The Weekly Briefing

REVOLVING DOOR:

Mervin Brass & Ruth Zowdu

CBC News has announced the appointment of two new Senior Managing Directors: Mervin Brass for CBC North and Ruth Zowdu for CBC’s Ontario Region, effective Oct. 19. Brass, who has been managing editor for CBC North for the last four years, becomes the first Senior Managing Director for the North, which was previously grouped with Manitoba and Saskatchewan, under the purvue of John Bertrand. Brass will continue to be based in Yellowknife, overseeing all local programming for stations in Yukon, N.W.T. and Nunavut. Zowdu, who has been managing editor of CBC Ottawa since 2016, succeeds Marissa Nelson, who left the public broadcaster in July to work as a senior consultant with Minneapolis-based market research firm, Magid. Read more here.

Matthew Wreggitt

Matthew Wreggitt has been promoted to Program Director for Evanov Radio Group’s (ERG) flagship station, Z103.5 (CIDC-FM) Orangeville, ON. Wreggitt joined the station in its early days as Hot 103.5 almost 24 years ago as a programming and promotions assistant while still attending Loyalist College. Most recently Music Director and APD, in addition to holding down the afternoon drive shift, Wreggit adds the PD title to his duties. He replaces Paul Evanov, who became President and CEO of ERG, following founder Bill Evanov’s passing earlier this year.

Deb James

Deb James has joined Bayshore Broadcasting as the new Station Manager for 97.7 Max FM (CHGB-FM) Collingwood-Wasaga Beach, beginning Nov. 2. James was previously a Program Director and announcer with Corus’ stations in Barrie/Collingwood. She’s also hosted mornings on 107.5 Kool FM (CKMB-FM) Barrie, and been an on-air host with RogersTV Barrie, among other stops.

Tim Kucharuk

Tim Kucharuk, who has been a reporter and anchor for CKRW The Rush Whitehorse for the past 11 years, has left radio after two decades. Kucharuk is now the Press Secretary for the Yukon Party, the Official Opposition in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Kucharuk, who is originally from Kamloops, has also previously worked in Hinton, Wainwright and Penticton.

Maham Abedi

Maham Abedi is joining CBC News as Senior Producer, Digital. Abedi was most recently Supervising National Online Journalist, News Planning with Global News. She’d been with Global since 2017.

Clement Virgo

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) has elected eight new directors to its board as part of CFC’s Commitment to Change and Anti-Racism, which includes a focus on more diverse representation. Effective immediately, the new additions are: Ana Serrano, President & Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University; Anne Loi, Executive Vice President, M&A and Chief Commercial Officer, WildBrain; Clement Virgo, Director, Co-Founder, Conquering Lion Pictures; Neishaw Ali, Partner, President and Executive Producer, SPINVFX; Raja Khanna, CEO & Co-Founder, Dark Slope; Dr. Shirley Cheechoo C.M., Chancellor, Brock University & Founder and Artistic Director, Weengushk Film Institute; Stéphane Cardin, Director, Public Policy, Canada, Netflix; and Tassie Cameron; Co-Founder, Cameron Pictures. 10 other board members have departed.

Jackie Dean

Jackie Dean was named the new Chair of the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Board at the association’s Annual General Meeting. Dean is the COO and interim co-CEO of Music Canada.

RADIO & PODCAST:

CBC/Radio-Canada has confirmed it’s putting its expanded branded content and promotional podcast initiative on hold pending further review. CBC/Radio-Canada Media Solutions announced the launch of Tandem last month, in response to what CBC said was advertiser demand. The move drew intense criticism online from those who questioned whether the public broadcaster was straying further from its mandate, including the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the union representing CBC employees. “We feel there are more insights to be gained on this initiative (Tandem) and to that end, we are taking a brief pause on booking any new branded content campaigns while we dig a bit deeper,” wrote Chuck Thompson, CBC’s Head of Public Affairs, in an email to Broadcast Dialogue. Thompson said any existing bookings under the new initiative will be honoured. Read more here.

Audioboom has announced it’s expanding its presence in Canada through a strategic sales partnership with Rogers Sports & Media. Rogers will represent UK-based Audioboom’s portfolio in Canada to advertising agencies and brands. Audioboom’s original podcast slate includes titles like Mafia, Blank Check, and It’s Happening with Snooki & Joey. The company also has partnerships with Casefile True Crime (US), The Morning Toast (US), No Such Thing As A Fish (UK), The Cycling Podcast (UK) and The Totally Football Show (UK). Canada is currently Audioboom’s 4th biggest region for downloads. The Rogers partnership encompasses sales of premium host-read and dynamically inserted advertising inventory at both the national and local level.

Corus Radio and True North Sports + Entertainment have announced a new deal that sees 680 CJOB acquire exclusive radio broadcast rights for the Winnipeg Jets through the 2026-27 season. The regional radio broadcast rights had previously been held by Bell Media, which had a 10-year contract beginning in the team’s inaugural season (2011-12), to air games on TSN 1290 (CFRW-AM). CJOB was the radio broadcast home of the Jets prior to the team’s relocation to Phoenix in 1996. The multi-year Corus deal covers all pre-season, regular season and playoff games, with all games to also be simulcast on Power 97 (CJKR-FM). Meanwhile, TSN has announced a multi-year extension of their regional television rights partnership with True North. Read more here

The Country Music Association of Ontario celebrated the talent and achievements of Ontario’s country music industry across 17 categories Sunday night. The 8th Annual CMAOntario Awards was the first ever, live drive-in country awards show, and took place on The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London. Bell Media Pure Country midday host Shannon Ella took home the Industry Person of the Year honour. Radio Station of the Year (Large Market) went to Country 101.1 (CKBY-FM) Ottawa, while the Medium Market award went to Cool 100.1 FM (CHCQ-FM) Belleville. Pure Country 106 (CICX-FM) Orillia won the Small Market honour. 

 

Boom 97.3 (CHBM-FM) Toronto’s fall marketing campaign “We’re in this Together” incorporates its audience. Program Director Troy McCallum tells Broadcast Dialogue the station wanted to celebrate its P1s and settled on the idea of putting together and using a collage that features listeners in its advertising by soliciting selfies through promos and live breaks. With close to 1,000 submissions, just a few hundred could fit on the poster. Phase 2 of the campaign included making over 800 personalized posters for everyone who submitted a selfie and inserting their photo in the middle. The campaign continues to generate social media traffic for the station.

Rogers has introduced new podcast For the Love of Work. Produced in partnership with Pacific Content, the podcast is hosted by Dr. Sonia Kang, a professor of organizational behaviour at the University of Toronto. The seven-episode series explores workplace challenges relevant to the current pandemic, ranging from how to find the right role to resilience, the importance of inclusion and diversity, and psychological safety. 

LISTEN: On the latest Sound Off Podcast, Paul Kaye, VP of Music Brands and In House Production, at Rogers. Kaye talks with Matt Cundill about some of the truths and myths surrounding live and local, how the pandemic will result in better radio content, the future of morning radio, and what goes into a great demo. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

SIGN OFFS:

Takashi “Tak” Negoro

Takashi “Tak” Negoro, 86, on Sept. 19. Negora graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering in 1960. He joined Vancouver-based broadcast engineering consultancy Hoyles, Niblock & Associates in 1964 and was appointed Vice-President of Engineering at BCTV (now Global BC) in 1979. By 1981, he was promoted to VP of Engineering. Negoro was awarded the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Gold Ribbon for Lifetime Achievement in Engineering. He was also inducted by the Western Association of Broadcast Engineers (WABE) into the Bob Lamb Roll of Honour.

TV & FILM:

Bell Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Corus Entertainment, and Rogers Sports & Media are the Foundational Partners of HireBIPOC, a new industry initiative launched Monday, aimed at changing hiring practices across television, film, and digital to ensure a more inclusive workforce. Created in partnership with volunteer-run advocacy group, BIPOC TV & FILM, the online hub launched with over 500 Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour, who work in the screen industries – spanning crew to creatives. The goal is to increase representation on Canadian or shot-in-Canada productions in roles at all levels, from behind-the-scenes to executives, communications & marketing, and on-air. Industry partners in the initiative include the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Banff World Media Festival, Canadian Film Centre (CFC), Canada Media Fund (CMF), Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), and Ontario Creates, among other organizations. Read more here.

Insight Producations has temporarily halted production on Battle of the Blades after a member of the production team tested positive for COVID-19. All training and pre-production on the upcoming season has ceased for the time being to ensure the health and safety of the cast and crew. As a result, CBC is postponing the Oct. 15 live premiere of Season 6 of the competition series.

The Original Santa Claus Parade will convert the annual live Toronto parade into a two-hour national, television event with broadcast partner CTV on Saturday, Dec. 5. Airing at 7 p.m. ET on CTV and CTV2, the parade is being staged in a closed set route, with the broadcast to be produced by Bell Media Studios and adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

 

 

This Hour Has 22 Minutes (19×30) has returned for a 28th season on CBC. Starring Mark Critch, Cathy Jones, and Trent McClellan, the show is now the longest-running comedy in Canadian history. Longtime cast member Susan Kent has moved on to new projects, but will return for guest appearances throughout the season. Among Season 28 highlights, a dedicated team will be embedded in the U.S. to cover the 2020 presidential race with Nik Sexton, Tom Stanley, and Jon Sturge (Rick Mercer Report) contributing weekly pieces from the field. The new season also sees 22 Minutes adapt to COVID-19 restrictions by creating two writers’ rooms – one in Halifax and one in Toronto. Writers this season include Heidi Brander (Baroness Von Sketch Show), SiriusXM’s Top Comic 2020 winner Adam Christie, JUNO Award winner Sophie Buddle, Aisha Brown (The First Black Woman Ever), Nadine Bhaba (Letterkenny), Isabel Kanaan (Royal Canadian Air Farce), and Aba Amuquandoh (The Sketchersons) – several of whom will be featured players on the show.

Discovery starts airing the second season of Disasters at Sea, Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, beginning Oct. 18. Among the disasters featured this season are the 2006 sinking of B.C. passenger ferry Queen of the North, the fifth anniversary of the shipwreck of U.S. container ship El Faro, and the 2003 Staten Island ferry crash. 

CTV and Just For Laughs have wrapped production on a new season of The Stand Up Show with Jon Dore. Amid COVID-19 safety protocols, eight half-hour episodes were filmed in front of live, socially-distanced audiences at Crow’s Next Theatre in Toronto last month. Produced as part of Bell Media’s ongoing partnership with Just For Laughs, the second season is slated to premiere on CTV Comedy Channel, with broadcast details TBD. New episodes feature Al Val, Debra DiGiovanni, Nour Hadidi, and Salma Hindy, among other new Canadian comedy faces.

Global and Entertainment One (eOne) have announced that production is underway on Season 5 of Private Eyes (8×60). The eight new episodes feature guest stars including Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica), Brett Donahue (Bad Blood), Sagine Semajuste (Grand Army), Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars) and appearances by Canadian singer/songwriter Royal Wood and Toronto Drag Queen Lucy Flawless. Season 4 is set to air later this fall on Global. 

RBC and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television have announced 13 grant recipients for the fourth round of the MVP Project. The joint initiative between RBCxMusic and the Prism Prize, provides support to emerging Canadian musicians and filmmakers for music video creation and production. Round five submissions are now open to emerging artists until Nov. 1.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) and the Danish Film Institute (DFI) have renewed their incentive for the codevelopment of digital media projects between Canadian and Danish producers. Click here to access the guidelines. The $300,000 CAN incentive supports the codevelopment of new digital content that is innovative, explores new ways of telling stories, experiments with new formats and platforms and new ways of engaging audiences. The deadline to apply is Dec. 14.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced it’s investing $40.6M in 94 Canadian audiovisual projects through seven CMF programs. The CMF’s Indigenous program will provide $7.6M in funding to 13 Indigenous-led projects; $6.3M through the first round of production funding under the Innovation Program will support 10 Canadian digital media projects, with CMF investing a further $1.1M in marketing and promotion support for four interactive digital media projects; 20 projects will receive $7.8M in funding through the Francophone Minority Program, supporting projects which reflect the realities of living in French-language communities outside Québec. 18 projects will receive $5.7M in funding through the English Point-of-View (POV) Program, designed to encourage one-off, point-of-view documentary production in the English-language market. Under the Commercial Projects Program, CMF will invest over $7.0M in the production of seven digital media projects, while the Prototyping Program will see $4.7M enable the development of 22 digital media prototypes, including games, interactive media, and software applications.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is partnering with Underknown, the creators of Webby Award-winning social media brand What If, to create a global television series. What If’s videos boast 250 million global views a month in nine languages. Asking questions like “What If you got swallowed by a whale?”, “What If the Earth stopped spinning?” and “What If the Earth was a moon of Jupiter?”, the franchise is published on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, amassing 25 million followers.

 

 

TELUS has introduced TELUS Presents, a collection of OnDemand shows from Australia and the UK now available to Optik TV and Pik TV subscribers at no additional charge. TELUS says with the pandemic affecting production and release schedules, the curated content is aimed at making it easier for customers to discover new favourites. Shows on initial offer range from Australia Network 10 series, The Wrong Girl, based on the best-selling novel by Zoë Foster Blake, to Sky History Channel reality series, Lost Relics of the Knights Templar.

The Blood In The Snow Festival (BITS) takes over Super Channel for 11 nights, Oct. 28 to Nov. 7. The collection of 10 features and four shorts will air on Super Channel Fuse, starting with Anything For Jackson, directed by Justin G. Dyck, which sees elderly satanists (Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings) attempt a reverse exorcism to resurrect their deceased grandson. The festival also features documentary Hail To The Deadbites (dir. Steve Villeneuve) which celebrates the fans that won’t let Evil Dead die four decades after its release, as well as Metis director Benjamin Ross Hayden’s futurist film Parallel Minds about a Metis researcher who races to destroy an out-of-control supercomputer as it feeds off the minds and memories of its users. Find the full schedule, here.

Quebecor is sponsoring the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) for the 13th consecutive year, which is running online Oct. 7-31. Among this year’s screenings on the FNC website are two landmark Québec films digitized and restored by ÉléphantOctobre, directed by Pierre Falardeau, and Les Ordres, directed by Michel Brault. They’ll be screened online, free of charge, on Oct. 10 and 16, respectively.

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

google news showcaseGoogle has announced the forthcoming launch in Canada of Google News Showcase, a new “news experience” that will see the digital giant partner with online publishers like Village Media and Narcity. Launching in partnership with 200 publications across Brazil, Germany, the UK, Argentina and Australia, it will allow participants to package stories that appear in readers’ news feeds incorporating timelines, bullet points, and eventually video, audio, and daily briefings. In the first three years alone, Google says it will pay more than $1 billion USD globally to publishers creating and curating content for the new product, “with plans to extend beyond that as part of our long-term commitment to supporting the news industry.” “Our new service will give readers in Canada more context and perspective on important stories in the news and drive high value traffic to a publisher’s site,” promised Google in its product announcement

CBC/Radio-Canada has launched Local News Matters, a searchable, online local news directory developed in collaboration with News Media Canada. The public broadcaster says it will be working with other media associations to expand the list in the coming months. Any media organization that provides general interest news coverage for a community, city, province, territory or region, is eligible to be included. News organizations interested in being listed, can contact their local news media association or News Media Canada.

DAZN Media North America, the sales and partnerships division of the sports streaming service, has officially brought all of its media sales operations in-house in Canada. The company says the move allows it to offer brands a one-stop-shop through which to directly invest and reach sports fans. Michael Mobley, VP of Media Sales, said in a release that the in-house migration will also allow the company to foster one-on-one relationships with brands and “more closely align on their specific marketing goals and objectives” to help drive and develop custom campaigns and scalable partnerships.

Goalcast has announced it’s expanding into producing original content. The Montreal-based online empowerment hub says the success of several original productions over the course of the last year, as well as the site’s growth, have prompted the timing of the expansion. As part of its commitment to the new in-house vertical, Goalcast has brought on producer Adam Reid as Head of Production. Goalcast recently made the Report on Business list of fastest growing companies in Canada.

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is presenting CFC BLOCKO!, a seven-part YouTube series  from director Charles Officer (Akilla’s Escape) and produced by Canesugar Mediaworks. Premiering on CFC’s YouTube channel Wednesday, Oct. 14, the short docuseries features personal conversations with six Black CFC alumni, as well as CFC Founder Norman Jewison. Black creators featured include director/executive producer Clement Virgo (RUDE, The Book of Negroes, Greenleaf); producer Lea Marin (What is Democracy?, Unarmed Verses); writer/co-executive producer Shernold Edwards (Haven, Anne With An E); executive producer/media executive Joan Jenkinson (Songs of Freedom, Inside the Mind of Leonardo); director Dawn Wilkinson (How to Get Away with Murder, Locke & Key); and actor Cara Ricketts (Anne with an E). New episodes will be released Wednesdays at 4 p.m. ET until Nov. 25.

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

CBC is set to cut 130 staff across five locations over the next three months. As reported by the public broadcaster, the cuts were announced in a memo to staff from Barbara Williams, CBC’s Executive Vice-President of English Services, who noted that the organization had started the fiscal year with a $21 million budget deficit due to advertising and operational pressures. About 60 of the positions to be eliminated are said to be in news, current affairs, and local. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), which represents most unionized CBC employees, said 40 of the affected employees are CMG members, most based at the Toronto Broadcast Centre and in Halifax. Kim Trynacity, CMG’s CBC Branch President, said in addition to the loss of those unionized positions, there are job cuts from other sectors in the corporation, as well as retirements and vacancies that will remain unfilled. Read more here.

B.C. Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) President Rob Bye has published an Op-ed in the Vancouver Sun. With the province in the midst of an election, the opinion piece expands on a letter sent to Premier John Horgan in May appealing for emergency pandemic relief for broadcasters, citing a 60% loss in advertising revenue. Among other measures, the BCAB suggested guaranteed advertising commitments from provincial agencies like BC Ferries and BC Hydro, relief from transmitter rental fees on Crown land, extending the provincial Film and Tax Credit to private broadcasters who provide local news and public affairs programming, and targeted labour tax credits. “Broadcasters have a number of proposed solutions, including regulatory reforms and a tax credit for the creation of made-in-B.C. content. But even more basic, we are asking government, Crowns and other public agencies to dedicate more of their advertising budgets to local media and to make longer-term commitments,” wrote Bye. “There are more than 100 television and radio stations from Cranbrook to Port Hardy and Penticton to Prince Rupert directly employing more than 1,100 British Columbians who bring us the news, promote local businesses and host community events. Those jobs, and the diversity of editorial voices, strengthen our communities. If they are lost now, they will be lost forever.”

John Daly & Candis Callison

The Jack Webster Foundation, which annually honours the best in B.C. journalism, is set to recognize veteran investigative reporter John Daly and Indigenous author, journalist and professor Candis Callison. This year’s Webster Awards will take place online Thursday, Dec. 8. Daly, who spent nearly four decades as a reporter with BCTV and Global, will receive the 2020 Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award, while Callison is the 2020 recipient of the Bill Good Award, which honours a B.C. individual or organization that makes significant contributions to the province’s journalism community or to a community’s enrichment via journalism. Callison began her career as an associate producer with CBC in the mid-1990s, going on to work as a reporter with CTV Vancouver. Hailing from the Tahltan territory in northwestern B.C., she’s been an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media, and in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies, at the University of British Columbia (UBC) since 2009. Read more here.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) has opened applications for the Investintech-CAJ Data Journalism Scholarship. The scholarship awards a one-time prize of $1,000 CAD to a Canadian student who demonstrates a keen interest in data journalism. The winner will also receive a free one-year CAJ membership and free pass to the annual national CAJ conference. Students should apply with an example of their journalism work that demonstrates the application of data skills and tools, as well as an idea for a project they would like to work on if they had more data journalism skills. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2021.

 

The CRTC has sided with Bell Media in its dispute with Cogeco Connexion over distribution of VRAK. Back in March, Cogeco filed an application requesting that the commission initiate a final offer arbitration (FOA) proceeding. Cogeco submitted that the rates Bell Media was charging under its previous agreement were incompatible with the fair market value of VRAK, citing “the constant and substantial decline in VRAK’s viewership since 2014” and Bell’s decision to rebrand VRAK, “leaving it with unspecific programming and an ill-defined target audience.” In spite of acknowledging declines in audience levels and a portion of VRAK’s programming now available on other channels, the CRTC selected Bell’s offer. The commission found that while very few customers subscribe to VRAK on a standalone basis, it says Bell’s proposal is closer to the standalone rates for comparable channels Séries+, MAX and Addik TV.

Xplornet Communications Inc. has closed on its acquisition of Corridor Communications Inc., which operates CCI Wireless. Based in Calgary, CCI Wireless provides broadband solutions to roughly 110,000 rural and remote homes in Alberta, along with enterprise clients across Western Canada. New Brunswick-based Xplornet says it plans to build on existing CCI Wireless operations in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan by retaining the company’s experienced team of employees and deepening Xplornet’s operational presence in Western Canada.

Ruralwave, an independent Internet Service Provider based out of Little Britain, ON, has become a subsidiary of Rogers. “Rural communities are vital to everything we do at Ruralwave,” said Dan Risebrough Barnes, Ruralwave’s founder, in a release. “I started this company in 2005 in Brock Township to ensure that the community had reliable Internet. Over the years, the need for our services grew, and we continued to expand our network to service more communities. As we looked to the future and the investments we wanted to make in our communities, we made the decision to join the Rogers team.” Ruralwave currently provides internet services to 2,400 customers throughout the townships of Ramara, Scugog, Brock, the City of Kawartha Lakes and the Municipality of Clarington.

Rogers Sports & Media has introduced All IN, an action-focused program that includes giving a minimum of $10 million in free advertising and creative services over the next five years to charities and small businesses that support equity-seeking communities. As part of the company’s inclusion and diversity strategy, Rogers says it’s using its sports and media assets “to help accelerate its progress and drive tangible actions focused on the diverse needs of all Canadians.”  

BROADCAST TECH & ENGINEERING:

WABE (Western Association of Broadcast Engineers) has set dates for a virtual edition of its annual conference, Nov. 4-5. WABE has set an admission price of $25 for delegates. It’s also considering in-person, socially distanced, meetups for members in select cities on Nov. 6, dependant on interest. Registration is set to open soon.

LISTEN: On this sponsored episode of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast, publisher Shawn Smith talks with Glenn Prins of Media Results International about their new offering, MRI Home Studio, and the success they’ve had helping ELMNT FM’s stations in Ottawa and Toronto successfully transition their on-air staff to work-from-home solutions that provide a consistent, quality sound for good value.

SMPTE has introduced a new logo and website. The changes are part of the organization’s reinvention to be more accessible through educational offerings, standards work, and networking events, as well as promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry. The society has taken a first step by being the industry’s first standards body to scrub its documents and replace technical terms that could be considered racially offensive with more accurate and thoughtful language. In terms of standards work, changes include focusing on more software-oriented standards and using more software-based tools to manage and streamline the standardization process. SMPTE is also augmenting its rigorous standards development process with new models that allow members and the public at large to contribute to various documents. SMPTE says its evolution will also be evident at this year’s technical conference, SMPTE 2020: “Game On”, a virtual event running Nov. 10-12. Available to members around the world, special pricing options are designed to eliminate cost as a barrier.