Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rogers launches direct-to-consumers Sportsnet Now streaming service

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"Rogers Communications Inc. will offer its popular Sportsnet television stations through a stand-alone streaming service, severing the ties that have bound live sports broadcasting to traditional television.
"Starting on April 1, the company will offer Sportsnet Now – an app that streams the live feeds from Sportsnet’s main regional TV stations, plus its One and 360 networks – as a separate online subscription costing $24.99 a month. Anyone can sign up, regardless of whether they get cable TV or are an existing customer with Rogers.
"The decision to detach coveted and expensive sports programming from the traditional TV system – which remains the financial engine for broadcasters and media companies such as Rogers Media – is a leap of faith for the industry, and carries some risk."
Full story

CBC Announces new series and renewed programs for 2016-2017

Innovative new series include drama The Council, docu-series The School and True North Calling, comedy Four In The Morning, and crime miniseries Caught, based on the acclaimed book by Lisa Moore. Returning titles include Murdoch Mysteries and Heartland for their tenth seasons and new seasons of The Romeo Section, Hello Goodbye, This Life, Canada's Smartest Person, X Company, Exhibitionists, Interrupt This Program and Crash Gallery.
 Full media release

Judge rules Vice reporter must hand over digital messages

An Ontario court has ruled that a VICE News reporter must hand over all communications between him and an Islamic State fighter to Canada's federal police force.
Last month, VICE Media fought the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) court-granted production order for national security reporter Ben Makuch's Kik instant messenger app chat logs, or screen shots of the chats, between him and Farah Shirdon.
The 22-year-old Calgary man allegedly left Canada in 2014 to fight alongside IS in Iraq and Syria. He was charged in absentia with six terrorism-related offences last September, after he was interviewed by Makuch and VICE CEO Shane Smith. He's still at large and the RCMP has issued a red notice through INTERPOL asking for his capture and return back to Canada.
The RCMP argued they needed Makuch's communications with Shirdon as evidence to prove their charges.
VICE fought the production order in court, arguing that police seizure of any journalist's records would violate press freedoms and set a dangerous precedent for journalism in Canada.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Howard Levitt says no broadcaster in Canada will ever hire Jian Ghomeshi again

The Financial Post's legal guru Howard Levitt writes (excerpt):
"Is he employable? Not in a gig requiring that persona. And remember, he was not fired for anything involving the more-than-a-decade-old allegations of the three accusers in the recent criminal trial. He was fired because his sexual practices were antithetical to the CBC’s (and his own) brand and would cause the broadcaster considerable market damage if he had remained. The law permits employers to fire for cause employees who commit acts fundamentally antithetical to their brand.
"It is noteworthy that, while this criminal trial (and the upcoming one), advanced quickly, we have heard nothing from his union, which has the exclusive right to represent Ghomeshi in any dismissal case. I suspect — though I have no inside knowledge — that the union has not taken the case and will not."
Full story

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wally Crowther dead at 92

Wally Crouter, who served as morning host of CFRB for 50 years, has died at age 92.
Crouter passed away peacefully in his sleep Monday according to the radio station, which is now known as NEWSTALK 1010.
Crouter was born on Aug. 5, 1923, in Lindsay, Ont., and joined CFRB on Nov. 1, 1946 after a brief stint with CHEX in Peterborough.
Over the course of a half-century, he became one of CFRB’s most famous broadcasters and the city’s top-rated morning host. “He was an icon in Toronto.
Whenever there was a big story, like Hurricane Hazel or the opening of the subway, Wally was there. Everyone listened and wanted to be on the Wally Crouter morning show,” said Mike Bendixen, the station’s program director.
“Decade after decade, Wally brought this comforting tone to his audience as he unpacked the day’s news. It was like listening to a family or friend.”
More on the South Bayview Bulldog

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Al Jazeera to slash 500 jobs as part of global workforce reduction

Al Jazeera says it is slashing around 500 jobs as part of a worldwide workforce reduction, the Associated Press reports.
The network announced the cuts Sunday, saying they are part of a “workforce optimization initiative” linked to changes in the media landscape.
It says most of the cuts will be in its home base of Qatar. Acting Director General Mostefa Souag says the cuts will allow the Al Jazeera Media Network to evolve, in order to “maintain a leading position and continue our recognized commitment to high quality, independent and hard-hitting journalism around the world.”
Al Jazeera was launched as an Arabic-language news channel in 1996 with backing from Qatar’s then-emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. It has grown to include multiple channels and today boasts more than 70 bureaus worldwide.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ellen Seligman, renowned Canadian literary editor, dead

 Ellen Seligman, one of Canada's top literary editors, has died, Penguin Random House Canada said in  a statement Friday.
The publisher said Seligman's family asked that her age and details surrounding her death not be released.
Seligman edited books by Canadian authors including Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Michael Ondaatje.
She edited 23 books that won Governor General's Literary Awards and published books by Nobel Prize-winning writer Alice Munro.
Seligman was also president of PEN Canada from 2009 to 2011. The organization fights censorship and works to free writers overseas who have been imprisoned because of their writing.

Toronto Sun moves to Bloor Street

Remember, despite their decline, newspapers take themselves very seriously even if no one else does. :)) From the Sun:
"The Sun set on our historic King St. location Friday night but will rise again Saturday morning on Bloor St.
"After 41 years at 333 King St. E., the Toronto Sun is moving our staff, belongings and memories to office space at Postmedia headquarters, located at 365 Bloor St. E.
"Saturday’s edition is the last one produced by reporters and editors working at the King St. location.
"For Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey, it’s a “great thrill” to witness the move."
The whole tear jerker

Thursday, March 24, 2016

CRTC approves acquisition of Shaw Media by Corus Entertainment

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved the sale of Shaw Media to Corus Entertainment.
The deal, worth $2.65 billion will see Corus, which is Talk Radio AM640’s parent company, acquire the Global Television network and 19 specialty channels, including HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada and Showcase from Shaw Communications Ltd.
Corus Entertainment now says that now the third and final step in the deals approval process is complete, it plans to finalize the acquisition by April 1st. The deal was first announced in January of this year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Leon Korbee, Liberal advisor and former CTV reporter, has died

Leon Korbee, a senior communications advisor to Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, died Tuesday night in hospital.
Prior to joining the Liberal Party, Korbee was a reporter with CTV News from 1983-2003.

Monday, March 21, 2016

George McLean, long time CBC news announcer, dead at 92

George McLean, a longtime CBC News announcer who hosted  The National and other news program, has died in Toronto. He was 92.
McLean was born in Brandon, Man., and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War before entering journalism.
CBC obit

John Doyle: Canadian TV is a place of squalor and neglect

John Doyle once again bemoans the state of Canadian TV. Excerpt:
"Then came the kicker (in Jean-Pierre Blais' recent speech): ' listened as Canadians spoke with intelligence and passion, while corporate executives who own luxury yachts and private helicopters came looking for subsidies.'
"I’m surprised it took him so long to recognize that Canadian TV execs are extremely rich and don’t care much about fulfilling their mandated obligations to the Canadian culture.
"It’s a lucrative racket. If we see television as a landscape filled with a variety of buildings and edifices, then
"Canadian commercial TV execs are slum landlords, getting rich by bilking pitiful tenants. What they own and manage, in terms of Canadian content, is a place of squalor and neglect. A slum."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Secrecy and the ‘open courts’ principle: The Star's Public Editor

Kathy English writes:
"For most of this past week, the law prohibited the Star from telling you a critical fact about a stabbing at a condominium complex in Rosedale that it had already reported — and so could easily be found in a Google search. "The absurdity of that is rooted in an Ontario court system that is generally intended to be “open” but is increasingly subject to 'discretionary' publication bans that prohibit the media from reporting key facts about criminal proceedings.
"Further, too often such extraordinary bans are declared without any reason or explanation for veering from Canada’s important 'open courts' principle that presumes public access to court proceedings and court documents — and most important, is central to our democracy."
The full column

Thursday, March 17, 2016

CRTC adds TV complaints to telecom dispute service

The Star's Michael Lewis writes:
"Starting next year consumers will have a new mechanism for resolving disputes with TV service providers when the country’s telecom watchdog expands its mandate to become a one stop destination for complaints.
As of September 1, 2017 the Commissioner for Complaints for "Telecommunications Services’ will deal with TV in addition to telephone and Internet service grievances and its administration of the country’s code of conduct for wireless carriers.
"The aim is to create a single point of contact for concerns about billing, service delivery and other issues, federal broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Thursday.
"The decision comes as the broadcast regulator fields hundreds of calls about the slimmed-down basic TV packages that came into effect March 1, Canadian Press reported.
"As of Thursday, the CRTC had received 587 calls from consumers about the new $25 basic TV packages, CRTC spokeswoman Patricia Valladao."
Full story

CBC News to require online commenters to use real names

CBC will ban the use of pseudonyms for readers commenting on stories on the website, the corporation announced Thursday.
All commenters will be required to use their real names, Emma Bedard, spokeswoman for CBC English Services, told CBC News. 
The move is a "request for transparency on the part of [online] users," Bedard said.
The decision comes after a review of CBC's commenting policy that began in January, she said, after audience members expressed concerns about the content of comments appearing online. 
Bedard said she does not know when the new policy will take effect, but that CBC will undertake a "due process" to inform users and work out the technological requirements.

What I learned from my foray into politics: Linda McQuaig

Interesting piece in the Star by Linda McQuaig about her run for Parliament:
"The most memorable moment of the 2015 federal election may be the release of a surveillance video capturing a candidate urinating into a stranger’s coffee cup.
"That episode comes to mind, oddly, as I think of what I learned during my recent two-year foray into electoral politics. The coffee cup incident was part of what became a common theme in that campaign — the “outing” of candidates who said or did anything that deviated even slightly from the party’s image or messaging.
" Of course, failure to distinguish between a coffee cup and a toilet is more than a slight deviation, and that particular candidate (a Conservative) was appropriately sacked.
" But it strikes me that the iron hand of party discipline — by which all three of our major political parties keep tight control on their messaging — can also have the effect of limiting debate and discouraging independent thinking, to the detriment of our democratic system."
The whole column

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More about Cruikshank's resignation

More about John Cruikshank and the Star's tablet in the Nieman Journalism Lab which describes itself as "an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age."
Laura Hazard Owen writes: (Excerpts)
"Cruickshank, 62, had held the position since 2009. He told The Globe and Mail leaving was his decision: 'It kind of felt like an era of work was coming to a close, or at least was being completed, and that it was time for renewal.'
"The Star stands out among North American English-language dailies as the strongest proponent of a tablet-based digital strategy — at a time when nearly every other paper is putting its focus more squarely on smartphones. (Tablet use is actually declining in many markets, while smartphone traffic continues to rise.) . . .
"Star Touch hit 200,000 downloads on Apple and Android in January (it hit 100,000 downloads in November) and says it has 50,000 user sessions per day.
"But those sessions come from only 26,000 daily users. Torstar said last fall that its target was 180,000 daily users by the end of 2016, but on Wednesday, a company spokesman said its current expectation was for daily users to reach 100,000 by that time.
"Torstar also said it expects Star Touch to break even by the end of the year.
Star Touch, La Presse+, and Postmedia’s launch of ambitious evening tablet editions have combined to make Canadian newspapers an odd center of tablet optimism not found elsewhere. Postmedia shut down those tablet editions in Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary last fall after 'it just didn’t reach a critical mass of audience or advertisers.'”
The full story

John Cruickshank stepping down as Toronto Star publisher

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw reports:
"Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank is stepping down, effective May 4, according to a statement from the newspaper’s parent company.
Mr. Cruickshank has served as publisher of the major Toronto daily since 2009, and was also president of the Star Media Group, a division of Torstar Corp., which also operates the free Metro newspapers. May 4 is the date of Torstar’s annual general meeting for 2016.
 "Until then, Mr. Cruickshank will continue as publisher with his full responsibilities, but will be working together with Torstar’s president and chief executive officer, David Holland, who will take over Mr. Cruickshank’s duties on an interim basis starting May 4. . .

"Mr. Cruickshank will continue to serve as co-chairman of Canadian Press Enterprises, the non-profit entity that controls The Canadian Press wire service, and as one of Torstar’s directors on that company’s board."
Full Globe and Mail story
Toronto Star story

Monday, March 14, 2016

Postmedia’s largest shareholder looking to sell stake,Wall Street Journal says

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Postmedia’s largest shareholder is looking for buyers of its stake in the media organization.
GoldenTree Asset Management LP, which specializes in corporate and structured debt, owns 52.36 per cent of Postmedia’s variable voting shares and a portion of its debt, according to the company’s most recent management information circular.
The Journal reports that GoldenTree informed Postmedia’s board in February of its desire to sell that stake. Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. has been hired to help GoldenTree find buyers.
A Postmedia spokeswoman said the company had no comment. Neither GoldenTree nor Canaccord immediately returned requests for comment. Postmedia says it’s aiming to reduce costs by $80 million by the middle of next year. (CP)

Reporter who says she was manhandled by Trump campaign manager resigns from Breitbart

Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro have resigned from the conservative site over its handling of an alleged assault on Fields by Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the Washington Post reports.
“I don’t think they took my side,” Fields told The Washington Post. “They were protecting Trump more than me.”
Last week, Fields recounted in a post for Breitbart how Lewandowski allegedly grabbed her by the arm and yanked her away as she attempted to ask Trump a question after a news conference in Florida. The encounter left finger-shaped bruises on the 28-year-old reporter’s arm.
The Post’s Ben Terris, who witnessed the incident, has reported that Lewandowski was the one who grabbed Fields. Trump and Lewandowski vehemently denied the accusation.
Link to Breitbart

Saturday, March 12, 2016

New York Times Trudeau visit corrections, March 12, 2016

The corrections:
"An article on Thursday about the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to the United States described the visit incorrectly. It was an official visit, not a state visit. The error was repeated in the headline. And the article described incorrectly the length of a dress that his mother, Margaret, wore to a White House state dinner in 1977, when her husband, Pierre, was Canada’s prime minister. Instead of wearing a formal floor-length gown, Mrs. Trudeau caused a stir by wearing a dress that fell just below — not above — the knee. (The error about the dress was repeated in an article on Friday about Justin Trudeau’s meeting with President Obama on Thursday, and in an article on Friday about the state dinner for him.)"
"An article on Friday about a meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada misstated one of the elements of the formal arrival ceremony for Mr. Trudeau. It was a 19-gun salute, not a 21-gun salute. The article also rendered the name of his wife incorrectly. She is Sophie Grégoire Trudeau — not Grégoire-Trudeau."

(Grizzled old deskmen (they were almost all men) used to catch these before they went to the composing room.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Joyce Napier named CTV News Ottawa bureau chief

Joyce Napier has joined CTV News as Ottawa Bureau Chief, the network has announced. She is a veteran of  Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press, La Presse, The Globe and Mail in Montréal, and Le Devoir. She has reported for Le Devoir from the Middle East and Washington.
Bell Media announcement

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bob McIntyre, long-time CTV Barrie weatherman, dead at 73

Bob McIntyre, longtime weatherman at CTV Barrie, has died, the station announced on its web page. He was 73.
"Bob was a fixture on our station and in our community for over 40 years, until his retirement last fall." the station said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

At panda event, Trudeau, Wynne, Tory only available to photogs from a distance

Excerpt from NatPost story:
"Trudeau, Wynne and Tory all tweeted beaming pics holding cuddly balls of furry joy, but no media organization was allowed to take their own images. Instead, they will rely on “official handout photos.” Offices of prime ministers and premiers often send out official snaps of big news events, which media are free to use if they choose.
"A zoo official said the panda petting part of the day was intended to be private."
Link to story

Corus need not reveal more on Shaw media deal: regulator

The Ontario Securities Commission on Monday ruled that Corus Entertainment Inc need not disclose more details of its $2.65 billion proposal to buy media assets from Shaw Communications Inc., Reuters reports. The ruling means that a shareholder vote due on Wednesday can proceed.       
The OSC's three-person panel issued the ruling in response to an application from private equity firm Catalyst Capital, a minority Corus shareholder fiercely critical of the deal. Catalyst argued the deal would unfairly benefit the Shaw family, which controls both companies, to the detriment of minority investors. Corus investors are due to cast ballots on Wednesday.
The deal, if approved, would give Corus control of more than one-third of the English-language TV market in Canada, and help Shaw fund its expansion into wireless via the purchase of Wind Mobile.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

60 Minutes mistakes Kim Catrall for Margaret Trudeau

The 60 Minutes story about Justin Trudeau on Sunday nights identified a photo of Kim Catrall as Margaret Trudeau. The Star's Vanessa Lu reports that the photo dates back to March 1981, long before Cattrall became best known of her role as the sexy PR executive Samantha Jones on the HBO show Sex and the City. When the picture was snapped by Star photographer Dick Darrell, Trudeau was 61 and Cattrall just 24; her most prominent acting work to that point was in the 1980 U.S. TV miniseries Scruples. (She would be seen in the hit movie Porky’s the next year.)
Catrall Tweeted: "I have a son who is the Prime Minister of Canada? I couldn't b more proud."
Link to 60 Minutes

Saturday, March 5, 2016

David Spencer, long-time journalism prof at Western, dead at 74

From the faculty announcement:
Dr. David Spencer, a founding FIMS faculty member and a figure much beloved by his students and his colleagues, passed away on March 1, 2016 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Full story

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The federal government gave up on the print news business long ago: Susan Delacourt

Perceptive piece by Susan Delacourt on print media:
"The beleaguered newspaper industry got a tiny, symbolic shot in the arm on Sunday night, when the best-film Oscar went to Spotlight, a movie about print journalism.
"While it’s nice to see newspapers getting some recognition from the Academy, a gold statuette won’t solve the basic problem of the business these days.
"What newspapers need, along with readers, is advertising. As long as advertisers are taking their money elsewhere, newspaper revenues will continue to decline. On this score, Canadians might be surprised to learn that governments have been part of the problem."
The whole column in iPolitics

TIME photog in scuffle with secret service at Trump event

The U.S. Secret Service and local law enforcement briefly detained a photographer on assignment for TIME at a Donald Trump rally at Radford University in Virginia Monday, following a scuffle that saw the photographer thrown to the ground in a choke hold.

Raymond Saint-Pierre, Radio-Canada correspondent, injured in Syria bombardment

Radio-Canada correspondent Raymond Saint-Pierre was slightly injured in Syria Tuesday morning when the group of journalists he was travelling with came under bombardment near the Turkish border, CBC reports.
In an interview with Radio-Canada, Saint-Pierre said he suffered what he described as "superficial injuries" to his hand, knee and elbow as well as a few cracked ribs as he hit the ground to escape shells exploding nearby.
The bombardment came from an unknown source, he said.

Critics decry Canadian medical journal’s ‘Orwellian’ revamp

The Globe and Mail's Carly Weeks reports:
"The Canadian Medical Association announced Monday it fired editor-in-chief John Fletcher and disbanded the editorial oversight committee of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
"Cindy Forbes, president of the CMA, said the changes are being made to help modernize and reinvigorate the journal at a time when its reputation and revenue are slipping. . .
"The firings led most of the remaining editorial board to resign.
. . .  Elly Alboim, a member of the now-defunct journal oversight committee, said he has serious concerns about the CMA’s decision.
“'It’s slightly Orwellian to remove the editor, disband the [oversight committee], which is charged with maintaining editorial independence, and then suggest you’re enhancing editorial independence,' he said.

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