Media Beat: February 15, 2021

Media Beat: February 15, 2021

By David Farrell

The joke that went to the Supreme Court

Comedian Mike Ward mocked a disabled boy. Nine years after the boy's family filed a complaint, the case tests the rights of artistic expression versus discrimination. – Marie-Danielle Smith, Maclean’s

The Faceoff: BCE trims it media division, but Rogers outperforms in wireless

Recently cut Bell Media division is BCE’s weakest link

A 23.9 per cent profit margin on quarterly revenues of almost $800 million would have many companies breaking out the champagne to celebrate a resounding success. Instead, BCE Inc. broke out the chainsaws.

Those numbers, by the way, were from the fourth quarter results at Bell Media, the BCE division which has been getting pared back since Wade Oosterman took over as CEO in early January. In addition to parting ways with several senior executives in January, Bell Media also eliminated hundreds of jobs at radio and TV properties across the country in the last few weeks.


Why torch a division which is still making money? Because it’s a relatively tiny piece of the BCE empire, and the company is trying to focus on the vastly more lucrative wireless division. – Josh Rubin, The Star

No joke: Bell's replacement for TSN 1040 gets roasted on social media

Funny 1040, Vancouver's newest radio station, seems unlikely to win over many fans. – Patrick Johnston, The Province

Canada is 'playing chicken' with COVID-19 by reopening

Much of Canada is lifting lockdown measures and reopening risky indoor settings while experts warn fast-spreading coronavirus variants threaten to jeopardize recent progress and trigger a brutal third wave.

On the same day Manitoba announced its first case of the variant initially detected in the United Kingdom, the province also said it would reopen restaurants, gyms, places of worship, museums, art galleries, tattoo parlours, nail salons and libraries.  – Adam Miller, CBC News

Canadian regulator clears launch of world's first bitcoin ETF - investment manager

Canada's main securities regulator has cleared the launch of the world's first bitcoin exchange traded fund, an investment manager said on Friday, providing investors greater access to the cryptocurrency that has sparked an explosion in trading interest.


 The ETF will be the first in the world to invest directly in physically settled Bitcoin, not derivatives, allowing investors easy and efficient access to the emerging asset class of cryptocurrency. – Reuters

Canada’s Bombardier grounds Learjet as customers demand longer-range models

Production of the Learjet, which became synonymous with lifestyles of the rich and famous as the private jet of choice for Frank Sinatra, will halt later this year after nearly 60 years, Canada's Bombardier announced Thursday.

The aviation company said that it plans to focus on more profitable planes after the Learjet fell out of favor and private-plane buyers switched to larger, more comfortable, longer-range models.

Bombardier purchased the Learjet in 1990 but in recent years, production of the plane had slowed to about one a month. – The Daily Mail

Conservative ad campaign ads violated copyright, CBC says

The Conservative party’s use of CBC news footage in a partisan attack ad and tweets was a copyright infringement damaging to the public broadcaster’s integrity and impartiality, Federal Court heard Thursday.

It is the first time a Canadian court has been asked to adjudicate a copyright dispute between a news organization and a major political organization, court heard.

A major problem is that the impugned material ignores the professional efforts that went into getting it to air, CBC lawyer Andrea Gonsalves said. The Conservatives manipulated the material for their own purposes in a way that did not reflect the original context, she said. – The Canadian Press


Loblaw’s move to become the leading Canadian data-driven powerhouse

Led by “data-obsessed” president Sarah Larkin, who self-describes as “mathy,” and backed by one of Canada’s wealthiest families, Loblaw is making huge investments and powerful partnerships to rapidly become a data-driven giant. It is doing it in a fashion that draws many similarities to the FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) giants. – Amir Barnea, The Star

Government launches timid consultation on copyright term extension

After years of rejecting copyright term extension beyond the international law standard of life of the author plus 50 years, the Canadian government caved to pressure from the United States by agreeing to the equivalent of life of the author plus 70 years in the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA). As part of that agreement, Canada obtained a 30-month transition period that would allow for consultation on how to implement the copyright term obligation. That consultation was launched late last week, with the two departments responsible for copyright – ISED and Canadian Heritage – launching the consultation and a consultation document. The consultation period is very short with responses due by March 12, 2021. The department says that all responses will be made available online once the consultation is concluded.. – Michael Geist blog


Microsoft calls on Canada to back Aussie model forcing Big Tech to pay for news

Microsoft no doubt has its eye on some of the US$4.7B a year Google earns just on the back of news content. Google, which dominates the planet with 92 per cent of search traffic (94.5 per cent in Australia), according to, had said it will bar its search engine from Australia rather than pay media outlets. That leaves an opening for Bing (with 3.6 percent of the Australian market). – Colin McClelland, Financial Post

Google's fight in one country could threaten its global media empire

The search giant, along with Facebook, could be forced to pay news publishers for content in Australia. Other governments will likely follow suit. – Daniel Van Boom & Richard Nieva, CNET

CRTC rejects request to reduce local programming quota for TSN Radio 690

A request from Bell Media to reduce the amount of local programming it is required to broadcast on TSN Radio 690 AM in Montreal has been rejected by the CRTC

In a decision published last Wednesday renewing the station’s licence until 2027, the CRTC found it already had enough flexibility in its current quota and allowing this change in its licence — going from 96 hours a week to 63 hours of local programming — would undermine the reason the quota was established in the first place. – Steve Faguy, Fagsein


Mark Cuban is co-founding a podcast app where hosts can talk to fans

The app, according to a now-expired engineer job posting, has raised a “multi-million dollar” seed round to get started. The source close to the company says creators will be offered various deals and ways to monetize, and the app won’t let just anyone speak publicly. It’ll be a highly curated experience. – Ashley Carman, The Verge

How fast do you cancel streaming services? It’s a problem for Hollywood

According to Deloitte’s survey of 1,100 people in October, 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last six months. That’s a dramatic increase from the 20% who said in a similar January survey that they’d canceled a service in the previous year. Of the people surveyed who canceled a streaming subscription, 62% did so because they finished the show or movie that they had signed up to see. – Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times

Death to the Inspirational News Story

A teen gives up her college savings to pay her mother’s back rent. A student uses his lunch money to help pay down his classmate’s debt. Let’s stop pretending these stories are heartwarming. – Kiran Misra, The New Republic

This house was 3D printed in 48 hours and finished in a week. Now, it’s for sale

SQ4D 3D-prints full-sized concrete houses in a way that’s faster, safer, and stronger than traditional methods. It’s also, the company claims, more sustainable and, crucially, cheaper. The company recently listed the first 3D-printed home for sale in the United States: An attractive 1,400 square foot home, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2.5 car garage, and a quarter-acre garden in Riverhead, N.Y.


Its asking price of $299,999 isn’t exactly dirt cheap, but it’s well below the median asking price of $380,000 for the area. – Luke Dormehl, digitaltrends


Frank Orr, who covered the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup championships of the 1960s and the always eventful Harold Ballard ownership years over more than four decades of award-winning sports writing for the Toronto Star, passed away Saturday. He was 84.

Mike Benny who started as the afternoon guy on 550 CKPG Radio 35 years ago, moved to mornings, then went on to be the morning voice of 101.3 Hits FM that later became The River. He was on the air for 35 years in Prince George, BC.. Cause of death was lung cancer.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Pavel Suslov

Red Hot Chili Peppers


Red Hot Chili Peppers Edit Kendrick Lamar Over Toronto Setlist in Instagram Post

The L.A. rockers have seemingly picked a side in the rap beef, poking fun at Drake by posting a spicy photoshop of Lamar alongside Canadian icons like Neil Young and Jim Carrey.

California, show your teeth: L.A.'s Red Hot Chili Peppers have shared a biting Instagram post about the Drake/Kendrick beef.

The '90s rockers played two shows in Toronto this past week, and following their second show on July 17, they posted a carousel with images of famous Canadians edited onto their setlist — except for one outlier.

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