Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly newspaper in Steinbach, Man., purchased by Winnipeg Free Press owner

The Carillon weekly newspaper and Derksen Printers Ltd. in Steinbach, Man., have been acquired by FP Newspapers Inc. which indirectly has a controlling stake in the Winnipeg Free Press and Brandon Sun. Derksen Printers Ltd., a family-owned business that traces its history in Steinbach to 1936, produces numerous weekly and monthly publications in rural Manitoba including the Carillon. It employs about 50 people.
"We believe there's a solid business base, and a motivated group of employees who we look forward to working with to grow the business in this very important part of the province," said Dan Koshowski, FP's chief financial officer.

Award to photos taken from Google Street View cause stir

A submission by German artist and photographer Michael Wolf -grainy photographs taken from Google Street View -garnered an honourable mention in the contemporary issues category of the prestigious World Press Photo competition. The award has caused quite a stir in the news photography community. Wolf won first place in the World Press Photo competition in 2005 and 2010 and is acknowledged this year for the photographs titled A Series of Unfortunate Events. The photos are slices of incidental moments in time. Wolf secured his camera to a tripod to zoom into a virtual image to take a "picture of a picture." The subjects and locations are anonymous, and context is practically non-existent, all of which ignore basic elements of journalism.

Click on the title to read the full story in the National Post.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Elliot Spitzer's co-host gets the boot at CNN

Kathleen Parker (pictured), the co-host with former New York governor Elliot Spitzer of the Parker Spitzer Show, will leave the ratings-challenged program after just four months, the cable news channel announced. CNN said that Parker will "focus on her writing." The former governor will take the primetime news program in a "new direction," with an ensemble format featuring nightly guests and contributors. CNN Executive Vice President Ken Jautz said the show will be renamed In the Arena. "I am extremely proud of the show we created," Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist with The Washington Post, said in a statement.

CBC got it wrong on cigarette labels story: Ombudsman

CBC’s ombudsman says a TV broadcast last December on CBC’s flagship newscast The National, that accused the Harper government of bending to pressure by the tobacco lobby, missed its mark. The item, reported by Diana Swain (pictured), concluded that the government had “shelved” plans for tough new labels on cigarette packages because tobacco company lobbyists pressured the government.
The National’s conclusion of a causal relationship, in which the lobbying seemed to be the reason for the shelving, was insufficiently supported to meet CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices that call for facts and evidence to arrive at conclusions,” CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe wrote in a nine-page report released late Friday. In fact, the new anti-smoking labels weren’t shelved at all but were unveiled by the government a few weeks after the broadcast was aired. LaPointe delivered his ruling in response to a complaint about Swain’s item by Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications.

Labour dispute ends at Journal de Montreal

After a 764-day lockout, unionized workers at the Journal de Montreal newspaper voted 64.1% in favour of their employer's latest offer on Saturday. Quebecor, which owns Sun Media newspapers and the QMI Agency newswire, locked out 253 unionized employees at the Journal de Montreal on Jan 24, 2009, including reporters, editors, photographers and office workers. The union's bargaining committee asked its members to abide by a mediator's decision on whether to accept Quebecor's latest offer. As a part of the new deal, 60 of the 253 locked-out workers can return to their jobs at the newspaper, while $20 million in severance pay will be divided amongst the rest.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

CRTC ditches bid to allow fake news

Canada's broadcasting regulator has abandoned its attempt to change a regulation that prohibits the dissemination of false or misleading news. The decision from the CRTC followed a meeting last week of Parliament’s joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations, which ended its 10-year bid to get the regulation to comply with the law. The committee was concerned that the regulation violated a 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, which found that the Charter of Rights provision protecting freedom of expression meant a person could not be charged for spreading false information. After ignoring the committee's letters for years, CRTC said in December it would consider changing the regulation..But the CRTC's call for public input on the proposal resulted in a tidal wave of angry responses from Canadians who said they feared such a move would open the door to Fox TV-style news.

Google tweaks search to punish 'low-quality' sites

Google has tweaked the formulas steering its Internet search engine to lower the rankings of what Google deems "low-quality" sites. That could be a veiled reference to such sites as Demand Media's, which critics call online "content farms" — that is, sites producing cheap, abundant, mostly useless content that ranks high in search results. Sites that produce original content or information that Google considers valuable are supposed to rank higher under the new system. The change affects about 12 percent, or nearly one in every eight, search requests in the U.S.
Google spent about a year trying to come up with a way to judge the quality of the content posted on the site. That focus could hurt Demand Media, which depends on search engines for about 41 percent of the traffic to its websites, with most of those referrals coming from Google. Demand Media, based in Santa Monica,CA., assigns roughly 13,000 freelance writers to produce stories about frequently searched topics and then sells ads alongside the content at its own websites, including and, and about 375 Internet other destinations operated by its partners. Articles range from the likes of "How to Tie Shoelaces" to "How to Bake a Potato" and more. Many of the ads appearing alongside those articles are sold by Google, which accounts for about one-fourth of Demand Media's revenue of $253 million last year. Demand Media said it doesn't consider itself a "content farm" or "content mill," but rather as a more responsive approach to addressing topics on people's minds.

Click on the title to read the full Associated Press story.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New media emerge in 'liberated' Libya

New radio stations and other news outlets have emerged in eastern Libya where opponents of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi have seized control. A new daily newspaper - called Libya - has appeared in the country's second city Benghazi, where residents have been celebrating their ''liberation'' with huge demonstrations. And two opposition-controlled radio stations, thought to be using the transmitters of Libyan state radio that have fallen into opposition hands, have been heard from neighbouring countries. "Radio Free Libya from the Green Mountain" - presumed to be beaming from al-Bayda - has been urging other Libyan cities to join the "revolution". Libyan activists have been using a separate, web-based radio to broadcast phone calls from opposition supporters. Their location is unknown and broadcasts have been intermittent.

(From the BBC)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Zealand quake crushes TV station, newspaper

Though an official death tally has not been released after the Christchurch offices of Canterbury Television (CTV) collapsed, the station said in a statement: "Many of our staff are missing and lives have been lost." A CTV executive told the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday that around 15 staff members were unaccounted for. Twenty-three bodies have been recovered from the building that housed the offices, along with an English-language school, and 120 bodies may still be trapped in the wreckage, according to The Associated Press. Police said no more survivors were expected to be found, AP reported. One unnamed staff member of The Press daily newspaper was also killed when the publication's offices partially collapsed, according to local news reports.

Anti-Gaddafi uprising publishes newspaper

Anti-government uprising and protests that swept Libya over the past days published a newspaper in attempt to cast light on the latest developments in the country, Libya's Quryna newspaper said. The "Feb. 17 revolution" has published its first edition of " Libya" newspaper on Wednesday. The paper carried "We do not surrender. Score a victory or die," the famous slogan of Libya's legendary leader Omar al-Mukhtar, who fought an uprising against the Italian rule and was hanged in 1931. The paper published an article titled "The paranoid and the last speech," in an appointed reference to Tuesday's address given by leader Muammar Gaddafi in which he said he would not resign and vowed to fight to the end.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rotisserie Channel spinning in a TV near you

It’s all about the Rotisserie Channel. Yes, you read that right: The Rotisserie Channel — a channel that’s dedicated to showing spinning, cooking chickens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The channel will be launched Feb. 28 on channel 208. Unlike the Fireplace Channel, which launched an HD version on Rogers at Christmas, the Rotisserie Channel will only be available in standard definition. Rogers was approached with the idea by the Swiss Chalet chain of restaurants and their advertising firm, BBDO Toronto. While Rogers has other 24/7 channels — the Aquarium Channel and the Sunset Channel — this is the first time a company has approached the cable company with their own proposal. “We were really excited,” Mark Daprato, Swiss Chalet’s vice-president of business development said about the company’s reaction when the idea was brought to them by BBDO

Libya threatens to treat western journalists as 'outlaws'

Journalists from the BBC, CNN and other western media who have entered Libya will be "considered outlaws", the country's deputy foreign minister warned on Wednesday. Khalid Kayem said that the influx of reporters who have streamed across Libya's border with Egypt in the past 24 hours are there "illegally and will be considered outlaws", according to the news agency AFP. Journalists from across the world have been entering Libya through its eastern border with Egypt over the past day, as Muammar Gaddafi loses his grip on that part of the country. Reporters from US broadcasters CNN and NPR also crossed Libya's border with Egypt late on Tuesday. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, an NPR reporter, described Libyans in the east as "very excited to see western journalists".
However, the Libyan capital, Tripoli, remains inaccessible for foreign journalists as government militiamen clamp down on dissenters.

Streaming video a threat to cable: Producers' group

An association representing television-and film-production companies says policymakers need to consider whether Netflix and similar Web services should be charged a fee to help fund Canadian productions. The Canadian Media Production Association believes Netflix, and other services that offer streaming video content, such as Hulu, Google TV, Apple TV and iTunes, represent a threat to the current business models of the cable companies. If people quit cable, or even scale back to use these Web-based services, it will have an impact on the funding of Canadian content. Cable companies in Canada are required to use part of their revenue to fund Canadian productions and must also dedicate part of their programming to Canadian content, but Netflix and others have no such requirements.

Las Vegas Review-Journal cuts investigative unit

Nevada's largest newspaper says it has laid off 12 employees and cut its special projects unit, which does investigative journalism, as part of a restructuring because of the economy. Officials for the Las Vegas Review-Journal said Tuesday the newspaper eliminated five newsroom positions, five production positions and two administrative jobs. Editor Michael Hengel says the move is because of the economy, not a reflection of new leadership at the newspaper owned by Stephens Media LLC.

Judith Sulzberger of NYT's family dies at 87

Judith P. Sulzberger, a physician and member of the family that controls The New York Times, has died at age 87. Sulzberger died Monday at home in Manhattan, the newspaper reported Tuesday. The cause of her death wasn't disclosed, The Associated Press reported. Sulzberger was the granddaughter of Adolph S. Ochs, who bought the newspaper in 1896. Her father, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and brother, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, were publishers of the Times. Her nephew Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. is the current publisher. Judith Sulzberger served on the Times' board of directors from 1974 to 2000 and was a principal owner of the company under a trust, the newspaper said.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World media massed to enter Libya once border opens

Journalists from newspapers and broadcasters across the world, including ITV News and the New York Times, are descending on the Libyan border as anti-government protests intensify against Muammar Gaddafi's regime. A blanket ban on foreign journalists entering Libya has meant that facts are increasingly hard to verify. The BBC is one of the only international news organisations with a correspondent in Libya's capital, Tripoli, where government and state television buildings came under attack on Monday. Many western news organisations – including the Associated Press, the Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian – have been restricted to reporting from neighbouring countries, usually Egypt. However, the world's media was today preparing for the "floodgates to open" on Egypt's western border as the uprising threatens to engulf Gaddafi's 41-year rule in Libya.

New Zealand newspaper trying to cope with eartqhquake

Fairfax Media's daily newspaper in Christchurch The Press based in Cathedral Square, has been affected by today's earthquake. Allen Williams CEO Fairfax Media NZ has said late this afternoon "our priority is our staff and their families in making sure that they are safe and that we support them in every way we can. Most of The Press team have gone home to be with their families. However this afternoon we had four staff members who remained trapped in the building that has been badly damaged. Two have since been located and rescued and we continue to work with emergency services to free our remaining staff". The Press is publishing tomorrow and has a team of reporters, photographers and editors - from Christchurch and other Fairfax regions - working to cover news of the earthquake from our Logistics Drive printing plant facility near the airport which remains operational.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lew Gloin, chief Star copy editor, dead at 83

Born in St. Thomas, Ont. on June 27, 1927, Lew Gloin worked at the St. Thomas Times-Journal, the Sarnia Observer and the Hamilton Daily News before joining the Star as a copy editor in 1962. In his more than 25 years at the Star, Gloin also worked as news editor and books editor. After retirement, he continued to write a column for the Star called Words.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No mention of Lara Logan assault on Al Jazeera web page

Google her name on the Al Jazeera web page and this comes up under Richard Gizbert's "Listening Post," a segment that covers media:

"In this week's main feature we follow foreign correspondent Lara Logan's stand against American network CBS. Logan produced a piece called Battle for Haifa Street about violence on the streets of Baghdad. The network refused to run it deeming it "too strong". In frustration Logan sent out an email to friends and colleagues stating the segment was too important to ignore."

It appears to be from 2007.

Gizbert cut his teeth at CJOH in Ottawa and later worked for ABC before joining Al-Jazeera.

'Egyptian man names daughter "Facebook" in tribute to success of protests'

The recent protests in Egypt began with a Facebook event invite that brought thousands to the streets - and in tribute to the successes born from that social media state, a young man has reportedly named his firstborn daughter "Facebook". Social media networks played a crucial role in the protests that have swept the Arab world in the past two months, leading the Egyptian government to shut down internet services for a prolonged spell in an attempt to curb the mass turnout of anti-government demonstrators. According to a report carried by Tech Crunch quoting the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the baby's full name is 'Facebook' Jamal Ibrahim (the father's name). Facebook's family, friends and neighbors are reportedly pleased with her unconventional name, according to Tech Crunch.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Don Cherry renews contract with Hockey Night in Canada to 2012

Don Cherry's not going anywhere, at least not for another season of Hockey Night in Canada. The outspoken commentator renewed his contract with HNIC through the 2011-2012 season, CBC announced on Saturday.
"Don has been a part of the CBC Hockey Night in Canada family since 1980, generating passion and debate among hockey fans everywhere," said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC English Services.
Cherry will continue to co-host his hugely popular first intermission Coach's Corner segment with Ron MacLean every Saturday night and through the duration of the Stanley Cup playoffs next season.

Apple's slice makes the iPad a bad deal for newspapers

Apple will take 30% of revenues from subscriptions sold through its app store. That makes iPad editions almost as expensive to distribute and sell as print copies.

Click on the title to read the Observer story.

The cost of integrity--the story of an Afghanistan newspaper

As one of Afghanistan's largest-circulation newspapers, with a rich history and a reputation for fierce independence, the Kabul Weekly has been widely courted. Several foreign embassies -- representing neighbouring countries and Western nations -- have offered funding, but only in exchange for influence over its coverage. One embassy even wanted to buy it and turn it into a virtual propaganda sheet for that country, says Ahmad Zia Kechkenni, an Afghan-Canadian journalist whose brother edits the publication. The Weekly has refused all such come-ons, however, and now appears to be paying the price for its integrity. With long-time advertisers withdrawing their support -- possibly because of the paper's outspoken criticism of the Karzai government -- it says it will close down within a month if it does not find some other source of revenue.

Click on the title to read the full story by the National Post's Tom Blackwell.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hungary to leave controversial media law’s core intact

Hungary has drafted a new version of its media law after criticism from the European Commission. Most of the controversial sections will remain unchanged. The government says that the amendments won’t change the legislation much. They will only make the law “more precise,” while preventing “Hungary from losing its prestige,” said Zoltan Kovacs, Hungarian state secretary in charge of communication. The Hungarian parliament could approve the changes within two weeks, Mr. Kovacs said. The Fidesz party, after winning last year’s general election in a landslide, introduced a new media law Jan. 1 to address what it saw as imbalanced and sensationalist media content. Critics have said the legislation may be used to gag the press while decisions will be made by the ruling party’s loyal appointees to the Media Council, which is to oversee the industry. The new media law drew criticism from the European Commission and brought protesters to the street. (pictured)

Google starts up newspaper subscription service to rival Apple's

Google has launched a digital newspaper and magazine subscription service less than a day after rival Apple. Eric Schmidt, chief executive of the web search giant, yesterday said Google would take 10per cent of the cash collected via its One Pass digital newsagent service, with 90per cent going to publishers. Apple's system will see it take a 30per cent cut from subscriptions bought through iPad and iPhone apps.
Google will also provide publishers with the names and email addresses of readers, while Apple has refused to share customers' details. Schmidt said Google would not profit from the service, and explained that the company's 10per cent cut was to cover costs. The service is available now in the UK, the US, Canada, France, Spain, and Germany. It is available via tablet devices, smartphones and PCs. Google said publishers can charge readers as much or as little as they like and offer single issue purchases to long subscriptions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lara Logan: What was CBS thinking?

The question is, what was CBS thinking when it was decided that Lara Logan would go to Egypt and cover those roiling, intensely emotional demonstrations? Oh we know, it's terribly sexist to suggest that a women reporter shouldn't be able to go just anywhere she wishes in pursuit of the story. But older heads, both male and female, who worried about it before the fact must surely be harboring a lot of regret today. Maybe they didn't think Ms Logan was actually going to be in the middle of that alien powder keg. We have no way of knowing but maybe Ms Logan considers her terrible ordeal to have been part of what the new woman must face. Like death on the battlefield. Maybe.

CRTC goes after loud TV commercials

The government regulator has picked up the challenge of loud TV commercials again. It's a perennial complaint but, unlike in the U.S., has never resulted in legislation in Canada. For decades broadcasters have fudged the issue by saying the peak loudness of programming and commercials was the same. It was merely that the commercials had more peaks. Uh-huh. CRTC Release

Justice Abella's dissent on cabbie appeal

Jusice Abella has recorded a lone and material dissent to the Andre Arthur decision by her colleagues (see below). Part of the text: "Here, an ordinary person would conclude that the remarks were defamatory of the plaintiffs and therefore injurious. The talk show host accused Arab and Haitian taxi drivers of creating “Third World” public transportation in MontrĂ©al, of corruption, of incompetence and of keeping unsanitary cars. He said that neither Arab nor Haitian drivers knew their way around the city and that they could not communicate in either English or French. He denigrated Arab drivers as “fakirs” and the Creole language as “nigger”. The remarks were blatantly racist, highly stigmatizing, and vilified members of vulnerable communities. While the group targeted was large, it was not so diffuse as to be indeterminate. The comments were aimed at a group of individuals who were of particular racial backgrounds in a particular industry and in a particular city. The group was defined with sufficient precision and the comments were specific enough to raise, objectively, the clear possibility not only of harm to reputation, but also of harmful economic consequences from customers." Full decision linked at the headline.

SCOC sides with radio host in Montreal cabbie fight

Hurt feelings no doubt. But, says the SCOC in a 6-1 decision, no inuury was done by Andre Arthur's opinion about Arab and Haitian taxi drivers in Montreal. In his 1998 remarks on CKVL-FM, Arthur said Arab and Haitian drivers were incompetent, that their cabs were dirty and that they obtained their licences by bribery. That sparked a class-action lawsuit filed by Fares Bou Malhab, president of a taxi drivers' union, on behalf of over 1,000 Arab and Haitian cabbies. CTV News

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Twitter Trends Driven By Mainstream Media

Traditional news services like CNN and the BBC are more influential than bloggers and individual tweeters, says an HP Labs analysis of 16.32 million tweets on 3,361 topics sent over 40 days. InformationWeek

Debating the meaning of political polls

Thoughtful article discussing the provocative question: Are political polls good or bad for democracy? Pollsters John Wright and Darrell Bricker sound a little religious warning that without polls politicians will successfully “push their own distorted view of public opinion.” No doubt. But they do that anyway. And democracy did survive without pollsters.

CBS reporter beaten, sexually assaulted in Egypt.

CBS correspondent Lara Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob while covering the jubilation in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Reuters

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ottawa to appeal Federal Court ruling on Globalive

Is Globalive Canadian enough? A matter of opinion seeking status as a fact. The debate rages.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jack Fleischmann to head CTV Newschannel

Memo from CTV president of news Wendy Freeman today:

It is with great pleasure that I announce today that Jack Fleischmann will take on expanded duties and will be taking over as head of CTV Newschannel while continuing to manage BNN. Jack began his career in television in 1975, as a Parliamentary reporter at CJOH, Ottawa. He than worked for CTV News as an Ottawa Bureau producer. Jack wrote and produced for CTV News, was the Executive Producer for Canada AM and CTV News Specials. Jack also Executive produced The CTV National News. In 1990, Jack launched Report on Business Television (ROBTv) and has been General Manager of BNN since 1992 which has been a huge success. This is an exciting time for CTV Newschannel and I look forward to working with Jack as he leads Newschannel to new levels of excellence and success. Please join me in welcoming Jack and congratulating him on his new and expanded role.

Toronto media falls madly for Nenshi

Hometown Edmonton Journal on how Hogtown just can't get enough of the new mayor.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Iran sets up office to prosecute the media

Iran's official news agency says the judiciary has set up a special prosecutor's office for offenses related to media and culture. The move signaled new restrictions on journalists and artists, many of whom supported widespread protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. Washington Post

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jim Reed dead at 75 from lung cancer

Long-time W5 host and reporter Jim Reed has died of lung cancer, his family said Saturday. Reed, 75, also worked for CBC and TVO. His major stories at W5 included an exclusive interview with Susan Nelles, the nurse wrongly accused of murder at Toronto's Sick Kids hospital, and an interview with Yasser Arafat. He often reported on veterans, journeying to France with one of them for the 40th anniversary of D-Day. He also did a number of entertaining stories, including one on a nudist colony in France. Photo by Peter Rehak

Friday, February 11, 2011

FAN cans Andrew Krystal in the mornings

The station calls it a "worthwhile endeavor" but Krystal's morning show gets the axe anyway. Toronto Star

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aaron Vincent Elkaim wins Tom Hanson photo award

A freelance photographer from Toronto whose work has appeared in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the National Post has been named the winner of the second annual Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award. The Canadian Journalism Foundation and The Canadian Press declared Aaron Vincent Elkaim (pictured) the winner Thursday out of a strong field of entries. Elkaim, who was one of the finalists in last year's inaugural competition, will join staff at The Canadian Press for a six-week internship later this year. The award was created in memory of Hanson, a renowned Canadian Press photojournalist who died suddenly in 2009 at the age of 41.

Student protesters claim responsibility for smoke-bombing Quebecor headquarters

The head offices of media giant Quebecor Inc. were evacuated Thursday after smoke bombs were set off inside. The Montreal police and fire department rushed to the scene, located in the city's financial district, about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Among the few hundred people ushered outside were journalists from various Sun Media outlets in town for meetings. They were able to re-enter the building after about an hour. There were no reports of any serious damage or injuries. Police said student demonstrators, protesting against Quebec tuition-fee hikes, entered the building and quickly rushed out. A self-described student group took responsibility for the act in a news release. The release was issued in the name of a student group at a Montreal college; it cited, falsely, a prominent Quebec film-maker as the organization spokesman.

Ford (the car company, not the mayor) says it has learned a lot about using social media

Speaking at the Chicago Auto Show, Jim Farley, Ford’s vice president of global marketing, said the auto company has learned a lot about how to effectively employ social media with the introduction of a new Ford Explorer that is manufactured in Chicago. Ford decided against introducing the new Explorer via a traditional television ad campaign. Instead, seven months before the first Explorer was sold, Ford started a conversation with fans of the sport utility vehicle on Facebook. Ford wound up with nearly 140,000 fans of the new Explorer. The customer feedback from those tens of thousands of Facebook fans helped the auto maker develop the subsequent print and TV campaigns for the Explorer launch. That ad campaign focuses on the American family and the theme of the “great American road trip.”

Bell faces its biggest backlash ever as online use tracker proves faulty

Bell Canada has removed the tool its uses to monitor consumers' Internet data usage and started reversing charges to some customers amid one of the biggest consumer backlashes in the company's history. Furor over the usage-based billing (UBB) issue reached new heights yesterday after the company posted an acknowledgment that the online tool -meant to allow customers to track data usage so they don't go over their monthly cap was faulty. Bell has been blasted by smaller Internet service providers and the public for trying to push its usage-based billing practices onto smaller ISPs that use its network. A CRTC decision would have allowed it to impose the controversial practice before the federal government got involved last week and ordered the CRTC to reconsider.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

English tribunal says Tweets are not private

The British Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in London has ruled that messages posted on Twitter are not "private." The PCC, which is a quasi judicial body for the newspaper industry, gave the ruling in the High Court in London when a manager at the UK's Department of Transport Sarah Baskerville complained that newspapers had infringed on her privacy when they published a series of her tweets. The Daily Mail and the Independent had published messages from the complainant. Baskerville said that her tweets were intended to be seen by her 700 "followers", a closed group. The newspapers argued against the claim and pointed to the fact that the complainant had not tried to place restrictions to the access to her Twitter account. The PCC said Baskerville's messages were not private. It said, "It was quite clear that the potential audience for the information was actually much larger than the 700 people who followed the complainant directly, not least because any message could easily be retweeted to a wider audience."

Shaw backs away from usage-based Internet billing

Shaw Communications announced Tuesday it is suspending its plan to charge customers for going over their Internet usage limits. And company president Peter Bissonnette suggested flat-rate, unlimited Internet service is an option that could be considered in new plans. The company will consult with the public for two months, then weigh its options and announce a new service plan later this spring. The reversal was a response to consumer outrage fuelled by plans to crack down on Shaw customers who exceed the bandwidth caps. Shaw’s plans to charge the extra fees coincided with a recent CRTC decision that, if introduced, would have effectively ended unlimited Internet plans in Canada.

Arianna sold out: Washington Post columnist

Did Arianna Huffington just sell out her fellow progressives? In the literal sense, she undoubtedly has: The sale of Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million (including a large pile of cash going to Huffington herself) means this powerful liberal voice is formally joining the "corporate media" its writers have long disparaged. There are also some indications that she has sold out in the ideological sense and committed the Huffington Post to joining the mainstream media - the evil "MSM" of "HuffPo" blogger ire. See video.

Click on the title for the full column by Dana Millbank,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BCE makes executive changes at CTV

Clockwise from upper left Ivan Fecan, Susanne Boyce, Paul Gossling, Dawn Fell, Paul Sparkes, Alon Marcovici
Five high-profile members of the broadcaster's management team are leaving, including programming guru Susanne Boyce, according to an internal memo obtained by The Globe and Mail. They will be followed by CTVglobemedia president and chief executive officer Ivan Fecan, who announced last summer that he will be leaving the company once BCE’s $1.3-billion deal to buy CTVglobemedia closes in early April.
The departing executives are chief financial officer John Gossling; executive vice-president of corporate affairs Paul Sparkes; Ms. Boyce, president of creative, content and channels; executive vice-president of digital media Alon Marcovici, who was promoted to an executive role less than six months ago; and Dawn Fell, the executive vice-president of human resources and operations. Wendy Freeman remains as head of news and current events programming, a position she was promoted to in January; and Chris Gordon stays on as head of radio and will be handling “a significant new radio initiative” in the spring, possibly the launch of the long-rumoured TSN branded network of stations. A BCE import and the new chief operating officer of CTVglobemedia, Kevin Crull, made the announcement about the changes to his team in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Click on the title for the full story.

NDP’s hypocritical complaints ignore its own ‘U.S.-style’ ads: NatPost columnist

The National Post's Matt Gurney writes:
"Hoo boy. After NDP MP Charlie Angus expressed fears that Canada would reach American-style levels of poisoned political discourse, linked to the pending arrival of Sun News and the CRTC’s decision to water down its regulations against false news, Sun Media’s David Akin took to Twitter and launched a counter-attack. With a barrage of links, Aiken helpfully reminded the Canadian public of some of NDP moves that, evaluated fairly, wouldn’t have really done all that much to elevate the tone of our national political dialogue. A lot of them were familiar. There was Pat Martin’s bizarre asbestos puppet show. Or the time that an NDP MP accused Tory James Moore of surfing porn on his laptop while sitting in the House of Commons (the photos, which were not pornographic, were shots of his girlfriend taken on a beach vacation).
"But the real winner was a link on the NDP’s homepage titled Taking Aim, inviting members to become part of an ominously named Target Team. The map helpfully includes references to taking the Tories “head-on” … and a map of Canada covered in — you guessed it — bulls-eyes.
"Target Teams? Going after the Tories head-on? Targets scattered across the country, and a big scary dart picture? (Is the dart registered?) Text saying that the NDP is taking aim at Conservatives and plans to unseat the Prime Minister? Ugh, this all so martial and icky and violent. So Republican. Who’s running the NDP war room, Sarah Palin’s gunsmith?. ."

Click on the title to read the full post.

Latest retail ad idea: Facebook "pop-up" store

Roots Canada says it plans to use a Facebook “pop up” store to preview its spring collection, the latest example of a major Canadian retailer turning to social media to promote its brand. The web-based store, which could be up and running as soon as this week, would be similar to a pop up store in the physical world: a small, temporary site offering a limited collection to build brand awareness. Using Facebook to launch the digital version gives Roots instant access to the millions of Canadians who already use the social networking site to connect with family and friends, the company told Social Media Week, a conference at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management on Monday. “If you’re already on Facebook and you’re spending hours there, you don’t have to leave the site to shop,” Roots’ manager of online marketing and customer experience, Tanja Zelko, told the Toronto Star.

TPG asks: What does this do to newspaper ads?

Opposition parties, union criticize CRTC plan to lift ban on false news

A CRTC proposal that could make it easier to broadcast false or misleading news has prompted confusion and criticism among opposition MPs and consternation in at least one of the unions that represents Canadian journalists.It has also led to allegations of interference by the Prime Minister’s Office and a hastily called investigation by federal politicians, who were caught off guard by the move. A little-watched committee of Parliament has been pressing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for many years to do something about a regulation that bans the broadcast of false or misleading news because the wording appears to contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then, on Jan. 10, the commission announced it was seeking comments on a proposal to change the wording of the regulation to say that it applied only in cases in which broadcasters knew the information was false or misleading and that reporting it was likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public. The cut-off date for public input was set at Feb. 9.The decision caught many people by surprise.“We’ve looked everywhere to try to find out who’s pushing this, and we can’t find anybody,” said Peter Murdoch, the vice-president of media for the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union, which represents more than 20,000 journalists. “It’s totally bizarre. Nobody in the industry has called for it,” Mr. Murdoch said. “Where is the motivation for change that would lower the standards of truth and fairness in broadcast journalism?” NDP MP Charlie Angus noted that the proposed change precedes the start of Sun TV, a network that has been shepherded in large part by Kory Teneycke, the former director of communication to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Former BusinessWeek editor Stephen Adler named editor-in-chief of Reuters News

Stephen J. Adler (pictured) who left the top editing job at BusinessWeek when Bloomberg LP took over the magazine in 2009, will now take charge of the Reuters News service. Thomson Reuters Corp., the news and information provider that owns Reuters, said Monday that Adler has been named editor-in-chief effective immediately. He is taking over for David A. Schlesinger, who after four years at the helm is becoming chairman of Thomson Reuters China. Adler spent 16 years at The Wall Street Journal before serving as editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek for more than four years. He stepped down in December 2009 after Bloomberg bought the weekly and handed the reins to Josh Tyrangiel, then deputy managing editor of Time magazine.

Judge approves cameras in the closing arguments of the polygamy trial

When lawyers have their last chance to convince a judge of whether Canada's anti-polygamy laws should remain or be thrown out, cameras will be there to record the historic courtroom debate. A B.C. judge has decided television and web cameras will be allowed to film final arguments in the constitutional case which most observers agree will likely end up at the Supreme Court of Canada. Lawyer Dan Burnett, who successfully argued for the access on behalf of CBC and Global TV, said the judge's decision Monday could impact the openness of the courts to the media.
"It's quite an exciting development because (the judge) has indicated that not only will cameras be allowed, which has almost never occurred before in B.C., but also web casting of the entire argument, which will be a first," Burnett said.
In Monday's decision, no party involved in the case objected. Bauman's ruling imposes conditions requiring the cameras to focus only on the judge and the lawyers.

How HuffPo became a star _ and why AOL wants it: Excellent analysis by AP

The Associates Press writes:
"The deal showcases the brutal environment for print newspaper companies in the iPad age. Unlike The New York Times, The Huffington Post doesn't have to pay for trucks to deliver the printed product. Nor does it have to pay hundreds of journalists to gather news the way big-city newspapers do. AOL is projecting a 30 percent profit margin for the site this year and expects to wring $20 million of cost savings by combining HuffPo with its own news sites. The combination will reach about 117 million unique visitors a month in the U.S., according to research firm comScore Inc.

"But by aggregating — or sponging, as some call it — other news providers' content, sites like The Huffington Post, critics say, are poisoning the news revenue model and threatening the Fourth Estate along the way. The Huffington Post only has about 100 staffers, 90 percent fewer than the New York Times. But HuffPo benefits from all the journalists working for mainstream outfits by posting their content and running ads next to it. In other words, the HuffPo's success hinges on monetizing content other publishers pay for."

Click on the title to read the whole story.

Google executive released from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.

Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise. Wael Ghonim (pictured) was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet. Ghonim's release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
"Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it," Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.
He was seized in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, late last month as he joined tens of thousands of protesters in the city's Tahrir Square, the focal point of protests aimed at calling on Mubarak to step down from his 30-year-rule in Egypt.

AOL to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million

Online company AOL Inc. is buying online news hub The Huffington Post in a $315 million (U.S.) deal that represents a bold bet on the future of online news. The acquisition announced early Monday puts a high-profile exclamation mark on a series of acquisitions and strategic moves engineered by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in an effort to reshape a fallen Internet icon. AOL was once the king of dial-up online access known for its ubiquitous CD-ROMs and “You’ve got mail” greeting in its inboxes. Perhaps just as important as picking up a news site and ranks as one of the top 10 current events and global news sites, AOL will be adding The Huffington Post co-founder and media star Arianna Huffington to its management team as part of the deal. After the acquisition closes later this year, Huffington will be put in charge of AOL’s growing array of content, which includes popular technology sites Endgadget and TechCrunch, local news sites and online mapping service Mapquest.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egyptian reporter shot in clashes dies, first journalist death in crisis

State-run newspaper Al-Ahram says an Egyptian reporter shot during clashes earlier this week has died of his wounds, the first reported journalist death in 11 days of turmoil surrounding Egypt's wave of anti-government protests. Al-Ahram says Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was taking pictures of clashes on the streets from the balcony of his home, not far from central Tahrir Square when he was "shot by a sniper" four days ago. It says in a report on its website that he died Friday in the hospital. The paper says Mahmoud worked as a reporter for Al-Taawun, one of a number of newspapers put out by the Al-Ahram publishing house.

Iran bans state TV from teaching foreign recipes

A state-owned news website says Iran's broadcasting authority has banned Iranian TV channels from showing cooking programs that present recipes for foreign cuisine, The Associated Press reports. Jamejamonline reported late Saturday that the deputy head of Iran's state broadcasting company, Ali Darabi, announced the ban during a visit to one of the country's 30 state-run TV channels. Some cooking programs on Iranian stations present recipes for foreign cuisine, such as Italian and French. The ban is seen as part of a nationalistic campaign increasingly pushed by Iran's government in recent years. Pizza, pasta and Western fast foods like hamburgers and hot-dogs are popular in Iran, and Tehran boasts many restaurants that serve Western or Asian food.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seeing red over metered Internet: Financial Post analysis

Jamie Sturgeon describes how electricity became metered and continues:
"The example parallels the polarizing — and now politicized — issue of so-called “usage-based billing (UBB)” of the Internet. UBB is a set of practices Canada’s largest service providers like BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. have implemented allowing them to meter usage and charge for it.
"Their defence is that online traffic is growing at such a clip that tiered systems are now required both to better match finite supply with demand, as well as generate the necessary profits to expand capacity, or grow the grid. Bell, for one, anticipates volume growth on its network of 25% this year over last, it says.
"There is a growing herd, however, that is deeply dissatisfied with the explanation, charging that it is thinly veiled profiteering. A maelstrom of populist rage has flared up in recent weeks after regulators at the CRTC permitted Bell and others to begin imposing metering on their wholesale customers, the last corner of the market where the unlimited Internet could be found. . . "

Click on the title for the full story.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Assurances demanded in BCE takeover of CTV

Stakeholders in Canada's television industry voiced their concerns of BCE Inc.'s proposed takeover of CTV to the country's telecommunications regulator for a third day Thursday. Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau (pictured) is not opposed to the $1.3-billion deal, but stressed at the CRTC hearing that BCE should contribute its share of tangible benefits to the growth of the broadcasting system, which would amount to about $300 million. BCE has said that the benefits contributed when they acquired CTVglobemedia assets in 2000 should exempt them from paying this time.

Journalists return to central Cairo, but threats remain

Live television footage of Cairo’s central Tahrir Square resumed Friday, but it appeared that some foreign journalists were still being detained and fresh reports of attacks on reporters and news organizations suggested that the effort to stifle the flow of news out of Egypt had slowed but not ended.

Click on the title for the full story in The New York Times.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When (commercial) content becomes king

Excellent NPR roundup (linked off headline) of Super Bowl advertising to be seen this Sunday. Stills provided by the advertisers are a nice tease. Above left is something called "One Epic Ride" in which Poseidon looks favorably on the KIA Optima. Right, out to excel over the 2010 Betty White and Abe Vigoda entry, Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr will reprise the Snickers theme that "You're Not You When You're Hungry". Here's another look at the 2010 Snickers ad with White and Vigoda

Egypt: Now it's all about the reporters

Not to be too cynical, when you aren't sure at all what's happening, its useful to be benignly detained by the police because its so easy to write about.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Conservatives to overturn usage-based Web charges

Perhaps there's an election coming. Or maybe BCE doesn't have any friends in Ottawa (either). But Postmedia has scored a nice little beat with its story that the Tories will require the CRTC to back down or face reversal in Parliament. Montreal Gazette.

BCE bought CTV to prevent Cable monopoly

An interesting spin on the BCE purchase of CTV previously unheard. Geroge Cope says he did it to keep cable opeators from controlling the market on content.

Digital Daily: Will 14 cents a day be low enough?

Rupert Murdoch's digital publication may be a hit with iPad users and others. It will cost 99 cents a week or about $39.99 a year. Link is to the Wall Street Journal story. Here is a news release page sent to us.

CRTC called before Commons over usage-based billing

The Globe and Mail: The chairman of the CRTC will appear before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on Thursday, as the regulator's decision on usage-based billing for Internet services continues to generate anger among consumers and businesses.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blame German immigrants for groundhog madness

Same nice reflections here on the annual media affliction.

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