Media Beat: Dec. 6, 2017

A column about media and the regulatory environment within and beyond Canada's borders.

Media Beat: Dec. 6, 2017

By David Farrell

CBC launches fee-based streaming service

CBC has launched a paid version of a new CBC TV app that will let viewers watch programs without ads.

The ad-free version will cost $4.99 a month, but viewers don’t have to pay to watch most of the content. A free version of the app doesn’t include access to CBC’s news channel but still streams the network’s TV shows with commercials.

There's one hitch though. Users can only access the paid features on Apple smartphones and Apple TV boxes as the service won’t be available on Android devices until April.

CBC News Network has already been offered as a standalone streaming service for years for $6.95 a month.


There’s also free access to live streams of CBC’s 14 regional local TV channels, no matter where you are in Canada, including Saturday night broadcasts of “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Users can also watch for free by creating a CBC account that will let them access even more content.

The pubcaster says that the new app will allow users to live stream CBC TV, watch episodes on demand on the same day they’re released, see ad-free children’s programming, and see series not aired on the network.

Starting Tuesday, all of its 14 regional linear channels were expected to be live-streamed. The Corp says over 1.1M unique visitors used the CBC TV digital service in November.

Media firms lobby to purge pirate websites in Canada

According to a draft proposal to the CRTC obtained by CanadaLand, Bell is leading a coalition of companies to push the telecom regulator to create a not-for-profit corp that would maintain a list of websites peddling pirated materials, and force all internet service providers in the country to block access to them.

The new corporation would be called the “Internet Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA).

The coalition includes broadcasters, movie studios, and cinema operators from across Canada. After Bell, some of the biggest names include Rogers, Cineplex, and Quebec theatre chain Cinémas Guzzo, according to emails obtained by the media website. A complete list of companies supporting the plan has yet to be finalized.


Quebec gov’t announces $36.4M investment to support print media

The new program to help the digital transformation of print media companies has a budget of $ 19.2M. Included: $5.2M to support community media, transitional support of $ 12M to help print media companies meet their recycling obligations, and $400K over two years to set up an innovation lab for the community media sector. These funds will be used to support initiatives for consultation, training, research and development in adapting the community media model to new realities.

Requiem for the print edition

The “tangible form” of the daily newspaper is threatened more broadly, as technology and economics have combined to put the print versions of most of our general interest daily newspapers into a downward spiral towards an unsustainable future. – Read or download the pdf report here

Closing tax loophole needed to save local media

In the 1960s and 1970s, ad revenue was bleeding from Canadian print and TV outlets to border stations and publications in the US. In response, Parliament acted boldly by preventing Canadian advertisers from writing off at tax time the cost of buying ads in foreign-owned publications and broadcasters as a business expense.


Our political leaders of the day closed this tax loophole by enacting Section 19 of the Income Tax Act.

Section 19 provides that advertising expenses in newspapers are tax deductible only if the ads are placed in an issue of a newspaper that is edited and published in Canada, and owned by a Canadian citizen or a corporation that is effectively owned by Canadians.

Broadcast advertising expenses are not tax-deductible if the advertising is placed on a station or network whose content is controlled by an operator located outside Canada and if the advertising is directed primarily to a market in Canada.


The immediate result of this change was to reduce Canadian spending on United States border TV stations by approximately $10M, about 10 percent of that year’s total TV advertising buy. Since then — and until recently — section 19 has underpinned the viability of Canadian radio, television, newspapers and periodicals — keeping Canadian advertising revenues mainly in the hands of Canadian media players, who employ Canadian journalists and inform citizens in our democracy.

But early in the 21st century, internet advertising began to take off in the Canadian market, growing exponentially from $562M in 2005 to $5.6B in 2016 — and 90 percent of it — more than $5B — leaves the country.

Four decades ago, the Canadian government recognized the need to provide an incentive for Canadian companies to advertise on Canadian rather than foreign media by closing the tax loophole in the Income Tax Act that permitted advertisers to deduct the cost of ads purchased in international media outlets.

It is time these same provisions are applied to internet media. Such a move would result in an influx of more than $400M annually in incremental advertising revenue for Canadian media, including television and print, and benefit the federal treasury by an estimated $1.15B in additional corporate tax payable annually. – Continue reading Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesman Ian Morrison in The Star

Rogers evaluating sale of Blue Jays, Cogeco stake

Rogers Communications Inc. is considering selling assets such as baseball's Toronto Blue Jays and a stake in media company Cogeco Inc. to free up capital for other investments, Chief Financial Officer Tony Staffieri tells The Globe & Mail.

The company has said before that it's exploring ways to get more value from its portfolio of assets, including the Jays, but Staffieri's comments Tuesday were more specific. Rogers still wants rights to sports programming but doesn't have to own a team to have that, he said, pointing to the company's 12-year deal with the National Hockey League.


Rogers' media business made up about 15 percent of sales last year but only about 3 percent of operating profit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Q107’s Blair Bartrem joins Matt Cundhill on Sound Off Podcast

Newspapers march further down their road to oblivion

When the history of Canadian newspapers (or, more likely, their obituary) is written, this may go down as the week we heard the first death rattles. This is the opinion of John Miller who has an informative op-ed feature available to read on In it, he walks through Postmedia and Torstar’s recent redundancies and closures and then turns his attention to the re-designed Globe & Mail (which has many occasional and die-hard readers scratching their collective head and squinting as they try to read the reduced print size).

Bell Media, CBC sign content deals with Snapchat

Snapchat has signed content agreements with the CBC and Bell Media, making the two media companies the first Canadian partners to create original, local content for its Discover and Our Stories features. American partners include Vice, NBC and CNN. Original Snapchat shows include NBC News’ Stay Tuned and CNN’s The Update, both of which produce daily content.


Coles set to retire from The Morning Edition

Sheila Coles has announced she will be leaving The Morning Edition on CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan after hosting the top-rated morning show for 24 years. 

Coles said her job hosting The Morning Edition, in 1993, was to be temporary.

"When I was hired for this job, I'd never stayed in a job for more than two years. And I remember thinking: I'm going to have to give this one at least three," she said.

Coles will host her last show on Dec. 15. 

CBC Radio One's Rick Cluff retires from The Early Edition

For more than 20 years, British Columbians have been waking up to the voice of broadcaster Rick Cluff on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.

On Tuesday, CBC British Columbia announced the retirement of its long-time host. Cluff officially signs off one last time from the hosting chair on Friday, December 22.

Before The Early Edition, Cluff's award-winning career with the CBC began in Ontario in 1976 as a sports commentator and reporter.

He has covered eight Olympic games, five Commonwealth games, Super Bowls, Stanley Cup runs, and several Canada games as well as various world championship events from the South Pacific to the Arctic Circle.

Google, Facebook ad revenue dominance rising

Facebook and Google will capture 84% of the digital ad spend worldwide this year as the two online companies account for all of the growth in internet advertising this year, according to GroupM.

The investment management firm said Sunday that the dominance of Facebook and Google “is exceedingly bad news for the balance of the digital publisher ecosystem.” Since the two firms are not only grabbing all the new money advertisers are spending but are also taking share from the competition, GroupM says they will account for “186 percent of the digital growth in 2017.”

The firm’s data strips out China since media is heavily regulated there and the country is immaterial to both Google and Facebook.

Digital investment growth is expected at 11.5% in 2017 and 11.3% next year; its share will increase from 34.1% this year to 36.4% in 2018. GroupM believes digital investment will exceed traditional TV in seventeen markets by year’s end: Australia, Canada, Denmark, China, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the UK. On analysis of real investment dollar trends, GroupM disagrees that digital has already surpassed TV in the U.S. (per other industry sources); these lines are expected to cross in 2020.

At the close of the third quarter, Google reported ad revenues of US$24B and Facebook reported $10B. With GroupM’s study of total worldwide digital investment and prior disclosures from these companies, the company believes these two companies will account for 84% of all digital investment in 2017 (ex-China). GroupM also thinks the two will account for 186% of digital growth in 2017.

Amazon is on a fast-track to figure more prominently in the consolidation of digital ad investment with a few dominant players. Conservatively, GroupM believes the sum of Amazon’s on-platform search and display advertising combined with their off-platform advertising revenues is in the low single-digit billions.  – The Hollywood Reporter & GroupM

Australia investigates impact on media by Google, Facebook

Australia's competition regulator said Monday it would investigate whether U.S. online giants Facebook and Alphabet's Google had disrupted the news media to the detriment of publishers and consumers.

Like their rivals globally, Australia's traditional media companies have been squeezed by online competitors, as advertising dollars have followed eyeballs to digital distributors such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.

The government ordered the probe as part of more comprehensive media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts – CNBC


Felix (Fil) Fraser CM AOE, a black Canadian broadcaster, non-fiction author, film producer, film festival founder, public servant and educator in Alberta for over five decades, died Sunday, Dec. 3 of unspecified causes. He was 86. 

Born Felix Fraser in Montreal's East End in August 1932, the Canadian media pioneer cut his teeth in high school radio before joining Toronto radio station CKFH in 1951, then run by Foster Hewitt, best known for his play-by-play calls for Hockey Night in Canada

He went on to work at radio stations in Timmins and Barrie, Ontario, and in Verdun and Montreal, Quebec. 

Fraser launched the Regina Weekly Mirror newspaper in 1960, and in 1969 he became program director and senior producer for Canada's first educational TV station, the Metropolitan Edmonton Educational Television Association, the forerunner of Alberta's ACCESS Network. 

In 1971 he moved to the CBC TV station CBXT-TV in Edmonton, where he co-anchored the local supper-hour news program from 1971-1973, before hosting ITV Television’s Fil Fraser Show. Besides doing radio and TV work in Edmonton during the '70s, Fraser also ran his own indie production company. 

In 1976, he became executive producer of Why Shoot the Teacher, which starred Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) and Latitude 55°, and followed up with two more films, 1977's Marie Anne and 1980's The Hounds of Notre Dame, which featured The Changeling star, Frances Hyland.

Fraser also organized and chaired the first Alberta Film Festival in 1974. In 1991, he was inducted into the Order of Canada for his broadcasting work, with the citation indicating Fraser, who was of Caribbean parentage, was Canada's first black broadcaster. In 1979, Fraser founded the Banff International Television Festival, which continues today as the Banff World Media Festival.

As a human rights campaigner, Fraser served as chief commissioner of the Alberta Human Rights Commission from 1989-1992 and was president and CEO of the Vision TV network from 1995-2000.

As a writer, Fraser also penned Running Uphill – The Fast, Short Life of Canadian Champion Harry Jerome, a biography of the Olympic sprinter that was filmed by the National Film Board, and How the Blacks Created Canada.

He was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in 2000. – Sources: Wikipedia, Hollywood Reporter

Neil O’Brien, the traffic reporter at Rogers Media’s News1130 Vancouver, has died at age 47, one week short of his 48th birthday. Puget Sound Radio reports that O’Brien had been going through some health issues in recent weeks. The popular anchor had held similar posts at various radio stations in Vancouver for over 10 years. Earlier he hosted and produced a 60-second short form radio feature broadcast nightly on CKNW radio ("Neil With The B-Movie Reel").

ScHoolboy Q
Bethany Vargas

ScHoolboy Q

Rb Hip Hop

ScHoolboy Q’s Toronto Concert Cancelled, Blames Drake’s Beef with Kendrick Lamar

In a series of posts on X, Q implied that the show was cancelled due to Drake's feud with Lamar, writing: "CANADIAN POLICE DONT WANT NOBODY FROM TDE PERFORMING.."

A cancelled show is seemingly connected to the year's biggest story in rap music: the heated beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar.

ScHoolboy Q was supposed to perform a sold-out show at Toronto venue History today (July 18). But Q took to X last night to announce that the show had been cancelled, supposedly due to the feud: "CANADIAN POLICE DONT WANT NOBODY FROM TDE [Lamar's label] PERFORMING.." he wrote.

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