Down in the alley with Rick Mercer
Down in the alley with Rick Mercer

Media Beat: April 11, 2018

TPX now repping Wondery podcasts in Canada

American podcast network Wondery has announced successfully selling 100% of its second round of equity financing and signing new deals for global expansion.

The new funding, totalling US$4.93M, brings its investment capital to $8M since the company launched in 2016.

The startup has six No. 1 podcasts in its catalogue of shows that include “Dirty John (downloaded more than 20M times),” “American History Tellers (more than 3M)” and “Business Wars (2M+).” The shows are available at Apple Podcasts and on the Wondery website.

As part of its global expansion, the firm has signed deals to monetize content across the UK, Australia–and in Canada with TPX (The Podcast Exchange), a boutique three-person firm co-founded by former Standard Broadcasting syndication exec Jean-Marie Heimrath, Jeff Ulster, co-publisher of The Canadian Podcast Listener report, and sales VP Bob Kane.

PX is backed by the privately-held Canadian media group Slaight Communications with assets in digital radio and internet platforms.

More about Wondery here, TPX here, and Audience Insights’ research report on Canadians' podcast habits and interests here.

And below, Wondery CEO Herman Lopez is talking about the growing interest in podcasts and changes in consumer media patterns.

RTDNA Western Canada honours Rick Cluff, Hudson Mack and Wayne Williams with Lifetime Achievement awards

The three will be presented with their awards during the West Regional Meeting on April 21 – Press release

A CBC-private news partnership would be a lifeline for Canadian journalism

It seems an ideal time to consider the CBC's proposal to go ad-free, but with a slightly different approach. – Canadian Media Research president Barry Kiefl, HuffPost

Why Facebook and Google want to make sure Canadians can keep stealing entertainment

CBC, Bell and many other Canadian media companies are being robbed blind by online pirates, to the tune of $1 billion annually in foregone subscription revenues from streaming piracy. To stop this theft, over 25 of them have formed FairPlay, a coalition that is asking the CRTC to block stolen content and websites that deal in stolen content.

Opposing these Canadian organizations are international corporations that include Google, Facebook, AT&T, Cisco and Microsoft.

Because some 24 percent of Internet traffic is illegal downloading of movies and music, equipment and Internet infrastructure providers such as Cisco and Microsoft fear the diminishment in valuable traffic that pirate-site blocking would mean. ISPs argue that the system will be costly to implement. Individuals don’t want to lose access to free stuff. – U of T adjunct prof and Sr. Munk fellow Richard Owens, Financial Post

Rick Mercer’s last rant

CBC’s Rick Mercer Report managed to skewer Canada’s elite while never being mean-spirited. After 15 seasons, its amiable host is signing off. – Tony Wong, The Star

Rick Mercer prepares for his last report

Canadians open their hearts and wallets to Humboldt Broncos

A Go-Fund-Me donation page for the victims and families affected by the Broncos' bus crash has now become the website's biggest campaign in Canadian history. CBC News spoke to the campaign's organizers about the generosity they're seeing from people across the country.

Vancouver news anchors Tamara Taggart and Mike Killeen fired from CTV News at Six

CTV News Vancouver has announced that their newscasts will undergo significant changes this month.

As part of the updates, CTV News at Six co-anchors Mike Killeen and Tamara Taggart have been fired, effective April 9.

“Mike and Tamara are consummate professionals, and we wish them the very best on what’s to come,” CTV News Vancouver news director Les Staff stated in a news release.

Other changes will include new set designs, updates to on-set technology, and new digital products such as a weather app. – Georgia Straight

Corus defends strategy despite stock price woes

Despite healthy cash flows and a plan that analysts seem to like, Corus’ success is anything but certain in a market disrupted by the likes of Netflix Inc., Google LLC and Facebook Inc.

Corus’ stock price hit an all-time low earlier this week, closing at $5.82 on Tuesday. Its stock rebounded 20 percent after its results beat Bay Street’s expectations, but even at its $7.34 close on Friday it is well below the $11 to $13 range it’s generally traded at since it bought Shaw Media. – Emily Jackson, Financial Post

Journalists for Human Rights brings Indigenous Reporters Program to Grassy Narrows

A First Nations community that is often the focus of outside media attention is getting the chance to tell their own stories through print, radio and video.

The Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) organization is running its Indigenous Reporters Program in Grassy Narrows First Nation for the next several months and will offer community forums, workshops and one-on-one training.

JHR is a media development organization that trains journalists to report on governance issues and human rights in their communities, according to the official website, and has worked in places like South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

JHR’s Indigenous Reporters Program is its first development program focusing its activities in Canada and was launched after a pilot program in 2013. The program has two primary goals: to build opportunities for Indigenous peoples to pursue careers in journalism and strengthening Indigenous voices in Canadian media, and to ensure that non-Indigenous journalists are trained in best practices for reporting on Indigenous stories. – Kathleen Charlebois, Kenora Daily Miner

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t lie to us. We lied to ourselves

People have been warning us, from the very beginning, that just because Facebook calls these people your “friends,” they aren’t really your friends. Collectively, we responded by just changing the definition of friend. It now includes the most vague acquaintances, even strangers.

With this new Facebook controversy, many of us are just beginning to grasp what is going on. – Scott Gilmore, Maclean’s

You ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to faking news

In a dank corner of the internet, it is possible to find actresses from Game of Thrones or Harry Potter engaged in all manner of sex acts. Or at least to the world the carnal figures look like those actresses, and the faces in the videos are indeed their own. Everything south of the neck, however, belongs to different women. Artificial intelligence has almost seamlessly stitched the familiar visages into pornographic scenes, one face swapped for another. The genre is one of the cruellest, most invasive forms of identity theft invented in the internet era. At the core of the cruelty is the acuity of the technology: A casual observer can’t easily detect the hoax.

This development, which has been the subject of much hand-wringing in the tech press, is the work of a programmer who goes by the nom de hack “deepfakes.” And it is merely a beta version of a much more ambitious project. One of deepfakes’s compatriots told Vice’s Motherboard site in January that he intends to democratize this work. He wants to refine the process, further automating it, which would allow anyone to transpose the disembodied head of a crush or an ex or a co-worker into an extant pornographic clip with just a few simple steps. No technical knowledge would be required. – Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

AT&T exec called broadcasters ‘shortsighted whores’ for selling to streaming services

The ongoing legal battle between AT&T and the Department of Justice over whether AT&T can acquire Time Warner is giving us a unique insight into the minds of cable companies. Most notably, what we’ve all long suspected — that cable companies are slow to embrace streaming because they don’t want to lose their cash cow — is being repeatedly confirmed.

The LA Times reports that during last week’s testimony, the DoJ brought up an email sent by Daniel York, current CCO of the AT&T Entertainment Group and a former top exec at DirecTV. In an email to his boss, York said “content providers generally are shortsighted whores” for dealing with streaming services, notably Dish Network’s Sling TV – BGR

Silicon Valley falls to earth

When America’s founders designed our system, they created a model where power was meant to be constrained by power: Congress checks the president; the courts check the Congress. This ethos of balancing has extended beyond constitutional schemes, with the later advent of robust, objectively minded newspapers and labour unions, each theoretically serving as a countervailing centre of power. Silicon Valley was born into a culture that had no interest in constraint.

In the past, Zuckerberg has boasted that he had created a platform as powerful as a nation-state—but it is a nation-state as imagined by Milton Friedman or Sam Brownback. There were essentially no regulators that aimed to curb its abuses. And certainly, there were no politicians attempting to win attention for themselves by interrogating him or the executives of other technology companies, with the sort of vigour sometimes applied to banks and airlines. – Franklin Foer, The Atlantic

Slums in Argentina get their own TV news hour

Slum World TV, a programme made for, and by, some of the 700,000 people living in Buenos Aires slums, is attempting to show the lives of some of Argentina's most vulnerable. – Teresa Bo, Al Jazeera

Pulling the strings: Sinclair Broadcast’s ‘fake news’ scandal

Unlike Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, Sinclair does not own a national news network, so its brand is not that well known. But it does own 173 local TV stations, covering 40 percent of American households. Since those channels are affiliated with national broadcasting brands, ABC, NBC and CBS - they display those logos rather than their parent company's.

Up until now, Sinclair sent editorials from the company's headquarters in Maryland that their channels were required to broadcast. Typically, the so-called "must runs" are fronted by a Sinclair executive, Boris Epshteyn, who worked on Donald Trump's election team. – Al Jazeera

Steve Harvey lands first No. 1 on top TV Personalities social media ranking

After previously peaking at No. 2, Harvey rules the chart, which weekly ranks the most popular TV personalities based on data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus. – The Hollywood Reporter

A billionaire keeps pushing to impeach Trump. Democrats are rattled

California billionaire Tom Steyer is nearly alone among Democrat donors in his willingness to spend money on a titanic scale. In 2016 he spent more than $90M supporting Democrats, and his chequebook may be critical to their efforts to capture Congress –  Alexander Burns, NYT

Financial Times CEO John Ridding explains how to make people pay for media

Techies pooh-poohed online subscriptions a decade ago. My, how things have changed. – Peter Kafka, Recode

WhatsApp campaign to end virginity testing in Pune

New Delhi: In the run-down neighbourhood of Bhatnagar in this sleepy Indian city, a small rebellion is underway. The new generation of the close-knit Kanjarbhat community is staging protests at weddings to end the centuries-old practice of virginity tests.The tests typically happen like this: The bride and groom consummate their marriage on a white cloth. The virgin bride proves her "purity" by staining the cloth with blood from her broken hymen. The following day, a council of community elders publicly asks the groom, "Were the goods pure?" The goods refer to the bride.

Virginity tests are rare in modern India and happen only in small pockets, such as among the Kanjarbhat, a once-ostracized gypsy tribe. But the predominantly Hindu country is seeing waves of change brought about by a new generation that has benefited from policies ensuring that members of India's lower castes, long disadvantaged in the hierarchical social system, receive an education and employment opportunities. And the youth have focused much of their attention on women's rights, pitting them against community elders who want to uphold ancestral traditions and value systems. – Daily Addaa

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