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You down with O-T-T? Direct-to-consumer options at sports media forefront – CBC.ca

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Sports fans have never had as much choice when it comes to watching live events as they do right now. The remote control — and the wallet — are getting workouts because of it.

Longtime rivals Sportsnet and TSN remain power players on a Canadian sports broadcasting scene that seems to be changing by the day. Other competitors also made their mark over the last year with consumers spreading their dollars around to enjoy the convenience and wide-ranging choices now available.

Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu’s early-season success helped build the DAZN brand in Canada. The CBC, meanwhile, has ramped up its coverage of domestic leagues and amateur sport in the leadup to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. The network regularly shows free live streams of sports such as alpine skiing, rugby seven tournaments and figure skating and recently signed a three-year partnership with the Canadian Elite Basketball League to stream its games on the CBC platform.


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Factor in a bevy of online options and viewers have a sporting smorgasbord at their disposal.

“There is so much choice out there that has never existed (before),” said Keith Pelley, a longtime Canadian sports media executive who’s now CEO of golf’s European Tour. “That’s the reason why (1970s variety show) Donny & Marie had a 60 share. It was because there was very limited choice.”

Many sports consumers still pay for traditional cable while others pick and choose online packages — direct-to-consumer, or over-the-top (OTT) — and subscribe by the year, month, week, or even the day, depending on the event and the outlet. Broadcasts are available on laptops, digital media players, desktops, smartphones, and of course, old-school television.

The game has changed over the last few years and more developments can be expected as the domestic sports broadcasting scene evolves.

‘Always be changing’

“I always say A, B, C: Always be changing. If you’re not, then you definitely run the risk of falling behind,” Pelley said from Surrey, England. “But there’s no question that you know what (viewers) want, they want unlimited choice. But also you have to understand that different demographics want different things.”

Former Sportsnet president Scott Moore, the CEO of media company Uninterrupted Canada, predicts that direct-to-consumer options and sports betting will be the two biggest developments that will impact sports broadcasts over the next five years.

Moore, speaking at the recent PrimeTime sports management conference in Toronto, said direct-to-consumer is a game-changer with its “ultimate bandwidth.”

“Every sport, every game, every contest can be broadcast and broadcast in multiple ways to multiple different end points,” he said. “So if you’re a consumer, you can watch on your big-screen TV, you can watch on your tablet, you can watch on your phone. You can watch the English broadcast, you can watch the Punjabi broadcast, you can watch the Japanese broadcast.

“Soon you’ll be able to watch a broadcast that is brought to you by regular commentators, you’ll be able to watch a broadcast that’s all about sports betting, you may be able to watch a broadcast that is specifically targeted to high-end stats geeks.”

Moore added that in traditional prime time there can be limited shelf space, but an unlimited schedule really opens things up.

“So that’s the one area that I think is just going to have an explosion effect on sports media,” he said. “The other is sports betting. Sports betting, as it becomes legal in Canada — and I believe it will be legal in Canada in the next two years — will impact every part of the sports ecosystem.”

Moore’s successor at Sportsnet, Bart Yabsley, said the live nature of sports is tough for other forms of entertainment to match.

Ability to draw millions

“It has the ability to draw millions and millions and millions,” Yabsley said in a recent interview. “We all saw what happened during the Blue Jays’ run (in ’15 and ’16). We all saw what happened during the Raptors’ run (last spring). There’s almost nothing else like it.”

Sportsnet landed the national hockey rights in 2013 with a monster $5.23-billion, 12-year deal with the NHL. The network also has rights to the Toronto Blue Jays, Grand Slam curling, Rogers Cup tennis, IndyCar and the Canadian Hockey League.

The Toronto Raptors’ rights are split between Sportsnet and TSN, which also boasts a solid lineup with regional NHL rights, the world juniors, CFL, Season of Champions curling, golf and tennis majors along with Formula One and NASCAR.

Moore, who like Pelley has worked at both Sportsnet/Rogers and TSN, said when it comes to evolution, smart legacy players with strong brands have the best chance to succeed.

“They’re the ones who not only have the brand, who have the audience, who have the following, but if they’re on top of the evolutionary technological changes, they can still win. It’s not going to be just the upstarts,” he said. “And I think if you look at some of the upstarts that have come out in the business as it relates to sports — Twitter, Facebook, Amazon — have been abject failures at revolutionizing the way traditional sports are broadcast.

“They’ve all tried to do traditional broadcasts and they’ve all failed at them. And the legacy players are back doing most of the broadcasts and using those other platforms as additions to their broadcasts.”

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Western News – Work with Indigenous communities leads to media career for new grad – Western News

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CBC Radio had been a constant companion for Colm Cobb Howes during quiet, bitter-cold commutes to work as a teacher in Indigenous communities in northern Canada. Little did he know he would one day be working to tell those stories he enjoyed listening to since he was a child. 

Colm Cobb Howes

Colm Cobb Howes (Submitted photo)

A recent Master of Media in Journalism and Communication (MMJC) graduate, Cobb Howes is now associate producer at CBC News Toronto’s Metro Morning radio show.  

Cobb Howes is among Western students graduating this fall and will join 328,000 Western alumni from more than 160 countries during virtual Convocation celebrations on Oct 25.  

It’s the reason I came to MMJC, to get into CBC and share the stories of the people I met during my time working in Indigenous communities,” said Cobb Howes.  

Although Cobb Howes joined the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and missed many of the in-person learning experiences, he was able to participate in a six-week internship that opened the door for him to work at the CBC – first as an intern and eventually as a full-time associate producer.  

“I never assumed or thought that I would be able to work at CBC Toronto, right out of school,” he said. “I thought that perhaps I would get a good reference (from the CBC internship) and then it would help me get in somewhere like in a smaller market. And so I feel incredibly lucky to have that opportunity right now.” 

Northern exposure 

Colm Cobb Howes with Indigenous youth

Cobb Howes worked with Indigenous youth in the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec. (Submitted photo)

Before joining Western’s MMJC program, Cobb Howes worked for an educational not-for-profit organization as a teacher for Indigenous students, mostly in the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec. His work entailed travelling through nine Cree communities as well as the Kuujuarapik Inuit community on Hudson Bay in Quebec. He also had the opportunity to work in a Maliseet Community in New Brunswick, and in an Anishinabek Community in Northern Ontario. 

It was during this two-year stint that Cobb Howes developed an interest in storytelling that led him to pursue a postgraduate program in journalism.  

“I did teach high school science and math, but at the same time, we also ran programming that was delivered outside of schools. One of the programs is called the cultural mapping program, that’s done in partnership with the community, where it’s like an internship for youth in the community. 

This program offered several workshops for the interns on things like camera operation and storytelling.  

“I really enjoyed being able to help facilitate it, being out in the community and talking to people and telling stories,” said Cobb Howes. “It was amazing to see how it empowered these kids as they realized they were doing all of this work.  And so that’s partly why I wanted to go into storytelling.” 

Writing is not a new-found passion for Cobb Howes, however, who completed his undergraduate degree in English literature at the University of Guelph. When considering his postgraduate program in journalism, Western was the only choice for him. 

“I really wanted to choose something I would enjoy and not just do it for the sake of getting a degree. I knew this is where I wanted to be. And that was how I chose Western,” said Cobb Howes, whose brother also attended Western for his undergraduate studies. 

Work of storytelling 

Working as an associate producer for CBC Toronto gives Cobb Howes the opportunity to talk to different people and share their “amazing stories.” 

“We had someone on who was an astrophysicist and he was getting ready to retire,” he recalled. “We were asking him things like, ‘Is the universe going to be swallowed by a black hole? What do we need to be worried about? Or, should we be worried about, you know, asteroid hitting earth?’ And it was incredible that I, as a citizen, get to interact with this person who is a leading academic in their field, and have these kinds of conversations. I find it amazing that I get to do that every day for work. 

Asked if he was given the opportunity to choose one story, any story, that can make an impact on listeners, what would it be – and his answer took him back to his experience working with Indigenous communities. 

“There’s a lot of stories that happen in the north, that people don’t know about, and oftentimes, they get segmented into categories… and it gets put in the Indigenous category of the news desk,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that those stories don’t just get told because they’re valid. Sometimes, something will happen in the north, and it doesn’t get told in Toronto, because it didn’t happen in Toronto. But people in Toronto need to know about that.  

“If we’re serious about making meaningful change in the way that we tell stories, then we need to start thinking outside of the box, because so often stories like that go under reported because they don’t fit into the way that we think they should appear in the news. 

*** 

Virtual Convocation details:  

  • Virtual fall convocation will be available to stream beginning at 7p.m. EST on Friday, October 22.  
  • There will be three ceremonies, which will be pre-recorded and posted online by navigating through the uwo.ca homepage, allowing graduates and their families and loved ones to choose the ceremony they wish to see when they want to see it.  
  • Each ceremony will include celebratory music by Convocation Brass, with administration and faculty on stage and with remarks by honorary degree recipients.  
  • Receiving honorary degrees are: lawyer and community philanthropist Janet Stewart; writer/visual artist Shani Mootoo; historian Natalie Zemon Davis; and medical researcher Tak Mak.  
  • An orator will read out each graduating student’s name, which will also be featured on individually displayed slides during the ceremony.  
  • Graduates will receive their parchments by mail. 

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UPS, Disney meet White House officials to discuss vaccine mandate

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Executives with United Parcel Service Inc, Walt Disney Co and other companies met with White House officials on Tuesday to discuss President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement plan for private-sector workers, amid concerns it could worsen labor shortages and supply chain woes.

The mandate would apply to businesses with 100 or more employees, and would affect about 80 million workers nationwide.

Several industry sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the rulemaking process was moving with urgency and they expect the mandate to be formally announced as early as this week. It was not clear how much time employers will have to implement it.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been meeting with several influential business lobbying groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Business Roundtable as part of its rulemaking process. The meetings were requested by the trade groups and companies and is part of the regular rulemaking process.

Tuesday’s meetings were disclosed in filings with the White House. Disney did not respond to requests for comment. A UPS spokesperson confirmed the meeting and said it is reviewing what a vaccine mandate means for the company and its employees.

Many of the industry groups have raised concerns such as labor shortages and how regulation by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could worsen existing supply-chain problems facing U.S. companies ahead of the holiday shopping season. Other topics, such as testing requirements and who will bear the cost, also were raised.

Evan Armstrong, RILA vice president for workforce, said it will be tough for the retail industry to implement the rule in the middle of the U.S. holiday season and that pushing it to January would help. He said the group raised the topic with the White House during their meeting.

“The implementation period needs to push this out past the holiday season because obviously for retail that is the biggest time for us,” he said. RILA’s members include large U.S. employers such as Walmart Inc and the industry supports over 50 million U.S. jobs.

Biden’s plan has drawn a mixed reaction from industry trade groups and companies.

Several big employers including Procter & Gamble Co and 3M Co, along with airlines such as American Airlines and JetBlue Airways Corp, have imposed vaccination mandates since Biden’s announcement last month. Others such as IBM have said they will require all U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, no matter how often they come into the office.

Some other large U.S. employers, such as Walmart, have yet to issue broad requirements.

The vaccine order has spurred pushback from many Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott of Texas, who issued an executive order banning businesses in his state from requiring vaccinations for employees. Although some, such as American Airlines, have said they plan to proceed with vaccination rules.

The mandate will be implemented under a federal rule-making mechanism known as an emergency temporary standard.

 

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

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Elections Alberta launches formal review of social media policies after election day Twitter spat – Edmonton Journal

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Elections Alberta says it has launched a formal review into activities on its social media accounts after someone who was managing its Twitter profile on election day got into a snarky argument with users over sharing photos of a ballot online.

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In a statement Tuesday, acting deputy chief electoral officer Pamela Renwick said the review is being conducted internally by Election Alberta’s compliance and enforcement unit, which is the same unit that investigates complaints as directed by the election commissioner.

The review will look at the conduct of our personnel on our social media platforms and the policies and processes that are to be followed for social media engagement and message approval,” she said.

“As the review includes personnel matters, those results will not be made public. Following the review, however, we will determine if there are results that we can share publicly without breaching confidentiality. “

The  spat started on Monday when former conservative MLA Derek Fildebrandt posted a photo of his ballot voting in favour of the referendum on removing the principle of equalization from the Constitution.

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Users pointed out that posting a photo of a ballot is illegal, referencing a 2019 tweet from the Elections Alberta account that warned posting photos is an offence.

“Who would’ve expected a two-year-old tweet would apply the same to this event?” the Elections Alberta account replied.

In a further exchange, this time with University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach, who accused Elections Alberta of given false information on Twitter, someone behind the account appeared to suggest that it wasn’t Elections Alberta’s responsibility to enforce the rules of a municipal election.

“I’m sure you’re well aware of the federalist state, the three levels of government, and how extra veres (sic) and intra veres (sic) powers are assigned, just as much as an old tweet holds no value versus an up-to-date one. Move on, Andrew,” the account tweeted.

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Renwick confirmed that provincial elections, like the one in 2019, and municipal elections like Monday’s, are covered under different pieces of legislation but both make it illegal to publicly post photos of ballots.

In the case of municipal elections, she said, the responsibility of enforcing the rule falls to the local authority.

Elections Alberta, an independent, non-partisan office of the legislative assembly, initially apologized for the tweets, posting on Twitter that “Albertans have the right to expect Elections Alberta to always remain unbiased and respectful in the election process” and said that the staff member in question had been removed from its social media accounts. The staff member was not named.

The tweets in question have since been deleted.

“Elections Alberta is committed to rebuilding the trust of Albertans in the integrity of our office,” Elections Alberta tweeted.

Renwick said Elections Alberta doesn’t have a timeframe for when the review will be completed but that it has already started.

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