CBC/Radio-Canada has announced a line-up of special Canada 150 programs. CBC News Network will kick off 2017 with live New Year’s Eve coverage from Parliament Hill, including a ceremonial relighting of the Centennial Flame. The public broadcaster’s English and French networks have come together on a number of joint projects, including Train 150 – a multiplatform series that offers a close-up, cross-country view of Canada. CBC highlights include Canada: The Story Of Us, a ten-part television history series; Becoming Canadian, a digital-first series focusing on the stories of new Canadians who take the Oath of Citizenship; and Short Docs: Indigenous, a collection of short digital documentaries by emerging Indigenous storytellers.
NFL Canada’s managing director David Thomson has written a letter making the case for airing Canadian commercials during the upcoming Super Bowl broadcast Feb. 5. The Nov. 23 letter to Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, asks the federal government to halt a CRTC order prohibiting simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl, calling the practice “a critical enabler for development and sustainability of Canadian content.” The Super Bowl is Canada’s most-watched television event, with an average of 9 million viewers.
Groupe V Media has chimed in on CBC/Radio-Canada’s proposals to the CRTC to review the public broadcaster’s funding and eliminate advertising on its platforms. While Groupe V agrees that the proposal would increase the amount of ad dollars available to private broadcasters and restore balance, the Quebec broadcaster also feels strongly it must be undertaken at a lower cost. In a statement last week, president Maxime Remillard said asking Canadian taxpayers for $400 million per year is “unreasonable,” adding “by moving ahead creatively and being bold, it would be entirely possible to revise the model without having to inject as much money.”
Yannick Bisson, star of long-running CBC-TV series Murdoch Mysteries, will receive ACTRA Toronto’s 2017 Award of Excellence. Bisson has over 60 performing credits to his name, including 10 seasons in the role of Det. William Murdoch and previous stints on Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye and High Tide. He’ll receive the honour at the performers’ union award gala on Feb. 25.
Bell Media’s MuchFACT (A Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) has awarded $452,900 to 23 Canadian musicians in its December funding round. Awarded in the categories of Content Package, Music Video, Online Music Video/Project and Digital Tools, recipients include Feist, We Are Wolves, Grandtheft, Jazz Cartier and Scott Helman, among others. The next deadline for submitting MuchFACT applications is Jan. 12.
Rogers Media has announced its upcoming original Viceland documentary series Rise, produced in partnership with VICE Studio Canada and APTN, will premiere three episodes at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Rise explores issues around land, decolonization and political governance told from an Indigenous point of view by showcasing those on the frontlines of change. Episodes to be screened at Sundance include Sacred Water, focusing on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation; Apache Stronghold, focusing on Arizona’s San Carlos Apache tribe and their stand to protect the sacred lands of Oak Flat; and Red Power, focusing on the evolution of the Red Power Movement.
Global airs its 10th Canada’s Walk of Fame broadcast special Dec. 19. This year’s inductees include TV personality Jeanne Beker, musician Corey Hart, filmmaker Deepa Mehta, actor/director Jason Priestley, former NHL’er Darryl Sittler, actor Al Waxman and country music star Brett Kissel. Tatiana Maslany, Lanny McDonald, Kiefer Sutherland and Margaret Trudeau are among those presenting.
BBC Worldwide North America and Blue Ant Media are partnering to launch BBC Earth in Canada. Scheduled to debut on Jan. 24, the commercial-free channel will feature factual programming like Planet Earth II and The Hunt. BBC Earth will replace Blue Ant Media’s existing adventure-focused speciality channel radX.
Mario Mota, an Ottawa-based researcher and consultant, says Canadians are continuing to cut the cord in record numbers despite CRTC-mandated basic cable plans. Mota, with Boon Dog Professional Services, says the numbers show the seven major publicly traded TV service providers lost a combined total of 98,476 TV customers in the first two fiscal quarters of this year, from March through September. Year over year, that’s a loss of 13 per cent more subscribers than in 2015. Mota predicts Canada is on track to lose 200,000 TV subscribers this year. According to the CRTC, 1.57 per cent of Canadian TV subscribers had signed up for basic TV by June, much less than the anticipated five per cent.
As the CRTC’s pick-and-pay reforms took effect Dec. 1, chair Jean-Pierre Blais issued a warning to television service providers. Blais said the commission will be closely monitoring how providers implement their new so-called ‘skinny cable’ offerings and whether they’re following best practices. With the licences of most providers recently renewed for just a one-year term, Blais said when those licences are up for renewal “we will not hesitate to take action if any provider doesn’t conform to the established policy or respect Canadian consumers and their right to choice.” Blais also reminded Canadians, it’s their responsibility as informed consumers to do their homework.