OTTAWA — The Liberal government will direct the CRTC not to regulate content from social media users as it implements the controversial Online Streaming Act.
Harvard Media has completed a round of layoffs that it says amount to roughly 10% of the company’s workforce as the media group moves forward with a digital-first business model.
George Leith, Harvard’s newly-appointed Executive Vice-President and Managing Partner, told Broadcast Dialogue the restructuring impacts all of the company’s markets and divisions across its 13 radio stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“The Canadian radio industry has faced a 35% decline in revenue during the past 36 months. To adjust to the macro-economic headwinds, Harvard Media like so many others in the industry regretfully has had to lay off some of our team members,” Leith said in a statement. “We are grateful to have been able to limit our downsizing to 10% of our total organization. We continue to be committed to the communities we serve across Western Canada.”
Leith said the layoffs are not performance-based and are about the evolution of the organization.
“Harvard Media is continuing its evolution into a digital media organization. Our strategic priorities’ include transitioning our resources to accommodate future digital growth. The company maintains its radio broadcast commitment of excellence to its customers and communities,” he added.
Leith said while 10% may not sound like a large number, in an organization the size of Harvard Media the staff reductions will be felt.
As previously reported, layoffs were initiated earlier in the week, beginning with the Edmonton cluster where Program Director Chris Myers, responsible for Play 107 (CKPW-FM), 95.7 CRUZ FM (CKEA-FM) and Kraze 101.3 (CKIK-FM) Red Deer, was released along with Play 107 midday host Jenna Winterburn, CRUZ FM midday personality Derek Allen, and producer Seth Hennig.
In Regina, the casualties include Andrew Wilcox, Program Director at 104.9 The Wolf (CFWF-FM) and Play 92 (CHMX-FM); 620 CKRM PD Abbey White and CKRM host Nick Kaczmar, in addition to marketing consultant Dave Hanni, sales rep Bhavik Shah, and creative writer Rob McWhinnie.
96.3 CRUZ FM (CFWD-FM) host Dave Morgan was impacted in Saskatoon, along with FOX FM (CFGW-FM) Yorkton morning co-host Avery Leblanc; afternoon host Calvin Tokarchuk and GX94 (CJGX-FM) Yorkton weekend host Stephanie Turchyn, in addition to Riley Barton, the recently-hired swing host for both Yorkton stations.
In Fort McMurray, the layoffs included Mix 103.7 (CFVR-FM) afternoon host and music director Marc O’Connor and midday host and assistant music director Lauren (Lita) Squires; as well as 100.5 CRUZ FM (CHFT-FM) afternoon drive personality Jackson Ducharme.
We’ll continue to update this story.
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DOVER, Del. (AP) — The names of individual customers of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX Trading can be permanently shielded from public disclosure, a Delaware bankruptcy judge ruled Friday.
Following a two-day hearing, Judge John Dorsey rejected arguments from lawyers for several media outlets and for the U.S. bankruptcy trustee, which serves as a government watchdog in Chapter 11 reorganization cases, challenging FTX’s request to keep the names of customers and creditors secret.
Dorsey ruled that customer identities constitute a trade secret. He also said FTX customers need to be protected from bad actors who might target them by scouring the internet and the “dark web” for their personal information.
“It’s the customers that are the most important issue here,” he said. “I want to make sure that they are protected and they don’t fall victim to any types of scams that might be happening out there.”
Katie Townsend, an attorney for the media outlets, had argued that the press and the public have a “compelling and legitimate interest” in knowing the names of those affected by the stunning collapse of FTX.
“That collapse sent shock waves not just through the cryptocurrency industry, but the entire financial industry,” Townsend said. “And at this point, we don’t even know where the shock waves, both individually and institutionally, have hit the hardest, and what institutions may have the largest, or no, exposure as a result.”
But lawyers for FTX and its official committee of unsecured creditors argued that its customer list is both a valuable asset and confidential commercial information. They contend that secrecy is needed to protect FTX customers from theft and potential scams, and to ensure that potential competitors do not “poach” FTX customers. FTX believes its customer list could prove valuable as part of any sale of assets, or as part of a reorganization.
“The debtors are in a position to realize value from these customer lists,” said FTX attorney Brian Glueckstein.
FTX entered bankruptcy in November when the global exchange ran out of money after the equivalent of a bank run. Founder Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated investors and looted customer deposits to make lavish real estate purchases, campaign contributions to politicians, and risky trades at Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm. Three former FTX executives have pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are cooperating with investigators.
In January, Dorsey ruled that FTX could redact the names of all customers, and the addresses and email addresses of non-individual customers, from court filings for 90 days. He also authorized FTX to permanently keep secret the addresses and email addresses of individual creditors and equity holders.
On Friday, the judge approved the permanent sealing of individual customer names and extended the secrecy regarding the names of institutional customers for another 90 days.
Dorsey refused, however, to continue to allow FTX to shield the names of individual creditors or equity holders who are citizens of the United Kingdom or European Union nations and covered under a consumer protection program known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. FTX sought similar treatment for individuals covered under Japanese data privacy laws.
Dorsey said that, in response to an objection from the U.S. trustee, FTX had presented no evidence to show that those foreign individuals might be harmed, or that FTX might be sanctioned, if their names are disclosed.
Dorsey also rejected a request by attorneys for an ad hoc committee of non-U.S. customers to keep the names of its members secret. If the committee wants to participate in the case, then the names of its members must be disclosed, he said.
According to redacted court filings, the ad hoc committee currently has 35 members, with estimated economic interests in FTX ranging from $64,434 to $1.5 billion. Dorsey noted that some members may decide to drop out based on his ruling.
Randall Chase, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Liberal government will direct the CRTC not to regulate content from social media users as it implements the controversial Online Streaming Act.
Content made by social media creators, and content that is only available on social media platforms, will be excluded under the proposed policy direction to the regulator.
“The proposed directions … deliver on public commitments by the Government to ensure that the Commission would only regulate social media platforms insofar as they are acting like broadcasters and not the social media elements of their services, which include any content created and uploaded by everyday users (commonly known as user-generated content),” the government said in documents made available to media.
Controversy over the regulatory authority the CRTC would have over user-generated content — such as YouTube or TikTok videos posted by Canadians or digital creators — has followed the bill for two years. The Liberal government refused to exclude social media in Bill C-11 itself. Opponents maintained it was important to set the exclusion in law, for reasons including that considering future governments can reverse a policy direction to the CRTC more easily than they can change a law.
The Online Streaming Act became law just over a month ago. It sets up the CRTC to bring streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube into the Canadian content system that traditional broadcasters and TV providers already contribute to, ensuring more funding for the creation of Canadian content.
The law itself limits the CRTC’s powers over user content to “discoverability” — directing digital platforms to showcase more Canadian content in the movies, TV shows and music they recommend to their users. The social media exclusion in the policy direction would mean those provisions wouldn’t apply to user posts on YouTube, for example, a prospect digital creators who depend on those platforms raised alarm about.
But discoverability powers would apply to content on other streaming platforms like Netflix or Disney+. The government said it would tell the CRTC to implement the “discoverability requirements in a way that minimizes the need to alter algorithms of broadcasting undertakings and that, where possible, increases choice for users.”
Senior officials said in a technical briefing that an element of the policy direction acknowledges the CRTC could use its discoverability powers in a way that would lead platforms to alter their algorithms, and the idea is to minimize those cases.
The CRTC can’t tell a streaming service like Amazon Prime or Spotify to make specific changes to its algorithms. But it can say that they need to include more Canadian content in their recommendations or suggestions, which would require them change the algorithms that create those recommendations.
The CRTC will also be told to make redefining Canadian content a priority. That process would include “consulting with Canadians, members of the creative and production sectors and other interested parties.”
The government will hold a 45-day consultation on the draft policy direction before issuing a final version.
Canadians who make content online are to be excluded from future regulations that the Liberal government is imposing on digital giants, a new draft policy shows.
The government’s online streaming bill, which passed in April, aims to force platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and TikTok to contribute to and promote Canadian content — a requirement traditional broadcasters already follow.
But the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission must now develop regulations to implement the bill’s intentions.
Draft policy issued by the government on Thursday instructs the CRTC to leave out social media users, including local businesses, who upload content online, even if they use commercial songs.
For example, a person who records a makeup tutorial or dance trend while with a Harry Styles song in the background would not fall under the regulations.
Conservatives ‘think culture is what you find in a yogurt bottle’: Rodriguez
The draft policy states that the measures will not apply to such users because their content is mainly meant for the internet.
However, platforms like TikTok and YouTube will likely be regulated for streaming music promoted by record labels or commercial artists, when that content is also broadcast on other platforms — like on the radio.
A senior official within the Canadian Heritage Department said the key to understanding which broadcaster will be regulated is knowing if commercial content that is on their platform also appears in other media, such as on TV, radio or other digital streaming services.
For example, a television show can appear both on Netflix and on cable, and a live sports game could stream on social media platforms, TV and radio.
Bill C-11: The future of broadcasting and streaming in Canada
YouTube, which has opposed the bill, said it is committed to keeping intact the ecosystem of its platform, which relies on creators.
“That’s something we’re committed to preserving,” a spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are reviewing the policy direction, and will continue to advocate for the interests of Canada’s digital creators and audiences through the remaining stages of this process.”
The draft policy said people who make local podcasts or stream video games online will also be excluded from the bill’s regulations, which are set to take shape over the summer before a final policy directive is released in the fall.
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Digital media giants that fall under the regulations will have to promote Canadian content, and are encouraged to put forward their own ideas on how they can do that.
The Canadian Heritage Department said it wants input from digital platforms on how they can promote Canadian content, but they say it could come in a variety of ways — from billboards promoting artists to designating sections of their sites to local music and stories.
The government’s draft policy states that the solution should minimize the need for companies to alter their algorithms in order to comply with the law.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who sponsored the bill, has said the law is intended to help highlight local stories and music on streaming platforms, many of which are based in the United States.
“We’ve said it from the start: if you benefit from the system, you should contribute to it. With the Online Streaming Act, we’re acting to support our creators, our artists, our independent producers and our culture so that they thrive in the digital age,” Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday.
How Bill C-11 could change streaming services in Canada
“Canadians deserve to see themselves in what they watch and listen to, and this legislation is an essential step forward in ensuring that our cultural industry and our talent shine.”
The government’s directive also asked the commission to prioritize parts of the bill dealing with redefining Canadian content, advancing Indigenous storytelling and achieving better representation from Black and LGBTQ communities.
The CRTC will hold public consultations in the weeks ahead, in which people will have the opportunity to provide input.
© 2023 The Canadian Press
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