The Weekly Briefing

REVOLVING DOOR:

Mike Cosentino

Mike Cosentino is joining Mogul Productions, the decentralized film financing platform and movie-based NFT marketplace, as Strategic Advisor. Under the banner of his Toronto-based Cosentino Media Incorporated, he’ll work with Mogul alongside Co-Chairs of Financing, Paul Sparkes and Gorav Seth. CosMediaInc has also signed a deal to work with Fremantle on scripted and unscripted Canadian IP. Up until layoffs at Bell Media this past January, Cosentino was President, Content & Programming, leading program and production strategy across the CTV suite of channels, Discovery Channel, MTV and Comedy Central, as well as Crave.

Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is retiring from teaching in the radio program at Humber College. After 20 years as a professor, Shem Parkinson, TJ O’Halloran, Meghan McPeak, Marc Carcasole, Wade MacNeil and Tyler Middleton are just a few of the hundreds of students who’ve passed through her classroom. Walsh will be focusing her time on voice projects and her audio production service, ELM podcasting.

Pascale Nadeau

Pascale Nadeau is retiring from Radio-Canada after 38 years. Absent from the airwaves for the last few months, Nadeau will officially retire this fall. She first joined Radio-Canada in 1988 after hosting with the TQS network in Montreal. Starting out in the newsroom and as host of Enjeux, she’d hosted Le Téléjournal from Friday to Sunday on ICI Radio-Canada and ICI RDI since 2008. 

Pooja Handa

Pooja Handa has departed CP24 after 13 years with the station. Handa has been a CP24 anchor since 2008 and became a co-host of CP24 Breakfast Weekend in 2011, before moving to the weekday edition of the show.

John Szekeres

Jon Szekeres is leaving News 1130 (CKWX-AM) Vancouver to work in the film industry. Szekeres has been a reporter and producer with the station since late 2017. His last day on-air will be Aug. 14. Prior to joining Rogers, Szekeres was an anchor and reporter with Bell Media’s stations in Penticton and Vista Radio in Courtenay, BC. 

Jared Launchbury has announced he’s leaving 660 News (CFFR-AM) Calgary. Launchbury started his radio career with Rogers Sports & Media as an intern with 680 News (CFTR-AM) Toronto in 2015. He’d been a producer and anchor at 660 News since Feb. 2020, broadcasting the national overnight newscast for Rogers’ “green brand” news stations across the country.

Lee Rodgers

Lee Rodgers is re-joining Evanov Communications as the production manager for their country format stations, including Hot Country 93.9 (CFWC-FM) Brantford, Hot Country 107.7 (CKHK-FM) Hawkesbury, and Hot Country 92.5 (CHRC-FM) Clarence-Rockland. Up until last month, Rodgers was the production manager and a fill-in announcer with Evanov’s Halifax stations, starting in 2017, prior to their takeover by Acadia Broadcasting.

 

RADIO & PODCAST:

Broadcast Dialogue’s 2021 Canadian Radio Awards, Presented by HD Radio, are set to open for entries, starting Sept. 13. We’re looking for your station’s best radio from the past year, from on-air talent to imaging and commercial production, engineering and station promotions. This year, we’ve expanded our categories to 22, including new partnerships with the National Campus & Community Radio Association (NCRA/ANREC), that will see a Best Campus or Community Station of the Year award established, and the Radio Connects’ Sound of Success Award, demonstrating innovative use of radio to positively impact client business – locally, regionally, or nationally, whether a station, group, agency, or radio advertiser. Due to an overwhelming number of entries last year, we’ve also added new talent and commercial production categories. Read more about this year’s awards and sponsorship opportunities here.

radioCount, a sister company to broadcast software provider microtherapy inc., has been selected to provide radio audience measurement for some of the Canadian radio diary markets previously served by Numeris. Starting this September, radioCount will begin measuring over 20 markets across the country with a Fall 2021 survey release to be made available in late November. Those markets include Belleville, ON; Brandon, MB; Charlottetown, PEI; Chatham, ON; Chilliwack, BC; Cornwall, ON; Fredericton, NB; Guelph, ON; Kamloops, BC; Lethbridge, AB; North Bay, ON; Owen Sound, ON; Pembroke, ON; Peterborough, ON; Prince George, BC; Red Deer, AB; Saint John, NB; Sarnia, ON; Sydney, NS; Thunder Bay, ON; Timmins, ON; and Wingham, ON. The radioCount approach will use a combination of telephone recall and e-surveys with data to be available in existing applications including Radius and Lens. Read more here.

Pattison Media and the University of Saskatchewan are partnering to create one of the first all-female U Sports hockey play-by-play broadcast teams. Ahead of the launch of a new HuskieFAN app and website in September, Pattison is looking to recruit a broadcast journalist/announcer who can handle play-by-play for U of S Huskies Women’s Hockey, as well as conduct post-game interviews and contribute video and feature stories. The successful candidate will travel with the team and call away and home games at Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon, which will be broadcast live both on the app and Pattison radio stations in North Battleford, Melfort, and Prince Albert. Read more here.

 

CHUM 104.5 Toronto has announced the winner of its biggest-ever prize in CHUM history – a fully-furnished and professionally designed two-bedroom condominium at Friday Harbour Resort in Innisfil, ON. The Forever Fridays contest, valued at $725,000, was won by Teresa Pasquini of Stoney Creek. She was one of an unprecedented number of contest entrants who broke the all-time record for visits to the CHUM website. 

The 13th annual Ride For Sick Kids Motorcycle Charity Run, with proceeds to The Hospital for Sick Children – Sick Kids Foundation, was held Aug. 8 in Vaughn, ON. Emceed by Bill Toffan, PD/Morning Show host at Durham Radio’s KX94.7 (CHKX-FM) Hamilton – the event broadcast partner – 600+ riders raised $200K in one day and are on track to raise $1 million by October. Led by founder Nella Figliano, the event included full police escort from Vaughan to Port Perry.

 

Hot Docs, in partnership with Inspirit Foundation, has launched a new year-round Podcast Development Lab for Canadian BIPOC storytellers with a non-fiction series in early development. Throughout the fellowship, participants will meet as a group and one-on-one with seasoned audio creators and mentors to develop their project ideas, hone their skills, and navigate the podcast industry. Each project will also receive a $1,000 creator grant to support the development of their work. The five projects selected in the first round are: 20 Red Flags (Nicole Doucette & Lucas Kavanagh, Vancouver); Exceptionalisn’t (Melissa Haughton, Toronto); Made Up Words (Isabelle Ruiz De La Orden, Montréal); Money No Get Enemy (Oshamimi Mayaki & Alexandra Sproule, Toronto); and Stories My Grandmother Never Told Me (Sarena Parmar, Toronto).

Canadaland has released the trailer for its latest podcast, The White Saviors, based on its five-year investigation into WE Charity. The podcast promises to take listeners behind-the-scenes of “a cult-like culture and a troubling blur of charitable and commercial activities.” It also attempts to follow the millions of dollars raised and asks whether the saviour industry creates a constant need for victims. The White Saviors is narrated by Olusola Adeogun, a broadcaster, producer and writer from Lagos, Nigeria and based in Toronto.

Telefilm Canada will launch Season 2 of Sortez le popcorn on Aug. 20. The podcast, hosted by Catherine Beauchamp, will be available on C23, Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts with episodes also broadcast on 98.5FM (CHMP-FM) Montreal. Sortez le popcorn focuses on Francophone creators and talent who have already or are making their mark in cinema.

 

 

LISTEN: On the Sound Off Podcast, JJ Kincaid of New Country 101.5 in Atlanta, joins Matt Cundill to talk about making his mark at CHR stations across America, including KDWB Minneapolis and Z100 New York. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

TV & FILM:

Amir Nasrabadi

Walt Disney Co.has announced its plans to open a new animation studio in Vancouver in January of next year. The new studio will focus on longform series as well as special projects for the Disney+ streaming platform, starting with musical series Moana. Story development, storyboarding and production design will still be based at Disney’s Burbank studio. Former WildBrain executive Amir Nasrabadi, who was previously was VP Finance and Operations for DisneyToon Studios and a VP at Pixar Canada, will lead the new studio. 

Jordan Gavaris

Amazon Prime Video has announced the start of production in northern Ontario on the first scripted Canadian Amazon Original series, The Lake. Set in cottage country, the 30-minute episodic comedy will film in northern Ontario from August to September. The Lake stars Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black), Julia Stiles (Hustlers, The Bourne Identity) and Madison Shamoun (#blackAF, Black-ish). The Lake will launch in 2022 and be available exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.

Pretty Hard Cases is set to make its U.S. debut on IMDb TV on Sept. 10. The first season of the CBC series, produced by Cameron Pictures and starring Meredith MacNeill and Adrienne C. Moore as female detectives, will be available on the ad-supported, free streaming service, branded as an “IMDb TV Original.” 

TIFF has announced that award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, singer, and activist Alanis Obomsawin will be honoured with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media supported by Participant Media, and Academy Award–nominated French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve will receive the TIFF Ebert Director Award at this year’s TIFF Tribute Awards. Two-time Academy Award–nominated actress Jessica Chastain will also receive this year’s TIFF Tribute Actor Award, supported by the Tory Family. The 2021 TIFF Tribute Awards will take place during the 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival and serve as TIFF’s largest annual fundraiser to support its year-round programmes. The 2021 TIFF Tribute Awards will be co-produced by Bell Media Studios and, for the second straight year, will be broadcast nationally by CTV and streamed internationally by Variety.

Jacqueline Bynon

Cineflix Media is partnering with executive producer Jacqueline Bynon on her new production company, More to the Story Media. Based in Toronto, More to the Story Media will develop and produce premium investigative true crime series, documentaries, movies, and podcasts for global audiences. The partnership gives Cineflix Media the first option to develop and co-produce original content with Bynon, with her projects able to access services and development support from Cineflix Productions. Cineflix Rights will have the exclusive first-look to distribute More to the Story Media content internationally. Bynon’s credits include cold case investigation docuseries and podcast The Clown and the Candyman; medical series Sin City ER; and true crime series Murder in Paradise, Cold Blood, Motives & Murders, and the Gemini Award-winning Nazi Hunters. 

LISTEN: BANFF World Media Festival’s Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media recently released a whitepaper looking at how the past 18 months have impacted the media sector, tapping the expertise of more than 50 executives, to identify new opportunities for the screen-based industries in a time of accelerated change. On this episode of the podcast, we talk to BANFF Executive Director and Playback publisher Jenn Kuzmyk and BANFF Content Director and Playback Editor Liza Sardi about “The Next Normal” and why despite ongoing uncertainty, this is an era of optimism for the Canadian industry.

Fabienne Colas

The Fabienne Colas Foundation is launching the Being Black & LGBTQ+ in Quebec program with the financial support of the Quebec Ministry of Justice. Être Noir.e et LGBTQ+ au Québec aims to address the intersection between systemic anti-Black racism and LGBTQ+ phobia through cinema. Five Black and LGBTQ+ filmmakers will be guided in the making of their short documentaries under the theme: Being Black and LGBTQ+ in Quebec, mentored in all stages of research, creation, production, post-production and distribution. Their films will be screened during Black History Month in Feb. 2022 at the Toronto Black Film Festival, Halifax Black Film Festival and the Montreal Fade to Black Festival. Eligibility criteria and application info can be found here. The deadline to apply is Sept. 12.

MELS has received an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games that it will use to further develop its virtual production initiatives. In 2020, MELS embarked on a digital shift by launching a virtual production stage equipped with an LEDscreen backdrop, making it possible to replace green screens and create a virtual set in real time, affording producers greater creative freedom. The integrated platform is a complete virtual production solution with visual effects, cameras, lighting, post-production, and technical crews linked by fibre optics to the sets. 

CTV has confirmed fall premiere dates, including the reimagined The Wonder Years (Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 22), and new uplifting drama The Big Leap (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 20), starring Scott Foley and Teri Polo. CTV is also adding new drama Our Kind Of People (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 21), from executive producers Karin Gist (Grey’s Anatomy) and Lee Daniels; Queens (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Oct. 19), starring music icons Brandy and Eve as members of a reunited 90s pop group; and thriller La Brea (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 28). Rounding out the new fall series are singing competition Alter Ego (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 22), and Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning Sept. 26). Also returning this fall is CTV Original comedy JANN for its third season Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT, beginning Sept. 20.

HGTV Canada’s fall schedule includes the return of Kortney Wilson, Jasmine Roth, Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak, and Ben and Erin Napier to the network. Joining the HGTV Canada family are Canadian contractor Kenny Brain, who teams up with Wilson for Making it Home with Kortney & Kenny (Sept. 1), and designer Mary Welch Stasik, who makes her mark in brand-new series Breaking Bland (Aug. 31). Also premiering is six-episode event series Home Town Takeover (Sept. 5), starring Ben and Erin Napier.

Corus Studios has secured two major international sales and the addition of a new greenlight, Sarah’s Mountain Escape (8×60), starring HGTV Canada designer Sarah Richardson. Selling over 600 hours of content to date this fiscal year, Corus Studios is expanding its relationship with Discovery in the U.S. with sales to MotorTrend Group for Season 1 (8×60), Season 3 (12×60), and the pre-sale of Season 4 (6×60) of Rust Valley Restorers. The series will air on MotorTrend TV and stream on the MotorTrend App. Overseas, German broadcaster, SevenOne Entertainment Group picks up a wide-range of Corus Studios programming from Making It Home with Kortney and Dave – Season 1 and Farmhouse Facelift – Season 1 to multiple seasons of food travelogue Big Food Bucket List and docuseries Backroad Truckers.   

Séries Plus has announced the distribution of new Corus Studios’ original production Manuel de la vie sauvage (The Wild Life Handbook), which began filming Aug. 9. Starring Antoine Pilon as the CEO of a young innovative company, the psychological thriller is adapted from the novel of the same name by Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard, produced by KOTV and directed by Christian Laurence. The six 60-minute episodes are scheduled to air in spring 2022.

Crave and Shopify Studios premiere a new 10-part docuseries Aug. 23, chronicling the lives of four entrepreneurs with disabilities. Available in both English and French, Born For Business follows the entrepreneurs as they tackle the complexities of being their own boss, and what it takes to run a thriving, small business, with grace, courage, and humour. The series furthers Shopify’s goal to highlight and celebrate underrepresented entrepreneurs, and create a broader and more inclusive definition. Among those featured are Collette Divitto of Collettey’s Cookies, a baker with Down syndrome who owns a successful cookie brand that employs people with disabilities, and Chris Triebes of The Congregation Presents, a single father with spinal muscular atrophy, who is making waves in the music industry with his concert production company and festival ticket service.

Carmen Aguirre’s bestselling memoir Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter has been optioned for the screen by Screen Siren Pictures. The award-winning book is a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life that will be brought to the screen with Aguirre attached as writer alongside screenwriter Dennis Foon (Indian Horse) and Screen Siren’s Trish Dolman and Christine Haebler as producers. Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter was the winner of the CBC Canada Reads competition, was named Best Book by The National Post, The Globe & Mail and Book of the Year by Quill & Quire. The memoir follows six-year-old Aguirre who flees from Chile to North America with her family following General Augusto Pinochet’s violent 1973 coup and their eventual return to South America as Chilean resistance members. 

TSN will air complete live coverage of the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship from Calgary, Aug. 20-31, preceded by three pre-tournament games on Wednesday, Aug. 18, including Team Canada dropping the puck against Finland. TSN’s coverage features play-by-play commentator Rod Black alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder, an IIHF gold medallist and two-time Olympic gold medallist, who will call every Team Canada and Group A game. Making her TSN debut, play-by-play commentator Kenzie Lalonde and two-time Olympic gold medallist Carla MacLeod also handle broadcast duties throughout the tournament. Hosting TSN’s coverage is IIHF and Olympic gold medallist Tessa Bonhomme, alongside analysts MacLeod and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford.

FITE has announced that its over-the-top (OTT) FITE App is now available to all Shaw TV IPTV customers across Western Canada. The FITE app offers a wide array of premium Pay Per View events, SVOD package options and free programming, including linear channel, FITE 24/7. Headquartered in New York, FITE offers PPV programs from Top Rank, PBC, AEW, NWA, BKFC, and is the digital home of all Triller Fight Club events such as Tyson vs. Jones, the biggest PPV event of 2020.

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

Torstar Corp. has acquired a stake in Calgary-based lifestyle and entertainment digital publisher, Curiocity. Under terms of the partnership, Curiocity will continue to run its publishing platform independently, while Torstar will leverage its sales and marketing resources to help identify potential clients. With operations in Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver, Curiocity also runs city-specific Instagram and other social media accounts. Financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed.

Penn National Gaming has announced it’s acquiring theScore for approximately US$2.0 billion in cash and stock. Under terms of the agreement, theScore shareholders will receive US$17.00 in cash and 0.2398 shares of Penn National common stock for each theScore share. Expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, Penn National believes the Canadian gaming market represents a compelling opportunity for growth and intends to operate theScore as a stand-alone business, headquartered in an expanded Toronto office. It will continue to be led by the Levy family and utilize theScore app and brand.

Sportsnet has partnered with Deltatre and Firstlight Media to reimagine and relaunch SN NOW with more personalized viewing features, including a refreshed user interface on the Firstlight Media platform, powered by Microsoft Azure. Phased in enhancements will include greater stream quality and reliability, personalized content offerings, advanced stats overlays, and other features to drive the ultimate sports viewing experience.  

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics set streaming records for CBC/Radio-Canada digital platforms with almost 44 million video streaming views from the Opening Ceremony on July 23 to the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 8. Live views made up 61% of all video views, highlighting the increasing popularity of live streaming on CBC digital platforms, with Connected TVs accounting for about 68% of the total time spent streaming Tokyo 2020 content on CBC Gem. In total, Canadians consumed nearly 17 million hours of digital Olympic content on CBC platforms, with time spent reaching its highest one-day total Friday, Aug. 6, the day of the women’s soccer gold medal game. That compares to 28 million Canadians who tuned in on television via CBC Television, ICI TÉLÉ and broadcast partners TSN, RDS and Sportsnet.

Discovery+ is set to launch in Canada, Brazil and the Philippines in the latter half of this year, as revealed during the company’s Q2 investor call. The Discovery+ streaming service features programming from Discovery-owned channels like HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, OWN, Travel Channel, and Animal Planet, as well as Lifetime and HISTORY. Much of that programming is already available in Canada through distribution partnerships with Bell Media and Corus Entertainment

BBTV Holdings says recent creator signings have resulted in an increase of 5.5 billion monthly views for the company on YouTube Shorts. Beta launched as a competitor to TikTok in 2020 and subsequently rolled out to over 100 countries, YouTube Shorts has now surpassed 15 billion global daily views as of June 2021, up 131% from 6.5 billion in March. Among the notable YouTube Shorts creators that BBTV has signed are the Klem Family, The Furrha Family, Brandon Baum, and Magnus The Therapy Dog.

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

BCE’s Q2 net earnings increased 149.7% to $734 million with net earnings attributable to shareholders growing 189% to $685 million, or $0.76 per common share. Bell Media operating revenue increased 30.4% in Q2 to $755 million, driven by increased advertiser spending across TV, radio, out-of-home and digital media platforms, reflecting a recovery in commercial activity impacted by COVID-19 during Q2 2020, as well as higher subscriber revenue. Increasing 57% this quarter, digital revenues now represent 19% of total Bell Media revenue, up from 16% in Q2 2020. Margin declined to 28.3% from 29.9%, due to a 33.3% increase in operating costs with the return of live sports and TV productions, and the non-recurrence of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funding. Ad revenue increased 65% in the quarter, driven by stronger bookings, as well as the incremental contribution from French-language network Noovo. Subscriber revenue increased 6% with Crave subscriptions up 6% over last year, approaching the 3 million mark, while TSN Direct more than doubled its subscriber base thanks in part to a record-setting UEFA Euro 2020.

Quebecor reported Q2 consolidated financial results reporting revenues of $1.13 billion in the quarter, up $127.4 million (12.7%) from the same period of 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was $501.4 million, up $25.7 million (5.4%). The Telecommunications segment grew its revenues by $59.3 million (6.8%) and its adjusted EBITDA by $17.9 million (3.9%) in Q2. Videotron significantly increased its revenues from wireline equipment ($28.1 million or 127.1%), mobile services and equipment ($26.3 million or 12.4%), and Internet access ($25.7 million or 9.3%) in the quarter. There was an increase of 27,200 connections (1.8%) to the mobile telephony service and 5,3004 subscriptions (0.3%) to the Internet access service.

ZoomerMedia’s Q3 consolidated results for the nine months ended May 31 saw revenues of $36.8 million, operating expenses of $28.4 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $8.4 million from its continuing operations. Net income for the same period was $3.6 million. For the comparative nine months ended May 31, 2020 the company had revenues of $40.1 million, operating expenses of $32.3 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $7.8 million from continuing operations. 

JHR Indigenous Reporters Program trainee Freddie interviews NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in Grassy Narrows First Nation (CNW Group/Journalists for Human Rights (JHR))

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) has announced that its Indigenous Reporters Program (IRP) has successfully completed a further three years of media training activities for First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario, with the help of a $750,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Through IRP’s training activities, JHR has supported First Nations community members in writing and publishing stories from their communities in mainstream outlets including The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, APTN, TVO.org, and community publications like Wawatay News and Kenora Miner & News. In doing so, IRP seeks to increase the quality and quantity of Indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media.

BROADCAST TECH & ENGINEERING:

NLogic is partnering with next-gen pricing software provider Revenue Analytics to combine their solution with NLogic’s web-based trading platforms and APIs. NLogic says the partnership is aimed at putting valuable hours back into the hands of media sales teams through increased automation of ad sales transactions by combining the revenue management expertise of Revenue Analytics with NLogic’s industry-leading audience analysis tools and data.

Nextech AR Solutions has signed an agreement to acquire UK-based spatial computing company ARway in an all-stock transaction worth $1.25 million. The acquisition provides Vancouver-based Nextech with a spatial mapping platform critical to building the “Metaverse” — augmented reality layers of computer-generated text and images visible on top of reality. ARway’s tech uses AI to recognize surroundings for location mapping, providing users with an Augmented Reality Software Kit (SDK) to frame the digital world in a few minutes. Already identified by digital giants like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft as the future of the internet, the acquisition positions Nextech as a first mover toward the “mini-metaverse” which Nextech AR CEO Evan Gappelberg says will be available to brands and companies that want to create mini-metaverses based on a geolocation like museums, corporate headquarters, sports stadiums, or university campuses. As part of the transaction, Nextech plans to add ARway founders Baran Korkmaz and Nikhil Sawlani to its team.