CRTC decision to call for more local news in smaller markets

Yesterday’s CRTC decisions on a wide range of issues have focused on how over the air broadcasters (CTV, Global) can access cable funding. You can read about this in the Globe and Mail (or the National Post, if it were still publishing in western Canada, but I digress.) Way down in the backgrounder though, at point number three, is a plan to establish a fund for small (under one million) markets to improve the amount and quality of local news they provide, even going so far as to hire more reporters. Not only that, they are going to review local community cable channels to see if the same program can be extended to them. Now this is progress.

Stations must use these funds to increase their current expenditures on local programming, which should result in expanded news bureaus and more original local news stories.

CRTC, October 30 2008

Christian Science Monitor to go all-online, cease print

The Monitor, generally admired for the quality of its journalism and writing, is planning to discontinue its daily publication next spring, to focus on the on-line edition. I wonder if this is the start of a trend, or just a local decision that affects only one publication.

Yahoo News, Oct. 28 2008

Associated Press faces cost and job cuts

The continuing decline of US newspaper readership, ad sales and circulation is hitting the venerable AP. About 100 members are threatening to resign. AP promises a plan of action, sometime, of some form, likely involving job loss. Things aren’t quite that severe north of the border, though CanWest pulled out of CP, to very little effect.

AP, 23 2008

A solution for CanWest?

A media financial analyst from New York has an interesting solution to CanWest’s financial problems (its stock has fallen from $8 a share to less than $1): go private. Right now, CanWest is a publicly owned company (anyone can buy shares in it on the stock markets; taking it private would turn it back into a family company owned by the Aspers, accountable to no one except the Aspers, something Lord Black must look back on and regret not having done the same with Hollinger, but I digress.) Taking it private would mean no need to report to troublesome shareholders, and relieve it from the quarterly pressure to show progress every quarter. The analyst notes that the US and Canadian newspaper companies in trouble now are all public companies; the private ones are doing better.

Toronto Star, October 25 2008

Another media voice lost

Masthead magazine, which follows Canada’s magazine industry, announced yesterday it is shutting down production after its Nov/Dec issue.  Its website is also being shut down, both because the magazine has been losing money for several years, despite trying different business models to make it viable. Too bad; always a sad day when an independent media outlet goes down.

Masthead, October 2008

recession or not, we’re keeping our cells and internet

A small (800 respondents) survey of North Americans show that among the items they would cut back on in a recession, the internet and cell phones are among their last choices (first is big ticket events like concerts, followed by movies and DVD rentals.) The survey argues that internet and cell phones are now entrenched among consumers the same way the heat and water are, as essentials, not frills that can be reduced during hard times.

Globe and Mail, October 23 2008

Media Democracy Day coming

Well, I never heard of it myself, but it’s not a bad idea. Most of Canada’s mainstream media are controlled by a few companies. It’s long been argued that media monopolism is bad for society, providing less perspective and a narrow business-oriented point of view., October 22, 2008

CanWest hit with defamation suit

As if it wasn’t facing enough problems, CanWest Global and one of its columnists has been served with a defamation suit from Arthur Kent, failed Alberta provincial candidate, over a column written three weeks before Alberta’s last provincial election. Mr. Kent charges that the National Post wrote such a derogatory column that it amounted to “nothing less than political vandalism.” Could be an interesting case of fair comment and the relationship between MSM media comment on a politician during an election campaign, or could turn into nothing, which is where most defamation cases end up. However, Mr. Kent did negotiate a settlement against the filmmakers of Charlie Wilson’s War, in which clips of him as a reporter during Gulf War were used without his permission.

Globe and Mail, October 21 2008

China eases media restrictions

As promised, post-Olympic China has eased its restrictions on foreign media, allowing them to travel freely across the country and speak to whomever they wish (previously, they needed permission to do either.) Edicts from Beijing, however, aren’t always respected or enforced in the provinces.

Associated Press, October 17, 2008

Whither the National Post?

Patricia Best in today’s ROB asks a question I’ve been asking for some time: “What’s going on at the National Post, anyhow?”

There are no plans for a celebration of the Post’s 10th anniversary Oct. 27, the Aspers are extensively renovating their Toronto CanWest facility, all the while doing (another) austerity drive at the paper. And for the third day in a row, I can’t buy the National Post because of a strike at the Winnipeg Tribune, which prints the paper. My suspicion is that the Post has one foot in the grave and the strike will give the Aspers the final incentive to put the coffin in and start shoveling dirt on it.

Globe and Mail, Oct. 16 2008