The Weekly Briefing

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REVOLVING DOOR:

Tim Berube

Dr. Tim Berube has been named the new President & CEO of Westman Communications Group (WCG), effective March 28. Berube succeeds the retiring Dave Baxter, who has been with the Brandon, MB-based telecommunications and internet service provider since 1995, starting as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, before assuming the President & CEO role in 1997. Berube had a career with the Canadian Forces, before moving on to roles with Cisco and Arris International. He’s also been consulting under the banner of Ben Berube Holdings International for the past 20 years.

Steve Armitage has announced his retirement after a broadcast career spanning six decades. Closing out his announcing career calling long track speed skating at the Beijing Winter Olympics for CBC, the 78-year-old started out at CBC Halifax in 1965 writing the late night newscast. He moved to CBC Vancouver in 1973 and joined the sports department, going on to host Vancouver Canucks’ Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts and CFL games for 30 years, among many other sporting events. In 1982, Armitage was awarded ACTRA’s Foster Hewitt Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting. He was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Basem Boshra

Basem Boshra is the incoming Managing Editor at CBC Quebec. Currently Deputy Editor at the Montreal Gazette, Boshra has been with the paper since 2007, with the exception of a year-long stint at CTV Montreal as Supervising Producer, Digital Content.

Roberto Rocha

Roberto Rocha has left CBC News as he moves to join not-for-profit news startup, the Investigative Journalism Foundation, as an investigative reporter. Rocha had been with CBC since 2015 as a Montreal-based web journalist, focused on investigative data journalism for the past four years.

Derek Taylor, who has announced his pending departure from 620 CKRM Regina as the play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is joining 680 CJOB Winnipeg as the new voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Taylor succeeds Bob Irving, who retired in December after five decades calling CFL games.

Sarah McCarthy

Sarah McCarthy is joining 680 CJOB Winnipeg as afternoon anchor. McCarthy has been with CKDR News in Dryden, ON for the last six years. She previously interned with CJOB as a Fanshawe College student in 2019.

Adam Greenberg

Adam Greenberg is leaving Virgin Mornings with Vinny, Shannon and Adam on Virgin Radio 95.9 (CJFM-FM) Montreal. In a social media post, Greenberg says he plans to focus on his ONE BONE big-and-tall fashion brand where he’s the Chief Marketing Officer and oversees the brand direction. Greenberg had been with Virgin since 2017.

 

Matthew Guite

Matt Guité is leaving Bell Media where he’s been a producer since 2013. Guite, who has worked at both CJAD 800 Montreal and 580 CFRA Ottawa, is pursuing an opportunity outside media. 

Ashleigh Darrach

Ashleigh Darrach is now being heard middays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on CJAY 92 Calgary. Darrach also handles middays for Bell Media’s 97.7 HTZ FM (CHTZ-FM) St. Catharines.

Kristy Kilburn

Kristy Kilburn is moving on from CityNews Calgary. A 2021 Seneca College Journalism grad, Kilburn had been a videojournalist and host with the station for the last eight months. She has yet to reveal her next move.

RADIO & PODCAST:

Stingray is partnering with TikTok to launch TikTok Radio, a collaboration bringing the top trending music and artists on the short-form mobile video app to multiple Stingray platforms. Available in Canada and the U.S. as of this week across TV, web, and mobile, TikTok Radio will feature viral hits, throwbacks, and songs from the next generation of rising stars, as well as trending sounds and introductions from popular TikTok artists and creators. A TikTok Radio playlist will also be made available worldwide in the Air Canada In-Flight Entertainment system. Starting next month, viewers who have access to Stingray Music Videos On Demand through the TV app, can also tune in to the TikTok Radio playlist featuring music videos of trending songs. Canadian radio listeners will also hear “The TikTok Trend” on The Stingray Hit List Countdown and “Katie & Ed’s TikTok Pick” on The Night Show with Katie & Ed. SiriusXM has had a TikTok Radio channel since last August.

Spotify has announced its acquisition of podcast advertising measurement service, Podsights, and podcast analytics platform, Chartable. Spotify says with measurement and attribution the two biggest unsolved challenges for podcast advertisers, its acquisition of Podsights will enable it to help advertisers “understand how podcast ads drive actions that matter to their businesses.” Over time, it plans to extend that measurement beyond podcasts to audio ads within music, video ads, and display ads. The acquisition of Chartable and its audience insights and promotional tools will further strengthen Spotify’s Megaphone hosting platform, building on its purchase of Whooshkaa and its broadcast-to-podcast tech. Spotify is looking to unlock growth in the digital audio advertising space, which according to eMarketer is poised to reach nearly $8 billion, $2.7 billion of that for podcast advertising alone by 2025. 

Libsyn has released Libsyn Studio Beta, a free platform for podcast creators to plan, record, launch, and distribute shows. The beta version features free tools for recording and assembling an episode with music, fades, and leveling, and allows creators to connect to major platforms like Apple and Spotify. The beta phase of Libsyn Studio is expected to continue into the summer of 2022.

Let’s Make A Sci-Fi is set to join CBC Podcasts lineup March 1. The series, featuring comedians Ryan Bell, Maddy Kelly and Mark Chavez, takes listeners inside the writers’ room where the trio attempt to write a sci-fi pilot. 

Mike Boon

Toronto Mike’d has unlocked the 1,000 episode milestone. In a five hour and 40 minute 1,000th episode, host Mike Boon tells the story of Toronto Mike’d – which started as a blog in 1999 and evolved into a podcast. The episode features the voices of FOTMs (Friends of Toronto Mike’d) like Humble Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson (who allowed Boon to record the first 19 Toronto Mike’d episodes in their studio); sound mixer Andrew Stoakley; past guests like Steve Paikin, Erin Davis, Dan Shulman, James Duthie, listeners, and others.  

 

SiriusXM Canada has kicked-off its fourth annual SiriusXM Top of the Country competition, in partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA). The search for Canada’s most talented emerging country artist(s) provides participants with a national platform, opportunities to perform at some of the biggest country music events in Canada, a SOCAN songwriting camp, industry mentorships and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize. Canadian solo artists and groups can register until March 4. Eight semi-finalists will be selected by a jury of industry experts to record their own original tracks and in-studio videos and move on to the next phase of competition.

LISTEN: Carol Off will co-host her final episode of CBC Radio’s As It Happens on Friday, Feb. 25. After an estimated 25,000 interviews, the former foreign correspondent leaves the show as its longest-serving host to move on to other projects. On this episode of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast, the venerable host talks about everything from her early influences and favourite interviews to regaining trust in media. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

SIGN OFFS:

Robert McManus

Robert McManus, 66, on Feb. 9. McManus began his radio career in Moose Jaw, SK at age 19. He went on to work as news director for CFCN Radio in Calgary in the late 1970s. McManus later headed to Edmonton where he was the news director at the launch of CFCN Communications’ new FM station, CJAX-FM in 1982. Starting out as a Country format, the station later flipped to Soft Rock, changing its call letters to CKNG-FM and branding itself as King FM. McManus was also heavily involved in the Edmonton Fringe Festival where he worked in promotion and publicity. After leaving radio and attending Grant MacEwan College, McManus went on to hold various public affairs roles with the Alberta Government for 21 years. 

Peter B. Campbell

Peter B. Campbell, 65, on Dec. 28. After studying at Loyalist College, Campbell worked in radio in Thunder Bay, ON, Estevan, SK, and Ajax ON, concluding his radio career at CHUC-FM Cobourg in 1988. Campbell went on to work with Durham Regional Police, including many years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, while lending his voice to Ontario Hockey League broadcasts as a colour commentator, alongside friend Stew Kernan. His booming singing voice was also heard performing the national anthem at various sporting events, including Toronto Maple Leafs and Hamilton Tiger Cats games.

Hugh Smith

Hugh Smith, 73, on Dec. 14. Television was in Smith’s blood from an early age. As a youth, he built an antenna in his parents’ backyard in Penticton. With it he was able to pull in television signals from U.S. stations. He was part of the original crew to launch Vancouver’s CKVU (now Citytv), working in Master Control. His love of broadcasting and community involvement drew him naturally to community broadcasting, initially at Fraser Cable in Port Coquitlam. In 1979, he heard about a unique opportunity in Campbell River, a community-owned cable television station called CRTV. Smith was the Community Program Manager at CRTV for 28 years, cultivating, encouraging and supporting countless individuals and organizations, helping them to share their viewpoints, passions and causes, through shows like “Paws for Pets” and “Let’s Go Fishing.” Working with volunteers and program hosts, he was able to enrich what CRTV had to offer the community. He was also a mentor who helped to inspire and encourage the students who volunteered at CRTV, many who went on to careers in broadcasting, journalism and film. Smith retired in 2008 after CRTV was sold to Shaw.

TV & FILM:

CBC says seven in 10 Canadians tuned into the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, despite controversy around the event. On television, the games drew an audience of 26.5 million unique viewers or 70% of all Canadians, down from the 28 million viewers who tuned in for Tokyo 2020. Digital viewing increased to surpass PyeongChang 2018 with Canadians streaming 468 million minutes of video content (up 11%), ranking Beijing as the most-streamed games ever on CBC Gem. The most-watched event of the games was Team Canada vs. Team USA in the women’s hockey gold medal game, which was watched by 2.7 million on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet. 1.839 million watched the women’s freestyle skiing big air final on Feb. 7 (CBC and TSN2), while 1.81 million watched both the Canada vs. USA men’s curling match on Feb. 12 (CBC and TSN) and team figure skating pairs on Feb. 6 (CBC and Sportsnet). Women’s snowboarding also drew big audiences, including the Feb. 8 women’s snowboard halfpipe qualifying round, attracting 1.754 million viewers (CBC and TSN). Read more here.

Canada Media Fund (CMF) has released Where No Screen Has Gone Before – charting a course for the future of media, which presents a snapshot of media consumption in Canada and introduces scenarios of how the screen-based industry is likely to evolve over the next decade. Taking readers through 2032, among the report’s findings are that second-screening is the new mode of engagement for audiences; the future of entertainment is hybrid; gamers are the audience of the future; balancing big-studio service work and original intellectual property (IP) is a challenge; and economic success will come from supporting Indigenous, Black and other racialized creators.

Canada Media Fund (CMF) is rolling out PERSONA-ID, its new self-identification system to measure and monitor the demographic representation and participation of all individuals with ownership and control of projects seeking CMF funding, as well as key personnel working on those projects. Starting April 1, a PERSONA-ID number will be necessary for those seeking financing to benefit from a gender or diversity initiative. The new tool will allow CMF to have reliable data as it evolves programs and policies, while at the same time determine eligibility to targeted programs and detect inequities in access to funding. 

MELS is unveiling new state-of-the-art facilities, including a 10,000 square-foot virtual production stage equipped with a motorized movable ceiling. Richard Cormier, Executive Producer, Virtual Production, says the programmable, robotic feature opens up possibilities for virtual production. MELS was recently awarded an Epic MegaGrant by EPIC Games to support ongoing development of its virtual initiatives. MELS embarked on its digital shift in 2020 with the launch of a virtual production stage equipped with an LED-screen backdrop, making it possible to replace green screens and create a virtual set in real time.

Sam Wiebe

Cineflix Productions has optioned and begun development on a new crime series based on Vancouver crime writer Sam Wiebe’s Wakeland novels – Invisible Dead, Cut You Down, and Hell and Gone. The novels are focused around a 29-year-old ex-cop turned P.I. Cineflix continues to expand its scripted crime slate with the movies Stolen By Their Father with Sarah Drew, Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story starring Jennie Garth and Anwen O’Driscoll, and Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey.

CTV has renewed Transplant for a third season. Produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, Season 3 of the CTV Original drama will consist of 13 one-hour episodes. Filming will take place in Montréal, with Hamza Haq reprising his role as Dr. Bashir Hamed. New episodes of Transplant’s second season continue Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app, before moving to its new timeslot Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning March 1. The series continues to resonate with audiences as the most-watched Canadian drama with a current season average of 1.1 million viewers. It has also had success on NBC, with Season 2 set to premiere March 6. The drama has also launched across the UK, Australia, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

TVO Original Lady Sapiens debuts on TVO on International Women’s Day on March 8. It delves into recent research that shows Paleolithic women were far more sophisticated than previously thought and how that finding impacts our perspectives on society. Featuring interviews with 30 scientists, alongside dramatic reenactments, the portrait of prehistoric women offers a nuanced understanding of the strong, multi-faceted mothers and craftswomen who also contributed to their world as hunters and artists. TVO’s International Women’s Day lineup also includes Australian politics documentary, Ms Represented.

Crave Original drama series Une Affaire Criminelle (A Criminal Affair) premieres March 23 in French with English subtitles. Written by Joanne Arseneau and directed by Stéphane Lapointe, the eight-episode series stars Céline Bonnier as Catherine Godin, a mother who has been trying to clear her son of a murder charge for 15 years, and major crime investigator, Benoît “Bing” Inglis (Louis-Philipe Dandeneault). 

Historia will broadcast Nomades à moto: Transtaïga, starting March 17, a five-episode French-language docuseries in which three motorcyclists challenge themselves to cross Quebec to the Caniapiscau reservoir, the point accessible by road furthest from any city in North America. The series is produced by Émilie Gaudet and signed by Picbois Productions, Charles-Édouard Carrier, Pascal Bélisle and Marie-Claude Boudreau, who embark on an unusual 3,000 km journey, while facing psychological and technical challenges.

Major League Soccer returns to TSN on Saturday, Feb. 26 with a triple-header of opening day games on TSN, TSN.ca, and the TSN app with Philadelphia Union facing Minnesota United FC at 1 p.m. ET, Columbus Crew taking on Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 3 p.m. ET, followed by FC Dallas hosting Toronto FC at 5:30 p.m. ET. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here. The MLS ON TSN studio panel is hosted by Kelcey Brade alongside former TFC Designated Player and Canada’s Men’s National Team captain Julian de Guzman, and longtime Premier League and Republic of Ireland’s Men’s National Team veteran Kevin Kilbane. The 2022 season also features analysis and commentary from Luke Wileman, Steven Caldwell, Blake Price, Paul Dolan, Vic Rauter, and Greg Sutton.

Women In Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) has announced the date and lineup of the 17th annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (VIWFF). The festival, which will take place virtually from March 8-13, includes 33 films from 12 countries, made up of 17 Canadian films — with nine from local B.C. filmmakers. The festival will open with a one-night only presentation of Donkeyhead, followed by a live Q&A with director Agam Darshi. Throughout the week there will be a special presentation of Querencia, with web-series creator, director and lead actor Mary Galloway, and a special presentation of Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy. This year’s festival will be accessible Canada-wide.

Trio Orange and Quebecor Content have announced that Last Summers of the Raspberries will officially be in competition at the Series Mania international film festival, in the International Panorama section. The new French-language series, directed by Philippe Falardeau, written by Florence Longpré (Can You Hear Me?) and Suzie Bouchard (L’œil du cyclone, Pillow Talk), and produced by Julia Langlois, Annie Sirois and Carlos Soldevila, in collaboration with Quebecor Content, was just presented as part of the Berlinale Series program at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival. The series, which will be available on Club illico starting April 14, is up for Best Series, Jury Prize and the Student Jury Best Series. The 10-episode series, shot in Summer 2021, stars Sandrine Bisson, Edison Ruiz, Micheline Lanctôt, Elijah Patrice and Paul Doucet.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has unveiled the Executive Residency Program, a new initiative dedicated to providing executive-level access for industry professionals who are Black, Indigenous, or a person of colour to break down barriers for the next generation of creative executives and business leaders. Applications for the inaugural cohort will be accepted from March 2 to April 1 and can be submitted here. Beginning in the spring, the eight-month national program will match English-speaking and bilingual professionals working in the industry with high-level production, creative, and business executives, including Vice-Presidents, Executive Producers, and Development and Production executives from Bell Media, CBC, and Boat Rocker

Youth Media Alliance (YMA) and TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International)  have announced the first recipients of the John Rooney Creator Fund, established to honour his ardent support of LGBTQ2S+ talent in children’s, youth, and family animation. Awarded to an outstanding candidate to expedite their journey to becoming an established content creator, the winner of the Content Development Stream is Kai Little-White, a writer and creator who has worked on over 100 hours of television, features, shorts, and music videos, including associate-producing preschool series Gary’s Magic Fort. The winners of the Scriptwriting Stream are Toronto-based author and artist Alora Lafontaine, director and writer David diGiovanni, writer/actress/producer Mia Ema Falak, and writer/actor/producer and voice artist Scott Farley. The laureates will be placed in a writing room for a show currently in production to gain an understanding of the script writing process and how stories are developed for series.

Alliance Atlantis Communications alumni will be holding a 15th Anniversary Reunion in Toronto on April 28. The gathering marks 15 years since the sale of the company in 2007. Over 300 former employees attended the 10-year anniversary. Proceeds of the event, which is open invitation, will go to charity.

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

Go Here Meet Her with Pretty Little Secrets Lash & Brow Bar Owner Diane Nyugen

so.da, Corus Entertainment’s social digital agency, has announced an original content partnership with Snapchat in Canada, which currently reaches over 10 million Canadians. so.da will provide original, short form content for Snapchat’s Discover, averaging three to five minutes in length. The collection of so.da original lifestyle series includes Baking Therapy, a therapeutic instructional series, and This is How She Does It, an aspirational look at women with different lifestyles. Other so.da originals launching on the platform next month include Made You Look, on fashion-forward trends, and Go Here Meet Her, a series profiling entrepreneurs and the businesses they run. The partnership also welcomes the daily ET CanadaEntertainment Bite.

The Discourse is acquiring Sun Peaks Independent News and bringing it, The Discourse and IndigiNews Media under one umbrella as Discourse Community Publishing. Erin Millar is stepping down as CEO of The Discourse, but will continue on its board of directors. She’ll also continue as CEO of sister organization Indiegraf Media, which now has more than 50 publishers signed on to its independent media network across North America. Brandi Schier, Sun Peaks’ publisher, steps in as CEO of Discourse Community Publishing, while Jacqueline Ronson – the lead reporter who developed The Discourse Cowichan – becomes Managing Editor. Among other moves, Shalu Mehta becomes a lead reporter for The Discourse, building on her community connections on Vancouver Island. Tegwyn Hughes (one of the co-founders of student journalism site The Pigeon) joins as Community Editor, to add digital publishing capacity. Nanaimo editor Lauren Kaljur is supporting expansion into new B.C. communities. Lindsay Sample, Executive Editor of Discourse Media, is taking on a new opportunity while becoming a part-time advisor to Discourse Community Publishing. Eden Fineday recently joined IndigiNews as its new Business Aunty and Partnership Lead, while Kelsie Kilawna has been named Cultural Editor.

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

Postmedia has entered into an agreement with J. D. Irving, Limited (JDI) to purchase  Brunswick News. The proposed acquisition includes daily and weekly newspapers, digital properties and its parcel delivery business in exchange for consideration of $7.5M in cash and $8.6M in variable voting shares of Postmedia. Among those papers are the Telegraph-Journal, Times Globe, Times & Transcript, The Daily Gleaner, Miramichi Leader, Woodstock Bugle-Observer, Bathurst Northern Light, Kings County Record, The Campbellton Tribune and The Victoria Star, which will all join the Postmedia network.

TVA Group recorded operating revenues in the amount of $171.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, a year-over-year increase of $24.3 million. Net income attributable to shareholders was $12.1 million for earnings per share of $0.28, compared with net income attributable to shareholders of $27.4 million or $0.63 per share for the same quarter of 2020. $20,502,000 in adjusted EBITDA was recorded in the Broadcasting segment, a 25.9% unfavourable variance, mainly attributable to TVA Sports, which in 2020 saw the start of the NHL 2020-21 season postponed thus achieving significant one-time cost savings. TVA Network posted a 7.7% decrease in its adjusted EBITDA, primarily due to greater spending on content in order to maintain its leadership position in the face of competition on all platforms and thus maximize advertising revenues, which were up 24.7% for the period. $4,812,000 in adjusted EBITDA was recorded in the Film Production & Audiovisual Services segment (MELS), a $2,641,000 unfavourable variance due to decreased profitability of soundstage, mobile and equipment rental activities and visual effects services, partially offset by stronger performance of dubbing. $1,388,000 in adjusted EBITDA was reported in the Production & Distribution segment (Incendo), a $1,757,000 favourable variance generated primarily by the international distribution of films produced by Incendo.

Matt Galloway

Matt Galloway is set to host the CJF Awards ceremony on June 7 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Presented by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF), the annual awards celebrate excellence in journalism and emerging talent. Awards to be presented at the ceremony include the CJF Tribute; CJF Jackman Awards for Excellence in Journalism; CJF Lifetime Achievement Award; The Landsberg Award; CJF Award for Climate Solutions Reporting; and CJF-Meta Journalism Project Digital News Innovation Award. 

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is joining the Daniel Pearl Foundation, on the 20th anniversary of the American journalist’s death, in celebrating his legacy of championing humanity, cultural understanding, and free press. In recognition of the foundation’s $20,000 donation to JHR’s ongoing evacuation effort from Afghanistan, it is sharing the stories of four Daniel Pearl Evacuees – including investigative journalists, women’s rights activists, and employees of civil society organizations – on its Twitter page. Pearl worked as a foreign correspondent with the Wall Street Journal in Washington, DC and London, before serving as South Asia Bureau Chief. His work to cover the ‘war on terrorism’ took him to Karachi, Pakistan, where he was kidnapped on Jan. 23, 2002. Several weeks elapsed before his murder was confirmed on Feb. 21, 2002.