Info Commissioner slams feds for lack of compliance

Information Commissioner Robert Marlea, in a special report,  slammed the federal government for its lack of response to freedom of information requests, in which responses to requests for information are so slow that the expected response time of 30 days is now the exception not the norm. The federal Conservatives, who promised greater accountability in their 2006 platform, don’t seem too responsive.

Mr. Toews then ducked out a back door, avoiding reporters.

Globe and Mail, Feb. 27 2009

CanWest buys time to March 11

CanWest’s various creditors have extended their deadline for payment/resolution of debt from Feb. 27 to March 11. CanWest says it has enough to continue during this period (it’s pretty grim when they have to confirm they can maintain existing operations for 12 days.) Not totally surprising; the creditors want their money and are usually pretty flexible when it comes to options like losing it all. However, I’m not sure what the extra time will buy; maybe they can swap the E channels for some magic beans.

Reuters, Feb. 27 2009

CBC wants new media revenue for Canadian content

I don’t usually comment on the CRTC hearings on the new media; you can log on to CRTC’s site and get full copies, and I’m more interested in the outcome than the presentations. However, CBC’s is timely because it comes at a time of great financial concern to it and the other MSM broadcasters, and appears to be a way to not only access new money (trust me, there’s not much in new media for the average blogger) but also match its ongoing philosophical commitment to increased Canadian content in all media.

Mediacaster, Feb. 27 2009

Denver loses daily

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News has shut down, the latest but no doubt not the last North American metro daily to close its doors, a victim to the recession (moreso than the internet.) That leaves Denver with one daily, The Post, which as a monopoly is likely to last.

CNN, Feb. 27 2009

Torstar the latest

All the news about media these days is coming from the business media, and it’s almost all bad (Quebecor isn’t doing too badly, but its money is coming from cable and cell phones, not media like the Sun.) Anyhoo, Torstar has the latest losses, to the point it halved its dividend. And more cuts to come.

“We are aggressively reducing costs at the Star and Metroland. We’ve already made some good progress, but there’s a good deal more to come in the weeks and months ahead.”

Canoe/CP, Feb. 26 2009

Tories just say no to CBC

Maybe it’s just me, but I deduct a certain amount of schadenfreude at CanWest’s coverage of CBC’s latest budget crisis (as in “where’s our government cheque, sport?”) Meanwhile, it looks like more cuts coming from the public broadcaster, with howls of pain from the left/Friends of Public Broadcasting and chuckles and gloats from the remaining Reform-minded members.

Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 26 2009

CTV to cut two TV stations

CTV announced today that it will not apply for renewal of its licenses for its A channels in Wingham and Windsor when they expire at the end of this August. Might be some hardball negotiation to convince the CRTC to allow the over-the-air channels to collect carriage fees as cable/satellite channels do;  might simply be the first ones thrown off a wallowing lifeboat. From CTV.

“The financial pressures facing our conventional television operations are further compounded by the commission’s decision to turn down requests to implement a fee-for-carriage regime for local television.”

CTV, February 25 2009

Stressed out media rely on “usual suspects” as sources

Thoughtful article by Larry Cornies of the Canadian Journalism Project on the quality of news when shrunken (and still shrinking) newsrooms rely on the same set of sources all the time. While there’s always been a tendency to use reliable sources, universities’ media contact lists make it too easy to use the same sources, and thus reduce the number and diversity of voices in the media.

The Canadian Journalism Project, Feb. 25 2009

CBC faces revenue shortfall of up to $65 million

While the cuts at CTV and Global are well-known, it looks like more may be ahead for the CBC. Today’s Globe reports they need an additional $65 million because of projected ad shortfalls.  No doubt there is a significant portion of the federal Conservative caucus who would relish seeing cutbacks at the CBC (they have widely viewed it as pro-Liberal and anti-Conservative) wouldn’t it make more sense to have a national debate on the role of CBC in the 500 channel, multi-media universe, define those roles, then fund them accordingly so they could fulfill them.

Globe and Mail, February 25 2009

CanWest debt downgraded

Moody’s and DBRS have downgraded the debt at two of CanWest’s subsidiary, and Friday seems to be a deadline day for CW to pay off as bank loan. Other than that, everything’s fine.

And Metroland is laying off 64 positions at the Hamilton Spectator, Waterloo Region Record and The Guelph Mercury.

Canadian Press, February 24 2009