The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.
Taylor Baiden, VP of finance at CHUM Ltd. as well as treasurer and secretary and board member, is leaving to "pursue other interests." He has been with CHUM since 1972. He has stepped down from his position on the CHUM board but will continue in his role as VP of finance until April 15.
Striking A-Channel Edmonton workers agree to deal
Craig Media’s striking A-Channel Edmonton workers have voted "overwhelmingly" to approve an agreement that will see them return to work on March 1 (CCR, Feb. 13/04). Nine positions at the company’s Edmonton operations, or about 10% of the workforce, will be cut as Craig Media consolidates its master control operations for all its Alberta operations in Calgary. But the remaining workers have won themselves wage increases in the three-year deal of 5% in the first year, 3.5% in the second and 3.5% in the third. Craig Media management also agreed to implement a salary grid. "We got a five-year wage grid, which is the principle of any negotiation for wages. You need to have a grid to base that on. We achieved that goal after months of the company saying that we would never, ever get a wage scale," says Darren Scott, a member of Local 1900 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union’s bargaining unit. Because many of the anchors, directors, and producers are over scale based on the new pay grid, Scott says that more bonus money will be rolled into the salaries of employees in the lower job categories. "So the top-end employees aren’t going to see the same wage increases as the lower-end employees," he notes. "This was all about equalizing the workplace so that there wasn’t a gap between the haves and have nots, especially the haves that you see on-air all the time." Scott adds that rumours that Craig Media is up for sale helped the bargaining process. "I think to place too much weight on it would do a disservice to the people who were on strike for the last five months," he says. "But it did afford us a window of opportunity that we exploited to our benefit, and I think the company realizes that it’s hard to sell a product that’s in a bit of turmoil."
The CRTC has refused to grant licences to CHUM Ltd. for over-the-air TV stations in Calgary and Edmonton, with a retransmitter in Red Deer AB. In the long run, though, the decision is likely to be just as beneficial to CHUM as it is to Craig Media Inc., which has its base in the Alberta market. In its February 26 decision, the regulator lists a concern about the negative impact approving CHUM’s applications would have at this time compared to the potential benefits of additional local programming as the reasons for denying CHUM’s bid (Broadcasting Decision 2004-98).
CHUM Ltd. has quietly filed a surprise application with the CRTC to join two other parties seeking licences to provide subscription digital radio in Canada, as first reported by Canadian Communications Reports (CCR Update, Feb. 19/04). Only three applications had been received by the CRTC by the February 16 filing deadline. The two other applicants are a joint venture involving Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., Standard Radio Inc. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and a partnership between XM Satellite Radio and former NBA Toronto Raptors owner John Bitove. Both those proposed ventures have announced publicly that they have filed applications.
Bell Canada is quietly in the process of rolling out its VDSL television service in multiple-unit dwellings (MUDs) in Montreal and Ottawa. The TV service delivered over broadband was piloted last year in the Toronto market, where it is currently being bundled with the company’s Sympatico high-speed Internet offering.
L’Oréal thinks it has the answer to the degradation in value of traditional advertising in the face of personal video recorders, audience fragmentation, and alternative platform advertising such as SMS messaging. The Paris-based cosmetics company was able to extend its brand through a sponsorship deal with CTV Inc.’s hit reality TV show Canadian Idol that involves not only broadcasting the company’s ads during the show, but also embedding product information into the program, using related web sites, and holding a contest tie-in with Shopper’s Drug Mart.
The acting president of the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) has attacked comments made this week by BCE Inc. president and CEO Michael Sabia, saying what Bell wants on the telephony side isn’t what cable gets in broadcasting. Speaking February 25 in Ottawa, Sabia called for a new regulatory framework for the telephone business. The revised policy framework, argued Sabia, must reflect how customers view the industry and meet their needs, must provide the same rules for all service providers, and must focus on investment and innovation to drive continued Canadian leadership in the communications sector.