Bell Media layoffs continued through last week with new names to emerge including CTV Toronto weather anchor Tom Brown; weather anchor/reporter Anwar Knight; Joanne Clancy, Assistant News Director & Senior Producer, CTV Atlantic; Virgin Radio Toronto midday host Robyn Gerson and senior imaging producer Adam Kecskemeti; Virgin Radio Victoria midday host Ceara K; Pure Country 93 London morning co-host Forman (Andrew Gordon); CKLW Windsor sports director Steve Bell (who’d been with the station 41 years); and BNN Bloomberg host Catherine Murray. TSN also lost high-profile talent like Dan O’Toole, co-host Sportscentre with Jay and Dan; Sportscentre anchor Natasha Staniszewski, and soccer analyst Kristian Jack. We’ve compiled a partial list of those impacted by this round of layoffs.
As part of Bell Media’s new structure, Exploration Production Inc. (EPI), Discovery Canada’s in-house production company is being consolidated with Bell Media Studios. Kelly McKeown, EPI Director of Production, and Tony Leadman, Head, International Program Distribution, are gone. Justin Stockman takes on the new title of VP, Content Development & Programming, overseeing all English TV Programming including CTV, Crave and Bell Media’s English language specialty channels, while as previously announced Dave Daigle, VP Local Radio & TV, also assumes leadership of Bell Media Studios. In his first memo to employees since assuming operational leadership of the company in January, Bell Media President Wade Oosterman assured staff on Tuesday that restructuring is now “completed.”
Louis Douville has announced his retirement after more than 35 years with CTV/Bell Media. Douville first joined CTV Edmonton in sales in 1985. From there, he held General Sales Manager and GM roles with the company in Saskatchewan and Ottawa, before landing in Montreal in 2013 as GM and Executive Producer of Bell Local. He went on to serve as Vice-President & GM of CTV Montreal for a decade. Most recently, he’d held the title of Regional Director, Local Sales, Quebec.
Brenna Rose has left CTV Calgary to head to the U.S. for a media opportunity there. Rose had been a videojournalist and anchor with the station since 2018.
Carl Larouche is retiring from TVA Quebec after 32 years. Larouche started his career in the 1970s as a host on Radio CKPB Ville Sagenuay. He moved into television sports in 1984 at CHAU-TV Carleton-sur-Mer and joined TVA in 1989. He’ll host his final “L’Esprit Sportif” on Friday.
Anne Gaviola has joined Global News as the network’s new Senior Digital Broadcast Journalist. Gaviola will report on the top business news stories for all local and national Global News platforms, and anchor a daily business segment on Global’s OTT platform. She was most recently a multi-platform reporter with BNN Bloomberg and prior to that was with VICE Canada as Economics & Money Editor. She’s also worked as a producer with CBC, anchored on The Weather Network, and been a reporter with CTV Ottawa.
MILESTONE: Sharon Murphy, Manager, Network Resources, for Global News is celebrating 35 years with Global Toronto. Murphy first joined the network in Feb. 1986.
Everyone (hopefully) works with at least one person who serves as the glue that keeps the fabric of the team together. For us at @GlobalNews that person is @SMurphyGlobal. This week we marked Sharon’s incredible 35th anniversary at Global. Congrats Sharon! https://t.co/Zq3aDpaowg
— Mackay Taggart (@mackaytaggart) February 5, 2021
Karl Casselman has retired after 40 years as a cameraman with Global News/BCTV Vancouver. Watch a highlight reel of Casselman’s four decades with the station, here.
Aaron Guillen is joining Victoria’s Capital Daily as a reporter covering the city’s West Shore. A 2019 BCIT Broadcast and Online Journalism grad, Guillen has been a multimedia journalist with Black Press Media in Victoria for the last year and a half.
Heather Marcoux is helming CBC’s new “pop-up” bureau in Red Deer, AB. Marcoux is the founding editor of independent journalism site, The Centre, and previously produced and reported for Global News in Winnipeg and Calgary, CityTV Calgary and CTV Saskatoon.
CBC has announced a new scripted content team to lead dedicated development and production units for comedy and drama. Banger Films former Head of Content Jennifer Shin (Mouthpiece, Paper Year) has been appointed Director of Development, Comedy, while award-winning NFB producer Lea Marin (Stateless, Unarmed Verses) is now Director of Development, Drama. CBC comedy executive Sandra Picheca (Kim’s Convenience, Workin’ Moms) is promoted to Director of Current Production, Comedy and CBC drama executive Sarah Adams (Coroner, Feudal) is promoted to Director of Current Production, Drama. Ty Hyland has also been appointed to the expanded role of Senior Advisor, Production and Business Planning for the CBC scripted team. A line producer with more than 20 years of experience on series like Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, Hyland joined CBC in 2013 as an in-house strategist in production planning across scripted and digital programming.
Deb Nathan is Shaftesbury’s new Senior Director of Creative. Up until last November, Nathan had been CBC’s Executive in Charge of Production for the last five years, shepherding productions like Diggstown, Fortunate Son and Alias Grace. She’ll report to VP, Creative Affairs Julie Lacey.
RADIO & PODCAST:
Bell Media has pulled the plug on its TSN Radio format in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton, citing the “quickly evolving broadcast media landscape.” In a note to listeners posted on the TSN 1040 Vancouver and TSN 1290 Winnipeg websites Tuesday morning, Bell Media said CKST-AM and CFRW-AM would no longer be sports talk radio stations. TSN 1150 AM (CKOC-AM) in Hamilton has also undergone a format change, adopting the BNN Bloomberg Radio format, which features a simulcast of BNN Bloomberg’s linear television broadcast, in addition to specialty programming from Bloomberg’s radio service. Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Media and Vice Chair, BCE, revealed in a memo to employees that the Winnipeg and Vancouver stations will take on the company’s “Funny” stand-up comedy brand later this week. The TSN Radio brand is still being carried by Bell Media stations in Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Read more here.
The CRTC has denied a request by Bell Media to reduce the amount of local programming on TSN 690 (CKGM-AM) Montréal from 96 hours to 63 hours per broadcast week. Bell submitted that while “it is committed to providing its audience with comprehensive sports coverage, the obligation to broadcast at least 96 hours of local programming during each broadcast week can at times require it to make programming decisions that result in Montréal sports fans being deprived of live play-by-play coverage of compelling sporting events, since such coverage is typically not considered local programming.” The commission says the station’s condition of licence relating to local programming was an important factor in the approval of an exception to the common ownership policy and therefore, it is of the view that reducing CKGM’s local programming requirement is not appropriate.
The CRTC has found that the market of Salt Spring Island, BC could sustain a radio station at this time. Given that no parties other than Gulf Islands Community Radio Society (GICRS) expressed an interest in serving the market, the commission won’t publish a call for applications, but will publish the GICRS application for a broadcast licence to operate a new community station as part of the non-appearing phase of an upcoming public hearing. The commission has already received 200 interventions in support of the GICRS application.
The CRTC has concluded that the market of Ajax and Pickering, ON cannot support an additional radio station at this time. The commission is returning an application from Durham Diversity Radio for a broadcasting licence to operate a commercial ethnic FM radio station.
Stingray Radio is set to rebrand three of its stations in the Maritimes under the Classic Hits ‘Rewind’ banner. Starting Friday at 12 a.m., Adult Hits stations Up! 93.1 (CIHI-FM) Fredericton, NB, and 95.9 Sun FM (CHHI-FM) Miramichi, NB, as well as Active Rocker 89.3 K-Rock (CIJK-FM) Kentville, NS, will be under the Rewind umbrella. Each station’s local personalities will remain, including local morning shows The Wake Up show with Dave in Fredericton and Mornings with Darcey in Miramichi. Darrin Harvey, who has helmed mornings on 89.3 K-Rock for the last 13 years, will also continue in his timeslot. With a focus on playing the greatest hits of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Stingray’s CHNO-FM Sudbury has carried the Rewind format since 2010.
NEWS 1130 (CKWX-AM) Vancouver celebrated 25 years as an all-news station this week. The Rogers Sports & Media station switched from its previous Super Country format to all-news on Feb. 8, 1996, under the leadership of General Manager Chuck McCoy and News Director Tom Mark.
“All news, all day, all night”
It was 25 years ago today that NEWS 1130 roared onto the Metro Vancouver radio scene, with an all-news format. Take a step back in time to listen to the very first NEWS 1130 broadcast at 8 a.m. Feb. 8, 1996. pic.twitter.com/ij5IVfJxwt
— NEWS 1130 (@NEWS1130) February 8, 2021
Flow 93.5 (CFXJ-AM) Toronto is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Canada’s first Black-owned radio station hit the airwaves on Feb. 9, 2001 with Bob Marley’s “Roots, Rock, Reggae.” Denham Jolly’s Milestone Radio was only successful on its third attempt to seek a licence for the urban music format. Credited with helping propel the careers of numerous Canadian R&B and Hip Hop artists, the station was acquired by CHUM Radio in 2010 and later Newcap (now Stingray) in 2014.
20 years ago today, CFXJ-FM aka. @flow935 was born. Feb 9th, 2001 @ 9:35PM. It was Canada’s first black owned radio station.
I’m proud to have been a part of this station through the years. I started my career here, moved to gain more experience & finally came back home to FLOW. pic.twitter.com/inzCqvqNYV
— Peter Kash (@PeterKash) February 9, 2021
Waze has announced that Audible has joined its Audio Player Program. Audible on Waze offers drivers with an Audible membership access to its catalogue of more than 600,000 Audible Originals, audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio programs. Audible members can listen on Waze via the Waze app by tapping the music note icon to select Audible as their audio player. Audible members will also receive next turn directions from Waze inside the Audible app. Audible is the latest streaming service to integrate its audio experience into Waze using the Waze Audio Kit.
LISTEN: On the latest Sound Off Podcast, Steve Goldstein of Amplifi Media talks with Matt Cundill about audio trends, including the evolution of smart speakers and how radio has fared on that front during the pandemic. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:
Quebecor Sports and Entertainment has announced the acquisition of French-language record label Audiogram. Its properties also include Éditorial Avenue, Canada’s largest French-language music publisher. Under the leadership of Québec music industry pioneers Michel Bélanger and Rosaire Archambault, Audiogram has played a key role in the Quebec music scene since its founding in 1984. Philippe Archambault, who has led the company since 2015, will stay on as Audiogram’s General Manager and becomes Vice President Music of Quebecor’s Sports and Entertainment Group. Quebecor Sports and Entertainment already owns Musicor and STE-4, headed by Anne Vivien, Executive Vice President, Music Development of Quebecor, and MP3 Records, headed by Mario Pelchat.
Jennifer Campbell-Palmateer, 43, on Feb. 6, after an eight-month battle with cancer. Originally from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Campbell was working at a bar in Midland, ON when Paul Larche recruited her to work at CICZ-FM when she was just 19. A 1998 graduate of the Humber College Radio Broadcasting program, Campbell went on to a 16-year career with Rogers where she was most recently one-third of Mornings with Campbell, PJ and Billie on Country 106.7 (CIKZ-FM) Kitchener. She also did a stint as a talk show host with sister station 570 News (CKGL-AM), served as a talent mentor, and annually covered the CMA Awards in Nashville for the Rogers’ country network. A GoFundMe fundraiser has been organized for the family. Read more here.
Mike LeBlanc, on Feb. 5. LeBlanc’s broadcasting career ranged from filling in as a weather announcer on CFCN-TV in Lethbridge in the 1990s to several stints as a station manager. While serving as Operations Manager at CKVN Lethbridge, LeBlanc concurrently served as the in-game announcer for the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for more than a decade, up until 2012 when he was transferred with Golden West Broadcasting to Fort Saskatchewan, AB. LeBlanc was the founding station manager of Mix 107.9 FM (CKFT-FM), eventually moving into a consulting and sales role in 2015. LeBlanc was heavily involved in the community, acting as president of the Fort Saskatchewan and District Chamber of Commerce in 2017-18 and volunteering with the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital Foundation, local Rotary Club and the NCHL Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs. He also served as the PA announcer for the Edmonton Eskimos Football Club for the 2019 season.
Jim Bay, 79, on Feb. 4, after a two-year battle with bone cancer. Originally from Mount Royal, Bay had experience at CFCF (CTV Montreal) and CBMT-TV Montreal, before landing at 980 CKGM as sports director in 1977. With his booming baritone and 6’4” physique, he earned the nickname “Big Jim.” CKGM decided not to renew his contract in 1982 in a move to reduce sports coverage. Bay went on to work with CJAD throughout the ‘80s, as well as CBC 6 Television. Bay’s five-decade broadcasting career also included work as a narrator and commercial announcer, in addition to pursuing directing and acting.
Robert (Bob) Cameron, 71, on Jan. 31, due to Covid-related respiratory complications. Cameron began his broadcast career in 1971 when he was hired as Master Control Operator at Sask Alta Broadcasting’s CKSA-TV Lloydminster, after completing the two-year diploma program at Confederation College in Communication Arts. Owned and operated by Arthur and Mary Shortell, Cameron spent his entire 46-year television career with the company, working his way up to retire as Manager of Television Programming for both CITL-TV and CKSA-TV in 2017. Cameron was well regarded in the industry for his depth of knowledge from CRTC policy to local program development, but his interests expanded well past television with a passion for food, sports, music and literature.
TV & FILM:
Canadian Heritage Min. Steven Guilbeault has announced that the federal government is doubling the Short-Term Compensation Fund to $100 million and extending the COVID-19 relief initiative through March 31, 2022. Telefilm Canada Executive Director Christa Dickenson says so far the fund has received 160 applications for projects in eight provinces and territories, representing $106 million in requested coverage. “The Short-Term Compensation Fund (STCF) is vital to ensuring that Canadian film and television productions continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dickenson, in a statement. “Today’s announcement means that our talented creators and artisans can continue to do what they do best: bring Canadian stories to screens big and small for the world to enjoy.”
Corus Entertainment has announced its restructuring its Global News operations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The changes will mean supper-hour and late night newscasts for Regina and Saskatoon will be anchored from Global Winnipeg, starting in mid-March. Global Winnipeg anchor Lisa Dutton, who previously anchored at Global Regina for 12 years and later Global Saskatoon up until her relocation to Winnipeg in 2017, will helm the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts for both Saskatchewan markets. Saskatoon meteorologist Peter Quinlan will provide weather, while they’ll be joined by Global Winnipeg anchor Kevin Hirschfield during the late night newscasts. Corus says the changes accompany an expansion of its MMC (multi-market content) production model on the Prairies. The restructuring sees numerous management changes, including the appointment of Brent Williamson, formerly Station Manager and News Director for Global Winnipeg and 680 CJOB, now Regional News Director and Station Manager for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Corus says there are no job losses attached to the announcement. Read more here.
Amazon Prime Video has announced a $1.25 million (CAD) commitment to support the Canadian BIPOC TV and film production community under a new partnership with the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO). The initiative will see a new pitch program established that will award 10 grants of $10,000 to creators who are Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour. Amazon will also donate to the Solidarity Fund, a joint initiative by ISO, Racial Equity in Media Collective (REMC), and BIPOC TV & Film, and the Indigenous Development Program, in support of diverse creators and BIPOC-owned companies. ISO and the Black Screen Office will lead engagement and outreach for the pitch program with submissions closing Friday, March 5. Read more here.
Super Bowl LV was the third-most-watched Super Bowl ever in Canada, attracting an average audience of 8.8 million viewers on CTV, TSN, and RDS, according to preliminary Numeris data provided by Bell Media. The game attracted significant engagement across the networks’ digital platforms, with Super Bowl live streaming on CTV, TSN, and RDS growing by 108% compared to last year. Bell says the game drew 17.6 million unique Canadian viewers, who tuned in to watch at least part of the broadcast. Audiences peaked at 11 million viewers at 8:38 p.m. ET during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show headlined by The Weeknd. In the post-game time slot, the network said CTV’s premiere of Holmes Family Effect attracted an average audience of 918,000 viewers and was the third-biggest overnight debut of the current broadcast year among A25-54, and the biggest debut for a Canadian series since CTV’s Transplant in 2020.
The CRTC has approved an application from WOW! Unlimited Networks seeking revocation of the broadcast licence for the former Comedy Gold specialty channel. WOW! agreed to purchase the channel from Bell Media in 2017 for $6.86 million with plans to air kids programming on the channel. However, those plans never materialized and Comedy Gold went dark in Aug. 2019. Revocation of the licence lets WOW! off the hook from paying proposed tangible benefits of $687,000.
The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) has announced that Jennifer Holness and Dominique Dussault are the recipients of its annual Indiescreen Awards. Holness (Hungry Eyes Media) was named the recipient of the Established Producer Award (which includes a $10,000 cash prize) in recognition of her contribution to Canada’s film industry and career achievements, including films like Home Again (2012), Badge of Pride (2010), and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones (2003). Her latest feature documentary, Stateless, won the Special Jury Prize at the 2020 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Dominique Dussault (Nemesis Films) was awarded the Kevin Tierney Emerging Producer Award, which includes a $5,000 prize, for her early-career producer accomplishments. Her latest film Nadia, Butterfly was a 2020 Cannes Film Festival Official Selection.
The Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF), happening online Feb. 10-21, will honour Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson and Canadian director Clement Virgo with the TBFF 2021 Career Achievement Award for their accomplishments and success within the film and TV industries. TBFF will also pay tribute to the first African Canadian woman to be elected as Member of Parliament, the Hon. Jean Augustine, with its 2021 Pioneer Award. Her many achievements include legislation designating February as Black History Month in Canada. Wes Hall, one of MacLean’s 2021 Top 50 Most Powerful Canadians, will be presented with the TBFF 2021 Social Impact Award for his work as chairman of Black North Initiative. TBFF passholders will have the opportunity to view discussions with the honourees online.
The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) has announced that CRTC Chairperson and CEO Ian Scott, will speak on BANFF 2021’s opening day Monday, June 14, with a virtual keynote as the festival launches Marketplace Week and a month of curated online programming. Read more about this year’s virtual event here.
FIN Atlantic International Film Festival has officially opened its call for entries for its 41st edition, set to take place Sept. 16-23. The festival is currently accepting fiction, documentaries, and animation in both short and feature-length formats from local, national and international filmmakers. The earlybird entry deadline is Apr. 30. The 2021 FIN Kids Youth Film Competition call for entries is also open to Atlantic Canadian youth, ages 18 and under. Presented by FIN Kids and WildBrain, they’re invited to submit short films, 5 minutes or less. Submissions close March 19.
Telefilm Canada is currently accepting entries of Canadian feature films on behalf of the Cannes Film Festival, “L’Officiel”, as well as the two parallel sections, La Semaine de la Critique and the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, and for the Karlovy Vary International Film and the Locarno Film Festival. Due to the pandemic, selection screenings in Montreal will not take place with festival programmers to screen films via Telefilm Canada’s viewing platform. Films submitted via Telefilm Canada will be exempt from the submission fee.
Mad Samurai Productions has optioned Eric Walters’ YA novel series The Rule of Three. The Vancouver-based prodco has teamed up with writer Lynne Kamm (Transplant, 19-2) to acquire exclusive television rights. With over 400,000 copies sold in North America alone, The Rule of Three starts with a catastrophic event that permanently shuts down everything computerized. The novels focus on a group of teens who band together amid the descending chaos to protect their small suburban community. Developing alongside Executive Producer Matthew Cervi, Kamm is attached as EP/Showrunner and will write the pilot with Walters attached to consult.
Nelvana and Discovery joint venture, redknot, has greenlit its third series, Super Wish (52 x 11 min). Created by Nelvana’s Vanessa Esteves and Emmy-award winner Adrian Thatcher, the animated series takes place in a magical world of birthdays. Produced by redknot, production will begin this spring with the series to air on Corus Entertainment’s YTV in Canada and Discovery Kids in Latin America in 2022. The 2D-animated series, aimed at kids 4-8, follows Jesse who inadvertently uses his extra special 10th birthday wish – a super wish – to wish his birthday party would disappear. Now he and his friends must venture through the mystical birthday dimension to track down and undo his wish. Esteves serves as supervising producer, writer and content creator. She’s most recently overseen Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe, Max & Ruby and Ranger Rob.
W Network will debut the new Punky Brewster revival premiering with back-to-back episodes on Thursday, March 4. Punky Brewster will also roll out with a full-season drop on STACKTV on March 4 and an encore presentation March 5 on YTV. Punky Brewster (10x30min) is a continuation of the iconic ’80s sitcom about a bright young girl raised by a foster dad. Soleil Moon Frye reprises the role, now a single mother of three trying to get her life back on track when she meets Izzy (Quinn Copeland), a young girl in the foster system who reminds Punky of her younger self. Cherie Johnson (Cherie) also reprises her role from the original series, with Freddie Prinze Jr., Noah Cottrell, Oliver De Los Santos and Lauren Lindsey Donzis also starring.
Lopii Productions’ My Stay-at-Home Diary, the story of COVID-19 self-shot and told by kids, is headed to Hong Kong where Fantastic TV will premiere the show. Launched on TVOkids this past summer, the show is also airing in the U.S. on PBS and in French Canada on TFO. Singapore-based Bomanbridge Media has been assigned global distribution rights.
Hollywood Suite is the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of The Impact Series – eight socially relevant feature documentary films. Documentaries included in Season 1 include Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10 (2007); NOW (2020) from director Jim Rakete, focused on young activists like Greta Thunberg; and J’Veux Du Soleil! (2019), which follows French journalist François Ruffin – now a Member of Parliament – as he embarks on a journey across France with documentary filmmaker Gilles Perret to visit the infamous Gilets Jaunes (Yellow vests) occupying roundabouts to protest social inequalities. Airing Monday nights, starting March 15, the films will also be available to stream on Hollywood Suite On Demand.
Smithsonian Channel Canada’s new documentary special, COVID: Race Against the Virus (1×60’), chronicles the first critical months of the COVID-19 outbreak from the point of view of leading scientific experts, virologists, modelers and immunologists. The one-hour special airs Friday, Feb. 12 as part of the channel’s nationwide free preview event running until April 4.
MEDIAPRO Canada has acquired the rights to two national team tournaments, the SheBelieves Cup and the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Live coverage of all Canada games will be broadcast on OneSoccer, MEDIAPRO’s dedicated soccer channel. OneSoccer will air live coverage of Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team as they take on the USA, Brazil and Argentina in the SheBelieves Cup, the invitational soccer tournament for women’s national teams hosted by the United States Soccer Federation. The six-game tournament will be held in Orlando with Canada due to play the USA on Feb. 18, followed by matches against Argentina and Brazil. The CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament takes place March 18-30 as Canada looks to secure a place in the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:
Media Technology Monitor (MTM) has released new data on media and technology use, focused on Millennials (18-39), Generation X (40-54) and Seniors (75+). Among Anglophones, there were notable differences in social networking platform preferences among generations, however the most popular social network among both Millennials and Older Anglophones is Facebook, with at least 8 in 10 Anglophone social networkers having used the platform in the past month. Millennials are most likely to be interested in online audio, with YouTube the preferred platform with 81% of Gen Zs and 74% of Gen Ys using it to listen to music online. MTM says 84% of Gen X’ers are reading online news content, putting them nearly on par with younger Anglophones. Gen Xers also prefer accessing broadcast news websites (69%) over social media (42%), news aggregators (37%), and newspaper websites (27%). MTM found that more than nine in 10 seniors still subscribe to a traditional TV service such as cable, satellite, or fibre optic. Two-fifths of seniors subscribe to an SVOD service, like Netflix, to supplement their TV viewing.
View the VIBE, the Toronto-based hospitality-focused site co-owned by the owners of Yorkville’s Bar Reyna and Stamina Group, has launched a refreshed mobile-first, video-centric version of its offering. The outlet says it plans to pursue producing cross-platform video series involving partner brands, local hotspots and things to-do (whether virtual or in-person). The site will also introduce more topics outside of hospitality, from gyms to fashion designers to photographers. Alongside the web update, Phyllis Scully has been appointed Acting Associate Editor.
REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:
The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) is honouring André Picard, health reporter and columnist for The Globe and Mail, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, with the CJF Tribute for their national and international contributions, recognizing the impact of health journalists in providing accurate and vital information amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual CJF Tribute recognizes a journalist who has made an impact on the global stage. Picard has been a staff writer with the Globe since 1987 and is the author of five bestselling books, including the forthcoming Neglected No More: The Urgent Need to Improve the Lives of Canada’s Elders in the Wake of a Pandemic. Dr. Gupta, in addition to his work as an Emmy-award winning correspondent for CNN, is a practising neurosurgeon, associate professor of neurosurgery at Emory University Hospital and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Both will receive the honour at the CJF Awards virtual ceremony June 9 at 7 p.m. ET.
Eric McCormack, best known for his role on NBC comedy Will & Grace, and Ginella Massa, host of Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa on CBC News Network, will host the CJF Awards virtual ceremony. New awards featured this year include the CJF Black Journalism Fellowship Program; CJF Award for Climate Solutions Reporting; and CJF-Facebook Journalism Project Digital News Innovation Award. Register to watch the free event, here.
BCE Inc. reported results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2020, announcing a 5.1% or $0.17 per share increase in the BCE annual common share dividend to $3.50. The increased payment to shareholders came as BCE reported a profit of $889 million attributable to common shareholders or 98 cents per share, compared to $672 million or 74 cents per share in Q4 2019. Media operating revenue decreased 10.0% in Q4 to $791 million, and by 14.5% to $2,750 million for 2020, due to decreased customer spending across TV, radio, digital and out of home platforms, reflecting reduced commercial activity during COVID-19 as well as the impacts on major league sports and other live events. Q4 revenue still represented a second quarter of sequential improvement in advertiser demand. Subscriber revenue was also lower compared to Q4 2019, offset by higher revenue from Crave subscriber growth, which totalled approximately 2.8 million at the end of 2020, up 8% over 2019. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 7.8% in Q4 to $189 million, due to the flow-through impact of lower revenue. However, margin improved to 23.9% from 23.3%, reflecting a 10.7% reduction in operating costs, which encompassed delays or shutdowns in sports broadcasts and TV productions as well as reduced discretionary expenses.
Bell has also announced a $1B to $1.2B acceleration of its capital investment in its broadband fibre and wireless networks. Funded from the proceeds of the company’s sale of data centres last year, Bell says the additional investment is expected to generate an estimated $2 billion in new economic activity and create approximately 5,300 additional direct and indirect Canadian jobs. It expects to invest approximately $700 million to accelerate its wireless and wireline network footprints, including an incremental increase of up to 400,000 more homes and business covered by fast fibre and rural Wireless Home Internet service (which will increase new locations covered this year to as many as 900,000, for a total broadband footprint of approximately 6.9 million locations by the end of 2021). At the same time, Bell plans to double the national population coverage of Bell 5G, which currently serves more than 150 communities across Canada.
The CRTC has announced that five transport projects will receive up to $26.7 million in funding from the Broadband Fund. Over 550 km of fibre transport network will be built in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, benefitting 41 communities and covering more than 8,000 households and up to 26 institutions. This round of funding is being allocated to Shaw Cablesystems G.P. (BC); BH Telecom Corp. (Saskatchewan); Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (BC); Tough Country Communications Ltd. (BC); and Rogers Communications Inc. (Ontario). The CRTC says it’s continuing to evaluate applications submitted in its second call.
TELUS, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec’s $23.9 million investment in the province’s lower North Shore has resulted in 2,000 households in 14 communities now benefiting from access to a new 4G LTE wireless network. The project was completed nearly one year ahead of the initial deadline. The Government of Quebec contributed $11 million to the project and the Government of Canada contributed $9.3 million, while TELUS invested $3.6 million.
TekSavvy Solutions, Inc. has been awarded three new contracts through Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) to further construct a fibre-optic network in Southwestern Ontario to underserved communities. The newly-awarded projects will collectively service over 99 km of underserved roadway to bring high-speed internet to nearly 1,800 homes and businesses throughout the communities of Mitchell’s Bay, Highgate, Tupperville, Dover Centre, Grande Pointe, Louisville, Kent Bridge, Muirkirk and Duart, as well as in rural areas outside of Wallaceburg, Dresden, Thamesville, Bothwell and Pain Court. The projects represent a collective investment of $9.2 million and will be completed with service available between late 2021 and early 2022. TekSavvy will be investing nearly $6 million to build out the new fibre-optic network.
BROADCAST TECH & ENGINEERING:
Nautel has acquired ownership of French technology company Digidia. The acquisition expands Nautel’s core product lines and enhances its expertise in high-power electronics design and digital signal processing. Digidia, founded in 2005, is known for its design knowledge related to DAB+ and DRM and creating specialized solutions addressing synchronization of radio transmissions for highway projects or to allow radio reception within Europe’s numerous mountain tunnels. Digidia will continue as a separate entity, serving its customers out of its design and manufacturing facility in Rennes, France. Former shareholders Hermann Zensen, Manuel Billot and Damien Bernard will remain as executives for the two companies.
LISTEN: Charlie Gawley, Tieline VP of Sales, joins David Rusch of Audio Broadcast Canada on this sponsored edition of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast. The Tieline Gateway is a powerful DSP-based 1RU IP codec enabling transport of multiple mono or stereo audio channels across the public internet and any QoS-enabled IP network. The Gateway streams up to 16 IP audio channels with support for AES67, ST 2110-30, AES3 and analog I/O as standard. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:
TELUS and Calgary-based Worldplay Communications have announced a partnership that will allow consumers to stream live community and sporting events or faith-based services online through the Optik TV platform. Businesses will also be able to deliver virtual conferences, connect through secure video solutions, and create branded content pages via Worldplay’s Vidflex, a customizable video platform that provides customers with a digital toolset to host, manage, control, distribute, live stream, catalog and monetize their videos. TELUS and Worldplay piloted the platform last year, hosting 200 municipalities across British Columbia at the first ever CivX Virtual Conference. Since then, Haisla Nation has used the platform for broadcasting Haislakla language revitalization workshops, while Huu-ay-aht First Nations used the software to livestream an all candidates meeting in advance of its election.