Media Beat: Feb. 16, 2023

By David Farrell

Star Wars: Inside the vicious battle for control of Canada’s largest newspaper

… At One Yonge, the summer of the sale was one of historic upheaval. While the new owners had convinced the voting trust that their motives were pure, they hadn’t persuaded the staff. Some of the Star’s reporters were worried. It wasn’t just that neither Bitove nor Rivett had any media experience—they were also rich, conservative Bay Street guys. Rivett had made political donations to Doug Ford and Maxime Bernier, Bitove to Erin O’Toole. When the latter was a student council vice-president at Western, he had brought in Henry Kissinger to speak. The Star was the most progressive daily in the country, so left-wing that it had once been disparaged as the Red Star. Had they bought the paper only to change its political stripe? – Jason McBride, Toronto Life


Why is the head of the CBC picking a fight with Pierre Poilievre?

… “There is a lot of CBC-bashing going on – somewhat stoked by the Leader of the Opposition,” Catherine Tait told The Globe and Mail’s Marie Woolf. “I think they feel the CBC is a mouthpiece for the Liberal government.” – Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail

One in four Canadians are unable to cover an unexpected expense of $500 

In fall 2022, over one-third (35%) of Canadians reported that it was difficult for their household to meet its financial needs in the previous 12 months. When asked whether their household had the resources to cover an unexpected expense of $500, 26% said that they would be unable to do so, with a slightly larger percentage of women (29%) reporting this difficulty than men (24%). Further, while the vast majority of Canadians were concerned with rising gasoline and food prices, almost half (44%) said they were very concerned with their household's ability to afford housing or rent.

These results come from the most recent cycle of the Canadian Social Survey on Quality of Life and Cost of Living, collected from October 21 to December 4, 2022, conducted in response to rising economic inflation.


In 2022, Canada saw the largest increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 1982 (+10.9%), with an increase of 6.8% since 2021. Prices rose for all eight major components of the CPI, with the largest increases in transportation (+10.6%), food (+8.9%) and shelter (+6.9%).

While most Canadians reported concerns over increasing challenges of affordability, not all individuals were affected equally. – Statistics Canada

Why drag shows are the new front in America’s culture wars

… Republican legislators in many states are demanding bans on drag shows. I can’t help wondering where this end. Tell me, Governor, did you ever knowingly watch and enjoy Tootsie? Mrs Doubtfire? Senator, have you ever attended an English pantomime or a play by that deviant, William Shakespeare? – The Economist

Super Bowl commercials, the hits and the misses

Hefty as the fees were for advertising time on this year's Super Bowl — up to $7 million per 30 seconds — there weren't that many commercials whose concepts and execution seemed worthy of the price tag.

Instead, viewers were stuck watching commercials that stranded some big name celebrities in thoughtless concepts (Jon Hamm and Brie Larson inside a giant refrigerator for Hellmann's mayonnaise?) or spots which made the products they were advertising look bad (Jennifer Coolidge getting her face stuck to a glass door by e.l.f. Cosmetics). – Eric Deggans, NPR


How Spotify's podcast bet went wrong

Spotify was a one-company podcast bubble. Its drastic cuts have triggered a podcast winter, as the small studios it helped support consolidate and lavish narrative productions wane. But rivals from tech giants Amazon and Apple to the radio company iHeart have found better returns on more cautious bets. Spotify’s pivot has more in common with the recent cuts to Hollywood’s spending on streaming television. – Max Tani, Semafor


Terry DiMonte on the long road to recovery after heart surgery : The former CHOM morning man suffered major complications after an operation in Vancouver and spent 25 days on life support. – Bill Brownstein, Montreal Gazette


Trouble in Queen’s Park: The editor-in-chief of Queen’s Park (QP) Briefing and iPolitics and a reporter have resigned over concerns about perceived editorial interference. – Toronto Star

Thomson Reuters Corp. reported resilient financial results to finish 2022 and kept its earnings outlook for the current year mostly unchanged in spite of mounting economic pressures from inflation and interest rates.

Commons Monopoly, a podcast: For almost a century, the Irving family has run New Brunswick like a personal fiefdom. They own the newspapers, the industry, and, according to some, even the government.

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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