Media Beat: June 29, 2023

By David Farrell

Postmedia in merger talks with Toronto Star owner

While the discussions are ongoing, some details have emerged about potential ownership with Postmedia, saying the merged entity, which has yet to be named, would be jointly owned and jointly controlled by Nordstar and existing Postmedia shareholders.
According to a release, the Toronto Star would still have editorial independence as it would enter the merger with the incorporation of a new company, Toronto Star Inc.
Nordstar would retain a 65 percent interest in Toronto Star Inc., and Bitove would remain the publisher. – blogTo

Toronto Star owner Nordstar, Postmedia in talks to merge

The two companies made an announcement at the request of regulators, after the price of Postmedia’s PNC-A-T thinly traded stock jumped by 46 percent Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. A generation back, both companies were valued at billions of dollars and the families that owned them were among the wealthiest in Canada. Now, Postmedia’s equity is worth $186-million. – Andrew Willis, Joe Castaldo, The Globe and Mail


Rodriguez says newsrooms will be supported should Meta, Google block news

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said he remains hopeful digital giants will not make good on their threat to block access to Canadian news on their platforms, but if they do then the Liberal government will ensure newsrooms have the resources they need to continue their work. – Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

Rodriguez still optimistic of deals with tech giants but they are ‘not above the law’

In an interview Tuesday with The Globe and Mail, the Heritage Minister did not rule out removing millions of dollars of federal government advertising from the platforms. Last year’s annual report on government advertising shows that Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta, earned $11,423,728 from government advertising in 2021-22, while Google gained $8,757,234. – Marie Woolf, The Globe and Mail

Bell Media asks CRTC to remove its obligations to local TV news

In an application to the CRTC, Bell Media requests it drop requirements for spending on local news and on the number of hours per week that stations are required to broadcast 'locally reflective' news in major and smaller markets. – CBC News


Bell Media managing the decline of AM radio

…This isn’t the first time a broadcaster has given up on an AM station, and it won’t be the last. With new CRTC rules on common ownership, many AM stations will be able to move to FM in smaller markets. CBC is continuing the process of moving low-power AM stations to FM, and maintains full-power AM stations only in places like Toronto and Windsor where there’s no place left on the FM band. – Fagstein

Canada’s new Online News Act succeeded in blocking online news

Bill C-18, the Online News Act, received royal assent (June 22), but any celebrations by the groups who lobbied for unprecedented government intervention into the news sector must surely have been tempered by the reality that quickly emerged. Meta confirmed that it would block news sharing from its Facebook and Instagram platforms in Canada, while Google met with Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to see whether a compromise could be reached to avoid a similar outcome. The end result – at least for now – is a legislative mess that leaves no clear winners with Meta downgrading its platforms in Canada, Canadians cut off from their ability to share news on popular social media platforms, Canadian news outlets losing their second most important source of referral traffic, and the government looking to have made an epic miscalculation for having ignored the risks it created by establishing a mandated payment for links system with uncapped liability for the Internet companies.  Michael Geist blog


Corus cuts TV programming team, restructures group

Corus, like other Canadian TV networks, has seen a dramatic drop in advertising revenues during the pandemic…while programming costs continue to climb. During its most recent second-quarter financial earnings report, Corus said TV advertising revenues fell 8 percent to C$325.5M and by 7 percent for the first six months of the fiscal year. – Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter


TakSavvy bows to stormy telecom headwinds

… Even though the CRTC is working on a new rate regime after determining its 2021 decision stifled competition, Lawford said it’s too late to save independent providers.

“These guys are all dead. It’s over,” John Lawford, executive director and general counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said. “You’ll have one cable-based internet provider and one telephone-based provider in your city, and that’s it. You’re going to get duopoly pricing for the next 10 years.” – Jeremy Nuttall, The Star

The “passive news consumer” is on the rise

As the group of active participators — who make up much of what the public sees when it comes to news participation — continues to shrink, it also increasingly looks like the unrepresentative traditional news audience. These participators are more likely to be men, higher educated, more politically partisan, and more interested in news. In a world with digital subscriptions, news organizations risk listening too much to this group and not enough to the silent majority of readers. – Kirsten Eddy, NiemanLab

What the Titan vessel disaster says about media

Fascination with the Titanic-seeking vessel broke through because it was live and because it came with an ample information vacuum for every corner of the internet to fill in the blanks.

Incredulity abounded as accounts surfaced about the rudimentary engineering of the vessel. Twoof the 7 most-engaged Titanic-related news stories on social media were about the submarine being piloted with a $30 video game controller, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

It was, ultimately, a classic, riveting race against time, like the rescue of “Baby Jessica” in 1987 which was the early proving grounds for CNN’s 24-hour news — though this one ended tragically. – Neal Rothschild, Semafor

Why missing Titanic sub got more coverage than missing migrant children

James O'Brien and LBC callers discuss the difference in media coverage and public interest between the missing OceanGate explorers and the hundreds of migrant children who went missing in the UK this year. –  LBC News


Titanic Original Survivors Interviews from 1956 & 1970

YouTube’s annual Culture & Trends Report with takeaways on fandom, generative AI, and the death of monoculture

YouTube has published its annual Culture & Trends Report, providing an informative snapshot of some of the shifting trends for content creators. Among the notable statistics: 82% of online 18-44 year-olds polled have posted video content online over the past year — and that’s across all platforms, including Instagram Stories, TikTok, and Snapchat. – Ashley King, Digital Music News

Is our Canadian identity getting submerged by the rising tide of new immigrants?

Contemplating whether there's such a thing as a Canadian identity, and what it might be, has been a national pastime probably for as long as Canada has existed. And there's no way to talk about Canada or Canadian politics without taking regionalism into account. None of this is new, but amid pressures or circumstances, such as extreme polarization, could that malleable idea of Canada become too weak to hold it all together?

Steve Paikin considers this big issue with guests: Margaret MacMillan, author and emerita professor of International History at the U of Oxford, and U of Toronto; Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the U of Saskatchewan; Paul Wells, author of An Emergency in Ottawa: The Story of the Convoy Commission; Akaash Maharaj, Ambassador-at-Large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, and a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the U of Toronto; Daniel Bernhard, CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship; and Lydia Petrovic, author of Lost in Canada; An Immigrant's Second Thoughts.



Meta plans a news blackout in Canada: Why the sequel to a story that played out in Australia two years ago deserves a different ending. ­– Casey Newton Platformer

A (disastrous) distributional analysis of the federal fuel charge under the 2030 emissions reduction plan: When the economic impact is incorporated, we observe a decrease in employment and investment income, which leads to a reduction in federal personal income tax (PIT) revenues in the provinces where the fuel charge applies. In 2023-24, we estimate that the federal fuel charge will reduce PIT revenues by $2.2B. The impact on PIT revenues is projected to reach $8.0B in 2030-31. – Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer

Taming the tech giants will cause collateral damagePolicy Options

Quebec taxpayers continue annual $1.5M subsidy for a Montreal traffic radio stationFagstein

Gen Zers are turning to ‘radical rest,’ delusional thinking, and self-indulgence as they struggle to cope with late-stage capitalism: Gen Zers are adapting to a bleak financial future by focusing on their quality of life right now. – Molly Barth, Fortune

Google is launching its Perspectives search feed that’s designed to show results from humansThe Verge

Aussie broadcaster wants a bigger budget to counter China threat: Claire Gorman, ABC’s head of international services, told the inquiry into supporting democracy in the region that China is spending at least $3B a year on international media, compared with $11M for the ABC. – Tory Shepherd, The Guardian UK

$108B U.K. Media & Entertainment Market will remain Euro leader, PwC report forecastsVariety

Media freedom in dire state in a record number of countries, report finds: …The Middle East is the world’s most dangerous region for journalists. But the Americas no longer have any country coloured green, meaning “good”, on the press freedom map. The US fell three places to 45th. – Kelly Walls, The Guardian UK

Journalists increasingly targeted for their work: Reporters Without Borders has just released its World Press Freedom Index for 2023, and it shows that journalists around the world face an increasingly hostile environment. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has a summary of the main findings. Jessica Jerreat and Lisa Bryant contributed to this report. – Veronica Balderas Iglesias, VOA

Pierre Péladeau’s student innovation bursaries: This year’s competition awarded five bursaries totalling $200K to help propel the ideas of up-and-coming local entrepreneurs. This assistance, combined with mentorship, is designed to support them in bringing their innovative business projects to fruition.

Bargain hunting in the legacy media aisle: Last month Netflix poached the co-heads of AMC Networks’ Scripted Programming, responsible for spinoffs of the hit series “The Walking Dead” and “Interview With the Vampire,” as well as Apple TV+’s new drama “Silo.” Executive poaching is nothing new or unusual. But the move raises a provocative question: Why didn’t Netflix simply buy AMC Networks, whose enterprise value is roughly $3 billion, or less than 2% of Netflix’s current market capitalization? – Andrew A. Rosen, The Information

Meta plans a news blackout in Canada: Why the sequel to a story that played out in Australia two years ago deserves a different ending. ­– Casey Newton Platformer

Inside the first art gallery for blind artists and audiences – Jennifer Billock, Thrillist

In his own words


Billie Eilish performs during Music Midtown 2023 at Piedmont Park on Sept. 16, 2023 in Atlanta.
Nykieria Chaney/Getty Images for ABA

Billie Eilish performs during Music Midtown 2023 at Piedmont Park on Sept. 16, 2023 in Atlanta.

Music News

Billie Eilish Dances and Sings Along to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Not Like Us’ Drake Diss

K. Dot's track debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May.

Billie Eilish was spotted vibing to Kendrick Lamar‘s “Not Like Us.”

In a video that began circulating on social media Saturday (May 18), the 22-year-old pop star is seen dancing and singing along to K. Dot’s infectious Drake diss, which recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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