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Media study says hundreds of Canadian radio stations, TV outlets risk closure – CTV News

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As many as 40 local television outlets and 200 Canadian radio stations could be forced to close in the next three years as the financial pressures faced by media companies intensify under the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests a new study from an industry advocacy group.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters issued a report on Wednesday warning of potential closures and widespread job cuts as private TV and radio broadcasters face a cumulative projected revenue shortfall of up to $1.06 billion by the end of 2022.

Most vulnerable are the country’s AM radio stations, the report said, as well as other independent private radio and TV operations in smaller markets across the country.

The study, titled “The Crisis in Canadian Media and the Future of Local Broadcasting,” was commissioned by the CAB, which represents the majority of private broadcasters in Canada, and conducted through Winnipeg-based independent media economics consultancy Communications Management Inc.

The CAB says it’s concerned about the fallout from a substantial erosion in local advertising revenues over recent months.

Radio stations may be hardest hit in the short term, the report suggests, partly due to many advertisers pulling back on their spending in the pandemic and hastening a decline in the media industry’s revenues.

Private radio ad revenues are expected to be $383 million below last year, it said.

The report’s projections suggest that without further government support those declines could mean as many as 50 private local radio stations go out of business over the next four to six months.

Another 150 radio stations could topple in the 18 months that follow, it said, leading to as many as 2,000 job losses.

TV stations could risk a similar fate with roughly 40 of Canada’s 94 private TV broadcasters in danger of closing within one to three years, the research predicts.

The CAB is calling on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to take swift action by establishing a “more fair and sustainable future” for local media.

Last month, the organization sent an emergency application to the CRTC requesting permission for broadcasters to be relieved of certain terms of their agreements, such as spending requirements on Canadian programming, for the broadcast year that ends Aug. 31.

Lenore Gibson, chair of the CAB, said broadcasters have “done their utmost to cut expenses” in areas such as administration, and “the last thing that they want to do is cut into programming costs, but that’s the only area that’s left now.”

The CAB is urging the federal government to provide emergency regulatory relief as well as greater “targeted support” for the industry starting this fall.

Without greater financial measures in place, the CAB says the effects could leave many communities with only national and international media organizations to provide them with most of their news, effectively eliminating most community coverage of local politics, health and education in some regions of the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2020

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Advertisers agree deal with social media on steps to curb harmful content – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have agreed with big advertisers on first steps to curb harmful content online, following boycotts of social media platforms that advertisers had accused of tolerating hate speech.

The agreement comes three months after Facebook was hit by a boycott from major advertisers in the wake of anti-racism demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd, an American Black man, in police custody.

Advertisers have complained for years that big social media companies do too little to prevent ads from appearing alongside hate speech, fake news and other harmful content. Big tech companies, meanwhile, want to be seen as taking action on the issue to fend off calls for more regulation.

Under the deal, announced on Wednesday by the World Federation of Advertisers, common definitions would be adopted for forms of harmful content such as hate speech and bullying, and platforms would adopt harmonised reporting standards.

The platforms agreed to have some practices reviewed by external auditors, and to give advertisers more control of what content is displayed alongside their ads. The deal comes less than six weeks before a polarising U.S. presidential election.

“This is a significant milestone in the journey to rebuild trust online,” said Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media at Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers. “…Whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Carolyn Everson, Vice President for Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, said the agreement “has aligned the industry on the brand safety floor and suitability framework, giving us all a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

SCEPTICAL

Campaigners who want more regulation of social media companies have been sceptical of voluntary measures such as those announced on Wednesday.

“Any progress in reducing harmful online content is to be welcomed. However, up to now voluntary action from social media companies has rarely lived up to its initial promises. So time will tell how much of a difference this latest industry-led initiative will make,” David Babbs of UK-based group Clean Up the Internet told Reuters by email.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign behind the Facebook boycott is backed by the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP, two of the oldest and biggest anti-racism campaign groups in the United States. The campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

In a statement last week, it said: “Facebook’s failures lead to real-life violence and sow division, and we’re calling on the company to improve its policies. We need to urge people to vote and demand Facebook stop undermining our democracy. Enough is enough.”

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Advertisers agree deal with social media on steps to curb harmful content – Reuters Canada

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LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have agreed with big advertisers on first steps to curb harmful content online, following boycotts of social media platforms that advertisers had accused of tolerating hate speech.

FILE PHOTO: Dozens of cardboard cut-outs of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sit outside of the U.S. Capitol Building as part of an Avaaz.org protest in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

The agreement comes three months after Facebook was hit by a boycott from major advertisers in the wake of anti-racism demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd, an American Black man, in police custody.

Advertisers have complained for years that big social media companies do too little to prevent ads from appearing alongside hate speech, fake news and other harmful content. Big tech companies, meanwhile, want to be seen as taking action on the issue to fend off calls for more regulation.

Under the deal, announced on Wednesday by the World Federation of Advertisers, common definitions would be adopted for forms of harmful content such as hate speech and bullying, and platforms would adopt harmonised reporting standards.

The platforms agreed to have some practices reviewed by external auditors, and to give advertisers more control of what content is displayed alongside their ads. The deal comes less than six weeks before a polarising U.S. presidential election.

“This is a significant milestone in the journey to rebuild trust online,” said Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media at Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers. “…Whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Carolyn Everson, Vice President for Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, said the agreement “has aligned the industry on the brand safety floor and suitability framework, giving us all a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

SCEPTICAL

Campaigners who want more regulation of social media companies have been sceptical of voluntary measures such as those announced on Wednesday.

“Any progress in reducing harmful online content is to be welcomed. However, up to now voluntary action from social media companies has rarely lived up to its initial promises. So time will tell how much of a difference this latest industry-led initiative will make,” David Babbs of UK-based group Clean Up the Internet told Reuters by email.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign behind the Facebook boycott is backed by the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP, two of the oldest and biggest anti-racism campaign groups in the United States. The campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

In a statement last week, it said: “Facebook’s failures lead to real-life violence and sow division, and we’re calling on the company to improve its policies. We need to urge people to vote and demand Facebook stop undermining our democracy. Enough is enough.”

Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Peter Graff

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Trump Media Agency Chief to Defy Subpoena, Angering Republicans – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The head of the agency that oversees the Voice of America and other government media outlets won’t appear at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing later this week, defying a subpoena to testify about changes at the agency, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Michael Pack, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, was supposed to appear Thursday before the committee voluntarily, but withdrew on Sept. 18. The panel’s chairman, Democrat Eliot Engel, said Pack failed to provide alternative dates or offer an acceptable excuse, and issued a subpoena to force his testimony.

Pack’s withdrawal also drew a strong statement from the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Michael McCaul, who called for Pack to testify. In a sharply divided Congress, the bipartisan response was unusual, particularly with regard to pressing a Trump nominee to appear before a Democratically controlled committee.

McCaul said that since being confirmed by the Senate in June, Pack had placed critical national security programs “in jeopardy” and that the CEO “needs to come before this committee and explain those actions.”

Representatives of the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pack’s Firings

The focus of McCaul’s ire is Pack’s actions related to the Open Technology Fund, or OTF, an organization that promotes internet freedom abroad and receives grant money from the Agency for Global Media. McCaul was one of the lead authors of the law that established the OTF as an independent grantee of the agency.

In June, Pack dismissed the heads of four news outlets, including Radio Free Europe, as well as staff and governing board members at the OTF. A federal appeals court in Washington issued an injunction in July blocking the dismissals, as it determines whether the firing was lawful.

Pack’s nomination was controversial, both for his association with former Trump campaign and White House adviser Steve Bannon, but also over unresolved questions about his business dealings while running an nonprofit media organization called the Public Media Lab. The attorney general of the District of Columbia is investigating the organization for unlawful use of funds.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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