You’ve Got A Future In This Futureless Business, Kid

It’s always sad when media folks get fired by giant companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars for no reason other than if we hire people who aren’t as experienced as you we don’t have to pay them as much, but there’s an aspect of what just happened in Vancouver that’s pretty funny.

CTV Vancouver announced this week that it would be letting go of news anchors Tamara Taggart and Mike Killeen, who had worked there since 1997 and 2001, respectively.

No, that’s not the funny part. That’s just Bell being garbage, which we should all be used to by now.

But the first person quoted in this article announcing the firings is a fellow with the perfect name to set him up for a fine future as a spokesman for just about anyone in our country’s ever contracting mess of a broadcast industry. Take it away, Les Staff!

“On behalf of all of us here at CTV News Vancouver, a most sincere thanks to Mike and Tamara for keeping Vancouverites informed about their city each and every day,” Les Staff, News Director, CTV News Vancouver, said in a statement. “Mike and Tamara are consummate professionals, and we wish them the very best on what’s to come.”

CRTC To Canadians: Your Service Provider Lied To You? Tough Shit!

In January, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) asked the CRTC to look into the possibly shady sales practices of Canada’s telecommunications companies. Not a bad idea, considering that I, a fellow who knows his way around these sorts of things fairly decently, can sometimes find himself a little lost in all of the intentional and unintentional unclarity. Surely anyone who doesn’t run a phone company would be clambering to be first in line behind this plan.

Well, you’d think so.

Yesterday the CRTC responded, and did so in the form of a big fat nope.

In a February 14th, 2018 letter addressed to the PIAC’s executive director and general counsel John Lawford, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission’s chairperson Ian Scott declined the PIAC’s request, arguing that Canadians already have several avenues to seek redress for telecom concerns.
“If Canadians consider that their wireless, internet, home phone or TV service provider has not provided clear and accurate information to them about their [contracts], or is not acting in a manner consistent with the CRTC’s Wireless Code or Television Provider Service Code, they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider,” said Scott, in the February letter. “If the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, they are encouraged to escalate the complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).”
“…they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider.”
The CCTS acts as the CRTC’s complaints department. Canadians are able to submit complaints to the CCTS, which will serve to remediate those concerns by working as a bridge between consumers and carriers.
“For example, the CCTS can resolve disputes about what is included in the contract, how the contract should be interpreted, and whether the service provider’s conduct meets its obligations,” said Scott, in the same February letter.
Scott further argued that if directly contacting carriers and submitting complaints to the CCTS fails to resolve any issues, Canadians can contact the Competition Bureau.
MobileSyrup reached out to the CRTC for comment, and a spokesperson responded that the Commission’s letter speaks for itself.

That’s all fine and good, aside from the part where it’s neither fine nor good.

Yes, those dispute resolution options do exist, but they’re designed to interpret contracts that have already been signed, not to prevent consumers from entering into those contracts due to deception. Yes, there are plain language provisions in the wireless code of Conduct, but they don’t stop a company from being plainly dishonest because they know that most people won’t bother to complain and often have no idea they’re being tricked until they’ve already been separated from hundreds or thousands of dollars. And even if somebody does manage to successfully complain on those grounds, the money raked in is worth taking a slap on the wrist, assuming the commission can even be arsed to dish one out.

Sometimes the CRTC does seem like it’s trying to get this stuff right and genuinely wants to help consumers, but this is an area where it’s missing the mark. I realize that there are some complicated, subjective issues here (one man’s obnoxious asshole is another man’s salesman of the year), but there are very clearly things going on that are objectively not ok, and the commission owes it to everyone to at least take a look at them and try to find a way forward. Corporations often don’t make good citizens until they’re forced to, and whether that force comes in the form of penalties that actually fit the crime, more robust compliance monitoring, criminal prosecutions for fraud and theft or all of the above, it absolutely needs to come.

Help Support Accessible Media Inc.

As happens often these days, here I am putting this up just before the deadline.

AMI’s broadcast licenses are up for renewal next August, and part of the process of making sure AMI stays available to all involves getting letters of support.

We don’t watch it all the time, but it is a place for programming that might not find a home otherwise. Plus, it’s kind of cool to go there and know that whatever is playing is described, and if it weren’t for AMI, we wouldn’t have all those commercials about described video which, although some of them are ridiculous, make a point and get people talking more. Yes, I’m looking at you, bacon/rainforest commercial.

If you want to add a letter of support, submit it via this comment form. Check the box for AMI, fill out all the required fields, attach any files if you’re that keen and hit submit. It doesn’t look like there are any mean CAPTCHAs lying in wait.

The deadline is Friday, so hurry hurry hurry!

Happy Birthday, Canadian TV!

This week kind of sort of marks the 65th birthday of Canadian television. There were experimental broadcasts years before then and if you lived in the right place and had a big enough antenna you could pull in some American stations, but until September 6th, 1952, Canada had no actual broadcast television of its own.

It was on that day that CBFT, more commonly known as CBC Montreal, signed on. It was followed two days later by CBC Toronto A.K.A. CBLT. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

On September 6, 1952, CBC TV debuted in Montreal on CBFT. At 4 p.m., viewers tuned in and watched the movie Aladdin and his Lamp, followed by a cartoon, and then a French film, a news review and a bilingual variety show.
Two days later, CBC TV debuted in Toronto. Seconds before the cameras went live, a technician removed and cleaned the CBC logo slide. Producer Murray Chercover shouted at the technician, “Don’t do that!” and the rattled crew member placed the slide back in upside down as the network took to the airwaves. “I can’t remember what we did, or if we shot the poor guy responsible,” Norman Jewison, then a 25-year-old floor director, later recalled.

Say what you want about the CBC, but you’ll never convince me that Canada would be better off without it than it has been with it. You simply won’t find a more reliable, consistent source for news, sports, music and comedy in this country.

If Those Menu Prices Look A Little Higher Next Time You’re Out, Thank Bell And Rogers

Bell and Rogers, the two companies that we might as well call one company since they’re working together on sports team ownership, are now conveniently working together to hold up bar and restaurant owners for more money just as those sports teams are about to hit playoff season.

Bell and Rogers will soon ask sports bars to pay more for the right to broadcast big games, on top of what they pay for their existing television service.
As first reported by Postmedia, the two media conglomerates are asking business subscribers across Canada to pay an additional levy — which varies depending on the size of the bar — on top of their existing cable bill for the rights to air sports channels that broadcast live sporting events, such as TSN, RDS and Sportsnet.

“New sports packages for business TV clients with a liquor licence will be introduced as of May 1,” Bell said in a statement to CBC News. “Prices vary depending on the size of the business and other factors such as the specific sports package a business client wants.”
“We’ve heard that the average restaurant that’s licensed for about 150 patrons, their increase will be $350 to $400 a month,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for Ontario — and those are costs that may well get passed on to bar patrons either directly or indirectly.
“Most restaurants run around about a three per cent profit margin, so that’s going to have a pretty big effect, if you have to make up that cost every month. It may affect menu prices or they might just have to take less profit, but there will definitely be an effect.”

Two guesses which companies also own TSN, RDS and Sportsnet.

This is, of course, a total cash grab by Bell and Rogers, one they’ll get away with because they quite literally hold all the cards. Bar owners can protest all they want and would be absolutely right to do so, but when your choice is either pay the companies that own the teams, the stadiums, the stations and the pipes that bring those stations to you whatever they ask or say no, lose access and a healthy chunk of business, pretty much all of them have no real choice but to cave.

When are we going to start calling the Bell Rogers situation in this country the monopoly that it is and start treating it as such? I’m looking at you CRTC and Competition Bureau, but I’m sure you won’t notice since you’re too busy looking the other way.

Radioplayer Canada: Why?

I’m asking this as a serious question. It’s nice that broadcast radio wants to take what for them is a pretty big step into this century, but do they not realize that they’re taking it more than a half decade too late? Let’s forget for a second that Bell, who in case you haven’t noticed owns a lot of radio stations, is conspicuously absent from the participants list. That’s the least of our problems here. the bigger issue is, and I’m saying this as nicely as I can, that nobody fucking needs this.

In another era, having access to the majority of Canada’s radio stations in one place would have been cool as hell. I’d have been bouncing off the walls if I could have gotten hold of something like that. Unfortunately we live in this era, where not only do we have access to virtually every radio station in Canada in one place (Bell included), but we also have America’s radio, Europe’s radio, South America’s radio, Africa’s radio…you get what I’m driving at. And not only do we have that, but in that same place we also have access to every online only station that’s worth a damn and probably a few million more that aren’t. That figure may be off slightly because there’s too much streaming content available through TuneIn or OOTunes and surely others I’m not thinking of for me to have done an exact count, but you know what I mean. Apps exist for free and for very reasonable one time or monthly subscription fees if you’d like less ads and more features that do what Radioplayer does. They’ve been doing it for years and are very good at it.

So I ask again, why? Why should I download this? If I’m a serious radio listener, why would I want to limit myself to just Canada? For that matter, why should I download this if I’m not a serious radio listener? I just want to be able to stream my favourite local stations. They already have apps of their own in most cases, or maybe I already have one of those other radio apps. Why should I stop using that and use Radioplayer? Until somebody can actually answer these questions instead of just talking about what an amazing innovation this is, I’m taking a pass. Radioplayer Canada Launches Digital Radio App – A Partnership between Canada’s Premiere Private Radio Broadcasters, CBC/Radio-Canada, and Canada’s Campus and Community Stations

TORONTO, ON (March 1, 2017) The Radioplayer Canada streaming app launches today, putting more than 400 Canadian radio stations into the palm of your hand, including CBC and Radio-Canada. It was announced this morning that Canada’s public broadcasters would join a consortium of private broadcasters participating in Radioplayer, which showcases the vast majority of Canadian stations, with more joining every week.
“Radioplayer solidifies that radio in Canada remains vital and relevant,” said Troy Reeb, Senior Vice President, Corus Radio & Global News. “Corus Entertainment is proud to participate in this exciting initiative alongside nearly all Canadian broadcasters. We look forward to the impact this world class app will have on the radio listening experience.”
The free Radioplayer Canada app gives radio listeners access to nearly every style of music, news, talk, and entertainment content, in both official languages, on any connected device, at any time of day, from anywhere.
“The way Canadians listen to radio is changing, and we’re changing with them,” said Julie Adam, Senior Vice President, Rogers Radio speaking on behalf of the
consortium. “Radioplayer gives our listeners access to their favourite local stations and allows them to discover others across the country like never before. With access on mobile devices and desktop, tuning to your favourite station has never been easier.”
The free Radioplayer Canada app facilitates listener discovery of radio content through search and recommendations based on listening history, geographical location and crowd-sourced trending.
“Joining the Radioplayer family is a part of our commitment to ensure that CBC content is available to all audiences and on as many platforms as possible,” said Susan Marjetti, executive director, CBC Radio & Audio English Services. “CBC Radio and Audio is already setting new records in its reach for smart Talk, dominating in popular podcasting and developing new Canadian artists through CBC Music. We look forward to making CBC’s public service programming available in this new way, today, with the announcement of our partnership with Radioplayer Canada.”
Listeners are able to access live and catch-up radio broadcasts across the country through Radioplayer Canada’s browser-player, and on connected devices through the iOS or Android app, including integrations with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Chromecast, and smartwatches.
BBC Radio joined forces with UK’s private radio broadcasters to launch the first Radioplayer five years ago, which has become the top-rated digital radio app in Europe and is currently rolling out in countries around the world.
“Having CBC/Radio-Canada join the Canadian Radioplayer effort is another very proud moment for Radioplayer,” said Michael Hill, Founder and Managing Director, Radioplayer UK. “Radio faces amazing, yet technically challenging, opportunities in cars, smartphones, and among younger audiences. Joining the ever-growing Radioplayer family is a great way for broadcasters to address these together – whether their focus is public service delivery or growing commercial revenue.”
Radioplayer Canada brings CBC/Radio-Canada together with the stations of Bayshore Broadcasting, Blackburn Radio, Blackgold Radio, Byrnes Communications, CAB-K Broadcasting, Central Ontario Broadcasting, Clear Sky Radio, Cogeco Media, Corus Entertainment, Durham Radio, Fabmar Communications, Golden West Broadcasting, Harvard Broadcasting, Larche Communications, Newcap Radio, Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, Rogers Media, Rawlco Radio, RNC Media, Saskatoon Media Group, Vista Radio, and Westman
Communications Group, as well as the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA/ANREC). For additional business opportunities, please visit www.radioplayer.ca.
About Radioplayer Canada
Radioplayer Canada is a highly collaborative partnership among many of Canada’s finest radio broadcasters to provide listeners with a world-class streaming experience across a variety of platforms and connected devices, on mobile, tablet, desktop and in-car. Radioplayer Canada unites broadcasters, fosters competition on content, and allows radio to compete with other digital forms of audio. For more, see www.radioplayer.ca follow @radioplayercanada on Twitter.
About Radioplayer Worldwide
Radioplayer Worldwide is a partnership between UK Radioplayer, 7digital, and the countries that have rolled out Radioplayer in their countries. Radioplayer
originated in the UK where BBC as well as commercial radio joined together to explore technical collaboration across the industry. Radioplayer UK now attracts an audience of 7 million unique users a month. Radioplayer is now operating in countries around the world. For more, see www.radioplayerworldwide.com or follow @rpworldwide on Twitter.
Media Contacts:
Shawn Smith, Momentum, 604.872.8900 ext. 300,
shawn@momentummediamarketing.com

So Long, Broadcaster Magazine

I’d been wondering if this may have been the case for a while given that it suddenly stopped updating in December for what I thought was a holiday break but then never started up again, and today comes word that Broadcaster Magazine, which along with Milkman UnLimited and Radio Digest were the first places I found to get industry news when I came online in the early 2000s, has shut down.

75-year-old Broadcaster Magazine published its final issue in December, Cartt.ca has learned.
The title had several owners over the decades (including Conrad Black’s Hollinger Inc.) but the most recent owner, Annex Business Media, purchased Broadcaster and its sister title Sportscaster (which had been Mediacaster and Cablecaster before that) in 2015 and had the two for sale for some months but could find no buyers. Cablecaster was originally launched in 1988.

Thankfully MMU still exists and there are other places like Cartt, Broadcast Dialogue and Fagstein among others that cover pretty much everything you could ever want to know, but I’m still going to miss Broadcaster.

Are You Tired Of 2016 Taking People From K-Tel? Wait…There’s More!


Man, it’s been a rough few months for K-Tel. First Phil Kives in April, and now Bob Washington, A.K.A. the voice on all those commercials, has passed away at 82 after a battle with cancer.

Beyond K-Tel and that he worked in radio for years, I unfortunately don’t know a whole lot about his career. So instead of trying to write a bunch of stuff that may or may not be accurate, I’ll give you this interview he did with Larry Fedoruk after the death of Phil Kives where he talks not only about what it was like to work with Phil, but about some of the other things he’s done.

We’re About To Live In A World Where Vin Scully Isn’t Calling Baseball Games And I’m Not Sure I’m Ready For It

Growing up, I knew of Vin Scully, but I didn’t really know of Vin Scully. I would here his voice sometimes doing the calls on history videos and I was pretty sure he was the guy from Los Angeles, but that was about it. I live nowhere close to California so picking him up on the radio was impossible and my family didn’t have cable until I was 15, but even if we did have it, it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Those were the days when if you had the really fancy cable you might be lucky enough to get 65-70 channels, and most of them weren’t going to have baseball on them at all let alone baseball from way the hell out in Los Angeles. So it wasn’t really until the last decade or so when it became impossible not to find some sort of baseball on television at all hours of the day and night and I started subscribing to Gameday Audio that I got to hear him regularly, and it didn’t take long for me to understand what the fuss was about and why he was so respected.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, calls a baseball game the way Vin Scully does. We all have fond memories of the announcers from our favourite teams, but no matter how good they are, let’s be honest, none of them are Vin Scully. There’s just something about that guy. Not just that he’s been doing the same job for nearly 70 years, not just that he’s been everywhere and seen everything and probably called it. He’s just…Vin Scully. It doesn’t matter whether or not you love, hate or are indifferent to the Dodgers. You hear Vin Scully and you’re sucked into everything he says. Nobody paints a picture quite like Vin Scully. Nobody tells a baseball story quite like Vin Scully. Nobody tells a story that has almost nothing whatsoever to do with baseball while still managing to call a baseball game without missing a beat regardless of whether he’s on radio or television quite like Vin Scully. I’m convinced that I could listen to Vin Scully talk about literally almost anything and it would be entertaining.

And that’s why I’m sad that the end is coming. Not as sad as the generations of people that have grown up with him and still listen to this day I’m sure, but still enough to realize the significance of October 2nd. That’s the day when, barring some kind of miraculous change of heart, Vin Scully will call his final game. I’ve known it was coming for a while now, but it didn’t truly hit me until this morning when I read this excellent tribute from ESPN that it’s actually happening.

I really hope I get to listen to that last game. There will never be another Vin Scully, and I’d hate to miss out on one last go round with the one we have now.

Peter Mansbridge Will Be Leaving The National Next Year


I know this is kind of old news now, but I’m noting it anyway because seriously, Peter Mansbridge no longer hosting The National as of this coming July is a pretty big deal. Based on a lot of what I’ve read and heard this is going to be one of those retirements where you don’t actually pack up and leave, but it sure is going to be a different world once he’s not on TV every night. For most of my life he and Lloyd Robertson were national news in this country, and now they’re both pretty much done.

Mansbridge, 68, has announced that he plans to step down from the helm of CBC’s flagship show next summer, after anchoring special Canada Day coverage on July 1, when the country will mark its 150th birthday.
“It’s been an amazing time to report our history, but I’ve decided that this year will be my last one,” Mansbridge told viewers Monday night.
“As someone who believes strongly in public broadcasting, leaving the CBC’s flagship will not be easy. But what’s important is that The National of the future will continue to reflect our world, our country and our people.”