CBC inks content deal with Rogers

Well, maybe somebody at CBC has a plan after all. CBC announced yesterday a joint ad deal with the National Post, then turned around to be a content provider for Roger’s various platforms. Would be nice if the people’s network shared its plans with its shareholders, the people. Still, looks like some signs of corporate creativity from what has long been criticized as a dull, unimaginative crown corporate bureaucracy. More details please.

Reuters, May 28 2010

CBC, National Post in joint ad deal

Well, it’s not exactly a merger of the strong, but two of the weakest (financially) media outlets have signed an agreement offering each of its clients access, presumably at a discount, to the others advertising. Since Global is no longer part of the CanWest empire, it doesn’t provide a conflict, but it is odd of CBC to hitch its post to a dying star. Yes, Paul Godfrey is convinced of the viability of the Post, but he could have picked a stronger partner, like CTV, which has never lacked for money or leverage.

National Post, May 27 2010

Losers lead winners in Canadian mags

Masthead, counting online line as well as traditional magazines, finds that the difference between new launches and dead magazines is -20, the first time in a decade that magazine world has lost more titles than it has gained. Of all traditional media, magazines with their long lead times have found it the hardest to compete with the web.

J-Source, May 17 2010

Memo to Paul Godfrey

Here are some thoughts, gratis, on how you might make the newspapers of the former CanWest viable again, economically and journalistically.

1. Kill the National Post. While I have long argued about the need for various media voices, in this case the gangrenous NP needs to be amputated before it infects the rest of the newspaper group. Bay Street has been advising this since 1998; maybe they know what they’re talking about.

2. Fire everyone above the title of publisher in the newspaper division. These are the same people responsible taking CanWest into bankruptcy. Keep the local management in place, since it seems to be making money locally.

3. Your business model is not convergence; that failed everywhere ten years ago. Look to the Southam model, successful for 150 years, of local newspapers run locally to respond to local demand. If they are responsive locally, and profitable locally, everyone wins.

4. Forget about “economies of scale” where ridiculous things were done in the name of efficiency like trying to centralize everything in one place; e.g. one travel desk, one foreign desk, one arts desk. The Asia-centric concerns of the BC papers are going to be radically different from the government-concerns of Ottawa.

5. You can still have national columnists, the way the old Southam had writers like Charles Lynch. If they’ve got something of interest to day, local newspapers can decide whether to include them or not.

6. Rejoin CP. OK, not much of an economic argument here, but since CP has fallen on hard times since CanWest left, the least you can do is bring back our only national wire service by coming back to it.

As I develop or hear of any other ideas which will help you, I will be sure to pass them on.

Kindest regards,


Familiar dread at CanWest

The dread of convergence hangs over the “new” CanWest whose newspapers have been bought out by a consortium led by National Post publisher Paul Godfrey. Here’s some of the language that’s making me nervous:

“An integrated, multi-platform news and information company

Our potent brands are composed of a pan-Canadian mix of major metro newspapers, the National Post, a wealth of superb digital properties and community newspapers.

This Canadian solution has limitless potential and will prove to be most rewarding for all of our stakeholders.”

Eh? Why don’t we go the whole nine yards on cliched business/convergence bafflegab and talk about “leveraging content by launching from multiple media platforms.”

Godfrey et al plan to take this public in a few months. Who would invest in a company with a history of taking its stock from $22 a share to 22 cents a share, and bankruptcy, particularly when it espouses the same business “strategy” that blew it up in the first place?

Canadian Internet use continues to rise

Stats Can released a report today that the use of the Internet by Canadians continues to rise, from 73 per cent of Canadians in2007 to 80 per cent in 2009. The West leads the way, with Calgary and Saskatoon at 89 per cent, and Edmonton, Victoria and Ottawa Hull at 86 per cent. Youth continues to be the lead user, followed by seniors who are slowly adapting to the web. A plethora of stats follow, and you can click on the CTV summary below or the full Stats Can report. Didn’t see much about platforms: are people accessing the web on their cell, Ipod, Blackberry, work, school or home computer.

CTV, May 10 2010

Stats Can, May 10 2010

Supreme Court nixes source confidentiality in Shawinigate case

Today the Supreme Court ruled 8 – 1 that the National Post doesn’t have a blanket right to protect a journalistic source, citing the need for other rights, like the right of a publicly accused person to defend him, to supercede confidentiality. It’s not as sweeping or definitive as its ruling last December on defamation, but it makes clear that journalists can’t assume confidentiality of sources, and that future cases will be determined on a case by case basis, juggling the right to protect a source from other rights. CBC has a  nice summary, and if you’re really keen, I’ve linked to the ruling itself.

CBC, May 7 2010

Supreme Court, May 7 2010

Good day for Torstar, bad day for Newsweek

Torstar reported a profit of $7.4 million for the first quarter, moving the newspaper group back to profitability (its 2009 1Q was a loss of $21.4 million.) Most of the profit came from cuts, of which more are apparently under way, bad news no doubt for the newsroom (how about laying off overpaid, underproducing executives, where you could save some real money.) Anyhoo, its bid for the CanWest papers proceeds, even though Torstar owns 20 per cent of CTVglobemedia; wonder what the Competition Bureau would say about its also owning CanWest papers? Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports Newsweek magazine is on the block, as all newsmagazines suffer the reality of reporting seven day old news in the Internet age.

Report on Business, May 6 2010

Al Jazeera English coming to Canada

AJE has reached agreement with BCE, Rogers and Videotron to be carried on their cable/satellite operations (AJE has already received CRTC permission to broadcast in Canada). This is good news: another news medium and one that is distinctly more international than The parochial and understaffed North American networks, cable or otherwise. AJE is not to be confused with AJA, Al Jazeera Arabic, which has been charged with anti-Semitism and support for Al Quaeda. It’s worth a look, but I’m sure Canada’s Jewish community will be scrutinizing it very carefully for the kind of biases its sister channel takes.

Report on Business, May 5 2010

Convergence rears its ugly head again at Global takeover

Remember convergence, the hottest trend of 1999? “We’re going to leverage content and launch from multiple platforms?” (translated from biz jargon, it means taking TV shows and running them on wireless devices like Ipods, laptops, cell etc.) It killed AOL Time Warner and CanWest, but Jim Shaw says the new Global is going in the same direction. Bay Street is skeptical, calling it, at best, a gamble. I wouldn’t buy Shaw shares right now; business ego seems to have no end, particularly in family run enterprises.

Globe and Mail, May 5 2010