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FYI

Media Beat, Feb. 22, 2022

Media Beat, Feb. 22, 2022

By David Farrell

Postmedia to buy Irving's N.B. newspaper chain for $16.1M

The door could open up for greater media competition in New Brunswick as Toronto-based Postmedia gears up to purchase all of the 9 daily and weekly newspapers, digital properties and parcel delivery business owned by the Irving family for $7.5m in cash and $8.6m in Postmedia shares at an implied price of $2.10 per variable voting share.


The proposed deal marks the end of an era for the Irving empire, which has been involved in newspapers in New Brunswick for more than eight decades. – Adena Ali, The Canadian Press

“Au revoir and thank you for your trust”

 It’s the end of an era as Lucinda Chodan retires this week as Editor-in-Chief at the Montreal Gazette. She is not only an editorial director of nationwide renown, but also a wordsmith of impressive skill which also runs to her work as lyricist for many of the songs performed by Montreal roots music group, Steel Rail, which features her husband Dave Clarke on guitar. – Martin Melhuish, Facebook

Two Toronto radio stations have merged. Here’s why music execs say it’s a loss for Black culture

Flow 93.5FM was launched in 2001 after 10 years of work by Denham Jolly and Milestone Radio to become Canada’s pioneering Black-owned station. Its programming was aimed at representing and reflecting the city’s Black communities. In 2011, it was sold to CHUM Radio.

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Later in 2011, G98.7 became the city’s second-ever Black-owned station, but after founder Fitzroy Gordon’s death in 2019 it was sold in 2020.

Those sales are where cultural loss resides for Farley Flex, former music director and director of business development of the original Flow. – Demar Grant, Toronto Star

Gravitas: Trudeau government is silent about who got billions in aid on YouTube

Canada's public broadcaster has claimed that the Justin Trudeau government hasn't been transparent about where pandemic aid worth billions of dollars has gone.

Roberta Nichol's freedom convoy song

Regina's Roberta Nichol, 69, is a musician and retired schoolteacher who has captured the frustration of Ottawa residents dealing with the truckers' protest in a light-hearted reworking of the Dean Martin classic, That's Amore.

The Michael Berry Show satirizes Trudeau’s stance against the truckers

With 6M+ views on his YouTube channel, the so-called czar of American talk radio posted a video editorial set to Iowan-born CW McCall’s ‘70s novelty song Convoy that was a Number 1 hit in Canada in its day.

Populist rebellion over vaccine mandates puts Canadian media in the crossfire

When hundreds of vaccine-mandate protesters gathered on February 5 outside the downtown offices of CTV News Vancouver, Marcella Desjarlais had a message for them.

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“I’m all for freedom,” the former People’s Party of Canada candidate, a.k.a. Marcella Williams, said from the stage. “I’m for truth and I’m for facts. And I just want to say, ‘The media sucks.’”

It was one of several demonstrations held that day outside Canadian television stations with the theme “The Media Is the Virus”.

Desjarlais, a charismatic speaker, delivered a carefully crafted presentation intended to counter some of the widely reported descriptions of people attending these protests. – Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight

U.S. Congress asks Facebook: What role did fake overseas accounts have in promoting Canada convoys?

American politicians are demanding details from Facebook about how many fake online accounts created by foreign actors helped promote Canada's convoy protests.

The chair of the most powerful investigative body in the U.S. House of Representatives this week sent a letter to company founder Mark Zuckerberg seeking information about inauthentic activity.

The questions include, how many fake accounts Facebook identified related to the "Freedom Convoy"; when it determined they were fake; how many people saw that content; what country it originated from; what countries it was spread in; and how much money Facebook made from associated ads. – Alexander Panetta, CBC News

How American right-wing funding for Canadian trucker protests could sway U.S. politics

The Canadians who have disrupted travel and trade with the U.S. and occupied downtown Ottawa for nearly three weeks have been cheered and funded by American right-wing activists and conservative politicians who also oppose vaccine mandates and the country’s liberal leader.

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Yet whatever impact the protests have on Canadian society and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, experts say the outside support is really aimed at energizing conservative politics in the U.S. Midterm elections are looming, and some Republicans think standing with the protesters up north will galvanize fund-raising and voter turnout at home, these experts say. – PBS Newshour

It’s time for a public interest champion to take over at the CRTC

Ian Scott’s term as CRTC Chair is up in September, and the process to replace him starts soon. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that we fight tooth and nail to make sure the next Chair stands up for the best interests of people in Canada — NOT Big Telecom.

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With a public interest champion at the helm of the CRTC, we can make sure that the regulator makes decisions that benefit Canadians first. This is our clearest path to overriding Ian Scott’s trail of disasters, including the 2021 wholesale Internet price hikes and his lockout of low-cost alternative cell phone providers, aka MVNOs.
We’re gearing up to launch a campaign on this soon — so stay tuned! In the meantime, we’re in the midst of a major push to our MPs to demand affordable connectivity in Canada. Can we count on you to speak up? Email your MP NOW: push our government to lower Canada’s Internet and cell phone prices to match up with the rest of the world!Open Media

Canadian tech salaries jumped 38% since 2019, but attracting talent is tough

Thanks to the pandemic, Canadians working in sales, marketing, and product saw their salaries jump 38 percent in 2021, the second fastest-rising rate only after Mexico. The latter country’s salaries spiked by 57 percent, according to a new report from Deel.

Deel, a global hiring and payroll startup, published the information in its newly released State of Hiring Report 2021. The startup used data pulled from more than 100,000 work contracts from over 150 countries, along with 500,000 third-party data points. The trends in the report were tracked from July to December 2021. – Charles Mandel, Betakit

Rupert Murdoch waited years for a pliant government – now he’s got one

Rupert Murdoch’s strength stands in marked contrast to the prime minister, a former journalist once sacked by a Murdoch publication for falsifying a quote, who suddenly needs his friends in the media more than ever. The revolving door between Downing Street and Fleet Street has already seen Johnson’s director of communications become deputy editor-in-chief of the Sun, a paper which failed to break any major “partygate” stories. Some publications featured extensive stories and headlines about the partying prime minister, while others – particularly on the Sun, the Express and the Mail – have struggled to get these stories on their own front pages. – Jane Martinson, The Guardian UK

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Investors alarmed as streaming services lose their magic touch

The end of the pandemic-fuelled home entertainment boom that has driven record-breaking growth for Netflix and its rivals has revealed an uneasy truth – the streaming revolution has peaked.

The market is facing a perfect storm as, after a decade of making easy converts, streaming companies are seeing dramatically slower growth and increasing competition fuelling an unsustainable content war, just as stretched household budgets prompt consumers to start cutting back on entertainment services. – Mark Sweney, The Guardian UK

The podcast about Joe Rogan’s podcast is hugely popular

Adam Thorne’s podcast has no official affiliation with Rogan’s show but it is starting to put up Rogan-like numbers. Its audience has skyrocketed over the last year and now averages more than a million downloads per month. In early February, it peaked at No. 6 on the Apple podcast charts and briefly became one of the 100 most popular podcasts in the world, according to Chartable.

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It’s a testament to the power of Rogan’s fanbase that a podcast about his podcast draws a larger audience than almost everything else in a booming market, including countless programs hosted by other famous comedians. It’s also another reminder of why Spotify Technology SA has been unwilling to dump Rogan despite a fierce backlash from artists like Neil Young who are upset with the host and his backers for spreading vaccine misinformation. – Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Zuckerberg has burned $500B turning Facebook into Meta

There has never been a self-immolation quite like Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media company has lost more than half a trillion dollars in market value since its August peak — about half of that vaporized in a single day, the biggest drop ever — as it starts to weaken from the constant siege of competitors and dissenters without and within. The fallout is so bad that Meta, once the sixth-largest company in the world by market capitalization, has fallen out of the top ten, replaced by two computer-chip makers, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and the Chinese e-commerce company Tencent. For a CEO who has openly courted comparisons to the Roman emperor Augustus, it’s an ignominious fall from a rarefied group of world-dominating companies. – Kevin T. Dugan, New York Magazine

Inside Playboy’s quest to reinvent itself as a tech company

Mia Khalifa would be an obvious choice for a Playboy Playmate of the Month, if such a thing still existed. Instead, one of the biggest names in adult entertainment just signed up for its digital equivalent.

Khalifa, a social media influencer and former porn star with 27 million Instagram followers, is set to join Playboy’s new subscription content service, Centerfold, later this month. The platform launched in December with the vision to become, according to Playboy Enterprises CEO Ben Kohn, “the uncensored Instagram.” Two months in, the site looks less like a rehash of the old, Hugh Hefner velvet-and-lace aesthetic than a modern mashup of OnlyFans and Patreon. Its home page displays suggestive photographs of adult entertainers both female and male, plus the occasional YouTuber and makeup artist. It features an Instagram-style “following” feed showcasing its current roster, and a tab for messaging creators (for a fee, of course). Its founding creative director, with input on editorial decisions and creator recruiting, is rapper Cardi B. – Mike Sullivan, The Information

Dean Baquet never wanted to be an editor

When Dean Baquet took over as the executive editor of the Times, in 2014—the first Black editor to fill the role—the paper, like so many around the country, faced layoffs and an uncertain future. Baquet is widely expected to step down this year, at the age of sixty-five, per company tradition. He will leave not just a thriving newspaper but a burgeoning media empire. During his eight years at the helm, the paper won more than a dozen Pulitzer Prizes, the number of newsroom staff members increased from thirteen hundred to two thousand, and subscriptions soared. With increased revenues, the Times made forays into TV, podcasts, product reviews, and games. In the past two years alone, it bought Serial Productions, for twenty-five million dollars; the Athletic, a sports site, for five hundred and fifty million dollars; and the viral game Wordle, for an undisclosed sum in the low seven figures. “I think it’s a better news organization, as well as a more successful news business, than when I came in,” Baquet said. “I will take some credit for that.”

None of this is half bad for a college dropout. – Clare Malone, The New Yorker

Omicron BA.2: All you need to know

The Wuhan Virus has mutated again. Omicron Sub-Variant #BA2 is spreading globally. How lethal is this variant? Does it endanger the progress made so far? Will vaccines be effective? Palki Sharma tells you all you need to know.

How the intellectual property monopoly has impeded an effective response to Covid-19

In an interconnected world, a pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere—no one is safe until everyone is safe. Vaccination delays and supply shortages in protective equipment and treatments increase the possibility of the virus mutating. This undermines our ability to control the pandemic, even in highly vaccinated countries. And yet two years into the pandemic, vaccine doses are highly concentrated in rich countries.

As of October 2021, only 0.7% of all manufactured vaccine doses had gone to low-income countries. Manufacturers had delivered 47 times as many doses to high-income countries as they had to low-income countries. – Salam Alshareef, Medical Xpress

The $41B NFT industry is unleashing lobbyists on D.C. as it tries to avoid big tech’s fate

NFTs, or digital assets like art that come with a sort of certificate of ownership, are fetching millions of dollars at auction. Meanwhile, McDonalds, Nike, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and Walmart are hoping to cash in by selling their own NFTs to sell exclusive items to their customers. 

With big money now involved, big business is taking note and following the well-worn path of Big Banks, Big Pharma, and Big Tech: hiring lobbyists to sway lawmakers and government officials. – Nicole Goodkind, Fortune

iHeartMedia to Utilize Veritone synthetic voice tech to translate and produce podcasts for non-Englis-speaking audiences

iHeartMedia plans to use Veritone synthetic voice software that allows celebrities, athletes, influencers, broadcasters, and podcasters to have the appearance of speaking in different languages with distinct dialects and accents. iHeartMedia will start by using Veritone’s AI tech in its podcasts. The first use is translating podcasts for Spanish-speaking audiences. – Businesswire

Global missile sales driven by AI tech

Artificial intelligence is a key trend gaining popularity in the missiles market. Countries across the world are designing artificial intelligence missiles to hit targets that humans cannot reach. Artificial intelligence gives missiles the potential to strike moving targets and also provides greater accuracy over other technologies.

The global missiles market size is expected to grow from $25.31B in 2021 to $26.43B in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4%. The growth in the missiles market is mainly due to the companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the COVID-19 impact, which had earlier led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of commercial activities that resulted in operational challenges. The global missiles market share is expected to reach $32.16B in 2026 at a CAGR of 5.0%. – TBRC Business Research Pvt

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FYI

Fixing The News Business Means Learning To Think Differently (Guest Column)

Change is coming quickly to the news industry, and innovation has to come just as quickly.

This is the second part of a series of guest columnsseeking answers to the financial issues that have plagued Canadian news organizations.

My prescription for change is very clear. Stop trying to solve today's problems through yesterday's lens.

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