$310.2 million spent on news (wink, wink)

So the broadcast regulator in Canada says (in a press release reprinted below) that private television stations spent $310.2 million on “news programs” in the 2001-2005 period.

Well, fancy that, eh?

But where did the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) get its information? Well, the Commission got the data from the stations.

But did the CRTC check – with its own hard-nosed accountants – whether the information was free of “errors?” Well . . . shucks . . . no.

But are there any downsides to . . . let’s say . . . the stations making “mistakes” in reporting the figures. Well  . . . hell no!

Formula for success in Canadian private broadcasting:

Make sincere promises to the CRTC to get a broadcast licence. Cry vast amounts of sincere tears when you’re asked why you were “prevented by circumstances beyond your control” from keeping your promises. Make more sincere promises to get licence renewed . . . and on . . . and on.

Tip: How to kill your career at The Globe and Mail

The GnM is owned in part by Bell (Telephone) Canada which also owns part of the CTV Television Network whose figures are included in the news budget quoted by the CRTC. I think it’s the biggest telephone company in the country.

Go and pitch the desk an idea for a series of stories looking into whether the CRTC does a proper job of regulating the broadcast and telephone industries. You’re the media reporter, eh? It’s your turf, eh? You want to touch on the telemarketing plague that haunts all our telephones.

See Backgrounder on telemarketing 'irritant.'

You’d be back at The (Regina) Leader-Post faster than you could say “owner chill in the boonies,” eh?

If, however, the Commission makes a ruling that goes against Bell (and you get subtle “signals”) then don’t dare lead your report with a reasonable explanation of the decision. The “must carry” lead will be how the big, bad CRTC is the enemy of everything and everybody. Don’t forget that the Harper Hate the Media gang also hate government and government regulation.

Tip: How to bolster your career at The Globe

Slip into your copy-desk headline or reporters’ story words that portray the enemies of your owner in a bad light. That was known, in the old days, as “editorializing” and sloppy journalism. The copy desk would ditch them as a matter of course. They are too obvious. But, today, does the GnM have a copy editing desk? It appears not. Brazen editorializing is “owner-chill OK.”

In the April 7, 2006, edition, the paper ran a story headlinedCRTC sets tough guidelines” (note tough) with the following lead paragraph:

Canada's biggest telephone companies must lose 25 per cent of their market share in the local phone sector before the federal regulator will loosen their regulatory chains” (note chains).

The words “tough” and “chains” are sloppy news reporting, sloppy editing and sloppy journalism.

Regulatory tough chains – oh, the torture and the pain of those tough chains, chains . . . chains. Imagine the Board of BCE in chains in a dungeon created by the CRTC.

Bigboss Editor Eddie G., a good boy, will be pleased as all the GnM bosses will be. Bell and BCE will note the authors’ names with, perhaps, a very quiet and subtle word of appreciation here and there. Yes . . . regulations are tough chains – except when they work in Bell’s favor. But that’s a whole other Globe and Mail “story” (wink, wink).


CRTC press release of March 28, 2006

OTTAWA-GATINEAU — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released its annual report with statistical and financial data on conventional Canadian private television stations for 2001-2005. Overall, these stations remain profitable, and posted increased revenues and profits over this period.

From 2004 to 2005, total revenue and profit before interest and taxes (PBIT) for private television stations rose by close to 4%, coming in at $2.2 billion and $242.2 million respectively in 2005. The national advertising revenues for these stations grew by nearly 5%, totalling $1.5 billion, while local time sales decreased by 1.1% to $362.9 million.

Overall, broadcasters’ operating expenses increased by 4.3% from 2004 to 2005, reaching $1.9 billion in 2005. Of that amount, $1.3 billion was invested in acquiring and producing programming, including $587 million for Canadian programs. This figure includes the $138.5 million that broadcasters paid to independent producers in order to acquire programming.

Private broadcasters’ spending on Canadian programs included $86.6 million for drama, $310.2 million for news programs, $59.4 million for other information programs, $83.1 million for general interest programming, and $29.2 million for musical and variety shows.

The report being released today was produced using the financial summaries of private Canadian television undertakings. It also provides data from the CBC’s financial summaries. It is the first in a series of reports on broadcasting that the CRTC publishes every year in order to inform interested parties of the current financial situation of this industry in Canada.