets from describing the country’s attack on Ukraine as an “assault, invasion, or declaration of war” with each offence carrying a fine of five million rubles or USD $60,000. Bell announced Sunday it would no longer provide carriage for the channel, with Rogers, Shaw and Telus quickly following suit. Facebook parent company, Meta, has also restricted Russia Today with the channel no longer able to run ads or monetize on the social platform globally. It’s among the steps the company says it has taken, including establishing a special operations centre staffed by native Russian and Ukrainian speakers, who are monitoring the platform around the clock. Twitter is adding labels to tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites. Read more here.
VMedia has added Ukraine24, the leading 24/7 TV news channel from Ukraine, to all Basic and Premium packages offered by VMedia TV, as well as the core package of its RiverTV OTT service. toober, a Toronto-based live television app designed to connect viewers to specialty television from around the globe, is also carrying a number of Ukrainian channels at no charge. For the foreseeable future, toober is making a lineup of Ukrainian channels available that include: 1+1 International, Pershiy Natsionalniy (First National), 5 Kanal (Channel 5), UATV, Espresso TV, and Kyiv TV. Ethnic Channels Group Limited (ECGL) has also made Pershiy Natsionalniy (First National) and 5 Kanal (Channel 5) available to existing partners, including all Canadian BDUs, IPTV and OTT partners, free of charge. Pershiy Natsionalniy and 5 Kanal are currently available on Bell Fibe, Telus, Comwave, and VMedia. Read more here.
The Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), in collaboration with APTN, has released a report aimed at setting guidelines for assessing claims to Indigenous identity for institutions that provide funding, grants, and other opportunities for Indigenous people. The Building Trust and Accountability: Report on Indigenous Eligibility in the Indigenous Screen Sector is aimed at developing policy recommendations and a framework for Indigenous-specific funding in the screen industries. The report was commissioned after hearing from the Indigenous screen community that leadership was needed to come up with a consistent approach to eligibility in the sector. It follows last year’s much-publicized cancellation of CBC Indigenous sci-fi series Trickster after controversy over the legitimacy of director/co-writer Michelle Latimer’s claims of Indigenous ancestry. Participants in all aspects of the project stressed that family lore or distant ancestry is not a legitimate means by which to claim Indigenous identity for funding. Read more here.
Corus Entertainment will launch the Magnolia Network – Chip and Joanna Gaines’ joint media venture with Discovery, Inc. – in Canada, starting March 28. Curated by the home renovation power couple, Magnolia Network is a rebrand of DIY Network Canada and will feature a slate of original series like Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, Restoration Road with Clint Harp, The Lost Kitchen, Family Dinner, Homegrown, and The Johnnyswim Show. Fixer Upper, which Corus says has reached an estimated 16 million viewers during its run on HGTV Canada, also comes to Magnolia Network as well as a reboot of the Gaines’ series Fixer Upper: Welcome Home. Corus is the first broadcaster outside of the U.S. to launch the channel, which will be offered in a national free preview, March 28 to May 31. Read more here.
The Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium (CPC), including primary broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada, has announced broadcast details for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, March 4-13. All events featuring Canadian athletes will be available for live streaming on Paralympic.ca, CPC’s YouTube channel, cbc.ca/beijing2022, Radio-Canada.ca/jeux-paralympiques, CBC Gem, the Radio-Canada Sports and CBC Sports apps. Events will also be available on-demand on Amazon Prime Video. Live TV coverage begins on CBC/Radio-Canada on March 4 at 6:30 a.m. ET with the Opening Ceremony, hosted in English by Scott Russell, and in French by Marie-José Turcotte and Benoît Huot. CBC’s weekend coverage will air in the morning, daytime, and late night slots, while weekday shows will air Monday-Friday at 3 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. local. Four-time Paralympic medallist Summer Mortimer will join Russell in-studio for the Opening and Closing ceremonies and regular check-ins on daily shows, while Camille Chai will host the daily 1 p.m. ET weekday show from Beijing. CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux and Radio-Canada’s Jean St-Onge and Jean-Patrick Balleux will be on the ground in Beijing. CBC Sports digital series While You Were Sleeping will also see host Jacqueline Doorey recap important events that happened overnight. Broadcast partner AMI will offer regular coverage of key competitions, with Sportsnet re-broadcasting CBC’s coverage every morning on Sportsnet One.
CBC has renewed original series Run The Burbs, Son Of A Critch and Strays for their second seasons on CBC and CBC Gem. The series join CBC’s 2022-23 comedy slate alongside Sort Of from Sienna Films and Sphere Media, which the public broadcaster also recently announced would return to CBC and HBO Max for a sophomore season. Additional CBC renewals will be announced this spring.
Boat Rocker is co-producing a limited scripted series about the life of iconic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat with Shamier Anderson and Stephan James’ Bay Mills Studios. The project will see James (If Beale Street Could Talk, Homecoming) play Basquiat in the limited series, set in 1980s New York City, showcasing his rise from obscure graffiti artist to Neo-expressionist painter. James and Anderson have a first-look deal with Boat Rocker with James also starring in Boat Rocker’s co-production of Zak Penn’s (Ready Player One, Free Guy) TV adaptation of Hugh Howey sci-fi novel Beacon 23 via Spectrum Originals and AMC. Anderson stars in Boat Rocker’s hit sci-fi drama Invasion for Apple TV+, which was recently renewed for a second season.
Amy Ignatow’s middle-school book series The Popularity Papers is being adapted for the screen by Aircraft Pictures and Toronto prodco WexWorks Media. Centred around two best friends on a mission to crack the popularity code by conducting a series of social experiments, the half-hour show has been greenlit by Corus Entertainment’s YTV, with BBC Studios to handle co-financing and international distribution. Production is set to take place this spring in Toronto and Hamilton. Corus acquired a majority stake in Aircraft Pictures earlier this year.
Food Network Canada’s spring lineup includes the return of Corus Studios’ Project Bakeover, Big Food Bucket List and Fire Masters. Added to the schedule are ultimate cake design series Cakealikes, new daytime series Be My Guest with Ina Garten and high-stakes culinary competition The Julia Child Challenge. Rounding out the schedule are new seasons of Spring Baking Championship, Top Chef, and Tournaments of Champions.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and CBC have revealed the first round of confirmed artists set to perform at the 2022 JUNO Awards Broadcast, hosted by Simu Liu. The first in-person JUNO Awards since 2019, this year’s open-air event will feature performances from Arkells, pop punk icon Avril Lavigne, Montreal musician Charlotte Cardin and acclaimed singer, songwriter and poet Mustafa. The remaining performances will be announced in the coming weeks. The show will be held at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage on Sunday, May 15 and broadcast and streamed live across Canada on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, CBC Listen, and globally at CBCMusic.ca/junos and CBC Music’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.
BritBox, the subscription streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, will be bringing the 75th EE British Academy Film Awards to the BritBox audience in Canada. The BAFTAs will be available for streaming in Canada on March 13, live with the UK. Rebel Wilson will host this year’s ceremony from London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall.
Destination Toronto is celebrating the release of Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red, a coming-of-age story by Toronto-native, and Oscar-award winning director Domee Shi. Streaming March 11 on Disney+, Turning Red – the first solely female directed Disney and Pixar feature film – tells the story of Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky teenager, living in Toronto, torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Sandra Oh provides the voice of Ming, her overbearing mother, while Mississauga-born actress and star of Never Have I Ever, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, lends her voice as one of Meilin’s best friends. The film showcases key Toronto landmarks and highlights an array of cultures and people living in the city.
Knowledge Network’s first ever original animated series Luna, Chip & Inkie: Adventure Rangers Go will premiere April 4. The new series for children, aged 3-6, will be available to stream for free across Canada on the Knowledge Kids app and KnowledgeKids.ca. Set near the fictional town of Eagle Creek, the series is inspired by the natural beauty of the Pacific West Coast. Five new episodes will be released each week for the first three weeks in April, followed by regular new episodes dropping throughout the rest of the year. Every episode includes an original song, which will also stream on the Knowledge Kids platforms in short music videos, encouraging kids to sing along.
CineFAM has launched the Women of Colour Content Creators Database to kick off International Women’s Month. The goal of the Content Creator Database is to enhance the visibility of Women of Colour in the film industry from directors and content creators to writers, actors and animators. If you identify as a WOC filmmaker or creator, you are encouraged to fill out an application.
Super Channel and the Canadian Film Fest (CFF), an indie-spirited festival dedicated to celebrating Canadian filmmakers, have partnered on a third edition of the Canadian Film Fest Presented by Super Channel. Beginning March 22, the festival will run Tuesday to Saturday for two consecutive weeks, presenting 10 feature films and 28 short films as part of a virtual festival experience. The festival kicks off with the world premiere of Tehranto (dir. Faran Moradi) and closes April 2 with director Valerie Buhagiar’s Carmen.