The Weekly Briefing

It’s a wrap for the inaugural Broadcast Dialogue 2020 Canadian Radio Awards!

Shawn Smith / Publisher

Thirteen categories. 39 awards. 350+ submissions, which exceeded our expectation in quality and number. All culminating in 12,000 instant hits on the website within the first three seconds of the winners announcement, bringing the whole endeavour to an exciting conclusion!

Our hope was that “The Howards” would become a bright spot in an otherwise dark year. Our entire team is gratified by the overwhelming feedback. We will be doing it all again next year!

A special thank you to our judges who kindly dedicated their time: our publisher emeritus Howard Christensen (after whom the awards are named), Lorie Russell, Sheila Walsh, Neil Morrison, Don Shafer, and especially our own Connie Thiessen, who acted as jury leader and managed the entire submission and selection process.

Based on all that we saw and heard, it is clear that audio this year has been emotional, creative, and exceptional…and will remain core to the fabric of Canada for a very long time.

Today’s Weekly Briefing is our last for 2020. We will return from annual hiatus on Jan. 7th. Happy Holidays to one and all.


REVOLVING DOOR:

Michel Lorrain

Michel Lorrain is leaving his position as president of Cogeco Media “to pursue personal interests,” according to a company announcement. Lorrain had been with Cogeco since 2007 and in his current role since 2018. Cogeco says a recruitment process for his successor has been launched with special advisor and former Cogeco Media President Richard Lachance to assume the role on an interim basis.

Mark Miller

Mark Miller has stepped down as President of Thunderbird Entertainment and CEO of Great Pacific Media (GPM), as well as his position on the board of directors. Miller is taking on a new role within GPM as Executive Producer, allowing him to focus on creative work. He remains a senior member of the creative team. Jennifer Twiner McCarron has been appointed as President of Thunderbird in addition to her role as company CEO. David Way will continue as President of GPM with the role of CEO for the Factual Division being eliminated.

Vinesh Pratap

Vinesh Pratap is the new co-anchor for Global Edmonton’s Global News Morning, alongside Jennifer Crosby, and Global News at Noon with the team of Erin Chalmers, Daintre Christensen and Mike Sobel. Pratap has been with Global Edmonton since 2004, most recently serving as the City Hall Reporter and covering law courts and general assignment. Prior to joining the team in Edmonton, he worked at Global Lethbridge.

Hollie Taylor

Hollie Taylor is joining Whiteoaks Communications Group as Station Manager of CJMR 1320 and JOY Radio (CJYE-AM) Oakville, starting Jan. 11. Taylor has been working in Edmonton for the last 10 years as a co-host on the Shine-FM (CJRY-FM) morning show and is already familiar to CJYE listeners as host of Faith Strong Today talk show, Good Company. She’s also co-hosted the Why Me Project podcast on the Faith Strong Today podcast network since 2017.

Ruby Carr

Ruby Carr has joined 105.3 Virgin Radio (CFCA-FM) Kitchener where she’s now hosting afternoons from 2 – 7 p.m.. Carr was most recently co-hosting mornings on Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge (CFNY-FM) with her brother Alex Carr, up until this past January.

Johnny Novak

Johnny Novak has joined Virgin Radio (CHBE-FM) Victoria in the afternoon drive time slot. Novak was last on-air with KiSS 103.1 (CHTT-FM) Victoria, but was caught up in layoffs at the station in Aug. 2019 just months after arriving from Hot 105.5 (CKQK-FM) Charlottetown.

Shemroy Parkinson

Shemroy Parkinson has been promoted to Executive Producer of the now-syndicated Roz & Mocha Show, which originates from Rogers Sports & Media’s KiSS 92.5 (CKIS-FM) Toronto. Parkinson has been with Rogers since 2011 and spent the last two years as an audio and content producer.

Rob Shaw

Rob Shaw, a Victoria-based legislative columnist and reporter for The Vancouver Sun since 2014, is joining CHEK-TV’s newsroom in a new political journalist position, starting in mid-January. Prior to the Sun, Shaw was a reporter with Victoria’s Times Colonist for nearly a decade.

Sarah Spring

Sarah Spring has been appointed executive director of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), effective Jan. 4. She takes over from Michelle van Beausekom, who is departing after 10 months to take an advisory position at the Isuma Collective. Spring has been a producer, writer and film consultant for 15 years with recent credits including No Ordinary Man, produced by her boutique production house, Parabola Films. Spring has previously served on the board of DOC Quebec.

Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid has joined the advisory board of Toronto-based collaborative screenwriting platform, Open Screenplay. A comedian, writer, and disability advocate, Zayid is the co-founder/co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival, has been a contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann and is a frequent guest on CNN’s New Day. She also plays a recurring character on General Hospital and appeared alongside Adam Sandler in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. 

 

RADIO & PODCAST:

Broadcast Dialogue announced the winners of the inaugural Canadian Radio Awards on Monday, Dec. 14. Station of the Year (Major Market) went to Stingray’s boom 97.3 (CHBM-FM) Toronto, while Corus Entertainment’s 680 CJOB Winnipeg won the Medium Market honour and independent 989XFM (CJFX-FM) Antigonish, NS taking the Small Market category. Ronnie Stanton, Program Director at CFOX and Rock 101 (CFMI-FM) Vancouver, won Program Director of the Year (Major Market); Andy Ross, who helms Harvard Broadcasting’s Regina stations as well as 96.3 CRUZ FM (CFWD-FM) Saskatoon, won in the Medium Market category, while the Small Market award went to Bill Hallman, 104.5 Fresh Radio (CFLG-FM) & boom 101.9 (CJSS-FM), Corus Entertainment, Cornwall, ON. Find the complete winners list, hear the winning audio submissions, and read more about our jury, at CanadianRadioAwards.com.

Bobby Bones
Bobby Bones

Pure Country 89 (CIMX-FM) Windsor has picked up The Bobby Bones Show, weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. ET. The syndicated show, featuring Bobby Bones and co-hosts Amy, Lunchbox and Eddie, airs on more than 170 stations in the U.S., in addition to other stations in Bell Media’s Pure Country network. CIMX-FM flipped to the Pure Country format in November.

Corus Radio country stations Country 105 (CKRY-FM), CISN 103.9 Edmonton and Country 104 (CKDK-FM) London, will air a two-hour Christmas Day special A Washboard Union Christmas, featuring the three-time Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Group of the Year winners. Airing at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time on Dec. 25, the special will be hosted by all three members of the band, and feature special guests including Old Dominion, Dean Brody, Tenille Townes, and The Hunter Brothers

CBC Ontario has announced the launch of the second season of Hard To Stomach. Hosted by the interim host of CBC Radio’s Fresh Air, Jason D’Souza, the three-episode podcast examines the interconnected issues of economic uncertainty, affordable housing and access to food amidst a global pandemic. It also offers insight into the lives of those who are facing and working to fight food insecurity, including Leticia Ama Deawuo, Executive Director of the Black Creek Community Farm, and Jessica Mclaughlin, coordinator of the Indigenous Food Circle

The Radio Revolution – A Virtual Tribute to Margaret Lyons is planned to remember the late CBC Radio vice-president on Jan. 28. A fierce advocate for public broadcasting, the tribute is being organized by former colleagues celebrating Lyons’ legacy and her instrumental role at CBC from the late 1960s to her retirement in 1991. Originally set to take place at the Glenn Gould Studio in the Toronto Broadcast Centre in late spring, organizers have now opted for a Zoom event. Find details and registration info here. Lyons passed away at the age of 95 in October of last year.

SiriusXM Canada has announced it has extended its agreement with Mazda Canada to continue offering Mazda customers with equipped vehicles a complimentary three-month SiriusXM All Access trial subscription. Customers purchasing new, navigation-equipped Mazda vehicles will also receive a complimentary five-year subscription to SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link.

LISTEN: Drex, who recently took over the JACK 96.9 (CJAX-FM) Vancouver morning show, along with Lena Schulman and Bob Addison (aka “No Fun Bobby”), joins the Sound Off Podcast. The former host of Corus late night network talk show, The Shift, talks about the challenges of the pandemic, including keeping his mental health in check and going through a break-up while pivoting from evening to morning radio, and AM talk to FM music. 

John Ongaro

Acadia Broadcasting’s 99.9 The Bay (CJUK-FM) and Country 105 (CKTG-FM) Thunder Bay held The 36 Hours of Cheer” radio event, Dec 10-11. Morning show host and program director John Ongaro anchored the event that raised over $260,000 for the local Christmas Cheer Fund. That’s $100,000 more than the total raised in 2019.

Bayshore Broadcasting’s 98 the Beach (CFPS-FM) Port Elgin raised $177,545 through its Light the Way Radiothon on Dec. 10 in support of the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation. Funds raised will go toward a $510,000 campaign raising money to fund the purchase of a new x-ray machine.  

 

SIGN OFFS:

Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell, on Dec. 12, after a battle with cancer. Bell started her broadcasting career with the CRTC in 1987, holding a variety of analyst positions, including the Public Affairs Directorate. She was recruited by the Chairman’s office in 1994 to the position of Chief of Staff/Policy Advisor. In 1996, she joined Canwest as a senior executive and Director, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs. She spent 17 years with the company through its sale to Shaw Communications. Bell also served as the Chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Board of Directors from 2007-09, after filling numerous roles on the CAB Board and various committees. In 2012, she left broadcasting to work in corporate affairs and consulting roles with the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and Capital Hill Group, before joining the Tourism Industry Association of Canada as President and CEO in 2015. The CAB will be making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society in Bell’s honour.

Dick Abbott

Dick Abbott, 85, on Dec. 2, following a stroke. Raised in New Westminster, BC, Abbott started working at CKNW in the music library at age 16 in 1951. He went on to become a recording engineer and rose to the position of production manager, responsible for producing the station’s iconic three-tone news sounder. While still working at CKNW, he produced for The Spot Shop with David Hoole and served as a recording engineer at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Sound Recording Studio. Over the years, he worked with many talented actors and announcers including Jim Conrad, Raymond Burr, Jack Palance, Martin Sheen, and Gene Hackman. After retiring from CKNW in 1998, he went on to co-found Dick and Roger’s Sound Studio with Roger Monk in 1990, to meet the demand for digital audio post-production. 

TV & FILM:

Allan Slaight

Canada’s Walk of Fame is inducting Slaight Communications founder and former Standard Broadcasting President and CEO Allan Slaight  for his contributions in business and philanthropy, and in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour. ETALK, in partnership with Canada’s Walk of Fame, is airing one-hour event Celebrating Greatness: A Canada’s Walk of Fame Special on Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV. Hosted by ETALK co-anchor Tyrone Edwards and through the lens of the Allan Slaight Music Impact honourees, the special tells the story of the rise of Shawn Mendes, Melanie Fiona, Brett Kissel, Drake, The Weeknd, and Alessia Cara, as well as highlights from the past 20 years of Canada’s Walk of Fame. The special will also pas tribute to some of the inductees the world lost this year, including Canadian icon Alex Trebek. 

CBC and the BET+ streaming service are partnering on original series The Porter (working title, 8×60) from Inferno Pictures and Sienna Films. Created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Mary Kills People) and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), The Porter is set in the 1920s and inspired by real events, highlighting the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the U.S. joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union. Morais and Greene are writers/showrunners on the eight-part series, with Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) set to executive produce and direct. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The first season is set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, and depicts another battle as it ripples through the Black community in Little Burgundy, Montreal – known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.”

Bell Media has confirmed FOX’s acquisition of new CTV Original series Holmes Family Effect, in time to join the network’s 2020/21 mid-season schedule. The four-part series, which has completed production, makes its broadcast premiere in Canada on CTV in early 2021. It follows Mike Holmes, his daughter Sherry and son Michael as they surprise unsuspecting community leaders to make a positive impact on their lives. The announcement is the latest in a series of distribution deals between the two networks, including CTV’s acquisition of The Masked Singer, as well as new celebrity competition series The Masked Dancer. 

CTV medical drama Transplant will be returning to NBC for a second season. Centred around Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq), a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine who fled his country with his younger sister to build a new life in Canada, Transplant averaged 5.7 million viewers overall in “live plus seven day” according to Nielsen data supplied by CTV. The series was one of television’s most time-shifted shows through its NBC run with each of its first seven original telecasts ranking as the #1 drama of the week in “live plus three day” lift. In linear and digital viewing to date, Transplant is averaging 7.7 million total viewers, more than doubling its 3.5 million “live plus same day” performance.

Sportsnet will bring the Toronto Raptors’ 2020-21 NBA regular season to Canada with 18 national broadcasts on Sportsnet and SN NOW for the first half of the season. From Dec. 26 to Feb. 28, Sportsnet will air seven of the first eight Raptors games of the 2020-21 campaign, including a Boxing Day meet with DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs and a Jan. 4 Eastern Conference semifinal reunion with Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics. Additionally, Sportsnet 590 The FAN and the Sportsnet Radio Network will air 36 Raptors matchups throughout the season. Sportsnet’s broadcast team includes play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin and game analyst Leo Rautins, who will deliver the call remotely from Toronto. From the desk, host Brad Fay anchors pre-, post- and intermission coverage alongside analysts Sherman Hamilton and Alvin Williams, while NBA insider Michael Grange and reporters Danielle Michaud and Eric Smith will have real time reports. Radio broadcasts will feature Smith and analyst Paul Jones. 

TSN’s Toronto Raptors broadcast schedule features 19 regular season games, including the opening night matchup against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. ET. TSN’s slate of games includes two clashes with two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 27 and Feb. 18; two games against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 12 and Mar. 4; and a showdown with the 2020 NBA Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat on Jan. 22. The network’s broadcast team, led by Matt Devlin and Jack “The Coach” Armstrong, also features hosts Rod Black and Kate Beirness, with analysts Leo Rautins and Sam Mitchell, and contributions from Kayla Grey and Kia Nurse. TSN’s live radio coverage on Toronto’s TSN 1050, sees Paul Jones joined by analysts Armstrong and Sherman Hamilton with pre- and post-game shows hosted by Nikki Reyes, Jim Tatti, and Josh Lewenberg. 

CBC, BestCrosses Studios and Game Seven Media have announced that new original docuseries Anyone’s Game (6×30, formerly Orangeville Prep) will premiere Jan. 15 on CBC TV and CBC Gem. The series follows the high school players on the 2019-20 Orangeville Prep (OP) team for the Athlete Institute in Orangeville, ON, as they pursue an NCAA Division 1 scholarship, seeking a career in basketball, and one day possibly making it in the NBA. OP has now sent close to 40 graduates into coveted Division 1 NCAA programs with seven of those grads making it to the NBA.

Lady Dicks, the irreverent buddy-cop drama from CBC and NBCUniversal International Studios, starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is The New Black), has announced a series title change. Centred around two radically different female detectives in their early 40s, the Ontario-shot one-hour drama will now be titled “Pretty Hard Cases” after concerns from gender rights advocates about “derogatory use of the two words together…”

HISTORY’s hit drama series Vikings will return Jan. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT for the first of its highly anticipated final 10 episodes. It will then air Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT for the nine remaining episodes to conclude the epic saga. Viewers can catch up on past seasons and stream the final episodes of Vikings live on STACKTV via Amazon Prime Video. The Emmy Award-winning series from creator and writer Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors) is an international Irish/Canadian co-production by TM Productions and Take 5 Productions. MGM Television serves as the worldwide distributor outside of Ireland and Canada. Vikings is produced in association with Corus Entertainment.

Russell Peters is staging limited release New Year’s Eve global pay-per-view event Russell Peters & Friends. The special features Jason Collings (The Tonight Show), Crystal Marie Denha (MTV’s Punk’d), Jeff Joe (the new kid!), Jimmy Shubert, and Peters himself in an intimate club setting. Russell Peters & Friends will be available for viewing globally beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time Dec. 31 until end of day Jan. 1. Advanced tickets are available now.

 

Blue Ant Media has launched new live streaming service, HauntTV, with superfans of the paranormal in mind. Joining The Roku Channel as a live TV channel, HauntTV is available to Canadians free of charge, on Roku streaming devices, and grants audiences access to Blue Ant Media’s extensive library of original and acquired ghostly programming, including Ghostly Chasers, Ghostly Encounters and World’s Scariest Hauntings

Super Channel Fuse debuts new hour-long, six-part series, Secrets in the Ice, on Jan. 5. The unscripted series from Toronto’s Shark Teeth Films travels to mysterious frozen lakes filled with bones, glaciers concealing mummified bodies, and uncovers a 30,000-year-old virus frozen in ice brought back to life in a laboratory. Each episode will be available on Super Channel On Demand the day following its weekly linear broadcast. The series is co-financed and distributed globally by Boat Rocker Studios.

Global has announced new series and season premieres dropping in the New Year including the anticipated debuts of new dramas Clarice (Feb. 11) and The Equalizer (Feb. 7 following the Super Bowl), alongside new comedy Call Your Mother (Jan. 14). These new shows join returning series Prodigal Son (Jan. 12), 9-1-1 (Jan. 18), and Tough As Nails (Feb. 10). New episodes of Global Original Private Eyes, which moves to Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Jan. 7, also return, in addition to some of Global’s most-watched series from the fall including NCIS, FBI, FBI: Most Wanted, and S.W.A.T.

Steve Hodge & Tiffany Pratt

Food Network Canada’s winter schedule is being bolstered by new Corus Studios Original series Project Bakeover (Feb. 4), which follows prominent pastry chef Steve Hodge (Great Chocolate Showdown) and HGTV Canada designer Tiffany Pratt, as they use their expertise to revive struggling bakery businesses across North America. John Catucci also returns with new episodes of Corus Studios’ Big Food Bucket List, in addition to a new season of Kids Baking Championship, hosted by Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli (Jan. 4), Chopped (Jan. 5) and new stunt series Chopped $50,000 Champs Challenge where four repeat champions compete. New competition series Kitchen Crash with host Jeff Mauro hits the schedule Jan. 10 as chefs head to a local neighbourhood to raid homeowners’ fridges and pantries for a cooking battle in the streets. 

APTN is presenting a unique winter adaptation of APTN Indigenous Day Live, Dec. 21-25 across its channels. The first-ever APTN Indigenous Day Live Winter Solstice celebration will air in five one-hour broadcasts. Hosted by Earl Wood and Janelle Wookey, performers include Alanis Morissette, Bebe Buckskin, Don Amero, Jeremy Dutcher, and PIQSIQ, among others. The broadcasts will be available for streaming on APTN lumi 24 hours after airing.

Pacific Screenwriting Program has announced its 2021 Scripted Series Lab participants. This cohort includes Ryan Atimoyoo, a Cree writer/filmmaker from Little Pine Reserve, who holds a joint MFA in Screenwriting and Film Production from the University of British Columbia; Jordan Hall, an award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose work focuses on climate change, the exploration of genre, and feminist representation; Sarah Kelley, an emerging Anishinaabe writer from Golden Lake, ON; Emma Peterson, who has 10 years experience working in the film industry in Vancouver, including producing her own award-winning web series; Katie Weekley, a producer moving into a writing career; and Norman Yi Li, an emerging screenwriter and producer, based in Vancouver. 

The Quebecor Fund Board of Directors has announced the list of Canadian production companies that will receive financial backing in the 41st round of the fund’s Television Production Assistance Program, for which submissions closed Oct. 1. The fund will disburse a total of nearly $2.3 million this round. Among the productions funded are a TVA Group production on the Lac Megantic disaster, and Xavier Dolan’s first television drama for Club Illico, based on Michel-Marc Bouchard’s play, La nuit où Laurier Gaudreault s’est réveillé. 

ONLINE & DIGITAL MEDIA:

Press Forward has launched, a new national association that aims to unify and advocate for independent, community-focused journalism in Canada. With a mission to boost innovation, inclusivity and diversity in media, founding members include The Sprawl, La Converse, West End Phoenix, The Discourse, The Tyee, The Narwhal, National Observer, The Coast and Village Media. Emma Gilchrist, Editor-in-Chief at The Narwhal, is serving as the group’s founding chair. 

Canadian Jewish News will be making a comeback in the New Year after folding in April amid pandemic advertising revenue pressures. With a new board of directors headed by business journalist Bryan Borzykowski and newly-granted charitable status, the publication will be revived outside the traditional media model, producing digital content, e-newsletters, podcasts, and publishing twice-yearly magazines at Passover and Rosh Hashanah. Yoni Goldstein, who has served as editor since 2014, will continue in that role.

CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts have unveiled the slate of digital projects funded by the Digital Originals initiative, announced in April. More than 1,000 projects in every province and territory were supported by $5,000 microgrants from the Canada Council, for a total investment of $5.2 million. CBC/Radio-Canada is showcasing a selection of projects on CBC.ca and Radio-Canada.ca. Digital projects include I Am Puff, an animated children’s series by artist Dawn Birley that aims to bring back the Saturday morning cartoon, but with American Sign Language (ASL); Steven Thomas Davies’ Our Changing Worlds, a documentary about how Indigenous communities are responding to COVID-19; and AfrotoniX au sommet de Montréal, a Sept. 2020 concert live-streamed from the roof of Montreal’s Place Ville-Marie.

Bell Media says the Crave app is now available on PlayStation® 5 consoles. Crave is now available on both PS5 and PS4, giving users access to programming from HBO, HBO MAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ, Crave Originals, and French-language TV and films from SUPER ÉCRAN, directly from their PlayStation system. Launching on PS5 and PS4 creates additional reach for Crave, which is also available via participating television providers, and other digital media players including Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, select Samsung Smart TVs, and Xbox One. Bell says additional platforms will be announced soon.

REGULATORY, TELECOM & MEDIA:

The CRTC says it will address CBC/Radio-Canada’s branded content initiative, Tandem, during the public hearing phase of the public broadcaster’s licence renewal in January. The commission has added a letter to the public record signed by 25 high-profile former CBC employees. Those employees, who include former presidents Tony Manera and Robert Rabinovitch, as well as Peter Mansbridge, Linden MacIntyre, Jane Chalmers, Kelly Crowe, and Elizabeth Gray, among others, are asking the commission to investigate CBC’s “past, current and planned use of branded content.” In the meantime, more than 500 former and current employees have signed on to the Stop Paid Content on CBC campaign.  

Percy Downe

Senator Percy Downe plans to introduce amendments to the Broadcasting Act to prevent CBC from accepting any sponsored content, in addition to requiring the public broadcaster to maintain local provincial broadcasts at current levels. Downe, who hails from P.E.I., is concerned about sponsored content undermining trust in the public broadcaster as well as the precedent set during the first wave of the pandemic when many local CBC-TV newscasts were cut back across the country. His amendment proposes giving the CRTC leave to impose a $2 million dollar a day fine for each day the CBC is in violation of its broadcast licensing agreement. Bill C-10 is currently at Second Reading in the House of Commons and expected to be in the Senate in the New Year. 

Catherine Tait

CBC is fighting back against a Canadaland story published Friday that claims President and CEO Catherine Tait has been living in a $5.4 million Brooklyn, New York brownstone with her husband and been travelling back and forth between the U.S. and Ottawa throughout the pandemic. According to a statement issued by CBC this week, Tait travelled to New York in late March to care for her husband, who lives there and had undergone a medical procedure. She then remained in the U.S. until June 8, when she returned home to Ottawa. She went to New York a second time Nov. 13 and will be returning to Ottawa on Dec. 27. CBC says the travel was done with the knowledge of the Board of Directors and that Tait continues to follow all quarantine requirements. Under the Broadcasting Act, the public broadcaster’s director must be “ordinarily resident in Canada.”

Quebecor-owned TVA Group has commissioned a survey from Léger to gauge Quebecers’ opinions on the role of public and private television networks in Quebec, ahead of CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal hearings in January and debate around Bill C-10. Among its highlights, the survey found that 78% of Quebecers believe it’s in the public interest for public and private networks to complement rather than compete on the content that they offer; 67% of respondents believe CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate should include a requirement that it not directly undermine the management and financial profitability of private networks; while 74% consider it unacceptable that Radio-Canada offer content available exclusively to paying subscribers on its Tou.tv Extra service. Quebecor is slated to present at the CRTC hearings on Jan. 19.

Canadian Heritage says it will be contacting broadcasters eligible to see Part II broadcasting licence fees waived for 2021-21. Announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the measure will provide as much as $50 million in relief for radio and television stations. Canadian Heritage has clarified that the measure does not include cable, satellite and IPTV providers (also known as broadcasting distribution undertakings) as their revenues are not as dependent on advertising. Broadcasters that benefit from the measure will need to meet certain conditions, including confirming a minimum 25% reduction of revenues due to the pandemic, and continuing to operate in compliance with their regulatory obligations regarding Canadian content for at least two years. 

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) has commissioned a new report from Accenture that indicates Canada’s telecommunications industry, defined as the facilities-based network operators supplying wireless and wireline connectivity services, directly contributed $74.5 billion in GDP to Canada’s economy, and supported 638,000 jobs in 2019. Looking ahead over the next five years, Accenture estimates the telecommunications industry value chain alone will contribute $199 – $235 billion in direct, indirect, and induced GDP to the Canadian economy while sustaining 300,000 to 350,000 jobs annually.

Rogers Communications is starting to roll out its 5G standalone core network, powered by Ericsson, in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Standalone 5G will maximize the capabilities of radio spectrum to accelerate coverage and advanced wireless capabilities, including Ultra-low latency to enable time-critical industrial automation applications; Network slicing, which will offer real-time, on-demand highways of 5G for industry and first responders, supporting reliable, low-latency data connectivity; and Mobile edge computing, bringing cloud computing power closer to the end user, enabling ultra-low latency. Meanwhile, Rogers says its 5G network has been expanded to 26 new cities and towns in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, now reaching 160 communities across the country.

Videotron is beginning the rollout of its 5G network, starting in Montréal and gradually extending to Québec’s other urban centres over the next few years in collaboration with Samsung. Videotron has been testing 5G technology under real-life conditions at the Open-Air Laboratory for Smart Living since 2019, in collaboration with the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and the Quartier de l’innovation, among others.

Videotron is suspending data limits and overage charges on all residential and business internet plans for its customers from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3 to help customers stay connected with loved ones during the holidays. Customers will be able to connect virtually without worrying about their data usage, as if they had an unlimited plan. The change will be applied automatically and is also intended to support the many seniors and people living alone for whom this could be a difficult holiday season. 

Xplornet Communications has announced it’s acquiring Ocdotus Inc., a fibre based service provider in southern Ontario operating under the name Metro Loop. Xplornet has acquired all of Metro Loop’s customers and operations in Hamilton and Haldimand County. The acquisition follows recent Xplornet fibre expansion announcements in Grey County and Bruce County, as well as ongoing fibre projects across eastern Ontario. Metro Loop’s employee team, including its President Jake Vandendool, will be joining Xplornet.

Unifor says Bell workers have secured the reversal of Wireless Home Internet (WHI) contracting-out in Ontario and Quebec. The union says it received confirmation from the company Dec. 14 that Bell has begun the process of repatriating all installation work performed by outside contractors working on WHI projects in those two provinces. The union says it will continue to campaign for an end to contracting out in the Atlantic provinces. 

Bell is the first wireless provider in Canada to offer cellular service for Family Setup, which allows family members without an iPhone to enjoy the features of Apple Watch. Set up through a parent’s iPhone, Family Watch allows parents to reach and track their child or older family member, assigned their own phone number through a separate cellular plan. Family Setup is available to Canadian customers with watchOS 7.2 and iOS 14.3, and requires cellular models of Apple Watch Series 4 or later or Apple Watch SE, paired with iPhone 6s or later.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and a coalition of more than a dozen press freedom and human rights groups are calling on the Canadian government to help protect the lives of foreign journalists at risk. In a letter written to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco El Mendicino, the coalition asks that the government introduce a “Journalists at Risk” program within Canada’s existing refugee system. The proposal suggests allowing at least 100 “high risk” foreign journalists annually into Canada on a fast-track option. CJFE says last year more than 50 journalists were killed worldwide, while dozens of others were imprisoned or disappeared without a trace. 

New Canadian Media (NCM), the non-profit news portal that showcases journalism from an immigrant perspective, has partnered with the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) to offer a joint membership program to help amplify multicultural voices in Canadian journalism. NCM invites journalists currently working with multicultural media outlets to join the NCM-CAJ Collective. Membership includes professional development, mentorship, and other supports to help each journalist reach their fullest potential.

BROADCAST TECH & ENGINEERING:

Broadcast Dialogue - NAB Show

NAB Show says more than 540 companies have contracted to exhibit at the 2021 show, set to take place Oct. 9–13, 2021 in Las Vegas. Companies from 31 countries have made early commitments, including major brands AT&T, Adobe Systems, Amazon Web Services, Audio-Technica U.S., Blackmagic Design, Dolby Laboratories, Grass Valley, Nautel, Panasonic, Rohde & Schwarz, Ross Video, Sony Electronics, Verizon Media, Vizrt, Wheatstone Corporation, and WideOrbit, among others. “Research indicates that our partners, attendees and audience are eager to return to major in-person shows, and we are encouraged by the industry’s early engagement,” said Eric Trabb, NAB’s SVP of Business Development. “Despite the uncertain environment, the initial demand has exceeded our expectations and points to an exciting return for NAB Show.” NAB Show is also planning new attractions focused on content, delivery and streaming: CineCentral will serve as the basecamp for developments in pre-production, production and post; Future of Delivery represents the intersection of content, marketing and technology, exploring topics impacting distribution and delivery in media; while The Streaming Experience will showcase all things streaming in an interactive living room environment. As previously announced, the show will co-locate with the Audio Engineering Society (AES) fall convention, the Radio Show and NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange

Futuri says in a year of unprecedented change in the way broadcasters do business and audiences consume content, usage of its AI-driven audience engagement and sales intelligence technology hit record highs. Analysis of 2020 product usage data shows TopicPulse, Futuri’s AI-powered story discovery, show prep, and social content system, saw 135,688,133 minutes — more than 94,000 days — of usage by partners in 2020. The 61% growth spike in user sessions TopicPulse saw earlier this year when disruptions began was sustained as broadcasters looked for new ways to discover and create content. Meanwhile, TopLine, Futuri’s sales intelligence system, helped deliver $130 million in advertising/sponsorship revenue for its partners in 2020. Despite a tough revenue year for media sales, that represents TopLine’s highest revenue number ever. 

Matrix, the global ad sales platform built for media, has launched the Media Ad Sales Council (MASC) to help advance the media ad sales ecosystem through automation, convergence, and inclusion. The new group, comprised of thought leaders from across the industry, will focus on identifying outcomes and workflows that will advance how television will be bought and sold within the next three years. Specifically, the group will examine the standard of measurement for all advertising, pinpoint manual buy-sell transactions that can be automated and explore the development of a next-gen independent rep firm platform. MASC members include founders Mark Gorman, CEO, Matrix and Brenda Hetrick, CRO, Matrix, and contributing members Al Lustgarten, SVP, Hearst Television; Joe Lampert, Senior Program Manager, OmniMedia Solutions Group; Melanie Webb, VP Sales Operations, Tegna; Missy Evenson, VP Sales, Local Media, E.W. Scripps; Brett Adamczyk, VP Finance and Strategy, Cox Media Group; Peter Jones, Head of Local Sales/Sr. Director, Strategic Partners, Premion.