Image courtesy of CBC News
Image courtesy of CBC News

Media Beat: November 19, 2020

Scrooge is having a feast of a time this season

Judging by the chorus of claim sayers on Facebook yesterday, Wednesday was a black day at Bell Media with reports of cuts at radio stations in various markets across the country.

The pre-Christmas season is traditionally when big companies wield the axe. When one looks at the financials for companies in many sectors this year, the numbers more than not look weather-beaten. Whether it's in sports, live music, mainstreet retailing, or media–covid has been a battering ram pushing down pre-tax profits and earnings.

If one’s living in larger metropolitan cities, particularly Toronto, the rise in $1M+ homes and the sale/lease of luxury vehicles seems to have no end. Still, the one-percenters are just that, and a fast-growing number of wage earners are finding it difficult to face down the twin fact that personal debt and net income are trending into danger zones. Meantime, banks are bracing for a new wave of bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Media are hardly immune and, in fact, have been taking a relentless beating. Print advertising and readership have been in a nosedive for most of this century. Now radio and TV are being hit by the growing influence of digital platforms selling audiences for a fraction of the cost charged by legacy media outlets.

Covid has fast-forwarded a new system of slicing and dicing audiences. Media that are regulated are caught in a trap that has them footing content creation as Google, Netflix, Amazon Prime and a small number of other mega-media corporations gain a larger foothold on the Canadian market without any of the regulatory costs our own media are obligated to adhere to,

The imbalance can only worsen before it gets any better. The significant cut in ad revenue income earned by radio and TV will have a deleterious impact on royalty income for songwriters, composers, music publishers, performers, producers and record labels in the coming year. The domino effect is in play here.

Bell Media’s newest round of layoffs may seem unkind, but in the big picture, the fallout from the virus, and the growing share of market accrued from outside players, are undercutting once robust businesses and industries alike are game-changing. A new era and a new order will prevail, but the short to medium-term dislocations will painful and upend a lot of families and businesses and just plain ruin a lot of yuletide cheer. – David Farrell

Trump now tweeting false information about Canada’s ballot process

Trump’s latest tirade took aim at Dominion Voting Systems machines, which have been used for several U.S. presidential elections. Elections Canada has reacted with facts, and among them the DVS system is not used in Canada, despite innuendo suggesting otherwise by POTUS. - HuffPost

Apple is reducing the cut it takes from most news publishers’ subscriptions

Instead of taking 30% of new subscribers’ payments, it’ll take 15%. The money’s welcome, but it’s also a reminder of how little control publishers have over the terms they get from tech giants. – Joshua Benton, NiemanLab

Virus cases are spiking, but our attention isn’t

Over the last two weeks, news articles about the pandemic have generated 75 million interactions on social media (likes, comments, shares), according to NewsWhip Data. The last time it was that low over a two-week stretch was in early March. – Neil Rothschild & Sara Fischer, Axios

YouTube launches an audio ad format to capture background listeners

The new audio ad format is aimed at background music and podcast listeners. Another ad program enables advertisers to buy against pre-packaged groups of channels, such as those organized by Latin music, K-pop, hip-hop, mood and fitness. – Geoff Weiss, Tubefilter

Social media in the post-Trump era are fragmenting

A growing number of partisan platforms are sure to splinter audiences and enable more siloed conversations that will encourage more conspiracy-mongering and challenges going forward. – David Bloom, Tubefilter

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