Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat: November 25, 2019

What Was Said

Big tech has decided that original scripted television will foment enduring loyalty across platforms that sell many things. So, for the foreseeable future, the deepest pockets in the world will spend more on scripted television each year than Canada or Australia spend on defense. If Netflix continues to increase its content budget at the same rate, by 2025 Netflix will spend more on Stranger Things, You, The Crown, and other original content than the US spends on food stamps (SNAP).

Who says capitalism isn’t working?

— Scott Galloway, No Mercy/No Malice

Don’t underestimate the importance of the task facing new Heritage Minister

For those who care deeply about a political issue – climate change, say, or the decimation of Canadian media – federal cabinet-making can be a disheartening craft. When you have a top environmentalist in your caucus, why would you not make him Minister of the Environment? When you have a portfolio like Canadian Heritage that needs quick action to save the country’s cultural industries, couldn’t you, just for once, pick someone with knowledge of that field? — Kate Taylor, The Globe & Mail

CBC torpedoes Subway’s chicken lawsuit

The Ontario Superior Court has thrown out a $210M defamation lawsuit launched by Subway against CBC, which had reported the sandwich chain may have been selling some poultry products that were only 50 percent chicken DNA.

The Marketplace investigation met the "'public interest' test," was an example of investigative journalism, and therefore is protected under Section 137.1(3) of the Ontario Courts of Justice Act, Justice E.M. Morgan said in his ruling.

The so-called anti-SLAPP (for "strategic lawsuits against public participation") provision allows a defendant to ask the court to dismiss a lawsuit if they can show it was initiated to shield the plaintiff from criticism and stymie free speech on a matter of public interest. — CBC News

Ontario government stays the course in pumping film industry

Provincial Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod was upbeat speaking to members of the screen-based industry at FilmOntario’s AGM on Thursday, Nov 21, at the Four Seasons in Toronto.
During her remarks, Minister MacLeod reiterated the government’s commitment to stable tax credits. She also commented on her recent trip to Los Angeles, where she heard firsthand about the need for studio infrastructure and capacity-building. The Minister stated that she was looking forward to working with government and industry to ensure the industry workforce is able to grow to meet the future demands for labour. Her speech was very well-received by everyone on-hand.
“We are very pleased to see that the Government of Ontario has made a real commitment to certainty for the screen-based industry, from the statements in the 2019 Budget to our conversations with the Premier and in the Minister’s speech tonight,” said Sue Milling, FilmOntario co-chair and Executive Director of ACTRA Toronto.
“It was particularly gratifying to hear Minister MacLeod acknowledge the role of the film and television industry to the economy and the quality of life in the province, added Jennifer Jonas, President of New Real Films and FilmOntario co-chair. “We look forward to continuing to work together to promote the unique nature of Ontario’s industry, with its balance of domestic and service production, that creates jobs in the province and enriches the everyday lives of all Ontarians.”

Some industry facts:
• $1.89 billion in independent film and direct television spending in Ontario in 2018, a record-breaking year for the province
• This was an increase of 18.6% over 2017 spending
• Film and television production is active across the region, creating jobs and economic impact in local communities
• Spending is almost equally split between foreign and domestic production
• Every $1 million invested through the film and television tax credits generates 109 direct and spin-off FTEs and $7.4 M in provincial GDP

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen reviles Big Tech at ADL anti-Semitism summit

“It’s time to finally call these (6 big tech) companies what they really are—the largest publishers in history.  And here’s an idea for them: abide by basic standards and practices just like newspapers, magazines and TV news do every day. 

“We have standards and practices in television and the movies; there are certain things we cannot say or do.  In England, I was told that Ali G could not curse when he appeared before 9 pm.  Here in the U.S., the Motion Picture Association of America regulates and rates what we see.  I’ve had scenes in my movies cut or reduced to abide by those standards.  If there are standards and practices for what cinemas and television channels can show, then surely companies that publish material to billions of people should have to abide by basic standards and practices too.” — ADL

How advertising can save the world

You may have noticed that the world is a mess. It is rife with hatred, lies, conspiracy theories, violence and hostility between countries and within countries. It ain't pretty, and it's getting worse.

One of the factors in the growing polarization is the influence of the internet. I believe the dumbest thing ever said about the web was said by Arianna Huffington. In 2012, Ms. Huffington said...

 "Thanks to YouTube -- and blogging and instant fact-checking and viral emails -- it is getting harder and harder to get away with repeating brazen lies without paying a price..."

It's hard to imagine anyone getting it more wrong.

In fact, social media and search have made it much easier for nuts, nazis, and basement-dwelling squids to spread their vitriol and nonsense far and wide. The ugliness is spread in two ways: 1) posts and ads on social media and 2) search algorithms that ensnare people in a vortex of ever more radical lies and nonsense.

Unless we find a way to unwind this pattern of polarization there is nowhere to go but down.

First, let's talk about remedies that won't work. We cannot expect Google, Facebook (and their spawn, YouTube and Instagram) or Twitter to do anything serious about these issues. Even though they are the prime repositories of hatred and lies, they are also the downtime benefactors.

We cannot expect governments to do anything. They are too stupid, inept and politically self-absorbed.

Believe it or not, there is one group that can do something seriously effective in combatting this scourge -- the ad industry. The search and social media companies have only one source of revenue, ad dollars. If the ad industry were to withdraw their ad dollars, two of the most profitable and dangerous companies in the world, Google and Facebook, would evaporate in five minutes.

Here's the plan. I call it The Ten Week Plan. The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and the 4As (American Association of Advertising Agencies) get together and tell Google and Facebook the following:

   1) We're giving you 90 days to clean up your act. Get rid of the hate content, get rid of the ugliness and incitements to violence, hire enough people to fact-check posts properly before you publish them, change your algorithms so they don't draw people down the sewer of hatred.

   2) After 90 days, if you haven't cleaned it up satisfactorily, we're going to implement a 10-week program to force you to do it. In week one we will ask our members to reduce their spend with you by 10%. If this doesn't convince you, on week two, we will ask them to reduce their spending with you by another 10%. This will continue until you either change or die.

The ad industry has allowed Google and Facebook to take all the hits for the disgusting state of search and social. But we are the money machine that funds it all. We are the paymasters, and we can use our power to do some good for a change.

We can accomplish with our dollars what governments can't with all their yapping. We have been on the wrong side of every issue related to online corruption. With one stroke, we can atone for our mistakes and seize the high ground. Let's see if our industry, which gags on "brand purpose" horseshit, can actually demonstrate some brand purpose. All it would take is the one thing we don't have -- integrity. Okay, two things, and balls.

BTW, if you like The Ten Week Plan, send it to someone important in the ad industry.

 — Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian

Obit

I am very saddened by the news of John's passing yesterday. I have chatted today with his companion Lorraine and his sister Myrna Mather who are, of course, very sad.

I am sure there will be many much-deserved tributes to John on County-FM and in many corners of the non-profit community over the next little while. He helped so many organizations and did it with a mighty smile, a 'dig-in' attitude and a sincere sense of conviction. He was all about making things better. That was just who he was.

I really looked up to John Mather. I saluted him on my 365 series over 2018, and his little sister Myrna told me that John was very humbled and appreciative of that recognition.

Of course, that's not what he told me! Rather, in his barrel-chested voice, he said something like, 'What are you trying to make me out to be some kind of a god or something?' He ribbed me some more and we laughed about it.

I am very happy that post meant so much to him because he deserved that and way, way more recognition.

He was humble. It was never about him. He would try to hide away from all the good things that were being said about him. He'd quickly change the subject when the chatter was about John. If he was here right now to read what I am writing, I am certain he would be giving me the gears ('Knock it off, kid!').

Thank you for everything you did for us, Mr. Fever, and sincere condolences to Myrna and Lorraine. God Bless you, John Mather!

Here is John's 365 posting from February 6th of 2018.

'Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today the light shines on John Mather'.

It never fails to amaze me when you hear a voice on the radio and then actually see the person. You always have a different mental picture. Sometimes you have large people with small size voices and sometimes the not quite as tall folks who have huge booming voices like in the case of John Mather.

I first met John around the time County-FM was starting to come together. A few of the team members met me to see if I could pass the litmus test to be the first general manager of the station. John Mather was one of those folks and was, and is, very supportive. We got to talking and working together very closely as part of the Volunteer team to get County-FM on-air.

I call him Johnny "Fever" because he reminds me of the free-wheeling WKRP like days.

John’s career started at CFCO in Chatham Ontario, where at first he was a control operator. Then over to CKOT Tillsonburg where the legendary Bob MacAdorey took him under his wing. Next was CHLO St. Thomas, followed by a one-year TV stint in Wingham.

Around this point, John’s yearning to go to work in the U.S. was strong and he found himself doing mornings in Florida at WBAR Bartow. It was a dusk -dawn radio station in which he was on-air in mornings and also sold his show by day. The station was owned by none other than country star George Jones, who also owned a country station in Lakeland FLA which, by the way, housed George’s record store on the first floor.

George’s excessive drinking and craziness finally got to John. For instance, one day George showed up at the radio station with a loaded shotgun. John and his news partner were scared to death and called the cops who came to escort George to the hoosegow for a little downtime.

Then there was the Christmas party where George showed up. The staff and spouses were excited to be hanging with the famous George Jones in the flesh, until when all of a sudden, George pulled out a gun and shot the large chandelier in the middle of the room. Gotta go! That was a signal to leave the actual party, and the overall party.

John then went over to WVFM in Lakeland FLA where he had several successful years as morning mouth and newsman.

The Vietnam War was raging, and now being an American citizen, John was in danger of being drafted. He said his number was up. Like so many other American radio stars at the time, in 1973 John draft dodged his way back to Canada, once again applying his talents in Tillsonburg where he was program director for eight years.

John had his share of crazy owners as his next stop was morning guy and farm director in Brantford working for Dick Buchanan at CKPC. There is no shortage of stories about Dick and John tells a few good ones. Like the time Dick came into the studio and screamed and yelled at him. John is around 5 feet five, but that day and he was 6 feet 10. He got right up in Dick's face and said, “you may yell at your wife, you may yell at your kids and maybe scream at your dog, but you are never, ever going to do that to me again." That was completely out of character for John, but from that time the two of them were gold, and Dick actually left him some money in his will.

John retired in 1989, and he and his lovely wife Elaine found themselves in Prince Edward County. John’s sister Myrna had bought some property there and after coming to the area often for vacations, John and Elaine got the bug and soon were full-time residents. Bill Morton, the owner of Quinte Broadcasting, found out he was in the area and hired him at CJBQ. A year after John decided he wanted to stay retired.

When John first got to Prince Edward County, he was curious as to why there wasn’t a dedicated County radio station? He became a big part of the team that got the licence, sat on the board, and has continued from there as a newsman and on-air host, including the very popular Sunday morning show “Music and Miscellany”. Often the more mature females in the audience have asked me, with a glint in their eyes, what John is like.

John was the first newsman on County FM and took it upon himself to get that department formed, staffed, trained and on the air. Not so easy to do when you consider that it’s a volunteer non-profit community radio station. John is the man who coined the slogan “The Voice of the County.”

John lost Elaine, the love of his life, over 7 years ago, and credits getting the radio station going as something that really helped him through his loss.

John continues as a community champion volunteering with organizations like Community Care for Seniors, The Food Bank, the Loyalist Humane Society, the United Church, the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and little old County-FM. John Mather: a little guy with large talent and the heart of a giant.

Congrats John Mather, the legend, on being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share John’s positive story. — Jim ‘Jj’ Johnston, Facebook

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