Media Beat: December 20, 2017
A column about media and the regulatory environment within and beyond Canada's borders.
By David Farrell
Lawson Hunter, Kenneth Engelhart and Peter Miller are authors of the C.D. Howe Institute paper "Strengthening Canadian Television Content: Creation, Discovery and Export in a Digital World." The authors are actively engaged in the sector. The views in this paper are their own.
The world of Canadian content regulation was developed in an earlier analogue environment. Broadcasting was largely a closed, regulated system that included subsidies designed to help create more domestic content.
But the broadcasting system is no longer closed. High-quality television programming is available from the internet and Canadians are avid consumers. When TV is delivered over the internet, none of the Canadian regulations apply. So, the current system is not working; and it's clear that the quest to boost domestic content is an uphill battle.
In English Canada, the top 10 shows in 2016 were American. The next 10 shows were: three U.S. dramas; one U.S. reality show; four Canadian reality shows; and two Canadian sports programs. Canadian scripted programming (or "dramas") was not represented despite being the obsession of the CRTC for decades. Its efforts to improve Canadian drama performance are understandable. Dramas account for 40 percent of Canadian television viewing. But despite years of effort, only 20 percent of drama viewing in English Canada is Canadian, with just less than 30 percent in French Canada.
So we face two related problems. First, if internet-delivered TV continues to increase in popularity, this could lead to a significant decline in the amount of available Canadian television content, at least in the regulated system. Second, if Canadian broadcasters and cable companies are regulated, and internet-delivered competitors such as Netflix are not, it will be difficult for domestic providers to compete or even to survive, especially if foreign competitors face no taxation in this country – continue reading in the Globe & Mail
The pubcaster has extended its partnership with Rogers Media to keep broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada and the Stanley Cup playoffs until 2026 as part of a new sub-licensing agreement.
The new English-language broadcast deal will begin in the 2019-2020 NHL season, at the conclusion of CBC's previous four-year deal and a one-year extension. Rogers is currently four years into its 12-year, $5.2B deal with the NHL that runs through 2025-26.
Mélanie Joly's Netflix deal will take another knock this week as an Ottawa think-tank adds its voice to the chorus calling for the GST on foreign streaming services. Ever the populists, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have expressly ruled out imposing the goods and services tax on your Netflix bill, but the C.D. Howe Institute says it is only fair and sensible because Canadian services have to pay the tax.
In a report about Canadian television that will be issued on Tuesday, the authors argue it is probably not realistic to impose a Canadian-content quota on Netflix's catalogue. But, after Ms. Joly announced in September that Netflix would deliver $500-million in Canadian programing without any definition of what qualified, they do think Netflix's contributions need to be monitored by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission – Kate Taylor, The Globe & Mail
CTV’s investigative news series W5 and Vice Canada have announced a partnership to produce and air two documentaries in 2018 on the impact and causes of Canada's opioid crisis.
The partnership's first production is a 30-minute doc looking beyond the perception of the issue as an "urban" problem and examining the toll it has taken on small-town Canada. Bell Media-owned Much already airs news program Vice News Tonight as part of an exclusive deal with Vice Canada announced in Sept.
According to Postmedia’s latest update to shareholders, published only five days before the company announced its deal with Torstar that resulted in 250 job losses, top Postmedia executives paid themselves a $5,349,840 in 2017.
That’s up 33% from $3,921,221 in 2016.
I’m suggesting this slightly inelegant term because of a growing body of research that shows audio entertainment is beginning to cut into the time audiences once dedicated to video and text.
The trend is well documented in the U.S., but this is the first year the listening boom has been so evident in Canada.
There’s such a demand for Canadian audiobooks that Audible, the audio wing of Amazon, opened a Canadian store in the fall. To support it, they’re planning to invest $12 million in producing Canadian authors read by Canadian readers so we can hear our a-boots as they were meant to be heard.
To implement that, they’re partnering with Ryerson University in Toronto to train their media and performing arts students in the techniques for voicing and producing audiobooks the Amazon way – The Tyee
Raymond Salgado is looking for his big break, and he might get it on national television.
In January the Nanaimo, BC singer will appear in the new CTV program The Launch, which features 30 emerging artists from across Canada as they are mentored by industry professionals as they attempt to craft a hit song.
Salgado, who has a background in music festival competition and musical theatre, said he saw a notice about the program online and decided to give it a shot.
Salgado said some filming already took place in the fall. He said the experience was “really scary” and while he didn’t quite know what to do or expect, he was grateful to be there. He said the professional guidance the show offered is another benefit that he sees as helping his artistic development.
“It was unbelievable,” Salgado said.
“Just the whole experience of being there was something that still, to this day, I still can’t believe I made it on because … 10,000 people auditioned and I’m just one of the lucky 30 that got this opportunity.”
Wanna see a Christmas message to laugh your face off to?
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would replace some of the net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed last week, though critics say that the legislation falls short of the previous protections.
Blackburn's bill would prohibit internet service providers from blocking or throttling web content. But it would still allow companies such as Verizon and Comcast to charge websites for faster data speeds, and it pre-empts states from implementing stronger net neutrality protections.
The Tennessee Republican, who chairs the House Commerce subcommittee on technology, wrote on Twitter, "No blocking. No throttling. The Open Internet Preservation Act will ensure the internet is a free and open space. This legislation is simple; it provides light-touch regulation so companies can invest and innovate, and make sure our internet is up to 21st century standards."
Net neutrality advocates, on the other hand, argue the end of the rules will ultimately result in higher costs for consumers, with broadband providers now free to pursue deals with internet companies like Netflix and YouTube.
The effects of the FCC's policy change will not be evident for some time, experts say.
When Apple released their Top 20 podcasts of 2017 last week, there was only one commercial radio show on the list, and it was lodged right up near the top at number 4. Unlike public radio, which dominates the podcast charts, winners from commercial radio have been elusive. Except for this one. This is the story of how one syndicated radio show vaulted to the top of the podcast charts.
In a sea of right-wing talk radio, Dave Ramsey’s daily 3-hour show stands out for what it is not – it’s not about politics. It is a caller-driven show which most often revolves around money and personal finance – RAIN News
There’s been much debate about why podcasting hasn’t become more mass appeal. Some point to podcast discovery – a topic we covered in some depth in this blog last week. Others believe it’s the number of steps many have to go through to listen to podcasts. Still, others say the name “podcasting” is misleading and confusing.
But part of the explanation is undoubtedly due to a lack of reliable, accepted metrics that shed light on who’s listening, when, where, and for how long. It’s been said you can’t monetize content you cannot measure, and that applies directly to podcasting. But late last week, Apple finally released its long-awaited-for analytics.
And our Digital Dot Connector, Seth Resler, jumped on his Mac and started doing some serious number-crunching. Here’s a first look at how Apple’s data stack up and what this may mean to podcast producers and marketers – Fred Jacobs, Jacobs Media
Payne Lindsey bought a microphone and some audio equipment in early 2016 after being inspired by the 2014 smash-hit podcast “Serial.” Armed with his $100 recording setup and the result of his Google search for cold cases in his home state of Georgia, the independent filmmaker jumped into a new form of storytelling.
“I didn’t know what a podcast was,” Lindsey said. But he liked the intimate nature of podcasts — people tend to listen to them alone, maybe with headphones — and relished the idea of feeling like he was personally telling millions of people a story.
Fast forward several months later, Lindsey and his partner Donald Albright ended up with a podcast that made Apple’s top 20 list for 2017 which was released Thursday. The podcast, “Up and Vanished,” explored a decade-old cold case about the murder of a teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead. The show is now also the basis of a television deal – The Washington Post
Apple has unveiled its 2017 charts and trends, celebrating the most popular apps, music, movies, TV shows, books and podcasts across the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, iBooks and Apple Podcasts.
Despite the rumours surrounding their content strategy, it appears as if Apple is piecing together an interesting library of originals for its anticipated foray into streaming. The tech giant has already landed Steven Spielberg and Bryan Fuller for an expensive revival of the former’s 1980s anthology series Amazing Stories. The company also won a hard-fought bidding war for Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s new show. Now, Apple has reached a deal with Outlander showrunner Ronald D. Moore for a new space drama – Observer
Playing through December 23 at NYC’s The Players Centre is The 1940's Radio Hour, A Prairie Home Companion-type production that audiences back to Dec. 1942 and fictional York City radio station, WOV is about to go live to record a broadcast for the troops serving overseas in World War 11. Below, an earlier edition of the show. You may want to consider beginning watching the show at 22:00 as the previous section does well on stage but doesn’t necessarily translate well to video.