The Weekly Briefing

RADIO/AUDIO/PODCAST:

Jian Ghomeshi

Disgraced CBC q host Jian Ghomeshi reemerged Monday with a podcast called The Ideation Project, described as “a creative adventure with the aim of taking a bigger picture view on newsworthy issues and culture.” The six-minute monologue, entitled Exiles waxes philosophic on globalization, technology and displacement. It’s been one year since Ghomeshi was acquitted on sexual assault charges involving three women. After being barraged with complaints, San Francisco-based podcast platform Art19 which fed the podcast for distribution on iTunes, has suspended its hosting role.

SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada) and SODRAC (Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada) are actively discussing combining operations to integrate management of performing and reproduction rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers. The organizations say the initiative is a proactive response to the transformation of the markets and modes of consumption of music. Advantages of integration include reducing operating costs for rights holder members of each organization and leveraging licensing relationships.

Brad Leask

Brad Leask, network imaging producer for NOVA Entertainment in Victoria, Australia, has been chosen as the finalist in the sixth annual Iron Imager Contest, where production professionals compete for the coveted title of World’s Best Imager. Leask will face off against Iron Imager 2016 titleholder Sideshow Mike Andersen, Triple M Imaging, Southern Cross Austereo in Sydney, Australia. Happening May 4 at the Worldwide Radio Summit in Hollywood, Leask and Andersen will produce an original imaging piece for a format announced the day of the competition. Contestants will use elements from one of Benztown’s 20 production libraries, voiceover talent roster, and an original script created by the Benztown team.  

The 11th edition of the Corus Caring Hearts Radiothon raised $120,539.40 for the Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation’s new Community Addiction and Mental Health Centre on Apr. 6. The 13-hour event was broadcast on Fresh 104.5 (CFLG-FM) and Boom 101.9 (CJSS-FM).

The fifth annual Humboldt and District Health Foundation Radiothon, heard on 107.5 Bolt FM (CHBO-FM) Humboldt, SK Apr. 3-6, raised over $55,000 for new equipment for the regional health complex. This year’s total was $20,000 more than last year. Over $300,000 has been raised from the event to date.

The CRTC will hear six radio licence applications on June 15. Potlotek Communication Society has applied for a broadcasting licence to operate a low-power Type B Native FM radio station to serve the Potlotek First Nation in St. Peter’s, NS; Radio Vallacquoise inc. to operate a low-power French-language community FM radio station in Val-des-Lacs; Radio Communautaire Francophone et Francophile de l’Outaouais for a broadcasting licence to operate a French-language Type B community AM radio station in Gatineau; Dufferin Communications Inc. (Dufferin) for authority to acquire from 1486781 Ontario Limited (Sound of Faith Broadcasting) the assets of English-language specialty (Christian music) radio station CFWC-FM Brantford and a new broadcasting licence to continue operation. Dufferin has also applied for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial FM radio station in Winnipeg to replace CKJS-AM Winnipeg. The commission will also hear an application from Blackgold Radio Inc. to acquire, as part of an intra-corporate reorganization, the assets of commercial stations CKSS-FM Stony Plain/Spruce Grove and CKPA-FM Ponoka and broadcasting licenses for their continued operation.

SIGN-OFFS:

Guy O’Sullivan

Guy O’Sullivan, 49, on Apr. 9. The president and founder of Proper Television, O’Sullivan was executive producer of many hit original Canadian series for CTV and Discovery. O’Sullivan began his career as a print journalist in his native Britain, following his passion for television to BBC as a producer and director. He immigrated to Canada in the late 1990s, founding his production company Proper TV in 2004, which was responsible for many of Bell Media’s original Canadian hit programs over the last several years. His credits included current series Masterchef Canada, Canada’s Worst Driver, Last Stop Garage, Tougher Than It Looks? and Vegas Rat Rods. O’Sullivan had just started work on bringing The Great British Bake Off to Canada, developing a new one-hour series, The Great Canadian Baking Show, for the CBC.

Richard Robinson

Richard Robinson, 62, on Apr. 6 of cancer. Richard was an integral member of the Easy 101 (CKOT-FM) and Country 107.3 (CJDL-FM) Tillsonburg, ON news team. Originally from Manitoulin Island, he joined the stations in 2011 with more than a decade of broadcast experience in radio in Brantford and Sudbury. Highly regarded by his peers, Robinson was also dedicated to numerous community organizations, including the radio station’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake.

 

TV/FILM/VIDEO:

Telefilm Canada has officially launched its online platform Dialogue, which allows audiovisual industry clients to create, submit and manage funding applications in one place. Dialogue, which replaces eTelefilm, is a joint initiative with the Canada Media Fund (CMF), whose clients will also benefit from the platform.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) is investing $2M to support the production of 10 projects as part of its Web Series Pilot Program, financing Canadian web series in their second or subsequent season. Of the 10 dramatic series, six are in English and four in French. One is from B.C., five are from Ontario and four are from Québec. Click here to view a list of CMF-funded projects.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen-McNeil

CBC is apologizing to those who “felt misrepresented” by its new miniseries Canada: The Story of Us. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil was among the politicians who signed a letter to CBC president Hubert Lacroix accusing the public broadcaster of snubbing the province in the miniseries. The letter requested an apology and new episode after the series portrayed Quebec City as the site of the first permanent European settlement in 1608. However three years earlier, Samuel de Champlain helped establish a year-round habitation in Port-Royal, N.S. The series was also blasted by the Parti Quebecois during question period in Quebec’s legislature last week.

Marc Almon

Nova Scotia film industry movers Marc Almon and Rob Power have announced the creation of Culture Link, which would see Halifax’s World Trade and Convention Centre (WTCC) converted into a 9,000 square foot multi-purpose studio for film, television, video game, animation and virtual reality projects. Other plans include development of a digital media and creative industries incubator. The province is investing $58,000 into a feasibility study, while developer Armco Capital Inc. has committed $78,000.

Vancouver will be the starting point for the Wapikoni, Cinema on Wheels cross-country tour of Indigenous short films on Apr. 23. The tour is part of Wapikoni From Coast to Coast: Reconciliation Through the Media Arts, supported by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the federal government. From April to November, a caravan equipped with exterior projection equipment will travel west to east, covering 10 Canadian provinces and stopping in 100 Indigenous communities and 50 cities. The screenings will be in English, French and Indigenous languages.

Pelmorex is partnering with Nikon as a sponsor for its original Storm Hunters series. The camera maker will also become the official supplier of the Weather Network’s mobile teams.

Shaw has rolled out its BlueSky TV service to the rest of Western Canada. Powered by Comcast’s next generation X1 platform, BlueSky TV’s interface allows customers to access live programming, PVR recordings, on-demand shows and streaming services in one place. A voice-activated remote also allows users to find content by title, genre, actor name or even by famous movie quote.

Bell Media’s BravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) has announced the 11 short films sharing $512,750 in funding from its April 7 jury meeting. Projects include Bryan Kawalsky’s Touch, which will be co-produced by Kathryn Alexandre and Tatiana Maslany. You can view a complete list of recipients here. The next submission deadline is May 12.

DHX Media has signed a deal with Cartoon Network U.S. for Mega Man, an original DHX Media co-production with Dentsu Entertainment USA, Inc. The new series has also been picked up by DHX Media’s Family CHRGD for Canada. Based on the legendary Capcom Mega Man video game franchise, the 3D animated series goes into production this summer at DHX Media’s Vancouver studio.

ONLINE/DIGITAL:  

BNN.ca is the first news site to offer free, real-time Canadian stock quotes from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The move is a blow to competitor subscription services and an industry first. Quoting the latest Numeris data, Bell Media says BNN is attracting 74 per cent of the total audience for all-business television news channels in Canada, averaging three times more audience than its two U.S.-focused rivals combined. BNN.ca also hit record visits and video views last month.

Steven Kerzner

Former MuchMusic personality Ed The Sock, otherwise known as Steven Kerzner, was swiftly issued a takedown notice by Bell Media after posting a video entitled Who Murdered MuchMusic? on his YouTube channel last week. The nostalgia-heavy video lamenting the demise of the music channel was a crowd-funding ploy for Kerzner’s new free media network funetwork.tv. Bell has forced Kerzner to remove the video from YouTube on the grounds of copyright infringement for using the now-defunct MuchMusic logo. His ability to live-stream his weekly comedy show has also been suspended for 90 days.

Saavn is being added to the list of music streaming apps included in Videotron’s Unlimited Music service as of today, bringing the total number of supported apps to 19. Saavn is South Asia’s leading audio entertainment streaming platform that features Bollywood, Hindi and Indian regional music. Unlimited Music lets Videotron customers stream music using popular music apps such as Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Deezer and Stingray Music without tapping into their data plan.

GENERAL:

The CRTC has directed all wireless service providers to implement a wireless public alerting system on their LTE networks by April 2018. The system will allow emergency management officials like fire marshals and police agencies, to warn Canadians on their mobile devices of potential dangers. Service providers have been tasked to work with federal and provincial governments to develop an awareness campaign and test schedule.

Shaw Communications Inc. stock was up sharply Wednesday morning after the release of its Q2 results, rallying $1.24 or 4.52 per cent to $28.69, setting a new 100-day high. Shaw reported revenue increases of 13.3 per cent to $1.3B in the three months ended Feb. 28. Profits were down 10.4 per cent to $147M, however excluding its media division which it sold to Corus Entertainment last year, profit was up 26.7 per cent. Net income increased by 7.6 per cent to $540 million. Shaw added 33,000 new wireless customers in the quarter, its best subscriber numbers in five years.

Doug Murphy

Corus Entertainment has released its second quarter results, reporting consolidated revenue increases of 86 per cent for the quarter and 96 per cent year-to-date. Net income attributable to shareholders was $24.9 million ($0.12 per share basic) for the quarter and $96.0 million ($0.48 per share basic) for the year-to-date. President and CEO Doug Murphy credits continued momentum from strong overall ratings performance, transformed cost structure and sequentially improving advertising revenue trends.

Debbie Cooper

RTDNA Canada has recognized its 2017 Atlantic region award winners. Global Halifax  News at 6 took home the Bert Cannings Award for Best Television Newscast (Medium Market), while VOCM-AM St. John’s was recognized with the Byron MacGregor Award for Best Radio Newscast (Medium Market). This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients were CBC Newfoundland fixture Debbie Cooper and Global Maritimes news director Jim Haskins. You can view a complete list of winners here.

John Daly

John Daly and Cecilia Walters will be presented with their RTDNA Canada Lifetime Achievement Awards during the BC Regional Meeting on Apr. 22. John Daly has been a reporter with BCTV and Global BC for 35 years, breaking some of the province’s biggest stories. Cecilia Walters was the longtime voice of morning news on CBC Radio Vancouver until her retirement in 2015.

Gord Gillies

Gord Gillies of Global News Calgary and David Spence, meteorologist with CTV Calgary, have been announced as the Prairie region recipients of the RTDNA Canada Lifetime Achievement Award. They’ll be presented during the Prairies Regional Meeting on Apr. 29.

Lyse Doucet

Lyse Doucet, BBC’s chief international correspondent and senior presenter for BBC World TV and BBC World Service Radio, will host this year’s Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards on June 8 at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. Born and raised in New Brunswick, Doucet spent 15 years as a BBC foreign correspondent with postings in Jerusalem, Amman, Islamabad, Tehran, Kabul and Abidjan. She was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2014 and the Columbia Journalism Award for lifetime achievement in 2016.

Scott Moore

Rogers Media is finally poised to reap some reward from its $5.2B NHL broadcast deal with five Canadian teams in the playoffs. With all seven Canadian teams eliminated last season, television ratings fell 61 per cent over 2015, averaging 513,000 viewers for the first 20 games. With the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, along with the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, viewership is back in the seven-figure range. On Mar. 25, 2.08 million viewers watched the Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres in the Hockey Night in Canada game on CBC and Sportsnet. Sportsnet president Scott Moore revealed this week Hockey Night in Canada will continue to air on CBC for at least one more year, with Rogers interested in extending the partnership beyond the 2017-18 season.

Despite recent layoffs in several B.C. newsrooms, a survey on media consumption and trust from Mustel Group and FleishmanHillard has determined that while less than one-third (30 per cent) of British Columbians pay for news, nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) trust professional media over their personal networks (39 per cent) to help form their opinions. Research was conducted in March using 500 online interviews with a random sample of B.C. residents 18 years of age or over.


The Netflix/Pandora/HBO Effect on Radio
Twelve Things You Should Do About Commercials

By Alan Burns

We already know listeners don’t love commercials, right? If we needed any fresh reinforcement, the latest “What Women Want” study by Alan Burns and Associates and Strategic Solutions Research, which will be presented at Canadian Music Week, shows that one of the most important drivers of Pandora and Spotify usage is “too many commercials on the radio.”

I think it’s going to get worse.

Here’s why: Have you ever turned to “regular” TV after watching a lot of Netflix or HBO? When you do that, immediately the commercial load on traditional non-subscription TV feels unbearable. You’re now more sensitive to commercials on television – especially on cable, where loads are even higher than on broadcast prime time.

In the audio world the same thing happens with streaming music (low/no commercials) and satellite radio (no commercials on most music channels) as well. Over time, the ability to get audio and video content with few or no commercials will, I believe, make commercials on radio and television even less appealing than they are now.

This will clearly be a bad development for radio since, in any transaction, consumption (listening) tends to decrease as cost (commercial load or quality) increases. Not only can it affect ratings, but sales can take a big (perhaps even larger) hit as the result of fewer people paying less attention to client messages.

Fortunately, there are quite a few things owners, management, sales, and programming can do to reduce commercial irritation without decreasing revenue. In fact, several of these actions will actually increase the value of our commercial time and thus should improve revenue.

My recommendations range from difficult, long-term efforts to easy and quick changes. Here are a dozen things you or your organization could do:

  1. Improve radio sales. Radio is extraordinarily powerful at moving people and getting them to buy things; there is more than ample proof of that in research, including case studies. But too many radio sellers sell by talking about what’s wrong with other stations in their market and how cheap radio is, instead of leading with power. We need fewer rate wars and more value selling. Over time, that would lead to higher rates.
  2. Be aggressive about developing other revenue streams such as digital and events. That’s where the growth is, and increasing revenue in those directions can make it easier to hold the line on spot rates and turning down bad advertising.
  3. Support NextRadio. It’s another revenue avenue, and in the long run it can enable great feedback about good and bad, effective versus ineffective commercials (see item 10 below).
  4. Improve the relevance of commercials. Other than bad copy and screaming voiceovers, the biggest commercial negative is information that is irrelevant, even alien, to the listener. Think hemorrhoid remedies and wrinkle creams on a Top 40 station. Irrelevant messages are a waste of the clients’ money, which is bad for everyone in the long run.
  5. Increase the effectiveness of the commercials you and agencies produce (you can help agencies by giving them free seminars on what makes a powerful radio commercial). When commercials are more effective, listeners pay more attention and the client realizes greater value. Greater value leads to higher rates. Here are several things researcher Mark Ramsey has found to increase effectiveness:
  • Relevance
  • Humour
  • Message clarity
  • Surprise
  • Storytelling                                                           

You can read more about Mark’s study here.

  1.  Make the commercial fit the content. News/talk and sports stations can carry more spots because the commercial audio, which is mostly talk, fits the surrounding content. Making the commercials more like the content is a challenge for music stations, but make your spots as musical as possible. Encourage clients who have jingles to put the jingle right up front. Teach your sales staff or copywriters to put fewer words in your spots, leaving time for music to establish first. For inspiration, ask the old-timers about the days when Coke, Pepsi, and many other advertisers ran spots that were mostly sung (one Coke jingle actually became a hit song in the late 60s).

  1. Incentivize really good commercials. Offer prizes or bonuses for great in-house copywriting and production. Have your own annual awards for best local agency and best in-house commercials. Consider a rate structure with discounts for musical spots.
  2. Hire good writers and producers. As Emmis’ Rick Cummings says, “We used to have master chefs preparing our spots …lately it’s more like short-order cooks slingin’ them out as fast as they can.”
  3. Outsource commercial production. If your staff is too small, inexperienced, or overloaded, farm out production to folks who can do it better.
  4. Offer your clients commercial testing. This is a fairly new concept at the station level, but WBEB in Philadelphia is doing it and claims it’s making their spots more effective, their clients happier (even though they’re paying higher rates!), and reducing perceived clutter on the station.
  5. Structure your stopsets better. I believe in putting the best or most musical spot first, and the next-best last. People notice first and last items most, so this is a way of hiding the worst spots and rewarding the best.
  6. Finally, get into those stopsets fast. Try this for a couple of days: format your station so that nothing longer than 10 seconds happens before a stopset. You’ll notice the stopsets feel like less of an interruption.

One idea that’s often talked about is playing fewer commercials per stopset by stopping more often to play commercials. I’m not optimistic that will work in the long run. In the U.S., research by the National Football League has shown that television viewers notice how often commercial breaks occur more than they notice how long they are, and have extracted commitments from their TV partners to reduce the number of breaks. In Australia, NOVA-FM executed a very successful Top 40 launch with a promise of “never more than two commercials in a row” with four stopsets per hour. In the long run, though, they reverted to fewer, longer breaks.

No one person at a radio station can execute every one of the dozen suggestions above – it takes management/ownership, sales, and programming commitment to do it all.  Take whatever actions you can, and encourage others in the operation to consider those you can’t do alone. Collectively we can lower radio’s “cost” to the audience – while increasing its value to our advertisers.

I’d love your comments and feedback via alan@burnsradio.com. If you’re attending Canadian Music Week, join us Wednesday morning for “What Women Want” to find out what 2,000 women had to say about radio, music, and new media.

Alan Burns is the Founder of Alan Burns and Associates, which has provided consulting to hundreds of AC, CHR and Gold AC radio station clients in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia since 1985.

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