Media Beat: March 25, 2020

Media Beat: March 25, 2020

By David Farrell

RIP: Canadian telecom pioneer JR Shaw

It’s with great sadness that Shaw Communications Inc. (“Shaw” or “the Company”) announces the passing of company founder, Executive Chair, and former CEO, JR Shaw. A true pioneer of Canadian business and a visionary of the Canadian telecommunications sector, JR passed away peacefully March 23 at the age of 85.

“My family and I are at a loss for words and are deeply saddened at JR’s passing,” said Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications. “JR was the founder and leader of our company, but he was also an exceptional husband, a loving father, grandfather and great grandfather. His legacy of love and compassion for people will live on for generations.”


JR’s focus was always on the customer and providing them with choice and exceptional service. He loved all of the employees at Shaw, more than 10,000 of them. For over 50 years, JR established himself as a network builder, growing Shaw Communications Inc. into one of Canada’s leading connectivity providers, serving over 7 million subscribers with cable, internet, voice, satellite and wireless services. The growth and success of Shaw is a direct reflection of JR’s commitment and passion for delivering excellent customer service.

“I spoke to JR every day about the business. He was engaged and interested in everything the company was doing – from the latest technology being rolled out to how we were meeting the needs of families across Western Canada. We know we will miss his smile, his advice and his encouragement, but all of our people know that JR would want us looking out for each other, for our neighbours, and serving our customers to the best of our abilities,” Brad Shaw said. “Our tribute to him will be to continue to grow the business he loved.”

JR stepped down as CEO of Shaw Communications in 1998 when his eldest son, the late Jim Shaw took over. Current CEO, Brad Shaw, began in the role in 2010. JR remained active in the company he built, serving as Executive Chairman.


“JR was an icon in the industry, and he was extraordinarily passionate in delivering connectivity and customer service to millions of Canadians. His vision and insight combined with his warmth of character created a magic touch among everyone who knew and worked with him,” said Paul Pew, Lead Director, Shaw Communications. “His remarkable legacy will live on through his family’s continued leadership of the company.”

In accordance with the Company’s succession plan, the intention of JR and the Shaw family, and with the support of the Board, Brad Shaw will assume the role of Executive Chair on an interim basis in addition to his role as CEO. The Company’s intention is to confirm this appointment at the upcoming April 9, 2020 Board meeting.

In 1966, JR founded Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd., a start-up cable provider, to offer people more choice and greater access to TV content. Capital Cable went on the air in Edmonton for the first time in 1971 and connected its first cable customer that same year in Sherwood Park. Over the decades, and under the leadership of JR, Shaw rapidly expanded through acquisitions and organic growth opportunities.


The Company built a substantial radio and television broadcasting group that was eventually spun out as a separate public company, Corus Entertainment. In 1996, the Company introduced Western Canadians to the Internet, and in 2005 Shaw launched its home phone residential service. 

In 2016, Shaw acquired WIND Mobile (later rebranding to Freedom Mobile) to give Canadians more choice, value and affordability from a Canadian wireless provider. The acquisition of a strong regional wireless carrier gave Shaw a wireless network footprint that could be combined with the strength of its wireline network to usher in new technologies — like 5G — that will keep Canadians better connected than ever before.


In addition to his significant contribution to the growth of Shaw Communications and to Canadian business, JR Shaw was a passionate supporter of Canadian art and artists, and numerous local and national charitable causes. JR has been recognized with numerous awards and honours, including being named Officer of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence, honorary degrees from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa and being named a proud member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Cable Hall of Fame. JR was also instrumental in the creation of the Shaw Charity Classic, Calgary’s legendary stop on the PGA TOUR Champions that has raised more than $48 million for Alberta charities since 2013.

The Board of Directors and all employees of Shaw Communications express their deepest condolences and sympathy to the Shaw family for their loss.

Escape from Florida: My 2,400-km drive back to the sanity of Canada

Florida was slow to react to the virus, and the population is old, so it was easy to imagine it turning into Lombardy, the region of northern Italy where the disease is so widespread that exhausted doctors have been forced to ration ventilators by age. – Maclean’s

Homebound Canadians are on the hunt for stuff to keep them from getting bored

Kijiji data shows a surge in demand for video game consoles and fitness equipment from Canadians stuck at home. – Jason Kirby, Maclean’s

Trudeau leaves door open to using smartphone data to track Canadians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn't ruled out using smartphone data to track whether people are complying with public health officials' pleas for them to stay inside to curb the COVID-19 pandemic — a notion that raises some thorny ethical dilemmas regarding public health and privacy rights. – Catherine Tunney, CBC News


Quebec’s regional dailies go weekly as COVID-19 devastates news media

It’s just the latest media outlet to have to take drastic measures as COVID-19 causes traditional advertisers to pull their ads in what BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman calls a “media extinction event.” – Steve Faguy, Fagstein blog

Bell Media offers housebound viewers 30 days of free Crave TV

Bell Media’s Crave announced Monday that it is providing one month free for any new subscribers with access to the internet, expanding from seven days the trial period that Canadians can sample the service. Available through April 30, the one-time-only offer is for first-time, direct-to-consumer subscribers, and can be accessed now on the Crave app or

The package includes Movies + HBO, STARZ, and/or Super Écran. – The Lede

Desert Island Discs turns 78

The first episode of “Desert Island Discs” was recorded at the bomb-damaged Maida Vale Studios, in West London, on January 27, 1942, and aired on the BBC two days later.

More than two thousand episodes are available online as downloads or podcasts, and I began listening to them a few years ago, as a way of glimpsing times other than my own. I love hearing about the path-altering memories of others—what it was like to experience Beatlemania or Motown or punk before they were settled narratives. At first, I was drawn to specific guests, hoping to learn more about the interiority of David Beckham (the Stone Roses, Elton John, Sidney Bechet), what kind of music Zadie Smith liked (Biggie, Prince, Madonna), where the cultural theorist Stuart Hall found inspiration (Bach, Billie Holiday, Bob Marley—“the sound that saved a lot of second-generation black West Indian kids from just, you know, falling through a hole in the ground”). Besides the eight songs, guests are allowed one luxury item—the Danish chef René Redzepi (Run-D.M.C., WU LYF, Metallica) asked for a day of snow—and one book other than the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, which every castaway automatically receives. “I don’t want the Bible,” the activist and journalist Tariq Ali (Charlie Parker, Cornelius Cardew, Pathane Khan) scoffed a few years ago. “I’ll have Shakespeare,” he continued, before opting for some Balzac or Proust—a favourite among castaways.. – Hua Hsu, The New Yorker


Podtrac data: Audience and download behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis

Podtrac sent over some revealing charts of podcast audience and download trending, shining light on how listeners are consuming podcasts during the Covid-19 crisis. These charts will be updated weekly and released publicly. We are sharing the first round here, along with Podtrac explanations. – Brad Hill, RAIN News

No, Netflix is not giving out free passes. Avoid the scam

6-Year-Old YouTuber Nastya Radzinskaya raked in US18M last year

All told, the youngster is at the helm of 10 channels — most of which feature localized versions of approximately the same videos in German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and more — that have amassed a collective 120M subscribers and 50B lifetime views. Forbes estimates that the preschooler raked in $18M last year in pre-tax income from ads, sponsored content, and other endeavours. – Geoff Weis, tube filter

The best online collaboration tools in 2020: How remote teams stay productive

Integration is key, and team members working remotely need the right online collaboration tools and project management tools that bring together features such as instant messaging, video calls, screen sharing, and time tracking to help them get the job done. Let's take a look at the best online collaboration tools currently on offer. – Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

CTV has one of the better coronavirus newsletter updates

Yup, we are all weary of the pandemic of news alerts and updates, so do yourself a favour and sign up for the twice-weekly newsletter on the global coronavirus outbreak compiled by the CTV News digital team.

The race to find a vaccine

What are the steps Canadian scientists are taking and what are their challenges as they race to find a vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus? TVO’s Steve Paikin talks with Alan Bernstein, president and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; and Dr. Robert Kozak, a clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook Hospital, and part of the team that recently isolated SARS-CoV-2, the agent causes COVID-19.

Coronavirus: Survival of the Richest!

Jonathan Pie is a fictitious British news reporter, created and played by British actor and comedian Tom Walker. Pie appears in a series of video clips where he rants about the state of politics in the UK and the US, presented as though he were a real reporter speaking his personal opinions to the camera before or after filming a regular news segment. In this edition, he rants on about bog paper, hand cleanliness and self-confinement. Thanks to Richard Flohil for this item.

Big Boi

Big Boi


CNE Bandshell Gets Big Boi, Sloan, Big Wreck And More For Throwback Summer Concerts

The headliners tie together the Toronto waterfront series' '90s and 2000s revival theme, while contemporary acts like MacKenzie Porter, Ruby Waters, Tynomi Banks and more will keep things current.

Toronto's CNE Bandshell concert series is leaning into big nostalgia this summer, with major '90s and 2000s acts headlining the throwback-themed lineup.

OutKast rapper Big Boi, Canadian-American rock band Big Wreck, and east coasters Sloan are leading the summer music programming at the Canadian National Exhibition, a major entertainment fair that takes over the Exhibition Place grounds every August.

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