The Weekly Briefing

TV/FILM/VIDEO:

bellBell Media has been unsuccessful in its bid to keep U.S. commercials off Canadian TV during the Super Bowl. On Sept. 7, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed Bell’s appeal of the August CRTC decision that ordered the removal of simultaneous substitution on the Super Bowl game, effective January 1. Bell, owned by BCE Inc., has the exclusive rights to air the Super Bowl in Canada and the decision is expected to cost the company millions in advertising dollars. The National Football League intervened in the appeal and argued that an appeal will be of little use if the matter is not decided before the next Super Bowl in February. Bell says it will continue its fight.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision Sept. 14 regarding a news report broadcast on CTV Toronto (CFTO-DT) on Dec. 16, 2015 during CTV News at Six, concluding that the incidental appearance of a person in a news report does not breach privacy. A CTV reporter and cameraperson visited a property management company where several employees appeared momentarily on screen, prompting a complaint. CBSC found that no clandestine techniques had been used because the camera was clearly visible and that the broadcast did not infringe the employee’s privacy because the complainant was not named or otherwise identified, her voice was not audible, and the footage was taken in a location accessible to the public. The story was in the public interest. Therefore it did not violate the RTDNA Code of Ethics.

CHCH-TV Hamilton is returning to live weekend news broadcasts starting Oct. 29. The live half-hour broadcasts of the CHCH Evening News will air both Saturdays and Sundays at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. After filing for bankruptcy in December 2015, CHCH owners Channel Zero cut programming, including the weekend newscasts.

Business News Network (BNN) launched Canada’s only real estate news television program House Money, hosted by veteran business and policy Anchor and Reporter Greg Bonnell. The show debuted Sept. 13 and examines the booming and controversial real estate market.

Bell Media’s Gusto channel has started production on 10 original food and lifestyle programs, all to be produced in 4K or super high definition. Nine of the food based shows will be shot in Ottawa later this year, the tenth, The Search For Canada’s Next Designer, a collaboration with IKEA, is currently in production in Toronto. No premiere date yet.

The Weather Network is introducing DoubleClick’s Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) to its Android TV app. Owners Pelmorex Media Inc. said it positions the network to become the first to launch an Over The Top (OTT) app capable of offering individually tailored ads to viewers. The ad content would be delivered via the cloud. The DAI technology gives the network the ability to fill ad breaks based on geographic location of the viewers.

RADIO/AUDIO/PODCAST:

CCMA 2016 Award Winners Announced (Radio)

ccmaRADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (LARGE MARKET)

103.9 Country – CISN-FM – Edmonton, AB

RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR (MEDIUM OR SMALL MARKET)

KG Country 95.5 – CKGY-FM – Red Deer, AB

MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR (LARGE MARKET)

Amanda Kingsland – CKBY FM – Ottawa, ON

MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR (MEDIUM OR SMALL MARKET)

Paul Ferguson – CHCQ FM – Belleville, ON

ON-AIR PERSONALITIES OF THE YEAR (LARGE MARKET)

*TIE*

Leanne Cater (Boss Lady Leanne Cater) – QX104 – CFQX-FM – Winnipeg, MB

Chris Scheetz, Jacqueline Sweeney, Matt DeBeurs (CISN in the Mornings with Chris, Jack & Matt) – 103.9 Country – CISN-FM – Edmonton, AB

ON-AIR PERSONALITY(IES) OF THE YEAR (MEDIUM OR SMALL MARKET)

Jack Latimer and Carey Moran (Jack & Carey) – 105.9 KICX 106 – CICX-FM – Orillia, ON.
steeleSteele Communications has closed three VOCM stations in Newfoundland and Labrador resulting in six job losses. The frequency for each signal will remain in the affected areas, but local programming and information will be originated regionally. CHCM 740 AM in Marystown will now broadcast the 590 VOCM feed from St. John’s. CFSX 870 AM Stephenville will carry programming from 570 CFCB Corner Brook. CKCM 620 AM in Grand Falls-Windsor will carry programming from 650 CKGA Gander. The mayor of Stephenville, Tom O’Brien, said he is disappointed their station, with 50 years history in the town, is gone. Steele Communications cites the economic conditions in the province and changing consumer media habits for the realignment.

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) is calling for member stations to submit their best public service campaign and station promotion for consideration at the upcoming OAB Awards. Winners will be selected in both Large and Small Market categories.  Awards will be presented during the OAB annual conference Nov. 10. More information can be found here.

cfnrNorthern Native Broadcasting (CFNR) Terrace, BC has been awarded the Aboriginal Business Partnership of the Year award as part of the eighth annual BC Aboriginal Business Awards presented by the BC Achievement Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. The honourees will be celebrated at a gala dinner on Oct. 19 in Vancouver. CFNR is active across 60 signals reaching 80 communities throughout British Columbia.

CBN St. John’s has been given CRTC approval to expand CBC Radio One programming to FM. The station currently broadcasting on 640 kHz AM, will also be rebroadcast by a new transmitter operating at 88.5 MHz FM. The CBC says the new transmitter will improve signal quality in the St. John’s and surrounding areas, with a cleaner and clearer signal in apartment and office buildings. The CRTC requires the transmitter to be operational before August 2018, but it’s expected to be up and running before the end of this year.

ppmimage2The CRTC has turned thumbs down to a request by CFMS 105.9 in Markham, ON to decrease power, raise the height of their tower and relocate the transmitter. Station owner Radio Markham York Incorporated wanted to go from 981 to 379 watts (2,500 to 1,300 watts maximum E.R.P.). The company said it was an effort to improve their signal, but the CRTC said they didn’t present a compelling technical need to justify the changes.

CITA 105.1 FM Moncton has been approved for a rebroadcaster in Bouctouche, NB. The CRTC gave the OK for the International Harvesters for Christ station to operate with 50 watts with a 2.5 metre antenna. The Christian music station wants to expand the broadcast of Moncton Wildcats hockey games into the Bouctouche community. The station has two years to make the changes.

cbcradioThe CBC Radio One station in Nain, Newfoundland & Labrador is moving to FM with CRTC approval to convert CBNZ 740 to 95.1 FM. The station will operate with 50 watts. Programming will continue to originate from CFGB 89.5 FM in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. CBC has two years to make the changes.

CKWR 98.5 FM in Kitchener, ON, Canada’s oldest community radio station, is ruffling feathers with a plan to charge its volunteer hosts and programmers $10 an hour to keep their shows on the air. Volunteers got the news in a letter sent last month. The not-for-profit station made the move after it learned it was losing its charitable status, which could affect its main revenue source, listener donations.

Podcasts continue to gain traction with marketers and agencies in the US, according to new research from Advertiser Perceptions. The survey of 594 executives at marketers and agencies in July and Sept. found 21 per cent already advertise on podcasts, up from 15 per cent last Sept. Just under 60 per cent said they have “discussed podcast advertising for potential media investment,” up from 41 per cent who said they’d done so last fall. And 21 per cent said they plan to advertise on podcasts in the next six months, up from 10 per cent.

unionUnion JACK is the U.K.’s newest national DAB+ digital radio station from Oxis Media. The latest iteration of the Canadian-born JACKfm brand debuted Friday Sept. 9 from Oxford, and it’s British all the way. It’s 100% BritCon with a mission to celebrate the best and support new homegrown talent. The music spans six decades with artists ranging from the Beatles to Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones to Coldplay, The Who to The Stone Roses, Oasis to April Towers with playlists chosen by listeners. Union Jack imaging is hyper-Anglicized and the voice is Paul Darrow (who can also be heard on 96.9 JACKfm Vancouver). The station is also available via Union JACK app and RadioPlayer in the U.K. Hear the live stream here.

GENERAL:

jackThe 2016 Jack Webster Awards finalists have been chosen. Winners will be announced at the 30th annual awards dinner on Oct. 20 in Vancouver. CBC’s Chief Correspondent and Host of The National, Peter Mansbridge is the featured speaker. The 2016 Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Shelley Fralic, recently retired after 41 years with The Vancouver Sun. A complete list of nominees can be found here.

Samsung and Health Canada are now working together on the recall of Galaxy Note7 phones after Samsung announced on Sept. 6. at least 35 instances of phones exploding and catching fire. Terms of a recall and a precise action plan are still in the works.

fuToronto-based creative agency CO-OP has created the Freelancers Unite Awards to freelance advertising industry talent. Open to all active copywriters, art directors, content creators, project managers, public relations consultants, graphic designers, media planners and website developers, the FUA awards will be handed out in November. Submit a nomination are here.

Raj Shoan has lost his bid to be reinstated as a CRTC commissioner pending a court fight over his firing. Federal Court Judge Anne Mactavish ruled Sept. 7 Shoan failed to prove he would suffer irreparable harm if the request was denied. Shoan had a finding of harassment against him dismissed by Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn on Sept. 2 with sharp criticism of both the investigator and CRTC chairman, Jean-Pierre Blais. Judge Mactavish said returning Shoan to his position would do nothing to restore cabinet’s trust in him or repair his reputation.

crtcHours before Bell Canada faced a grilling at the Sept 7th CRTC hearing into the so-called skinny cable packages, the company announced it will no longer require Fibe TV customers to also subscribe to the company’s internet service. During the hearing, Bell also admitted for the first time that it had designed a training document for employees that specifically told them not to promote its cheaper, basic $25 TV plan.

ONLINE CHANNELS:

youtubeGoogle has opened its first YouTube office in Canada, at George Brown College. The 3,500 square foot space is open to all YouTubers with over 10,000 subscribers and is designed to help them grow their knowledge and gain access to technology to grow their channels. The eighth location of its kind, the space includes high-quality camera equipment, sound stages, special production programs, educational offerings, exclusive events, and screenings. Toronto was chosen because it is a highly influential content hub.

Facebook is making it easier for Canadian small businesses to advertise to global consumers. It’s new Lookalike Audiences enables businesses to target customers in other countries that are similar to their existing customer base. Data suggests that 445 million people outside Canada currently connect to Canadian businesses on Facebook.

ET Canada is using Facebook Live streaming to offer up a 20-25 minute daily live show featuring the top headlines of the day and real-time comment interaction with the hosts.

FEATURES:

The CCBE (Central Canada Broadcast Engineers) 65th annual Career Development Conference is underway now until Sunday (Sept. 15 to 18) in Toronto. Our guest features come courtesy of Dan Roach and Kirk Nesbitt.

It’s All About the Device

By Kirk Nesbitt

transistor

Viewers and listeners are consuming information and entertainment on many different devices. Broadcasters are delivering content on multiple platforms. How do we manage these shifts in technology to give consumers a consistent experience?

Television continues to evolve with increasing options for on demand viewing. Broadcasters and cable companies are now promoting Ultra High Definition 4k programming. 4k TV sets are readily available and affordable. In fact, you can now buy a 4k TV set for less than the cost of a smartphone.

For over the air (OTA) TV stations to remain relevant, they may need to offer equivalent quality and resolution by adopting the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard. Development of the ATSC 3.0 standard is on pace with the physical layer just finalized. Incremental layers of the standard to further define functionality are coming in the near future. The NAB has petitioned the FCC to permit use of ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary basis. South Korea has formally adopted the standard for launch in 2017. So, presumably, ATSC 3.0 TV receivers will be in production pretty soon.

Still, this is not an easy choice for TV stations. Internet delivery of 4k programming has a considerable head start to offer this higher resolution. And, the ATSC 3.0 standard is not backward compatible with existing DTV transmission. Viewers will have to buy new TV sets with an ATSC 3.0 receiver to receive 4k quality over the air.

The current uncertainty surrounding the US Incentive Auction makes planning ahead even more difficult. We’ve been struggling for over a year now to understand the impact of the proposed repacking of the TV Bands to repurpose the 600 MHz Band for mobile services.

Canadian broadcasters will have to wait until the outcome of the US Auction to learn how many Canadian stations will be forced to change channel. ISED, the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, has made agreement with the FCC to adopt the same band plan and jointly create a new DTV Allotment Plan. Broadcasters have been warned in ISED’s Consultation on the matter that “most Canadian regular power stations may be reassigned to new TV channels.”

In the short term, broadcasters feel their hands are tied. It is difficult to justify investment in new OTA technology when the costs of the TV repack are unknown. The first stage of the US Incentive Auction only raised about a quarter of the $88B needed to compensate and reimburse US TV stations to clear 126 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum. The Auction will continue at reduced spectrum clearing targets until the total amount bid by US mobile operators matches the amount needed to pay off US broadcasters. Nobody knows how long the auction will take nor what the final impact and cost to Canadians will be.

With such uncertainty, it’s hard to get excited about the additional cost and complexity of introducing ATSC 3.0 technology, especially when substantial costs were borne during the DTV conversion only 5 years ago.

And how would you do it anyway? There won’t be sufficient spectrum to provide every station with a second channel to simulcast ATSC 3.0 while continuing to broadcast on existing channels.

It has been suggested that TV stations could multiplex services to manage the transition. A simple example: TV stations A and B currently broadcast on channels X and Y. They could combine their current DTV transmission on channel X. And they could launch their simulcast ATSC 3.0 services in a multiplex on channel Y.

But, to do so requires reducing the quality of their current DTV broadcasts. Both stations would not be able to take full advantage of the quality improvement of ATSC 3.0 while sharing a channel. So there’s not much benefit or incentive for viewers.

In many ways, the options available for radio are even more confusing because the choices are targeting different devices and not yet converging on a consistent listener experience.

More radio stations are experimenting with HD Radio on FM. The primary digital channel is less prone to multipath interference and fading than analog FM. And this definitely offers a better listening experience for AM stations when simulcasting on an HD 2 channel of a sister FM station. But both come at the expense of wide area coverage.

DTS, formerly iBiquity, has actually done a good job of getting HD Radios into the automotive market. But, portable radios and home receivers remain at low levels. HD radio is targeted toward the car. Sadly, the replacement cycle for automobiles is about 10-12 years, so the penetration of receivers into the market takes time.

Hybrid radio is evolving quickly. This is where internet-delivered graphics and visuals augment the broadcast audio. In North America, this is best seen by the Next Radio service. Next Radio has made rapid progress in the US and now has partnerships with the largest mobile operators: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and most recently Verizon.

Next Radio, at least for now, is targeted at FM enabled smartphones. So it’s currently not an opportunity for AM stations and not compatible with HD Radio. For sure, the number of FM capable Android phones is growing. But, Apple is still a stubborn hold out and not offering FM. Unfortunately, the Apple iPhone has a market share of about 40% in Canada. The good news is that the replacement cycle for smartphones is much faster than for cars: about 3 years on average.

In the short term, Next Radio is for FM stations. I don’t expect to see HD Radio in a smartphone any time soon, and of course it is not technically feasible for AM.

Then there is streaming radio online. This platform has an advantage because it breaks through the device barriers. Online streaming of radio stations is available now at home, in the car, on your phone everywhere.

The announcement this year that Bell Media has partnered with iHeartRADIO to stream Canadian radio stations is a positive step forward. It is also exciting that similar services, such as Radioplayer, are eager to enter the Canadian market. These online services can offer an important benefit to radio stations because they are establishing a strong presence, even prominence, on the car dashboard through relationships with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and auto manufacturers.

If only we could figure out who will pay the cost of wireless data transmission.

Kirk Nesbitt, CAB Technical Advisor
Kirk Nesbitt,
CAB Technical Advisor

In my dad’s generation it was simple. I can still remember our kitchen radio and first television set when I was growing up. In today’s world, radio and television are consumer experiences, not technologies. Listeners and viewers don’t really want to know where it is coming from or how it is delivered. Our challenge as broadcasters is to meld these divergent technologies into a consistent and seamless entertainment experiences.

It’s all about the device.

Theory and Practice with AES/EBU

by Dan Roach

toc-equipment

The AES/EBU standard for digital audio transmission, more correctly but seldom called AES3, has been with us for a while now… long enough, at least, that most of us will run into it from time to time (1983? where has the time gone?)  It is quite forgiving of a little rule-bending in many respects, but still can produce surprising faults with little or no notice past a certain (alarmingly unknowable) point. Typical of digital stuff, it often works great… until it doesn’t! And that, gentle reader, is today’s subject!

To recap, AES3 most often carries one or two channels of digital audio from A to B. Most often in radio stations, it uses shielded balanced cables and XLR connectors. There’s also an unbalanced variety, which we will touch on a little later.  You’re not supposed to use normal analogue-style audio cabling, as AES3 wants 110-ohm cables (+/- 20%), and the analogue stuff, not typically specified, usually averages about 35 ohms or so. Some do get away with it, particularly if the cables are only a few feet long, but this is poor practice, and sooner or later it may bite you. Many others use CAT5 Ethernet cable, which is close enough to the standard (it’s 100-ohms +/- 15%) that it’s unlikely to ever give you grief. And let’s face it, CAT5 cable is an awful lot easier to obtain (and a lot less expensive) than AES/EBU cable. But you should make the extra effort if your application is going to need the extra physical strength, improved flexibility, or the shielding of proper AES/EBU cable.

The reason for all this foofaraw about impedance is that the digital pulse rates are high enough (128 times the sample rate being used; typically 4-6 MHz or so; up to 26 MHz for MPX over AES) that our cables will start to show transmission line effects:  impedance mismatches will result in standing waves, which are the quickest way to get into trouble with this standard. So we want to keep everything impedance-matched. That means the signal should leave the (110-ohm) equipment output, be carried on the (110-ohm) cable, and terminate at the (110-ohm) equipment input. Open hunks of line tapped onto our circuit are to be avoided at all costs. And one source feeds only one input.

So what do you do when you want to feed more than one input from a source?  Well, you have a few options. You could use an AES/EBU distribution amplifier, which will set you back about about a half a kilobuck per circuit, but will keep everything matched, and may even re-clock your signal in the bargain.  But it will also introduce another single point of failure in your system, which is something to keep in mind. You could also use a passive splitter; there are a few manufacturers making splitters with custom transformers. Personally, I’ve been using resistive splitter pads with some success. Each two-way split introduces 6 dB of attenuation, but you have at least 20 dB of headroom between the input threshold of each line receiver (<200 mV) and the output level of each line driver (2-7 V), so there’s some room to play here. And a properly designed balanced splitter pad will also keep everything impedance-matched.

Dan Roach, S.W.Davis Broadcast Technical Services
Dan Roach,
S.W.Davis Broadcast Technical Services

I mentioned an unbalanced AES/EBU variant above, and it’s very popular in TV installations, since it’s 75-ohms, and thus can use standard 75-ohm coaxial cable, same as video (analogue or digital). In hindsight, perhaps it would have been better for everyone if this had been the only standard. It uses a type of cabling that’s already common; impedance-matching rules are largely already understood; and cable lengths are much less of an issue. Unfortunately, every transition between balanced and unbalanced requires a 110/75-ohm balun — hardly a commonplace item!

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