August 8, 2014

TV News/Media Releases | Canadian Television News Roundup (August 7-8, 2014)

CRTC approves a restructuring of Channel Zero’s operations, as well as a licence amendment to Rewind (formerly Movieola), and three-year licence renewals to Rewind, Silver Screen Classics, and CHCH. The main issues were CRTC-unauthorized changes in Channel Zero’s overall ownership, and the non-compliance of Channel Zero-owned channels towards Canadian content and program log submission.

Under the new ownership structure, 1490525 Ontario Inc. and 2190015 Ontario Inc. are wholly owned by 2308740 Ontario Inc. Moviola: Short Film Channel Inc. is 85% owned by 2308740, with the rest owned by minority shareholders. 2308740 is controlled by C.J. Millar (39.3%), Romen Podzyhun (39.3%), and Chris Fuoco (21.4%). Harold Balde and Anthony D’Andrea, part-owners of Moviola Short Film, are effectively written out of Channel Zero’s ownership structure. The value of Balde and D’Andrea’s effective transfer of ownership to Millar, Podzyhun, and Fuoco is $1,210,607, of which $121,060 is payable in tangible benefits over a three-year period.

The Movieola channel rebranded to Rewind in December 2012, without first amending its CRTC licence – specifically, it was a short film station, acting like it was now MovieTime. Under the new licence, Rewind can devote up to ten percent of its schedule to independent short films. The other ninety percent of its programming must be at least ten years old (i.e., if Rewind wants to air a film made in 2005, it has to wait until 2015), and is considered “action and adventure programming”.

As for AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV Maleflixxx, and AOV XXX Action Clips, they are channels with less than 200,000 subscribers, and can be made exempt from CRTC’s licensing process due to a 2012 exemption order. The porn channels must still follow guidelines regarding Canadian content, closed captioning, and advertising. Presumably, the porn channels are still subject to 2308740 Ontario Inc.’s ownership structure; the porn channels’ licences expire August 31, 2014.

Of note, this is the first renewal for Channel Zero’s specialty licences since 2000. The licences were set to expire in 2007, and were kept active until 2014 through a number of administrative renewals. (August 8, 2014)


Although there isn’t currently a press release, at least part of Christian-based religious/family broadcaster Crossroads Television System (CTS) is currently sold to advertisers as yesTV. CTS’/yesTV’s current strategy is to pick up shows dropped by other program services and channelsAmerican Idol (from CTV), Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (from CHCH), America’s Funniest Home Videos and The Biggest Loser (from OMNI), and Judge Judy (from City). Other acquisitions include The X Factor UK, and Judge Judy spinoff Hot Bench.

There’s no indication of whether CTS rebrands wholesale to yesTV in fall 2014, or if this is a sub-brand for the secular shows in CTS’ lineup. A Google search for CTS’ Family Feud turns up this 2014 survey, asking questions about the nature of CTS’ programming. Presumably, yesTV is CTS’ attempt to be more competitive in the over-the-air markets it services (Hamilton/Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton). (August 8, 2014)


Pressure Cooker, a W Network series based on an original concept from Jamie Oliver’s Fresh One Productions, begins production August 15, 2014. Pressure Cooker is a cooking competition, based around how well contestants cook during time constraints, and with a limited number of food items. Walmart is the show’s lead broadcast/grocery sponsor, with ESKA Water as official water supplier.

Pressure Cooker debuts on W Network October 2014. The show’s producer is Bristow Global Media, in association with W Network. (August 7, 2014)


Highway Thru Hell, the Discovery series focusing on the daily operations of Jamie Davis Motor Truck’s heavy-vehicle rescue and recovery service, premieres its third season Tuesday, September 2, at 10:00 PM ET/PT. The third season of Highway Thru Hell sees Jamie Davis Motor Truck attempt to expand its business, servicing Highway 63 and 881 between Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray, Alberta (i.e., highways which service the Alberta oil sands industry). In addition, the company attempts to maintain its Hope, British Columbia-based Coquihalla operation, in the face of renewed competition and the worst snowfall/avalanche conditions in decades. (August 7, 2014)


A CTV News Northern Ontario piece on the filming of TVOntario drama Hard Rock Medical’s second season. Sean Grech reports. (August 8, 2014)


The Rogers Documentary and Cable Network Fund confirms equity investments to seventeen Canadian projects, totalling $5,264,406. (August 8, 2014)


Tackle My Reno debuts on HGTV Canada August 26, 2014 at 10:00 PM ET/PT, with back-to-back episodes. The show features ex-CFL player/current contractor Sebastian Clovis, as he helps homeowners struggling with do-it-yourself projects. (August 7, 2014)

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August 7, 2014

TV News | Fall 2014 premiere dates for City’s Canadian series

From an August 7, 2014 media release:

Package Deal: September 12, 9:00 PM ET (second season)
The Bachelor Canada: September 18, 8:00 PM ET (second season; two-hour season premiere)
Canadian Concert for Human Rights: September 20, 8:00 PM ET (special)
Hockey Night in Canada: October 11, game 7:00 ET to conclusion (sixty-first television season; first on City as part of NHL deal)
Hometown Hockey: October 12, pregame 6:30 PM ET; game 7:00 ET to conclusion (first season as part of NHL deal)

Meet the Family’s second season is unconfirmed at this time. It was previously mentioned at the 2014 Rogers Media upfront as schedule filler.

Mother Up! is confirmed by Rogers Media City/specialties publicist Stephanie Perron as not returning to City.

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TV News/Media Releases | Canadian Television News Roundup (August 6, 2014)

Bell Media and Shaftesbury formally announce The Listener’s end, after five seasons and sixty-five episodes. The Listener debuted in 2009 on CTV; it lasted eight episodes on NBC that summer. ION is the show’s current American program service; the show’s fifth season is produced by CTV, Shaftesbury, and Fox International Channels, with ION Television as co-producer.

The Listener has a solid Canadian audience, usually maintaining 900,000 to 1.1 million viewers in Canada, keeping the show in the BBM/Numeris Top 30. For the week of July 28 to August 3, 2014, The Listener earned 850,000 viewers, which is actually low given The Listener’s fifth-season viewing average.

It’s hard to say why CTV sent the press release twelve days from the end of the show’s run. Old City Hall and Smoke and Mirrors, two Shaftesbury shows in development with Bell Media, are mentioned. The way the press release also mentions the “epic story” of main character Toby Logan’s (Craig Olejnik) past coming to “a gratifying conclusion”, it reads like a definite wind-up of the show. Perhaps CTV wants a ratings boost for The Listener’s now-series finale. It’s just speculation on my part; I find the timing odd. (August 6, 2014)


Starlight: The Canadian Movie Channel was one of the hopeful new ventures in CRTC’s 2013 mandatory carriage hearings, yet failed in its bid to launch an all-Canadian film channel on basic-tier cable packages. Yesterday, it gained status as a Category B licence (PDF), and must launch by 2018.

Of note, interventions by Corus Entertainment and the CBC force Starlight to devote no more than twenty percent of its schedule to documentaries, and no more than ten percent of its schedule to animation. For the layperson, that means Starlight can’t be lazy and encroach on documentary’s turf. The animation limit is odd, on account of there not being a large backlog of Canadian animated films in the first place; at least Rock & Rule and (if/when it’s ever finished) Black Sunrise have a theoretical home on Canadian television. (August 6, 2014)


Werewolf drama Bitten casts Tammy Isbell, Tommie-Amber Pirie, and Kiara Glasco for its second season, as members of a witches’ coven. (August 6, 2014)


Preschool live-action series Hi Opie!, about a five-year-old boy navigating his way through kindergarten, airs September 1, 2014 on TVO Kids, City Saskatchewan, and Knowledge Network. TVO Kids airs “sneak peeks” August 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM and 12:00 noon ET, and August 29, 2014 at 7:00 AM ET. In addition, tvokids.com previews the show from August 18-22, 2014. The main character is a Muppet custom-built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. (August 6, 2014)


W Network lands a sponsorship with Elmer’s Glue, with promos showing “Bonding Moments” from He’s Just Not That Into You (misidentified as He’s Just Not Into You at one point), Definitely Maybe, The Notebook, and I Don’t Know How She Does It. For the marketers who might read this site, the Saturday night spots sell school glue. (August 6, 2014)

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August 5, 2014

TV News/Crowdfunding | TV, eh? relaunches on August 5, 2014

TV, eh?, the Canadian television website founded and maintained by Diane Wild, went on hiatus near the end of 2013. Today, it formally relaunched. I’m not part of TV, eh? this time (I hope that changes…eventually), but many people are – Wild, Greg David (formerly of the late, and lamented, TV Guide Canada), Anthony Marco, Eleni Armenakis, Kelly Lynne Ashton, Emily Gagne, and Samantha Sobolewski.

This go-round, Greg David is TV, eh?’s editor, while Diane Wild is its publisher. Anthony Marco was Wild’s foil for TV, eh?’s previous podcast, which ran 162 episodes; David, Wild, and Marco will figure in the new podcast.

TV, eh? currently runs an Indiegogo campaign, which can be clicked on below. So far, the campaign has reached over $17,000. The crowdfunding goal was initially $1500, yet the main goal is to be financially sustainable long-term. In the wake of TC Media’s sudden shutdown of TV Guide Canada, as Bell Media’s The Loop reboots itself as a Canadian version of BuzzFeed (LOL WIN WTF TRASHY), Canadian television needs at least one dedicated, independent commercial voice.

This is why TV, eh? is back – to figure out how to continue coverage of Canadian television online, and expand on what TV, eh? has already done. The Indiegogo campaign can be funded until August 24, 2014, at 11:59 PM PT/August 25, 2014, at 2:59 AM ET. The current stretch goal is $20,000. For the record, I’ve funded $25 so far.

Those who find TV, eh? useful are encouraged to support the site in its current incarnation. Greg David’s pitch video for TV, eh? is below.



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TV News/Media Releases | Canadian Television News Roundup (August 4-5, 2014)

Fairly big day today; it’s after the August civic holiday. There is television news beyond what I list here, but you might not be interested in a Justin Bieber documentary and Michael Bay-flavoured Transformers films streaming on CTV.ca and CTV GO. I’m just saying.


Bell Media announces its 2014-15 development slate for The Movie Network. Among the most interesting prospective shows (co-developments with Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central denoted with a red (MC)):

  • Noreen Halpern’s Halfire Entertainment has the most high-profile entry in Prons (possibly Pr0ns; the title’s only mentioned once), about a porn star returning to his childhood home in Brantford, Ontario. The head writers are Aaron Martin and Kevin Smith – yes, That Kevin Smith. Halfire previously assumed production on Spoilers’ second season, which Smith’s SModCo initiated. (MC)
  • Clive Barker is attached to Copperheart Entertainment’s Incarnate, as an executive producer and creative consultant. Other executive producers are Steven Hoban, Clark Peterson, Judith Reeves-Stevens, and Garfield Reeves-Stevens; the two Reeves-Stevens are also head writers. (MC)
  • Ted Bauman’s Bauman Entertainment has Gucci Wars, about the rise and fall of the House of Gucci. Angus Fraser is head writer. (MC)
  • Nicholas Tabarrok’s Darius Films has Iron Belly, set on a 19th-century prison ship. Jeremy Boxen and Jonathan Sobol are head writers; this is the only show co-developed with BBC America.
  • Ilana Frank’s ICF Films has an entry in Feral. Head writer is Sherry White, with Mad Men’s Semi Chellas as story editor. (MC)
  • Method, Letterkenny, Divorce Party, Uncommon Youth, and The Siege (formerly Siege of Kebec), which were previously announced as Bell Media development projects on the comedy and drama fronts. (August 5, 2014)

DHX Media’s Epitome Pictures, in association with marblemedia, begins filming on YTV’s Open Heart, starring Karis Cameron. The twelve-episode, half-hour series is the first Epitome Pictures show in the DHX Media era. Given that YTV is a Corus channel, and DHX Media officially entered the television arena last week, it’s odd to see Corus and DHX Media still working together. My guess is, Epitome previously developed this show for YTV, just as DHX Media sold the upcoming Inspector Gadget revival to Teletoon. (August 5, 2014)


The CRTC expedites Videotron’s CRTC application to convert Canal Indigo (d/b/a Indigo), a pay-per-view service, into a bilingual service. This comes in the wake of Bell Media’s shutdown of the Viewer’s Choice Canada pay-per-view service. The VCC shutdown comes into effect September 30, 2014. (August 4, 2014)


TSN’s James Duthie hosts The Amazing Race Canada special After the Race. The special airs on CTV and CTV GO Tuesday, August 12, 2014, at 10:00 PM ET/PT, after the midseason episode of The Amazing Race Canada. (August 5, 2014)


DRG, a London, United Kingdom-based distributor, picks up international distribution rights to Laurie Finstad-helmed CBC drama Strange Empire. Finstad is best known as creator of The Movie Network/Movie Central/HBO Canada drama Durham County. (August 5, 2014)

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Media Release | Four performers announced for 2014 CCMA Awards telecast

From an August 5, 2014 media release. I am not a fan of country music, but I like that the Canadian Country Music Association gets right to the point, as this is the entire release:

The Canadian Country Music Association® (CCMA®) announced today that Dean Brody, Tim Hicks and Dallas Smith, and special guests Little Big Town will perform on the 2014 CCMA Awards Show; broadcast on CBC-TV at 8:00 p.m. local time (8:30 NT) with an encore airing on CMT (Canada) at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 7. For more information, www.ccma.org.

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TV News/Article | Summer 2014 American network ratings for Canadian shows

On August 1, 2014, The Wrap listed then-current Nielsen viewing averages for the sixty-two American network shows airing new episodes during the summer 2014 season. Granted, multiple nights of CBS stalwart Big Brother and NBC stalwart America’s Got Talent count as separate shows, as do shows with multiple spinoffs (hi, multiple flavours of Dateline NBC and 20/20), and shows with multiple airings (NBC’s Undateable, CBS’ Bad Teacher).

Five Canadian shows compete for viewers in this summer silly season. The viewing averages for the five Canadian shows – if you want to be pedantic, four Canadian shows, and a co-production led by CBS Television Studios – are as follows:

12. Rookie Blue, ABC (6,665,000; original airing on Global)
49. Working the Engels, NBC (2,389,000; original airing on Global)
59. Beauty and the Beast, The CW (1,280,000; Canadian airing on Showcase)
61. Seed, The CW (497,000; original airing on City)
62. Backpackers, The CW (471,000; repackaged form of CTV Extend online series)

Rookie Blue is a durable workhorse for both Global and ABC. It’s the sixth-highest-rated scripted show on American network television this summer, and ABC’s highest-rated summer scripted show. There’s no news on Rookie Blue’s future beyond its current 22-episode order, as the order is split into two separate seasons.

With sixty-three episodes in the can, and eleven more to air in 2015, Rookie Blue can afford to go into reruns. ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee mentioned that ABC might want to wind Rookie Blue up. If ABC wants to end its association with Rookie Blue, it will be a financial and/or aesthetic decision; the ratings for the fifth season were great in Canada, and the most consistently high since Rookie Blue’s first season on Global. Airing episodes a month ahead of ABC worked in Global’s favour. Rookie Blue knows its audience, and retains that audience.

Working the Engels is in direct competition with Rookie Blue, Fox’s Gang Related, and Big Brother in America. As the worst-performing new show on NBC’s summer 2014 schedule, coupled with its anemic Global performance earlier this year, Working the Engels’ future is based on whether NBC and/or Shaw Media want to bite the financial bullet for a second season. Its lead-in, Welcome to Sweden, was recently renewed by NBC for a second season, so Working the Engels has a chance.

Beauty and the Beast has already been renewed by The CW for a third season; this is just a burnoff of new episodes after The CW pulled Beauty and the Beast off its schedule in March 2014. Given BatB’s soft ratings in its second season on The CW, it’s lucky to get a third. BatB is only listed here due to Take 5 Productions and Whizbang Films’ involvement with the show; with this and Reign, Take 5 and Whizbang have a respectable presence on The CW.

Seed and Backpackers were both mercy-killed by The CW after two low-rated episodes. Even though The CW is not an American program service on par with the Big Four (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox), Seed and Backpackers’ numbers would be mediocre performances on Canada’s Big Four (CBC, CTV, Global, City). Even CBC’s 18 to Life was given three weeks on The CW, and The CW aired two episodes of that sitcom per week.

Backpackers is a “digital series” (read: broadcast-ready webseries) that hasn’t aired on Canadian television in a half-hour form. It got to play on an American broadcast program service; that’s something “traditional” sitcoms like Mr. D and Spun Out can’t currently say. At the same time, Seed and Backpackers shat the bed ratings-wise. Even for acquisitions, Backpackers shedding 240,000 viewers in a week means Backpackers won’t get to the six shows meant for broadcast first-run.

Rogers Media’s involvement with Mr. D, coupled with the announcement of Bruce McCulloch’s Young Drunk Punk, means Seed might not make it to a third season. It’s up to Rogers Media to renew Seed for a third season, but after its disastrous run on The CW, I don’t think it will happen.

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August 2, 2014

TV News | Promo for SNL Quebec’s second season online

SNL Quebec is Saturday Night Live’s official French-Canadian offshoot. Its first season aired on Télé-Québec earlier in 2014, inasmuch as February 8 and March 22 airdates constitute a “first season.” Being a public provincial educational network, Télé-Québec doesn’t have the resources of Radio-Canada, TVA, or V. Suffice it to say, the trial balloons did their job.

The second season consists of seven episodes, and the season premiere is September 20, 2014. Castmembers are Virginie Fortin, Phil Roy, Léane Labrèche-Dor, Mathieu Quesnel, Katherine Levac, and Pier-Luc Funk. The promo video mentions Normand Brathwaite, Antoine Bertrand, Patrick Huard, Guy A. Lepage, Charles Lafortune, and Véronique Cloutier as hosts. This was confirmed in May 2014, although a seventh guest is still unconfirmed.

As a longtime Saturday Night Live enthusiast, I’d like to see how SNL Quebec matches up to the parent show (I don’t speak or read much French). Cult MTL (Feb. 8 review; Mar. 22 review) and Montreal freelance journalist Chris Hanna suggest SNL Quebec needs work, which isn’t surprising; Saturday Night Live is uneven at its core. Two episodes in, at least SNL Quebec has a future. I can’t say that about English-Canadian televised sketch comedy as a whole. Also, Katherine Levac is pointed at as SNL Quebec’s best castmember.

For the curious, episodes one and two of SNL Quebec are online at Télé-Québec’s website. Yes, SNL Quebec has its own version of “Schweddy Balls”. Even Bill C-36 can’t prevent thousands of Québecois from enjoying Schweddy Balls throughout the province.

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