Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Weekly Briefing

REVOLVING DOOR:

Mike Bendixen has been appointed National Director of Talk Radio at Corus Entertainment and Director of Talk and Talent for 640 (CFIQ-FM) Toronto. Bendixen, formerly the Program Director at Newstalk 1010 (CFRB-AM) Toronto for more than a decade and Bell Media’s National Format Director, News & Talk Programming, parted ways with Bell in Nov. 2021. Bendixen will take up his new role on Sept. 5, succeeding Larry Gifford as National Director of Talk, who will depart Corus Radio in October. Gifford is among those caught up in recent restructuring in the Corus Audio division. The company has also parted ways with Amanda Cupido, who had held the Director of Talk and Talent title at 640 Toronto since Dec. 2021. Read more here.

Carmela Laurignano

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) has announced Carmela Laurignano as the newly-appointed Chair of the CAB Board of Directors for a two-year term. Laurignano, Vice-President and Radio Group Manager at Evanov Communications, previously served as Vice-Chair over the past two years. She succeeds Matt Thompson, VP, Associate General Counsel, Regulatory and Public Policy, Corus Entertainment, in the role, who will remain a director. In addition to Laurignano and Thompson, the Board of Directors includes Vice-Chair Peggy Tabet, VP, Regulatory and Environmental Affairs, Québecor Media; Secretary Jonathan Daniels, VP, Regulatory Law, Bell Media; Treasurer Robin Hildebrand, VP, Human Resources and Regulatory Affairs, Golden West Broadcasting; and Director Susan Wheeler, VP, B2B Distribution and Regulatory, Rogers Sports & Media. Read more here.

Richard Cormier has been appointed Director General, Programming, Creation, Distribution and Marketing, and Head of Programming for the National Film Board (NFB). Cormier, who will take up the new role on Sept. 11, succeeds Julie Roy in the position, who was appointed Executive Director of Telefilm Canada in March. A 30-year veteran of the audiovisual industry, Cormier was most recently Vice-President, Digital Creative Services and Executive Producer of Virtual Production at Montreal’s MELS studios. His track record in content creation in both Canada and the U.S., includes founding Buzz Image Group, the first post-production studio in Canada to offer digital visual effects solutions. Read more here.

Tinnie Chow

Tinnie Chow, Senior Manager for News and Programs at CBC Vancouver, has parted ways with the public broadcaster. Chow joined CBC in October of last year from BBTV where she’d been a Digital Strategist and Senior Producer. She had previously worked at CBC Vancouver as a host and associate producer early in her career, going on to roles with CNN in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, and Meta, where she served as Strategic Platform Partnerships Manager (Broadcast), Middle East North Africa region.

Adrienne South

Adrienne South is joining CityNews Edmonton as a videojournalist. South arrives from CTV Edmonton where she’s been a reporter for the past year. Prior to that, she did a three-year stint as a press secretary with the Alberta Government. She’s also worked with CTV London and Global Maritimes.

Kelli Rickard

Kelli Rickard has joined Acadia Broadcasting as a multimedia reporter, based in Halifax and also covering Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton. She’ll also fill in for vacationing anchors. Rickard has been heard supplying news and traffic to MBS stations in the Maritimes for the last two years and prior to that was one-half of Hot Country Mornings with Ian & Kelli on Hot Country 103.5 (CKHZ-FM) Halifax.

Kenny Jones

Kenny Jones is no longer with the STAR 98.3 (CKSR-FM) Chilliwack morning show, Lisa & Kenny in the Morning. Jones, who joined the morning show in early 2020, previously worked as a weekend announcer at Star FM, in addition to turns at JACK 96.9 (CJAX-FM) Vancouver, KiSS Radio (CKKS-FM) Vancouver, and Country 101.1 (CKBY-FM) Ottawa, among other stations. 

Ria Renouf

Ria Renouf has been named Managing Editor of Overstory Media Group’s Burnaby Beacon. A former anchor and reporter at CKNW and CityNews 1130 (CKWX-AM) Vancouver, Renouf has been helming Overstory sister publication, New West Anchor for the past year, which she’ll also continue to manage.

Kramer Hoehn & Allan Joli-Coeur

Relish Studios has enlisted Kramer Hoehn as Head of Production and Allan Joli-Coeur as VP Production & Business Affairs. Having doubled in size since 2020, Relish now has over 160 designers, illustrators, writers, animators, and engineers working from offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Costa Rica. Hoehn brings more than 12 years of animation production experience, most recently serving as Head of Production for Titmouse Canada, Yeti Farm, and Atomic Cartoons. Joli-Coeur has over 30 years of experience working in film and television, including Apartment 11 Productions and the Shaw Rocket Fund. He’s also served as an executive producer on more than 20 seasons of television, 12 interactive productions, six documentaries, and two feature films, earning Gemini, YMA, Numix, Canada Screen, and Peabody Award nominations and wins along the way.

Paul Bronfman

Paul Bronfman is stepping down as Senior Advisor and Co-Chairman of William F. White International at the end of the month. Bronfman, who led the movie rental company for 34 years, sold in 2019 to Sunbelt Rentals’ UK-parent company Ashtead Group. As of Aug. 31, he’ll hold the title of Chairman Emeritus. He’ll remain CEO of Comweb Corporation and will serve as a senior advisor to Pinewood Toronto Studios, which he was a founding shareholder of. 

Rudy Buttignol

Rudy Buttingol has been appointed President of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons). Buttingol arrives at the Zoomer Media-affiliated organization after serving as President & CEO of B.C.’s Knowledge Network for 15 years, up until last summer. Prior to that, he spent time as President of BBC Kids and Creative Head, Network Programming at TVO.

 

RADIO & PODCAST:

 

Pattison Media has announced its intention to acquire Kelowna’s 103.9 The Lake (CKOV-FM), pending CRTC approval. 103.9 The Lake is a passion project of former Clear Sky Radio network owner Paul Larsen, who stepped in to buy the station – an early casualty of the pandemic – formerly branded as Soft 103.9 under the ownership of Castanet Media founder Nick Frost. Larsen soft-launched 103.9 The Lake in March 2021 with a Gold-based Soft AC format aimed at appealing to the Kelowna market which counts half its residents as over age 45. Pattison Media will take advantage of allowances made in the CRTC’s most recent radio review to own an additional station in a single market, saying the acquisition will strengthen its position in the highly-competitive Kelowna market and further capitalize on synergies with current stations, The Lizard (CKLZ-FM), Beach Radio (CKQQ-FM), and news portal, Kelowna10. Read more here.

The CRTC has approved an application by radio veteran James Scott Clements for a broadcasting licence to operate Lunenburg, Nova Scotia’s first commercial FM radio station. The station will operate at 107.9 MHz (channel 300B1) on the dial, with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 6,500 watts. The applicant is proposing to broadcast 126 hours of local programming per broadcast week, of which five hours and 39 minutes would be devoted to spoken word programming and one hour and 20 minutes to news. The station will air a Rock format, spanning the 1970s to present, with the majority of airplay post-1990 selections, targeting adults 25-54, skewing slightly towards male listeners. Clements is the former owner of national country music database Trax Report and Principle Projects Label Services. He’s previously held programming, management and production roles with Rawlco and Harvard Broadcasting in Saskatchewan, Corus Entertainment in Hamilton, and MBS Radio and Acadia Broadcasting in the Maritimes. Read more here.

Corus Radio employees participated in two separate radiothons, surpassing fundraising goals for both FoodShare and Cornwall Community Hospital, raising $40,761 and $157,685, respectively. The 640 Toronto Radiothon for Foodshare was the first radiothon hosted by the station in a decade. With an original fundraising goal of $25,000 – enough to launch five new community markets in low-income areas – the team got to work. By 3:45 p.m., 640 had passed their goal, setting a new one of $35,000 – only to pass it again at 5 p.m. The team hit $40,000 with only 30 seconds remaining in the day. Listeners came down to visit hosts Kelly Cutrara and John Oakley, who were on-location at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, as well as host and philanthropist Joan Kelley Walker, who did live hits from the community market. 104.5 Fresh Radio (CFLG-FM) and Boom 101.9 (CJSS-FM) also took part in Corus Caring Hearts Radiothon in support of the Cornwall Community Hospital, raising $157,685 and over $2 million since 2006. Hosts Dan Allaire, Darryl Adams, Victoria Arsenault, Trip VanDorsselaer, Cairo McDonnel and Mr. D all reported live on-air as the day went on. 

LISTEN: Sue Haas, NLogic’s new President & COO, is on the latest Sound Off Podcast. Haas was at Blue Ant Media for over 12 years, managing sales operations as VP, Digital Media and later SVP. In this episode, she talks about the strategies behind multi-platform content distribution, which content should go on which platform and why, and the new technologies being introduced in the creative world.

SIGN OFFS:

Keith Spicer

Keith Spicer, 89, on Aug. 24. After graduating from the University of Toronto and the Sorbonne, Spicer began his professional career teaching at the University of Ottawa in the 1960s. A defender of national unity, Spicer was a researcher on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and later special assistant to Minister of Justice Guy Favreau. From 1970-77, he served as the country’s first Commissioner of Official Languages, appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to uphold French and English language rights for federal bodies with the implementation of the 1969 Official Languages Act. In between government jobs, he was a commentator and host of current affairs and other television projects, as well as a contributor to the Globe and Mail and a columnist for the Vancouver Sun. He served as editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen from 1985-89. Spicer was appointed Chair of the CRTC In 1989, however his seven-year appointment was interrupted when he was called upon by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to chair the “Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s Future” in 1990. Among the initiatives Spicer led at the CRTC was a campaign to reduce gratuitous TV violence aimed at children and backed telecom competition and lower rates. Spicer went on to become the founding director of the Institute for Media, Peace and Security at the UN-affiliated University for Peace in Costa Rica where he supervised the development of courses on media and genocide, media battlefield ethics, and women journalists in war zones. Spicer was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.

TV & FILM:

ISIS documentary ROJEK will represent Canada in the Best International Feature Film nomination race.

ROJEK will represent Canada in the nomination process for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards. Written and directed by Zaynê Akyol, and produced by Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil, and Akyol of Métafilms, the documentary – told in a mix of Arabic, English, French, and Kurdish – interviews incarcerated members of the Islamic State (ISIS) from all over the world, as well as their wives, who share the common dream of establishing a caliphate or Muslim political-religious state. The film traces the rise and fall of ISIS through their personal stories against the backdrop of current, post-war Syrian Kurdistan. Read more here.

The DGC (Directors Guild of Canada) has unveiled its initial round of nominees, recognizing achievement in television series, movies for television and mini-series. Winners will be announced at the first in-person DGC Awards Gala since 2019 to be held at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto on Oct. 21. Among the series garnering multiple nominations are Crave/APTN ’60s scoop drama Little Bird; Amazon Prime Video mystery Three Pines; CBC series Essex County, Sort Of and Son of a Critch; Hallmark Channel’s The Way Home; The Roku Channel comedy Slip; Netflix’s Wednesday and horror collection Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities; and AppleTV+ productions Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock and Jane. Find the full list of nominees here.

The Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) has announced the finalists for the 2023 Alberta Film & Television Awards, celebrating outstanding achievement in Alberta’s screen industries. The Rosies will be held in Edmonton over two celebrations on Sept. 30. Northern Gateway Films (Edmonton), SEVEN24 Films (Calgary) and Sticks & Stones (Edmonton) had the most overall finalists with more than 15 nominations each. The top two individual productions with 10 nominations each are Dark Nature from Peterson Polaris Corp & Nika Productions and Father of Nations from Thousand Year Films, both from Calgary. Find the complete list of nominees here. 

The Black Academy has announced the first four recipients of this year’s Legacy Awards, celebrating Black Canadian talent, including actress and Reelworld Film Festival founder Tonya Williams; filmmaker Julien Christian Lutz (aka Director X); platinum-selling artist Jully Black; and Congolese-Canadian singer LU KALA. The second-annual awards show, to be hosted by Keshia Chanté, will take place Sept. 24 at Live Nation Canada’s HISTORY in Toronto and air on CBC and CBC Gem. Read more here.

Colman Domingo

Colman Domingo will receive the TIFF Tribute Performer Award, recognizing an overall body of exceptional work, one of seven awards being handed out at the fifth annual TIFF Tribute Awards gala. Domingo’s career spans over 30 years. He’ll next be seen in Greg Kwedar’s Sing Sing, premiering at the festival, based on a real-life art rehab program founded at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. 

Ontario Creates has announced details of the 2023 International Financing Forum (IFF). Now in its 18th year, the annual two-day event will be held in Toronto, Sept. 10-11, in association with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The feature film co-financing and co-production market brings together jury-selected producers looking to secure financing for upcoming projects with film industry executives, including international sales agents, financiers, distributors, agents, and executive producers. This year’s edition will be a hybrid event with in-person meetings at TIFF and online meetings taking place internationally. New companies represented include: Black Bear Pictures, Cinetic Media, Embankment Films, Film Republic, Hanway Films, Miramax, Mister Smith Entertainment, Picture Tree International, Pressman Film, Radiant Films International, and The Yellow Affair. Find the full list of IFF producers and projects here.

The Government of Ontario has amended eligibility for its film and television tax credits, as of Aug. 24, to extend eligibility to productions released exclusively online, as announced in the 2022 Budget. That includes productions made available online (download or streaming), by video-on-demand, or on physical media like DVD. However, distribution rights are limited to exploitation by a Canadian corporation for two years after the production is completed.

PBS Distribution has picked up Crave and APTN series Little Bird. Set to premiere Oct. 12 across PBS platforms in the U.S., the six-part, one-hour limited series follows Bezhig Little Bird (Darla Contois) as she embarks on a path to find her birth family and uncover the hidden truth of her family history. PBS will also broadcast and stream Coming Home, a 90-minute companion documentary providing historical context around the Sixties Scoop, which is interwoven with interviews with Little Bird cast, crew, and community members revealing personal connections to the Sixties Scoop. Led by Contois, the cast of Indigenous actors includes Ellyn Jade; Osawa Muskwa; Joshua Odjick; Imajyn Cardinal; Braeden Clarke; Eric Schweig; and Michelle Thrush. Little Bird recently captured the Audience Award at the 2023 Series Mania Festival in Lille, France, while showrunner Jennifer Podemski was honoured with an Academy Board Of Directors’ Tribute Award at the Canadian Screen Awards.

 

Corus Entertainment’s W Network has announced its fall lineup of new and returning series, along with Hallmark Channel’s holiday movie marathons. The fall schedule gets underway Aug. 31 with the fourth season of Australian comedy-drama Five Bedrooms, followed by Season 7 of When Calls the Heart (Sept. 3) and Season 4 of family drama, Chesapeake Shores (Sept. 3). New comedic true crime thriller Based on a True Story premieres Monday, Sept. 11 following a realtor, played by Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant), a former tennis star (Chris Messina), and a plumber (Tom Bateman), diving into America’s obsession with true crime and murder.

Farpoint Films has started production on a new 13-episode series, Fishing For History, filming through the rest of the year in Manitoba and the U.S. The show will premiere on Super Channel in 2024, as part of Farpoint’s deal to provide 150 hours of scripted and non-scripted shows to the network over the next year. Fishing For History is hosted by Mike Lenton and Justin Gerbrandt, commercial fishermen based in Gimli, MB, who formerly starred in Cottage Life show, Ice Vikings. Exploring magnet fishing, in which fishers can pull up anything from coins to antique guns, each episode will explore a different waterway from the Mississippi, MacKenzie, and Potemac to the Rio Grande. Fishing For History is directed by Cam Bennett (Ice Vikings) and will feature underwater photography from Dave Gaudet (The Medicine Line). 

Kelly Ireland, Corine Carey & Leanne Sallenback

Corine Carey, Leanne Sallenback and Kelly Ireland return with History’s Most Haunted (6×60’) on T+E, following the success of Haunted Gold Rush exploring ghostly mysteries along B.C.’s Gold Rush Trail. The all-new series follows the trio as they travel across North America meeting with real people who recount their paranormal experiences, with stops in Montreal, Newfoundland, Salem, New Orleans, Charleston and San Antonio. History’s Most Haunted premieres Friday, Sept. 8 during T+E’s nationwide free preview event, Sept. 4 to Nov. 5. New episodes will air every Friday leading into October and the channel’s Creep Week event. 

Telling Our Story, a four-part docuseries from director Kim O’Bomsawin, begins streaming on CBC Gem on Sept. 17, following its world premiere at TIFF. Produced by Indigenous prodco Terre Innue, the series reexamines First Nations and Inuit history, starting with the notion that the First Nations were “discovered.” Connecting beautiful natural scenery with tales and traditions from 11 First Peoples, the series tackles topics from Residential Schools to the Cold War transfer of Inuk to all-but-uninhabitable Arctic locales like Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord, in addition to the triumphs of Canada’s First Nations and Inuit communities. O’Bomsawin and her team traveled 30,000 kilometers by plane, seaplane, helicopter, train, Skidoo, canoe, car, ATV, and dog sled, filming 100 women and men of all generations in 30 communities.

Big Soul Productions has announced that Season 3 of Indigenous dirt track racing docu-soap Friday Night Thunder will premiere Sept. 8. Produced by the Toronto-based, 100% Indigenous-owned prodco, the series is set to air Fridays on APTN. Season 3 takes viewers back to Ohsweken Speedway after a two-year pandemic closure, following 11 Indigenous sprint car drivers as they navigate the dangerous open-wheel sport.

Vassy Kapelos

CTV News’ flagship political affairs programs, Question Period and Power Play with Vassy Kapelos, return in September. Question Period returns for its 53rd season, beginning Sept. 10 on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca, and the CTV News app, while Power Play with Vassy Kapelos, CTV News Channel’s marquee daily political program, returns Sept. 5. Question Period is also broadcast on the iHeartRadio Canada talk radio network. 

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

T.O. Webfest marks its 10th anniversary, Sept. 19-20, highlighted by keynote speaker Christina Jennings, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury. Her keynote will offer her perspectives on the web series world within the media ecosystem. Speakers are confirmed from Australia, Brazil, Germany, and the U.S. discussing taking short form content to longer forms, distribution strategies, monetization, alternate streaming platforms and making the most of festival participation. Prior to the festival, international guests will also be participating in an invitation-only International Summit: The Webseries Frontier, to discuss the state of the short form series world, its challenges and strategies for success. 

QYOU Media’s flagship Hindi language channel Q TV has introduced new original digital creator series Viral Hua Re, driven by artificial intelligence (AI). The series marks the beginning of efforts to leverage technology to drive channel content. Led by sassy animated AI anchor, Viral Bhabhi, the daily show features viral videos sourced from social platforms spanning various sub-genres including comedy, pranks, gags, falls, and fails. CEO Curt Marvis says the Toronto-headquartered company, operating in India and the U.S., wants to embrace, rather than ignore the new technology “as we believe as a brand we stand at the crossroads of innovation and storytelling with our young India creators and viewers. Harnessing the power of technology to enhance the viewer experience is core to our DNA, while staying true to the essence of captivating content that our audience cherishes.”

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

CRTCThe CRTC has shared its plan for implementing Bill C-18, the Online News Act, starting with the launch of public consultations this fall. The federal government allocated $8.5 million in the 2022 budget to develop a regime if the Act became law. Industry representatives, affected parties and the public will be invited to comment on how the bargaining and arbitration process with news outlets will work; the eligibility process for news organizations; a potential code of conduct to support fair negotiations; and the range of data the CRTC should be compelled to collect under the Act. The commission says it will publish the framework and code of conduct next summer and recruit independent arbitrators to begin considering applications for eligibility from news organizations. Mandatory bargaining isn’t anticipated to begin until late 2024 or early 2025. Read more here.

The Competition Tribunal has ordered the Commissioner of Competition to pay Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications more than $9.7 million and $3.2 million, respectively, to compensate for costs associated with the Competition Bureau’s legal challenge of the companies’ merger. In a decision filed this week, the Tribunal did not award costs to Quebecor’s Videotron, which was an intervenor in the case, primarily because it didn’t make a formal request for costs in its motion for leave to intervene. In its decision, the Tribunal said it agreed with the assertion from Rogers and Shaw that “the Commissioner’s pursuit of the Initially Proposed Transaction was intransigent and should now have consequences.” The Competition Bureau is reviewing the order.

Pattison Media has announced the company’s acquisition of Vancouver-based marketing solutions company, Western Media Group (WMG). WMG offers media solutions to advertisers, media buying services and ad agencies across digital and traditional media, including programmatic trading, digital audio, podcast advertising, television, radio, search and out-of-home. CEO David St. Laurent, who founded WMG in 2008, will continue working with the company, supporting President Marc Brasset during the ownership transition. Read more here.

SAVE THE DATE: The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) CONNECTION 2023 opens Tuesday, Nov. 7 with the OAB Annual General Meeting, followed by a special leadership discussion for members only. Following the Welcome Reception that evening, the conference on Nov. 8 will feature two streams, including a full day of topical sessions for leadership and a half-day sales training program. Ontario member stations are also invited to enter their work to be considered for one of four OAB Awards: the Best In Class Sales Award; Creative Award; Community Service Campaign(s) Award; and Promotion Award. Nominations are being accepted until Friday, Oct. 20.

The 37th annual Webster Awards will take place Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, headlined by a fireside chat featuring veteran broadcaster Lisa LaFlamme, in conversation with Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC Radio One Vancouver program, On the Coast. CBC Vancouver News at 5 anchor Anita Bathe and CHEK News at 6 anchor Paul Haysom will host the evening. Learn more here.

BROADCAST TECH & ENGINEERING:

Blue Ant Media is partnering with content data platform IRIS.TV to enable video-level contextual advertising across the company’s portfolio of global free-streaming channels. As an IRIS-enabled partner, Jamie Schouela, Blue Ant Media’s President of Global Channels and Media, says they can offer better value to advertisers and enrich the viewing experience by serving ads that are more relevant. Using the IRIS_ID as a signal, Blue Ant Media’s FAST channels allow advertisers and contextual data partners to target their CTV inventory using AI, including computer vision and natural language processing, to analyze video frame-by-frame and assign segments from standard contextual taxonomies such as IAB, sentiment, emotion, object recognition, celebrities, logos, brand safety, and GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) brand suitability. IRIS-enabled data partners include Captify, GumGum, IAS, Illuma, Kerv AI, Oracle Advertising, Pixability, Reticle AI, PreciseTV, Sightly, Silverpush, Sounder, 4D and others.

LG Electronics Canada (LG) has announced the availability of the LG OLED Flex, a new TV boasting what the company bills as the world’s first bendable 42-inch OLED screen. The LG OLED Flex display can go from completely flat to spectacularly curved (900R), letting users choose their ideal arc from 20 levels of curvature, for a personalized viewing experience. Additionally, the LG OLED Flex screen can be tilted forward up to 10 degrees or away up to five degrees from the user and has a height-adjustable stand – up or down by 140 millimetres. LG OLED Flex is made possible by a backlight-free, self-lit pixel technology, incorporating a customizable lighting feature into its design that can synchronize with the video or audio content playing on screen.

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