CCR People

Robert Paquette joined the National Film Board as director of human resources, effective January 19. He was most recently the director of human resources for the Port of Montreal.

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CCR Short Takes

Overseas broadcast operations buoy CanWest’s bottom line
CanWest Global Communications Corp. announced January 21 that strong revenue performances by the company’s overseas South Pacific operations, particularly at Australia’s Network TEN, were offset by reductions in revenue from Canadian broadcast operations and its entertainment division in the first quarter of fiscal 2004. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, 2003, consolidated net earnings were $81 million, representing a 19% increase from $68 million from the same quarter a year earlier. "After a relatively strong performance during the summer months, the Canadian television industry experienced declining advertising sales in the quarter, and results from the company’s broadcast operations reflect that overall market weakness, where revenues for the quarter were $191 million this year compared to $215 million in the same period a year earlier," the company notes. The decline in revenue had a direct impact on EBITDA, which fell to $56 million in the fiscal 2004 first quarter from $81 million in the same period a year earlier. On the other hand, CanWest’s 57% interest in Network TEN’s EBITDA increased by 42% to $53 million compared to $37 million in the same period a year earlier.

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Unions, cultural groups plan awareness campaign to fight foreign ownership

Acoalition of unions and cultural organizations is holding regional meetings and has set up a communications committee to plan a national advertising campaign aimed at bringing the issue of foreign ownership to the public’s attention. The goal is to put pressure on Prime Minister Paul Martin to retreat from moves to loosen up foreign ownership restrictions on the telecommunications and broadcasting industries.

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Canadian film and TV production industry in “holding pattern,” according to Mayson

The Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) forecasts declines in foreign location shooting and co-productions, but numbers in its state of the industry report show in-house production by broadcasters is on the rise – a trade-off that worries the independent production sector. "Basically, we’re looking at an industry that’s in a holding pattern," says CFTPA president and CEO Guy Mayson. "The only real growth that we’re seeing is in-house production – it’s still a relatively small piece of the overall production pie – but it’s worrisome for the independent sector."

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Carleton U channel moving to digital only carriage, expanded distribution possible

The expansion in distribution of Crossroads as an analog channel has thrown a wrench into negotiations between Rogers Cable Inc. and Carleton University’s educational access channel. Carol Miles, director of the Educational Development Centre at Carleton University, tells Canadian Communications Reports that Rogers had begun negotiating with Carleton to move the school’s channel to digital so that it could split the analog channel into space for numerous digital channels. During previous discussions, Miles says that Rogers was dangling carrots such as carriage on all Rogers digital systems in Ontario and moving Carleton’s programming onto video-on-demand (VOD) as enticements to switch to digital carriage. But negotiations have slowed now that the CRTC is allowing Hamilton-based Crossroads Television to add transmitters in Ottawa and London. Rogers in Ottawa must now use the newly free spot for the religious channel.

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Broadcasters, producers have different interpretation of specialty TV decision

The head of an organization representing film and TV producers believes that the CRTC’s decision to expand expenditures for the most profitable specialty TV channels and to allow the expansion of some of them into the drama genre is a positive future sign of commission support for Canadian production. But some broadcasters say that the licence renewals of the 22 specialty channels, which were issued January 21 by the CRTC, must be taken in context and don’t necessarily represent a new direction for the regulator.

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Broadcasters suing feds over Part II licence fees

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, which represents the majority of Canada’s private television, radio, and specialty broadcasters, is suing the federal government over Part II licence fees, Canadian Communications Reports has learned. On December 2, the CAB filed a statement of claim with the Federal Court of Canada for a determination from the court that the controversial fees are a form of unconstitutional tax, and that the broadcasters that have ponied up hundreds of millions of dollars in Part II fees are entitled to a refund from the CRTC (CCR, Oct. 31/03).

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