Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mounties expand probe into Pamela Wallin’s corporate work

The RCMP says Pamela Wallin committed fraud and breach of trust by billing the Senate for travel expenses related to her past work on corporate boards as well as for her role as chancellor at the University of Guelph, the Toronto Star reports. Newly released documents from the Ottawa courthouse show the RCMP is seeking records from BMO Nesbitt Burns, Inc., Bell Media Inc. and the University of Guelph related to any expenses they paid to Wallin, the newspaper says. Terrence O’Sullivan, the lawyer representing Wallin, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, but has said in the past that any board-related work Wallin billed to the Senate was due to administrative error.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Comedian Trevor Noah will succeed Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show.”

Trevor Noah is a 31-year-old comedian, born and raised in Soweto in South Africa to a black African mother and Swiss father. He was brought up during apartheid, meaning his parents had to hide their relationship. That difficult situation is just one touchy subject the comedian has translated into big laughs during stand-up specials.
Noah has been honing his comedic skills over the last few years, focusing on a stand-up act that landed him on “The Tonight Show” in 2012 and “Late Show With David Letterman” the following year. He has also been on “The Daily Show” three times since December, holding forth on Ebola, Boko Haram and police brutality, among other topics. He memorably played a game with Stewart called Spot the Africa, where the host had to look at two photographs and guess which one depicted Africa and which showed the U.S. (Washington Post)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pregnant forecaster weathers abuse from some viewers

A Global TV weather woman who is pregnant is talking about the nasty mail she is receiving from some viewers about her appearance. It seems incredible that people have a need to write to a pregnant woman about her appearance but we live in an age of social media inspired say-anything-no-matter-how-despicable. Maybe such rude and obscene sentiment has always been out there and it took the YouTube comment column and Twitter to provide a forum. The low level of the comments directed at B.C. weatherperson Kristi Gordon has prompted a colleague to tell the writers to stop watching Global. Kristi read some of the letters.  “Nowhere on North America TV have we seen a weather reader so gross as you,” one letter stated, while another read, “Your front end looks like the Hindenburg and your rear end looks like a brick s—house.” Gordon said she wasn’t surprised by the hate mail because the same thing had happened the last time she was pregnant. When she announced this pregnancy on the air, she pleaded with people to be nice to her, but that appeal apparently fell on deaf ears.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CBC eliminates 144 more jobs in new round of cuts

CBC says at least 144 more people will be out of work following yet another round of layoffs, with the West experiencing the brunt of the cuts. Jennifer McGuire, editor-in-chief of CBC News, informed her staff in a letter Thursday that 144 positions would be eliminated across the country, possibly yielding even greater job losses as remaining positions are recategorized. Positions in the West were cut the deepest, with 37 cut from Alberta and 25 from British Columbia. Ontario lost 30 positions. Most of the reductions will occur in TV programming, as local television broadcasts have been cut from 90 minutes to either 30 or 60 minutes. McGuire also said in the letter that the company will be hiring 80 new digital positions over the next year as it grows its mobile offerings.
The full story

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kevin Crull apologizes for interfering with CTV news coverage

Kevin Crull , president of BCE Inc's Bell Media unit, apologized on Wednesday for interfering in editorial coverage after his company was harshly rebuked by the CRTC.
The apology came after the Globe and Mail reported that Crull told the head of CTV News not to conduct or air interviews with CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais after the regulator had just ruled it would force distributors to unbundle cable TV packages, a decision that could prove financially painful for Bell. Crull acknowledged in a statement he reached out to the CTV News leadership team about the focus of coverage.
"It was wrong of me to be anything but absolutely clear that editorial control always rests with the news team. I have apologized to the team directly for this mistake," he said, describing his action as an "intrusion."
The CRTC had issued a harshly worded statement about the matter earlier on Wednesday. 

Link to comprehensive Star story

Bell head meddled in news coverage of CRTC ruling: Globe

"The owners of Canada’s largest private broadcaster, CTV, and the country’s television regulator have been locking horns for months as the TV network complained about a series of regulatory decisions. Now those tensions appear to have boiled over," The Globe and Mail reports.
"Sources say that when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decided last week to unbundle cable packages, Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media, which owns CTV, became furious and intervened in the way the network’s journalists covered the news," the newspaper's media reporter, James Bradshaw, reports.
The full story

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Corus shares dip 10 per cent in waske of CRTC announcement

Shares in independent producers were under pressure Friday after the federal regulator ordered the unbundling of cable channels and mandated a basic service that is absent homegrown specialty offerings, the Star's Michael Lewis reports.
Corus Entertainment's B shares closed down more than 10 per cent at $18.41. Analysts said ye company faces valuation risk due to high exposure to specialty broadcasting, especially children’s programming.
Quebec’s TVA group is also seen as vulnerable while analysts said the integrated publicly traded distributors such as Bell Media can “manage” the earnings hit from a requirement that they cap basic bundles at $25 per month.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also announced Thursday that consumers will have the choice of selecting individual channels or small theme packs on top of the entry bundle once changes are phased in over the next 18 months.
The full story

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pick-and-pay TV: Consumer choice, but at what cost? -- CBC's take on the new rules

Cable à la carte is finally on the menu, letting TV viewers order the channels they crave without charging them for programming they never wanted to consume in the first place.
Just be wary that under the new rules, the bill could come as a shock
."Sure, you might be getting more choice," said tech analyst Carmi Levy. "But the nasty surprise is you may have to pay more to get exactly what you want and avoid what you don't want."
Under the new combination "pick-and-pay" system announced by the CRTC on Thursday, "everyone will be able to find an option or a bundle that suits their household," Jean-Pierre Blais, the federal broadcast regulator's chairman, told reporters.
Cable subscribers must now give Canadians the option of buying a "skinny basic" package for no more than $25 a month.
The full story

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Woman extradited from Germany on charges of harassing CTV Edmonton anchor

A 38-year-old woman has been extradited from Germany to face charges for allegedly harassing and threatening CTV Edmonton anchor Joel Gotlib, his family, and others at a local ballroom dance studio.
Hana Sakkat, 38, was arrested by German Federal Police at Frankfurt International Airport in January, and was brought to Canada by Edmonton police late last week to face the charges, police said.
Edmonton Police Service spokesman Scott Pattison said investigators took steps to make the international arrest because the situation appeared to be escalating.
Link to Emonton Journal story

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Power Corp sells French-language newspapers except for LaPresse

Power Corp. has sold all of the French-language regional newspapers in Quebec operated by its Gesca subsidiary to a new media company headed by former federal Liberal cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, CP reports.
The value of the deal announced Wednesday wasn't disclosed.Groupe Capitales Medias has purchased newspapers in Quebec City (Le Soleil), Trois-Rivieres (Le Nouvelliste), Ottawa-Gatineau (Le Droit), Sherbrooke (La Tribune), Saguenay (Le Quotidien) et Granby (La Voix de l'Est), along with their websites.However, the insurance and investment conglomerate  will continue to operate its flagship Montreal La Presse.The sale comes five months after Quebecor's Sun Media announced the sale of its English-language newspapers to Postmedia for $316 million, and about a year after Sun Media sold 74 weekly newspapers in Quebec to Transcontinental for $75 million.

National Newspaper Award nominations

As announced on CNW:
The Globe and Mail has 16 nominations to lead all entrants in the 66th National Newspaper Awards competition.
The Toronto Star has 11 nominations and Montreal's La Presse has eight finalists in the competition, which is open to daily newspapers as well as online news sites approved for entry by the NNA Board of Governors.
Other organizations with multiple nominations include the Canadian Press, with five, and the Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen and Moncton Times & Transcript, with three each.
Five other newspapers each have two nominations: Winnipeg Free Press, London Free Press, Halifax Chronicle Herald, National Post, and the Hamilton Spectator.
Twelve other organizations received one nomination each.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Toronto on Friday, May 22, 2015.
Full CNW release
(Hey people! Isn't time to create a National Journalism award that would include newspapers, radio, TV and online? Just asking.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New CanCon TV rules could be tough on smaller producers

While the CRTC’s reset of long-standing Canadian content rules for the small screen is very much a work in progress, some industry insiders already fear for the smaller, independent producer.
The worry is that privately held niche broadcasters in areas such as children’s programming and documentary film making lacking access to capital market funding could be especially vulnerable. Analysts said some specialty channels may disappear altogether.
“Success will not be universal,” Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Thursday in a speech announcing the changes that follow a public consultation and hearings with industry players.
“Some will thrive, others fail. New players will emerge. But I assure you this is the right way forward.”
The CRTC said it is dropping Canadian content quotas for daytime TV while leaving the 6-11 p.m. high viewership window and overall CanCon spending requirements unchanged.

Friday, March 13, 2015

BuzzFeed setting up shop in Canada

BuzzFeed, the popular U.S. website specializing in offbeat lists and quizzes, announced Thursday it would be opening an office in Toronto and establishing a Canadian editorial team this spring.
The company was tight-lipped about its plans and declined to offer comment on the exact timing of the expansion or the number of jobs that would be created.
BuzzFeed is the latest U.S.-based media company to try and carve out a niche north of the border.
News outlets such as Vice, the Huffington Post and AOL have all established websites featuring content more geared toward Canadian audiences.
BuzzFeed is best known for its lighthearted lists and quizzes, but has recently begun to branch out into more traditional news.
Recent offerings have included coverage of the global Ebola outbreak and exclusive interviews with U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

CRTC lowering Canadian content quotas to boost quality

The CRTC is planning to ease significantly the rules governing Canadian content on TV in hopes of boosting the quality of local programming, The Canadian Press reports..
The rules requiring Canadian-made programs to make up at least 55 per cent of local, daytime TV broadcasts will be lifted, the CRTC said Thursday.
Local broadcasters, however, must continue to set aside at least half their prime-time TV programming for Canadian content, the CRTC said. The regulator hopes the changes encourage stations to invest more in made-in-Canada content and help reduce the number of repeated Canadian programs on the tube.
It noted the changes come amid rising popularity of on-demand programming across many platforms.
“We have more than enough money and talent to tell our stories,” CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a statement. “But the system cannot remain frozen in time when the world around us is changing. That’s why we are adopting bold and forward-looking measures.”
The changes will also require that at least 35 per cent of the programs aired on specialty channels are made in Canada. Currently, specialty channels must broadcast between 15 and 85 per cent Canadian content

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CBC picks rapper Shad as new host of Q

The Globe's Simon Houpt writes:
"CBC Radio has tapped the rapper Shadrach Kabango as the new host of its flagship arts and culture show Q, ending a high-profile four-month search that began after the public broadcaster fired Jian Ghomeshi last October amid allegations of sexual assault.
"A Juno Award-winning musician who has been nominated three times for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, the performer known as Shad takes the reins of the show after CBC managers were impressed by his ease in speaking with other artists during a week-long audition as a Q guest host in late January.  Shad interviewed a range of artists including cartoonist Art Spiegelman, opera star Christine Goerke, filmmaker and author Miranda July and actress Evangeline Lilly."
Link to story

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pamela Wallin misrepresented personal business as Senate work, RCMP alleges

The RCMP alleges that Pamela Wallin misrepresented corporate board meetings, dinner with a former lover and even a personal medical appointment as Senate business in order to claim reimbursement for her expenses, CP reports.
Documents filed by the Mounties in court allege that the disgraced senator defrauded the Senate by making 150 "suspicious" expense claims.
No charges have yet been laid against Wallin, who was suspended from the Senate last year, and none of the allegations has been proven in court.
Among the claims were a number of events Wallin attended in her capacity as a member of the boards of Porter Airlines and Gluskin Sheff or as chancellor of the University of Guelph.
The Mounties also allege she filed an expense claim for an eco-cardiogram at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, describing it as a meeting with Munk, founder and chairman of Barrick Gold.
And they allege she filed an expense claim for a dinner with investment manager Michael Decter, a personal friend with whom she'd once had an "intimate relationship" and whom she continues to meet regularly half a dozen times a year.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The BBC has pulled “India’s Daughter” from YouTube around the world

Indian government officials banned “India’s Daughter,” a BBC documentary about the Delhi gang rape of 2012, from broadcast in India this week, citing a danger to women’s safety. But it still circulated on YouTube inside and outside the country after the ban, until Google complied with the government’s requests and blocked copies of the film on the video-sharing site in India.
Now the BBC has launched a much more severe, global ban—the broadcaster has asked Google to remove all copies of the documentary, viewable anywhere in the world, from YouTube, citing copyright infringement. (It is viewable on the BBC’s iPlayer within the UK.) Would-be viewers now see messages that say some variation of “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by British Broadcasting Corporation.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Andrew Lack returns to NBC News

Andrew Lack's return to NBC News as chairman, officially announced Friday morning, has been greeted with relief by the rank and file at the division, which has suffered a series of painful setbacks recently, the Hollywood Reporter says..

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Internal review finds Amanda Lang ‘met CBC’s journalistic standards’

Amanda Lang
The CBC says Amanda Lang abided by journalistic standards during her involvement in a 2013 story concerning the Royal Bank of Canada, CP reports.
CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire sent a memo to staff on Thursday with the results of a review into Lang’s involvement in the story on RBC’s use of temporary foreign workers.
In early January, media website Canadaland alleged that Lang had a conflict of interest in the story and tried to “sabotage” it.
McGuire said the review was led by Jack Nagler, the CBC’s director of journalistic public accountability and engagement.
He looked at journalistic content, conduct, and an employee’s obligations to disclose any potential conflict of interest.

“This review re-affirmed that all of CBC’s journalism relating to the RBC temporary foreign workers story met CBC’s journalistic standards,” said the memo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CTV Atlantic broadcast interrupted with 48 seconds of pornographic footage

Some Nova Scotia residents had a rude awakening Monday morning when CTV accidentally aired pornography as the sun was coming up.
Barb Kaiser started her day with a 6 a.m. replay of the previous night’s CTV news. As she waited for the 6:30 a.m. local news to start, she was surprised to see a warning flash on screen advising that sexual nudity lay ahead. So imagine Kaiser’s surprise when a naked woman splayed across her screen.
According to the Chronicle Herald, “The title of the film was called Camp Girls and the opening scene showed a woman ‘exploring her body,’ Kaiser said.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nigel Wright, senators, MPs subpoenaed for Duffy trial, CBC says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, senators and Conservative Members of Parliament have received subpoenas to testify at the trial of suspended Sen. Mike Duffy. The CBC quotes sources familiar with the Crown’s witness list as saying David van Hemmen, Wright’s former executive assistant, and Benjamin Perrin, who acted as the prime minister’s lawyer, have also been called to testify. Duffy, a former Conservative senator, faces 31 charges, including fraud, breach of trust and bribery. The last charge deals with a $90,000 cheque Duffy received from Wright to reimburse the Senate for challenged expense claims.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hill media fight over harassment policy, some say it could destroy Parliamentary Press Gallery

The Hill Times reports:
"A proposed bylaw to give the Parliamentary Press Gallery the power to officially handle complaints and recommend members of the Hill media be booted out for alleged personal or sexual harassment, serious misconduct, violence, threats of violence or intimidation, or a criminal offence, was shelved by the gallery’s executive last week for three months after it faced a sensational and nasty backlash from many gallery members on the Hill. 
"Some Hill reporters say the policy is needed, but others say it will destroy the institution of the Parliamentary Press Gallery because it would open up reporters to outside complaints and allegations of harassment from lobbyists, Cabinet ministers, MPs, and others who feel they were “harassed” by aggressive or persistent reporters."
 The full story
(This looks like one of those "inside Ottawa" issues. One is almost tempted to say, "Play nice, children!" -- Ed comment)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

News Photographers Association of Canada announces nominations

National Post photojournalist Tyler Anderson is one of five photographers nominated for the 2014 Canadian Photojournalist of the Year award by the News Photographers Association of Canada.
He has also been nominated in the Picture Story Category for his picture story on trapper William Tozer, the inspiration for the protagonist in Joseph Boyden’s novel Through Black Spruce.
Anderson has previously won the top title twice and has been recognized with a National Newspaper Award.
Other nominees are Mark Blinch of Reuters, Nathan Denette of The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu, Independent, and Tim Smith of the Brandon Sun.
Link to their portfolios

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