Catching Up on – CBC Licence Renewal is Appealed; Wendy Mesley’s New Gig; Terry Glavin & Jesse Brown collide.


July 29, 2022 

Last month the CRTC renewed the CBC’s five-year licence in a burst of deregulatory enthusiasm that took many by surprise

The CRTC’s precedent-setting decision to repeal the core of minimum programming standards and expenditures for most of the public broadcaster’s linear TV operations was not requested by the CBC nor was it included in the CRTC’s detailed agenda when it published the required Notice of Consultation that began the proceeding.

Inevitably the CRTC ruling is being appealed: the Associations representing independent producers supplying much of the CBC’s programming in Quebec (AQPM) and English Canada (CMPA) filed their appeals this week, citing the scathing dissent of the minority Commissioners. The CMPA also suggested it may file a parallel complaint to the federal cabinet.

Court appeals of CRTC decisions are long-shots and excessively technical: they require an “error of law” as opposed to an error of policy. Cabinet appeals are explicitly policy-based but effectively require the government to issue the regulator a vote of non-confidence.

The CBC was also in the public eye this week when former TV host Wendy Mesley emerged in a podcast hosted by Postmedia’s Anthony Furey to explain her departure after 42 years at the public broadcaster (and promote her new podcast Women of Ill Repute, a co-venture with Maureen Holloway).

Mesley gives a mea culpa of her use of the n-word in an internal production meeting and then, with a diplomacy the CBC probably doesn’t deserve, tells the story of her employer suspending her and busting her to junior reporter. 

The most combustible podcast I listened to last week (maybe ever) was the June 6th  Canadaland interview of National Post columnist Terry Glavin, which I stumbled upon after reading Glavin’s blog update of the long-running controversy surrounding the coverage of graves and graveyards linked to Indigenous children who attended Residential Schools. 

For background on the media coverage, you can read Robert Jago and Jonathan Kay. For the grave story itself, in addition to Glavin’s update there is a helpful piece written last year by the CBC’s Ka’nhehsí:io Deer 

The Canadaland podcast hosted by Jesse Brown crackles from the first moment of its hour-long length. You won’t find your attention wandering. 

 In other industry news:

  • In an earlier post about the declining financials in Canadian broadcasting I noted that yet-to-be-released CRTC data for 2020-2021 would provide more clarity about how broadcasters are coping with the growth of American streaming apps. A grim foreshadowing of that data may be contained in the US Nielsen data released this week. 
  • There may be a breakthrough for a trimmed down version of US President Joe Biden’s legislative program. Included in the package is ratification of Biden’s support for the OECD deal on a minimum 15% corporate tax to fight against international tax avoidance. If the OECD deal goes through, Canada would not trigger its Digital Services Tax on Big Tech companies operating in Canada, set to come into force in 2025. 
  • VMedia announced it has been acquired by Québecor. The Ontario-based VMedia operates multiple telecommunications businesses including retail Internet (ISP) and online television (IPTV). The purchase provoked an outcry against corporate consolidation in the ISP market. Those critics take no solace in the competitive upside of strengthening Québecor’s expansion as a national competitor against the other big telcos in ISP and IPTV outside of its home territory.

Published by

Howard Law

I am retired staff of Unifor, the union representing 300,000 Canadians in twenty different sectors of the economy, including 10,000 journalists and media workers. As the former Director of the Media Sector and as an unapologetic cultural nationalist, I have an abiding passion for public policy in Canadian media.

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