Bell Media Inc.
Alexander Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3
After repeated pleadings from Alexander for a middle name, his father added the middle name Graham on Alexander's eleventh birthday. Thus was created the full name that was to become famous in history for the invention of the telephone. The last name would become even more famous as the Bell empire expanded.
Bell's patent 174,465, was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876, by the U.S. Patent Office. Bell's patent covered "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically ... by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound."
The Bell Telephone Company of Canada was incorporated by Federal Charter on April 29th.
Bell's Mechanical Department started manufacturing "telephone sets". The division would later become Northern Telecom, and eventually Nortel.
On May 1st, employees began moving into Bell's first company-owned building at 118 Notre-dame Street West in Montreal.
Alexander Graham Bell died of complications arising from diabetes on August 2. Upon the conclusion of Bell's funeral, "every phone on the continent of North America was silenced in honor of the man who had given to mankind the means for direct communication at a distance".
The first national radio broadcast network in Canada was set up for the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation on July 1st. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King acknowledged Bell's contribution to this historic event - its first involvement in broadcasting - by saying "Without the aid of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada, both in the matter of providing lines and in undertaking the engineering of the whole network, this broadcast would not have been possible."
On January 19th, Bell provided the first permanent telephone link between two countries to bring television programming from Buffalo, New York, to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto. On May 14th, viewers in Toronto (CBLT) and Montreal (CBFT) could view the same live programming simultaneously for the first time.
On June 18th, and with Bell's participation, a 6,400 kilometer national network of microwave links was opened to carry television signals, telephone conversations and teletype messages.
The Company became officially known as Bell Canada.
Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) became the parent company of Bell Canada, and all Bell Canada shareholders became shareholders of BCE.
Two satellite companies, ExpressVu and PowerDirecTv, were licensed by the CRTC, to compete with cable companies in the delivery of distant signals. BCE had a significant investment in ExpressVu.
By the time service began, the composition of the two major players had changed substantially. ExpressVu was purchased by the Bell Canada conglomerate and became Bell ExpressVu, majority owner of Telesat. On September 10th Bell launched the initial ExpressVu service, offering 55 digital channels in the east and 37 in the west, plus more than 30 CD-quality music channels.
On December 7th 2000, the CRTC approved the acquisition of CTV Inc by a numbered company wholly-owned by BCE Inc. BCE also purchased Teleglobe Inc. owners of the Globe and Mail, and restructured its businesses into four core operating units. Bell Canada distributed 94 percent of its stake in Nortel Networks to shareholders.
Bell Globemedia was created to house CTV Television Inc., the Globe and Mail newspaper and the Sympatico-Lycos Internet portal. BCE held 70.1% of the stock.
Having found that the desired synergies hadn't developed as had been hoped, Bell Globemedia sold the Sympatico-Lycos internet portal back to Bell Canada.
Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) announced its intention to sell an 8.5% interest in Globemedia to Woodbridge, the Toronto-based holding company of the Thomson family, increasing their total ownership to 40%. A further 40% would be sold off to two new shareholders: a 20% interest to Torstar, and a 20% interest to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. BCE would retain 20% of the group - a condition that ensured that Bell TV, Sympatico, and other Bell units continued to have access to Globemedia content.
On July 12 it was announced that Bell Globemedia would pay C$1.7 billion for CHUM Ltd., in a deal that would see the company become part of the BCE-owned media conglomerate, subject to CRTC approval. On August 31, the two companies announced that BGM had been successful in its offer to acquire approximately 6.7 million common shares and approximately 19.2 million non-voting Class B shares of CHUM. The shares were to be placed in the hands of an independent trustee pursuant to a voting trust agreement approved by the CRTC.
CHUM Limited's broadcasting activities included conventional television, specialty television services and radio. CHUM owned and operated 13 conventional television stations, one of which was a CBC-affiliated station. The other 12 stations were divided into 2 groups, the Citytv stations and the A-Channel stations. One of the Citytv stations was a transitional digital television station. CHUM also owned or had interests in 20 specialty television services, including Sex TV and Musique Plus, which were proposed for divestiture. It also owned ACCESS Alberta - The Educational Station, a station designated by the Province of Alberta as an educational broadcaster. Finally, CHUM owned 34 radio programming undertakings, including 14 AM stations and 20 FM stations. CHUM additionally had ownership interests in a number of media initiatives, including production facilities, and CHUM City International, which operated outside Canada.
On July 26th, the CRTC gave its approval to BCE's application to reduce its shareholding in Bell Globemedia, with the sell-off of shares to Woodbridge, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Torstar Corporation. On August 18th the Competition Bureau gave its approval to the deal, thereby allowing the transaction to close as filed. The deal closed on August 30, all regulatory requirements having been met.
On December 12th, it was announced that Bell Globemedia would henceforth be known as CTVglobemedia.
On June 8th, the CRTC approved the application by BCE's subsidiary CTVglobemedia Inc. to acquire effective control of CHUM Limited. The decision was however subject to a requirement that CTVglobemedia Inc. divest itself of of CHUM Limited's Citytv stations. These stations were CKVU-TV Vancouver; CKAL-TV Calgary; CKEM-TV Edmonton, CHMI-TV Portage La Prairie/Winnipeg; and CITY-TV and CITY-DT Toronto.
On Friday December 2nd, BCE announced that, subject to regulatory approval, it intended to buy full control of CTV Inc. The deal would involve 100% ownership in the Globe and Mail newspaper being transferred to the Thomson family's Woodbridge Company Ltd. BCE would now have full ownership of the CTV Network and its specialty television, digital media, conventional TV and radio broadcasting platforms.
On March 7th, BCE received CRTC approval of its application to acquire control of CTV Inc. In announcing its decision, the Commisssion said that it had concluded that the transaction would be "...beneficial to the Canadian broadcasting system by ensuring the long-term stability of a significant Canadian television network and advancing the Commission's objective of providing relevant high-quality Canadian programming to Canadians through conventional and new media distribution channels."
On April 1, BCE Inc. announced that it had completed its $3.2-billion acquisition of CTV, and launched Bell Media Inc, a new business unit encompassing CTV Inc. and other Bell broadcast assets, including all its radio and television stations and its speciality services. All CTV on-air programming and promotion was immediately given the Bell Media brand.
On July 27th, the CRTC announced that it was renewing the broadcasting licences for the various television services affiliated with the Bell Media Inc. broadcasting ownership group from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2016.
In announcing this decision, the Commission said that it was implementing its new group-based licensing policy for large private English-language ownership groups. This policy was developed to prepare both the broadcasting industry and the Commission for the new reality of large, integrated broadcasting ownership groups. Under this policy, the Commission would reduce its focus on Canadian exhibition and concentrate to a greater extent on ensuring stable funding to Canadian production through programming expenditure requirements, particularly in regard to programming that continued to be under-represented in the Canadian broadcasting system. In addition, the Commission said it had also introduced a much greater level of flexibility in the manner in which television services made and accounted for Canadian programming expenditures.
On September 9th, Bell Media and the CBC announced that they had agreed to form a partnership to bid for the media rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, and to the Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016. Earlier, Rogers Broadcasting had announced that it would not be partnering with Bell Media to bid on these events.
On March 16th, BCE announced that, subject to CRTC and Competitions Bureau approval, it had agreed to acquire Astral Media for a price of 3.38 billion dollars.
Astral operated 22 television services that included The Movie Network and HBO Canada, and top specialty brands such as Canal Vie, MusiquePlus, Teletoon, Family and Disney Junior. It also operated 84 radio stations in 50 markets, including NRJ, Virgin Radio, Rouge fm, EZ Rock and boom, as well as more than 100 websites and digital media properties.
Effective April 23rd, Bell Media Inc added a bilingual name, Bell Média Inc.
On May 25th, Astral Media Inc. announced that the Québec Superior Court had approved the previously announced acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of Astral by BCE Inc. pursuant to a plan of arrangement under section 192 of the Canada Business Corporations Act. The Québec Superior Court declared that the arrangement was fair to shareholders of Astral.
It was hoped that the arrangement would be completed in the second half of 2012, subject to required regulatory approvals.
On July 10th, the CRTC announced that it would hold a hearing commencing on 10 September 2012 at 9:00 a.m. at the Palais de congrès de Montréal, 1001 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montréal, Quebec, to consider the BCE Inc application for authority to change the effective control of Astral's broadcasting undertakings so that it was exercised by BCE Inc.
Early in August 2012, BCE Inc. competitors Cogeco Inc, Eastview and Quebecor Inc. took out full page ads in Canadian newspapers to publish an Open Letter asking the public to "Say No To Bell".
These three companies said they believed that the deal should be stopped, "because it will be bad for consumers and bad for Canada".
On October 18th, the industry was very surprised when the CRTC announced that it was denying the application by BCE Inc. on behalf of Astral Media inc. for authority to change the effective control of Astral's broadcasting undertakings. The Commission said it was "...not convinced that the transaction would provide significant and unequivocal benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system and to Canadians sufficient to outweigh the concerns related to competition, ownership concentration in television and radio, vertical integration and the exercise of market power."
On October 22nd, BCE Inc. responded to the CRTC decision by announcing that it had submitted a request that the Federal Cabinet issue a policy direction, under Section 7 of the Broadcasting Act, that would direct the CRTC to follow its existing policies when reviewing change of control transactions in broadcasting.
"In rejecting the Astral transaction the CRTC rejected its own established policies, creating serious regulatory uncertainty in Canada's vital broadcasting sector," said Mirko Bibic, Bell's Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer. "We're requesting that Cabinet provide the required guidance to the CRTC to follow its own rules in place, with which the Astral-Bell transaction fully complied."
In a press release, BCE said that Astral joining Bell would have brought a range of benefits to Canadian consumers and content creators, including more than $240 million in new funding for English and French language programming, the protection of local TV stations in small communities, the launch of a national French-language news service based in Québec, and an innovative new service to compete with U.S. Internet broadcasters.
In its application, Bell asked Cabinet to direct the CRTC to adhere to policies governing the evaluation of broadcasting acquisitions, including the Diversity of Voices decision, the Vertical Integration framework, the common ownership policy for radio, and the benefits policy.
"When it announced its Astral-Bell hearings on July 10", said BCE, "the CRTC said it would follow the Diversity of Voices policy, issued by the commission in 2008 to guide the evaluation of broadcasting acquisitions. Instead, the commission ignored its own rules, creating new criteria and metrics not included in any of its existing policies and never used before. The commission set no standards for these new criteria and established them without offering any stakeholder the opportunity to comment.
"As the CRTC itself stated in determining the Diversity of Voices policy", continued BCE, "the need for specific ownership limits is the central issue of the proceeding because there are 'benefits of rules or guidelines that provide the greatest possible clarity for future transactions.' Indeed the lack of such clarity and consistency in the case of the CRTC's Astral decision has injected much uncertainty into Canada's broadcasting, capital and investment sectors."
BCE pointed out that Diversity of Voices had directed that the CRTC would "process expeditiously transactions that would result in the control of less than 35% of the total television audience share." Properly calculated, claimed BCE, the Astral-Bell transaction would result in a total English-language TV market share of 33.5%, on par with competitors Corus/Shaw, and just 24.4% in French-language TV - significantly lower than Québecor, Bell's primary cable-broadcast rival in Québec.
"Despite the Diversity of Voices policy directing the CRTC to include all TV services licensed or authorized for distribution in Canada in its calculations", continued BCE, "the CRTC inexplicably ignored the significant viewership of popular American channels such as CNN, A&E, TLC, CNBC, Fox News, US superstations and others. The more than 200 cross-border channels available in Canada obviously compete directly for Canadian viewers, holding a share greater than 13% in the English-language TV market.
"A policy direction is also needed to remove any perception of bias created by several meetings between senior CRTC officials and cable companies opposed to the Bell-Astral transaction in the days before and after public hearings into the transaction. Bell was denied the opportunity for such meetings."
On October 31st, the CRTC announced the renewal of the broadcasting licence for the Bell TV direct-to-home satellite broadcasting distribution undertaking from November 1st 2012 to August 31st 2019.
On November 19th, Astral Media Inc. and BCE Inc. announced that they had amended their Arrangement Agreement and submitted a new proposal to the CRTC for approval of Bell's acquisition of Montréal-based Astral. Bell also announced that it had formally withdrawn its request to the federal Cabinet for a policy direction to the CRTC.
"We heard Canadians and the CRTC loud and clear - they want assurance that Astral joining with Bell Media will directly benefit consumers and creators. We're ready to deliver more choice for listeners and viewers, more opportunity for content creators, and more competition for the broadcasting industry," said George Cope, Bell's President and CEO. "Bell and Astral are happy to move forward with a new proposal that benefits all Canadians, in both official languages, in communities large and small across the nation, with new ideas, new funding and new choices."
As a result of the amendments made to the terms of the original Arrangement Agreement between Astral and Bell, the outside date for the closing of the transaction was extended to June 1, 2013, with each of Astral and Bell having a further right to postpone it to July 31, 2013.
On March 4th, BCE Inc. (Bell) received Competition Bureau clearance for a revised transaction proposal that would join Astral Media with Bell Media. The transaction also required approval by the CRTC.
Bell said that the Competition Bureau's announcement was the result of an agreement under which Bell would sell a number of Astral TV services. Bell Media would retain 8 Astral TV services: the French-language SuperÉcran, CinéPop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Z Télé, and English-language services The Movie Network, which included HBO Canada, and TMN Encore.
"This positive news from the Competition Bureau is a major step forward in uniting Astral and Bell Media and delivering on our promise to grow investment and competition in Canadian broadcasting," said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "This decision preserves the tremendous value the transaction represents to consumers, the Canadian media community, and Astral and Bell shareholders."
On the same day, March 4th, Corus Entertainment Inc. announced that it had entered into a number of agreements with Bell and separately with Shaw Media, and subject to CRTC approval (see below), which would "...extend Corus' portfolio of radio assets into Ottawa, consolidate Corus' ownership of ABC Spark and Teletoon, and enable Corus to become a significant media contributor in the Québec and the French-language specialty television market".
Corus said it had reached an agreement with Bell to acquire the 50% remaining ownership interest in Teletoon and two Ottawa-based radio stations, CKQB-FM (The Bear 106.9) and CJOT-FM (boom 99.7), that Bell would acquire as part of the acquisition of Astral Media Inc (for which a new proposal was awaiting the approval of the CRTC, the original having been denied) . With these acquisitions, Teletoon, Télétoon (French), Teletoon Retro, Télétoon Rétro (French), Cartoon Network (Canada) and radio stations, CKQB-FM and CJOT-FM, would be wholly owned by Corus. In addition, Corus had reached an agreement with Bell and Shaw Media to acquire each of their respective 50% interests in the French-language specialty channels Historia and Séries+. Certain transactions were subject to approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
In a separate transaction, Corus announced that it had entered into an agreement with Shaw Media that would result in Corus acquiring the remaining 49% interest in the successful specialty television service ABC Spark from Shaw Media. As part of the agreement, Corus would sell its 20% interest in Food Network Canada to Shaw Media.
On March 6th, the CRTC announced that on May 6th the Commission would hold a hearing to consider renewed applications by Astral Media and Bell Media for authority to change the effective control of Astral's broadcasting undertakings to BCE Inc.
Subject to Commission approval, the closing of the proposed transaction would be preceded by multi-step corporate reorganizations within both BCE and Astral for tax planning purposes and to facilitate the closing and the divestiture of certain assets.
To that end, the Commission would also hear applications by Astral on behalf of BCE to effect a multi-step corporate reorganization involving the transfer of assets of certain broadcasting undertakings to new entities to be established and controlled by BCE.
Finally, the Commission would hear an application by Astral to effect a corporate reorganization within Astral involving the transfer of the assets of certain of its broadcasting undertakings to new entities to be established and controlled by Astral.
As part of its application, Astral submitted that in order to ensure compliance with the Commission's policies and address any concerns regarding market concentration, BCE would divest itself of 11 television undertakings: six in the French-language (Teletoon Rétro, Disney Junior, MusiquePlus, MusiMax, Historia and Séries+), four in the English-language (Teletoon Retro, Cartoon Network, Disney XD and Family Channel, including the related Disney Junior multiplex), and one in both languages (Teletoon).
On May 6th the CRTC began what would be a week-long hearing of BCE's revised application to acquire Astral. There having been no decision announced by June 1st, it was announced that by mutual agreement the term for the deal to be closed had been extended to July 31st.
On May 16th, the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group announced that it had committed to the acquisition of broadcast properties, two from Bell Media and one from Astralsubject to CRTC approval.
They had made a deal with Bell Media to acquire Kool FM 101.5, CKCE-FM Calgary and FAB 94.3 ,CHIQ-FM Winnipeg and with Astral to acquire QX 104, CFQX-FM Winnipeg/Selkirk.
At the time, the CRTC's decision was awaited regarding the BCE application to acquire Astral, and it was anticipated that, if approved, BCE would be required to divest itself of several properties, including these three stations.
On June 27, 2013, the CRTC approved the application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc, subject to certain conditions. It also approved the applications by Astral on behalf of BCE for multi-step reorganizations to give effect to the main application if approved.
It was a condition of the approval that BCE must divest itself of ownership of several television and radio programming undertakings. Pending eventual sale, the Commission directed BCE Inc. to transfer the interim management and control of those entities to a trustee pursuant to the terms of the voting trust agreement addressed in a letter of approval issued 27 June 2013, by no later than 29 July 2013.
The programming undertakings required to be sold were CHHR-FM Vancouver, CKZZ-FM Vancouver, CISL Vancouver, CFQX-FM Selkirk, CHBM-FM Toronto, CKQB-FM Ottawa-Gatineau and CJOT-FM Ottawa-Gatineau, CKCE-FM Calgary, CHIQ-FM Winnipeg and CFXJ-FM Toronto.
The specialty services required to be sold were:
The Family Channel
A further condition of the approval being granted was that BCE would be obliged to keep the current 30 CTV network television stations in operation until at least 2017.
On August 26th 2013, Bell Media and Newcap Inc announced that they had entered into an agreement whereby Newcap would acquire from Bell Media Inc. the licences of five radio stations of which BCE had been required to divest itself as part of the CRTC approval for BCE to acquire Astral.
The stations involved were CHBM-FM (Boom 97.3) and CFXJ-FM (93.5 Flow) in Toronto, Ontario and CKZZ-FM (Virgin Radio 95.3), CHHR-FM (Shore 104.3 FM), and CISL-AM (AM 650) in Vancouver, British Columbia. The transaction was subject to approval from the CRTC and the Competition Bureau
On August 28th the CRTC announced that it would hold a hearing on November 5th 2013, at which the applications that Corus had announced on March 4th, to acquire various properties from Shaw Media and Bell Media, would be heard.
On November 28, the divestitures demanded by the CRTC moved forward with the announcement by DHX Media that it would acquire the Family Channel, Disney Junior, Disney Junior (French), and Disney XD, subject to CRTC approval. This acquisition would signal DHX's first move into television broadcasting.
On December 4, 2013, Remstar, owners of the French television system V, announced that it had agreed terms to acquire MusiquePlus and MusiMax, subject to CRTC approval.
On December 18th 2013, the CRTC announced that it had received applications from Newcap Inc. on behalf of the wholly owned licensed subsidiaries of Bell Media Inc. listed below (collectively referred to in this notice as "the Bell subsidiaries"), for authority to change their respective ownership and control to Newcap.
The Bell subsidiaries were:
- 8504580 Canada Inc., licensee of CHBM-FM (Boom 97.3) Toronto;
- 8384827 Canada Inc., licensee of CFXJ-FM (The Flow) Toronto;
- 8384860 Canada Inc., licensee of CHHR-FM (Shore 104) Vancouver;
- 8384878 Canada Inc., licensee of CKZZ-FM (Virgin Radio 95.3) Vancouver; and
- 8384886 Canada Inc., licensee of CISL (AM 650) Vancouver.
The proposed transactions would be effected through the transfer of all of the shares in the share capital of the Bell subsidiaries to Newcap.
The proposed transactions followed the CRTC decision in which the Commission directed BCE Inc. to divest itself of the above-noted services in return for being allowed to acquire Astral Media Inc.
The CRTC set a deadline of February 10th 2014 for comments or interventions.
On December 20th 2013 the CRTC approved, subject to certain modifications and conditions, the application by 8324441 Canada Inc. (8324441 Canada), on behalf of TELETOON Canada Inc. (TELETOON Canada), for authority to effect a change of TELETOON Canada's ownership to 8324441 Canada so that control of the undertakings would be exercised by Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus).
On the same day, the CRTC approved, subject to certain modifications and conditions, three applications by Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus), on its behalf and on behalf of 8504644 Canada Inc. and 8504652 Canada Inc., for authority to acquire from Shaw Media Inc. and 8504610 Canada Inc., partners in a general partnership carrying on business as Historia & Séries+ s.e.n.c., the assets of the French-language specialty Category A services Historia and Séries+ and to change the effective control so that it would be exercised by Corus.
Also on December 20th the Commission approved, without a hearing, the Jim Pattison Group's applications to purchase CFQX-FM and CHIQ-FM Winnipeg and CKCE-FM Calgary from Bell Media.
On January 24th 2014, the CRTC approved, subject to certain conditions, applications by 8324433 Canada Inc. (8324433 Canada), a Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus) subsidiary, on behalf of 8504598 Canada Inc., licensee of the English-language commercial radio station CKQB-FM Ottawa, Ontario, and its transmitter CKQB-FM-1 Pembroke, and 8384851 Canada Inc., licensee of the English-language commercial radio station CJOT-FM Ottawa, for authority to effect a change in their ownership to 8324433 Canada so that control of the stations was exercised by Corus.
On March 19th, the CRTC announced the approval of applications by Newcap Inc. on behalf of various licensed subsidiaries of Bell Media Inc. for authority to change their ownership and control to Newcap.
The stations involved were:
- CHBM-FM Toronto;
- CFXJ-FM Toronto;
- CHHR-FM Vancouver;
- CKZZ-FM Vancouver; and
- CISL-AM Vancouver.
The transactions would be effected through the transfer of all of the share capital of the Bell subsidiaries to Newcap.
On July 24th, the CRTC approved an application by DHX Media Ltd. to acquire all shares in 8504601 Canada. 8504601 was the licensee of: Disney Junior, Disney Junior (English), Disney XD, and Family Channel.
On September 11th, the CRTC approved an application filed by Groupe V Média inc. (Groupe V, a subsidiary of the Remstar Group), on behalf of MusiquePlus inc., for authority to change the ownership and effective control of MusiquePlus inc. to Groupe V. MusiquePlus inc. was the licensee of the French-language specialty Category A services MusiquePlus and MusiMax. They were the last two services of which BCE Inc. was required to divest itself as part of the BCE-Astral transaction.
After a series of CRTC hearings under the umbrella title "Let's Talk TV", the Commission on January 29th 2015 reaffirmed its support for the continued implementation of simultaneous substitution of US programs when the same program was being broadcast by a Canadian rights-holder. In announcing this, the Commission again underlined the importance of U.S. programs in private Canadian broadcasters' program schedules.
However, in a controversial decision the CRTC announced that, commencing in 2017, simultaneous substitution would not be allowed for the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl. Bell Media, owners of the rights, announced their intention to appeal this decision. Leave to appeal was granted, and a hearing was scheduled for June 2016.
In March, it was reported that annoyance over a CRTC decision to require Bell and other TV satellite and cable distributors to offer pick-and-pay options had prompted Bell Media President Kevin Crull to attempt to influence the content of CTV's news programming.
On April 9th, 2015 BCE Inc. announced that Kevin Crull would depart from the Presidency of Bell Media effective on that date.
"Kevin Crull departs Bell with our thanks for his contributions to our customers and shareholders," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE Inc. "Kevin has been a significant part of Bell's strategic transformation as he expanded Bell Media's leadership with major new investments in Canadian content, the successful integration of Astral and competitive innovations like CraveTV. However, the independence of Bell Media's news operations is of paramount importance to our company and to all Canadians. There can be no doubt that Bell will always uphold the journalistic standards that have made CTV the most trusted brand in Canadian news," said Mr. Cope.
On August 24th, Division President Mary Ann Turcke announced that four senior executives, Phil King, Adam Ashton, Charles Benoit and Chris Gordon were no longer with the company. Phil King was head of CTV Sports and Entertainment programming, Chris Gordon was president of Bell Media Radio and local TV, Charles Benoit was president of television and radio, Quebec, and Adam Ashton was senior vice president of TV and business operations. With the announced changes, three executives who formerly reported to Phil King would now report directly to Mary Ann Turcke: Mike Cosentino, Head of CTV programming at CTV plus online streaming service CraveTV, Tracey Pearce,Head of specialty and pay TV networks, and Stewart Johnson, President of TSN.
In addition, it was announced that Randy Lennox, former President and CEO of Universal Music, would join BellMedia as President, Entertainment Production and Broadcasting, with responsibility for overseeing all of Bell Media’s English independent and in-house productions for conventional, specialty, and pay television. He would also oversee all English and French radio and local television broadcasting assets.
In November, in the latest round of job cuts at Bell Media, a number of long-time employees were let go at stations in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.
On January 16th, Bell Media and iHeartMedia, a leading media company in America, announced an exclusive new partnership that would bring the iHeartRadio brand to Canada in 2016. The iHeartRadio digital service in Canada would showcase content from Bell Media, Canada’s largest radio broadcaster with 106 licensed radio stations in 54 markets across the country.
Since its launch in 2011 in the U.S. at the inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival, iHeartRadio had grown to be a leading digital service in the United States and had achieved 80 percent brand awareness. Upon launch, iHeartRadio in Canada would provide instant access to the live radio feature offering listeners throughout Canada all of Bell Media’s broadcast and digital-only radio stations across mobile, auto dashes, tablets and smartphones, gaming consoles, wearables, and more. The partnership would also bring iHeartRadio-branded events to Canada.
“We are partnering with the fast-rising iHeartRadio brand to develop its incredible presence in Canada through our leading platforms,” said Randy Lennox, President, Entertainment Production and Broadcasting, Bell Media. “We will deliver a digital service that will serve our listeners across the country, providing them with great music, news and sports, as well as relevant and customized content from Bell Media radio and television assets, while providing dynamic and measurable advertising opportunities to our clients.”
“Joining with Bell Media to extend the iHeartRadio brand with Canadians is an exciting moment for us,” said Darren Davis, President of iHeartRadio. “This partnership allows us to connect with even more music fans and radio listeners and we know Canadians will enjoy the service as much as our listeners in the U.S.”
In the U.S., iHeartRadio, an all-in-one streaming music and live digital radio service, delivered listeners instant access to thousands of live radio stations, plus user-created Custom Stations inspired by a favourite artist or song, thousands of curated digital stations “Perfect For” any mood or activity, and more. iHeartRadio had more than 700 million downloads of the app and nearly 80 million social media followers and 90 million digital uniques across the iHeartRadio Network. In addition, iHeartRadio had surpassed 75 million registered users and continued to deliver record-setting growth.
iHeartRadio was currently available across the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, with Canada to follow later this year.
On February 19, Bell Media received CRTC approval to have CFTK-TV Terrace (and CFTK-TV-1 Prince Rupert) and CJDC-TV Dawson Creek (and CJDC-TV-2 Bullhead Mountain) disaffiliate from the CBC-TV network. The stations would pick up programming from the CTV Two network.
In the spring, CKMF Montréal changed format from Modern AC to CHR, keeping the Energie 94.3 name.
On June 22nd, Bell Media's appeal against the ban on simultaneous substitution of Super Bowl coverage effective 2017 was heard. A decision was promised before the end of the year.
In July, CFCA Kitchener rebranded from Hot AC (Kool FM) to CHR (Virgin Radio) and CJCH Halifax rebranded from The Bounce to Virgin Radio. The format remained CHR.
On August 2nd, Bell Media President Mary Ann Turcke announced several changes in the leadership of Bell Media's senior management's roles. . Randy Lennox became President, Broadcasting and Content; Tracey Pearce becamew President, Distribution and Pay; and Mike Cosentino became Senior Vice-President, CTV and Specialty, all effective Monday, August 8. It was also announced that Domenic Vivolo, President, Content Sales, Marketing and Digital Products, was stepping down to pursue new opportunities.
As a result of the changes, Randy Lennox’s portfolio would expand to integrate Bell Media’s English-language programming and production teams with a singular focus on content.
In her new role, Pearce would lead the team that distributed, licenses, and markets all Bell Media conventional networks, specialty and pay channels, non-linear content, and TV Everywhere services to the company’s BDU partners on traditional and digital platforms. Pearce would also assume responsibility for CraveTV and the pay TV multiplex The Movie Network, including HBO Canada. Reporting to Turcke, Pearce would maintain her executive role supporting Bell Media's English-language factual specialty channels, including Discovery.
Mike Cosentino’s responsibilities were expanded to include Bell Media’s English-language entertainment specialty channels, along with conventional networks CTV and CTV Two, as well as the company’s English-language entertainment specialty channel portfolio, including leading brands Space, Bravo, The Comedy Network, E!, Much, MTV, and Gusto. Reporting to Lennox, Cosentino and his teams would also provide ongoing programming, acquisition and scheduling expertise for CraveTV and The Movie Network.
London’s CKSL 1410 (Funny 1410) left the air forever at midnight, August 14. This followed the CRTC’s approval on July 29 of Bell’s application to revoke the station’s licence. Bell said it simply could not justify the more than $3 Million in needed technical and structural transmission site upgrades just to keep CKSL on the air and in compliance with regulations.
On October 7, Bell Media Radio began using the iHeartRadio service for all of its stations.
In May, the CRTC approved an increase in ERP for CJMM-FM-1 La Sarre from 2,200 to 6,000 watts.
By Decision 2017-149 dated May 15th, the CRTC renewed the broadcasting licences for the various English-language television stations and services that would form the Bell Media Group in the ensuing licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022.
In addition, the Commission renewed the broadcasting licences for various television services that were not included in the Bell Media Group in the next licence term, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022.
For Bell TV On Demand (terrestrial pay-per-view service) and Bell TV On Demand (direct-to-home pay-per-view service), the Commission revoked the then-current broadcasting licences, effective 31 August 2017. New broadcasting licences would be issued for the services, which would take effect 1 September 2017 and expire 31 August 2022.
By Decision 2017-144 of the same date,t he Commission renewed the broadcasting licences for the television services that would form Bell’s French-language Group for the ensuing licence term, namely Canal D, Canal Vie, Cinépop, Investigation, RDS Info, Super Écran, Vrak and Z, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022.
In addition, the Commission renewed the broadcasting licence for RDS, which would not be part of the group, from 1 September 2017 to 31 August 20 2022.
On August 1st, with there still having been no decision handed down by the Federal Court of Appeal on BCE Inc's appeal against the CRTC's Order prohibiting simultaneous substitution of the CTV Superbowl coverage, BCE filed a new application with the CRTC, asking it to overturn its January 2015 Order rescinding Superbowl simulcast rights.
In a surprise move, on August 14, the Governor in Council, on the advice of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, with support of Cabinet, referred back for reconsideration and hearing the Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2017-143 to 2017-147 (renewing licenses for television services of major French-language ownership groups) and CRTC 2017-148 to 2017-151 (renewing licenses for television services of major English-language ownership groups) of May 15, 2017.
“Canadian broadcasters and creators are at the centre of the broadcasting system, and at a time when our competitive advantage rests on creativity, they must be positioned to succeed.
The Government of Canada recognizes the significant investments Canadian broadcasters make in Canadian content. At the same time, the entire industry is in transition and the next few years will be critical to establishing the conditions for Canadians to be able to compete with the best in the world.
During this period of transition across the industry, original Canadian content and a dynamic creative sector are vital to the sector’s competitiveness, and its contribution to the Canadian economy. We are asking the CRTC to reconsider these decisions in order to ensure that we achieve the right balance of investment in content and in the ability to compete. In referring back these decisions, the Government wishes to affirm its support for great Canadian dramas, comedies, animation, films, documentaries — and other programs of national interest — that reflect our country and its diversity. It also recognizes the importance of original French-language content and support for the creators of music programming, short films and short-form documentaries. As we look to the future of Canadian content, we must be bold. That’s why, this fall, I will present a vision that supports our cultural industries through this transformation and will bring us in line with the changing digital environment.”
In an interview, Madame Joly said that the Government had received 89 petitions asking that the CRTC decision, which was felt by many of those petitioning to have the potential for a negative effect on the amount of money to be spent by the licensees on Canadian programming, be referred back for further consideration.
On November 20th, Bell Media confirmed a Unifor union report that around 50 cuts were being made in employees at Bell radio and television stations across the country, including on-air personalities. In confirming the reported cuts, though without naming names, a Bell media spokesman said: " Like other Canadian broadcasters, we are confronting rapid change in the media marketplace, including new broadcast technologies and viewing options and fast-growing international competition. As the media marketplace evolves, local radio and TV stations are facing significant declines in advertising, their only source of revenue. We need to reorganise and reduce costs to manage the impact."
On December 19th, Bell Media announced that the Federal Court of Appeal had dismissed Bell Canada and the NFL's appeal over the regulatory decision to ban substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the Super Bowl. Justice David G. Near wrote in a judgement delivered the previous day that there was a certain irony that legislation with an objective to protect the Canadian broadcasting industry is being used to allow for the broadcasting of American ads during the Super Bowl to the apparent detriment of the industry. However, he said, it's up to the CRTC to decide how best to balance competing policy objectives.
Bell Media spokesman Scott Henderson said that the company hoped the regulator would take a close look at the clear impact of its decision on Canadian broadcasting and all those who worked in the industry.
In January, Bell Media asked for leave to appeal the federal court ruling that upheld the CRTC policy in respect of disallowing simultaneous substitution for the Super Bowl, and for a stay of the regulator's decision, but on Friday January 26th the Supreme Court declined to take immediate action that would have allowed simultaneous substitution for the 2018 Super Bowl on February 4th. The Court however undertook to expedite the hearing of Bell Media's leave to appeal, although it appeared unlikely that there would be any action in time to permit CTV to substitute its own commercials in the February 4th broadcast. This proved to be the case.
On February 14th, the CRTC approved an application by Bell Media to acquire English-language commercial radio stations CICZ-FM Midland, CICX-FM Orillia, CJOS-FM Owen Sound and CICS-FM Sudbury, from Larche Communications for $15.64 million. The commission granted full licence terms to the stations through Aug. 20th.
In February, 100.9 Big Dog CKTO-FM Truro changed format from a mix of Classic Rock, Hot AC and CHR to a full rock sound.
In February, CHVR changed its branding from Star 96 to the New Star 96.7.
Bell Media formed a partnership with Bloomberg L.P. in the U.S. On April 30, specialty channel BNN was rebranded as BNN Bloomberg, and Vancouver radio station CFTE became BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410. It had been known as TSN Radio 1410. The new format featured a simulcast of BNN Bloomberg’s linear television broadcast and in-depth, live, long-form, specialty programming.
On May 10th, the Supreme Court of Canada announced that Bell Media and NBC's application for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal dated December 18, 2017, in respect of Simultaneous Substitution of commercials in the Super Bowl, had been granted with costs. The hearing of the appeal would not be expedited, but the Court statement said that it was of the view that these appeals would provide an opportunity to consider the nature and scope of judicial review of administrative action, as addressed in Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick,  1 S.C.R. 190, 2008 SCC 9, and subsequent cases. To that end, the appellants and respondent were invited to devote a substantial part of their written and oral submissions on the appeal to the question of standard of review, and that they would be allowed to file and serve a factum on appeal of at most 45 pages.
In June, the following Bell Quebec FM stations changed format from Adult Contemporary to Contemporary Hits but retained their "Rouge" branding: CFVM Amqui, CHRD Drummondville, CIMF Gatineau, CITE Montreal, CITF Quebec, CJOI Rimouski, CFIX Saguenay, CITE-1 Sherbrooke and CHEY Trois Rivieres. CFEI St. Hyacinthe and CFZZ St. Jean Sur Richelieu changed from Classic Hits to Adult Contemporary while retaining their "Boom" branding.
In August, CKKW-FM Kitchener had its application to increase power and raise antenna height turned down by the CRTC. The commission felt that Bell did not demonstrate a compelling technical need for the change.
On August 30 the CRTC announced that it had responded to the government’s Order-in-Council to reconsider its decisions regarding large television groups by imposing conditions of licence on them to ensure the continued support of the Canadian creative sector. The government asked the CRTC to re-examine original Canadian French-language programs, programs of national interest in the English-language market and short-form programming, including music. These changes were made to preserve the viability, stability and competitiveness of the creative sector and the Canadian television market.
For the French-language market, the CRTC now required each group to make significant investments in the creation of French-language programs, representing 75% of its Canadian programming expenditures for original French-language programs starting in 2019-2020. The percentage in 2018-2019 would be 50%, which would enable the groups to adjust to the new requirements and ensure sufficient support for the production of original French-language content for the French-language market.
The CRTC also increased expenditure requirements for programs of national interest in the English-language market. The percentage would now be based on historical expenditures, to ensure sufficient investment in the production of these programs and financial contributions according to each group’s financial resources. Therefore, the requirements were increased from 5% to 7.5% of previous years’ revenues for Bell, and from 5% to 8.5% for Corus, while requirements for Rogers remained at 5%. The CRTC believed that this approach would ensure that the Canadian production sector continued to play an essential role in the Canadian economy and offer high-quality content to viewers in Canada and abroad.
The CRTC determined that the groups in both language markets would be required to allocate an average of $5.5 million per year to support the production of musical programs (FACTOR and MUSICACTION). These expenditures would be imposed from 2019 to 2022, and would ensure regulatory uniformity among the groups.
On October 1st 2018, as part of the newly negotiated USA-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after thirteen months of hard negotiations between the three countries, Annex-15 in the USMCA included this wording in reference to the television broadcast of the Super Bowl:
“Canada shall rescind Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-334 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2016-335. With respect to simultaneous substitution of commercials during the retransmission in Canada of the program referenced in those measures, Canada may not accord the program treatment less favorable than the treatment accorded to other programs originating in the United States retransmitted in Canada.” This meant that, once Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-334 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2016-335 were no longer in effect, the Canadian rightsholder (CTV) in the television broadcast would once again be entitled to have the Canadian signal, with Canadian commercials, substituted for the incoming US signal.
In February, CHBE-FM Victoria became CHR/Hot AC formatted Virgin Radio. It had been Kool FM with a Hot Adult Contemporary format.
In May, Bell rebranded its 12 country stations across Canada as Pure Country and changed the format of CKLC-FM Kingston from modern rock to Pure Country. Other stations that would now sport the Pure Country name: Ottawa’s Pure Country 94 (CKKL), Fredericton’s Pure Country 103.5 (CKHJ), Nova Scotia’s Pure Country 99.5 Truro (CKTY), London’s Pure Country 93 (CJBX), Central Ontario’s Pure Country 106 (Orillia, Barrie, Midland) (CICX), Pembroke’s Pure Country 96.7 (CHVR), Peterborough’s Pure Country 105 (CKQM), Sudbury’s Pure Country 91.7 (CICS), Dawson Creek’s Pure Country 890 (CJDC), B.C. North’s Pure Country (Terrace, Prince Rupert, Kitimat) (CJFW), Brandon’s Pure Country 101 (CKXA), and Regina’s Pure Country 92.7 (CHBD).
On July 30, the CRTC approved Bell's application to delete 28 analog rebroadcasting transmitters from its broadcasting licences for a number of its over-the-air television stations located across the country. In its application, Bell indicated that the transmitters rebroadcast the signals of various stations across the country and none offered programming that differed from that which was offered by the originating stations. The transmitters did not generate any incremental revenue and generally attracted little to no added viewership. Transmitters to be deleted: CFCN-TV-10 Fernie, CFCN-TV-15 Invemere, CFCN-TV-9 Cranbrook, CFRN-TV-12 Athabaska, CFRN-TV-3 Whitecourt, CFRN-TV-4 Ashmount, CFRN-TV-5 Lac La Biche, CFRN-TV-7 Lougheed, CFRN-TV-9 Slave Lake, CFQC-TV-1 Stranraer, CFQC-TV-2 North Battleford, CKMC-TV Swift Current, CKMJ-TV Marquis, CKYA-TV Fisher Branch, CKYD-TV Dauphin, CFYF-TV Flin Flon, CKYP-TV The Pas, CITO-TV-2 Kearns, CJOH-TV-47 Pembroke, CJOH-TV-6 Deseronto, CKCO-TV-3 Oil Springs, CFNY-TV-11 Huntsville, CKAM-TV-3 Blackville, CKAM-TV-4 Doaktown, CKLT-TV-2 Boiestown, CJCB-TV-3 Dingwall, CJCH-TV-3 Valley/Colchester, and CJCH-TV-4 Bridgetown.
The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business named outgoing Bell CEO George Cope its Corporate Citizen of the Year.
99.9 SUN FM (CHSU) Kelowna was rebranded as 99.9 Virgin Radio in the fall. The station had carried the SUN FM brand for 22 years.
CTV Vancouver Island’s studios in Victoria went through a complete 16:9 SD to full HD upgrade. The upgrade included re-wiring the entire station and replacing the control room switcher and studio cameras.
In November, Bell Media laid off an unspecified number of staff in multiple markets. Among the casualties were long-time CTV Winnipeg anchor Gord Leclerc; CFWM-FM Winnipeg morning co-host Mark Morris; CFRA Ottawa midday talk host Rob Snow; CJAD Montreal host and weather specialist Eramelinda Boquer; CKGM-AM Montreal morning show co-host Rick Moffat; Manny Paiva, news director at CKLW and CTV Windsor; and CKLY-FM Lindsay morning show team Dave Illman and Julie Corlett.
On December 19, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the CRTC Order (and related Decision) that disallowed simultaneous substitution of the NFL’s annual Super Bowl game, saying that it was not authorized under s. 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act. Simultaneous substitution was enshrined in various regulations under the Broadcasting Act and allowed for a television service provider to temporarily delete and replace the entire signal of a distant (usually national or international) television station with the signal of another (usually local) television station that was airing the same program at the same time. Until the CRTC’s Order, the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl had been subject to the simultaneous substitution regime and Canadians were prevented from viewing the version of the game broadcast in the United States which featured high-profile American commercials. Bell Canada and Bell Media, which held the Canadian rights to the game under a multi-year contract with the NFL, and the NFL had both appealed the Order through the courts until the actions were joined and the Supreme Court agreed to hear both actions together. The result of the Supreme Court’s decision was that the Super Bowl will once again be subject to the same simultaneous substitution rules as the rest of the Canadian broadcasting system and Canadians would once again not be able to watch the US version of the Super Bowl.
However, Canadians could still expect to be able to see the "high profile" U.S. Super Bowl commercials, which had been made available on several other channels and widely over the Internet in recent years.
On January 6, Mirko Bibic assumed the role of BCE president and CEO, following the retirement of George Cope the previous day.
In March, iHeartRadio (Bell) began airing CFRB’s The Late Shift with Jason Agnew across the country between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m. (Eastern). The program aired on CJAD Montreal, CKLW Windsor, CJBK London, CFRA Ottawa, CKTB St. Catharines, CKFR Kelowna, and CKNW Vancouver.
On April 3, the CRTC approved an application by Bell Canada, on behalf of V Interactions inc., for authority to change the ownership and effective control of V Interactions inc. and to integrate, effective September 1, the V Stations into the French-language Bell Media Group. V Interactions was wholly-held by Groupe V Média inc., which also held MusiquePlus inc. V Interactions was the licensee of the French-language television network called V and of five French-language television stations, namely, CFAP-DT Québec, CFJP-DT Montréal, CFRS-DT Saguenay, CFKS-DT Sherbrooke and CFKM-DT Trois-Rivières. MusiquePlus, for its part, was the licensee of the French-language discretionary services ELLE Fictions and MAX. V Média was a corporation held by several shareholders: Groupe Remstar inc. (45.14%), Fiducie Seismikmax (9.86%), Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec (15%), Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec (F.T.Q) (15%) et Investissement Québec (15%) (collectively, the Shareholders). Maxime Rémillard exercisee effective control of V Média as the unique shareholder of Groupe Remstar inc. and as the trustee of Fiducie Seismikmax.
Thomas Charles O’Neill died April 3. The former BCE Inc. and Bell Canada Chair from 2009-16, retired after serving as a director from 2003.
Reshmi Nair, Heather Butts, Lindsay Hamilton and Kayla Grey were named as the new hosts behind Bell Media’s ‘Daily Essentials’ content for the Quibi short-form mobile video platform. Launched on April 6, Butts hosted Newsday by CTV News, while Nair helmed its Newsnight counterpart. Highlight show Sports AM by TSN was be hosted by Hamilton weekdays and Grey on weekends.
In April, Bell confirmed that some employees were working reduced hours at 75% of their regular salary to match a change in workload due to the impact of COVID-19. Employees would still receive full benefits.
Bell Media President Randy Lennox outlined an action plan the company would take to increase representation of diverse voices in the content it broadcast, including a new Content Diversity Task Force. BIPOC TV & Film, a grassroots collective of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in the film and TV industry, would have three advisory positions on the task force, along with content leaders from Bell Media.
Bell debuted its new midday radio show C’t’encore drole on August 24 on Énergie 94.3 Montreal and across the entire Énergie network in Quebec.
On August 31, French-language conventional TV network V became Noovo, creating a unified brand in Quebec for both the conventional channel and popular digital platform.
Bell Media Inc. Radio Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)
|St. Catharines, ON|
|Fort St. John, BC|
|Prince Rupert, BC|
|St. Catharines, ON|
|Grand Falls, NB|
|Dawson Creek, BC|
|Osoyoos / Oliver, BC|
|Lindsay (Kawartha Lakes), ON|
|Fort St. John, BC|
|Fort Nelson, BC|
|Shawinigan Falls, QC|
|St. Catharines, ON|
|Salmon Arm, BC|
Bell Media Inc. Television Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)
|Montréal , QC|
|Sault St. Marie, ON|
|Ottawa / Pembroke, ON|
|Prince Albert, SK|
|North Bay, ON|