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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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Hong Kong press body says new police media rules could limit scrutiny – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Yanni Chow and Carol Mang

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said on Thursday a move by police to narrow the definition of “media representatives” allowed at public events such as protests could limit scrutiny on law enforcers.

The guidelines, officially changed on Wednesday, now exclude recognition of press passes issued by local media associations such as HKJA and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA), while accepting journalists from 205 bodies registered with the government and international media.

News associations say the move could limit the work of and raise the risks of arrest for freelancers and student reporters, who have captured some of the most striking scenes of the pro-democracy protests that roiled the city last year, including a video of a police officer shooting a demonstrator in October.

Police are suspicious of student reporters, who fit the age group of the most ardent protesters, and say they have discovered fake media badges and been attacked by fake reporters.

“All the police want is to limit us,” said HKJA chairman Chris Yeung, appearing next to representatives of HKPPA and six other media unions.

“Journalism students are the future of our industry,” he said, speaking in front of a banner reading “Defend the truth, no government vetting.”

Some students who said they were reporting for their student union publications have been arrested at protests for suspected crimes including rioting.

Late on Wednesday, Security Secretary John Lee said freedom of the media remained intact.

The change to internal guidelines meant that recognised reporters will be allowed in cordoned zones where media is not usually allowed and could also be offered interviews at the scene, which has also been rare, he said.

Lee said the guidelines do not attempt to change the definition of journalists who can conduct reporting outside cordoned areas.

The Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) said on Wednesday the move was “another step in the erosion of Hong Kong’s once cherished press freedom as it would give the police — rather than reporters and editors — the power to determine who covers the police”.

The FCC expressed concerns that journalists not recognised under the new guidelines risked being arrested for unlawful assembly and rioting.

China’s foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong said on Wednesday that the club should “immediately stop meddling with Hong Kong affairs on the pretext of press freedom”.

“The truth is not to be distorted,” it said. “By anxiously whitewashing the fake journalists, FCC Hong Kong is attempting to endorse the rioters and condone their ‘burn with us’ violence, thus sowing more trouble in the city.”

Pro-democracy protests have been smaller and fewer this year due to coronavirus restrictions on gatherings and since the introduction of a national security law on June 30. There are calls for protests on Oct 1., China’s national day.

(Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Michael Perry)

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City probes racist, sexist social media posts by fire-paramedic staff – Winnipeg Free Press

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The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is investigating social media posts by employees that allegedly contained racist and sexist content, offences the service says could trigger penalties that range up to termination.

A Sept. 18 memo written by WFPS chief John Lane, which was obtained by the Free Press, notes the service had issued social media guidelines for its employees, which were meant to ensure a diverse and welcoming workplace. Lane wrote that it took place in the midst of worldwide discussions about “racism, sexism, prejudice, and other threats to these core values.”

“Unfortunately… it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals. Instances have recently been brought to our attention. This is profoundly disappointing for me, both professionally and personally,” Lane wrote.

“Unfortunately… it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals.” –John Lane

The WFPS memo states that the incidents will be investigated, noting employees who have violated the city’s code of conduct and/or other rules may face discipline “up to and including termination of employment.”

Lane also urges all staff to report any behaviour that doesn’t meet city standards and notes a third party will be sought out to ensure that process is confidential.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU), which represents Winnipeg paramedics, said members have complained about racist and/or sexist posts by other WFPS staff, as well as some in-person interactions.

Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU’s president, said the issue has been reported since at least June, so the city must quickly move to address it.

“People should be thinking about the effect of what they’re putting up on social media at all times.” –Michelle Gawronsky

“It definitely is not stopping. We’ve been able to provide the employer with documents showing that. And so we are looking for some action now,” said Gawronsky.

She said WFPS must do something promptly to ensure better workplace conditions, an effort that could start with staff education.

“Frontline paramedics, in fact all workers, have the right to go to work and feel safe and secure in their jobs and not have to put up with any racism or sexism,” said Gawronsky.

The union leader said she believes the city must address all of the complaints, including those linked to personal social media accounts.

“When… it’s hurting other people, it is not acceptable at all. People should be thinking about the effect of what they’re putting up on social media at all times,” she said.

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg union, declined to comment, stating he had little knowledge of the investigation.

In an emailed statement, WFPS spokesperson Kristin Cuma did not answer specific questions about the number or nature of the complaints, the number of employees affected or the timeline of the investigation.

“No information will be provided about specific human resources matters involving individuals,” wrote Cuma.

Joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

 

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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Trump Media Agency Boss Explains Non-Appearance to House Panel – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The chief of the agency that oversees the Voice of America and other media organizations told the chairman of a congressional committee that subpoenaed him that he couldn’t appear because of a scheduling conflict.

Michael Pack, who earlier this year took charge of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, had angered both Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee when he defied the subpoena to testify about changes at the agency.

In a letter to the panel’s chairman, Eliot Engel, on Wednesday, Pack said he was “disappointed to receive your subpoena” and “eager to testify.” He complained in the letter that the panel’s staff had refused to accept other dates.

“As we have repeatedly explained to the committee, USAGM has become preoccupied with a series of pressing and complex matters necessary to correct over a decade of systemic security failures. In view of these genuine and urgent conflicts, we requested a brief adjournment so that I may appear a few weeks later.”

He added that he “could not provide complete information concerning the pressing internal matters.”

He was originally scheduled to appear voluntarily on Thursday, and the committee issued the subpoena last week after he withdrew.

Engel, a New York Democrat, said Tuesday that it was Pack who had failed to provide alternative dates or offer an acceptable excuse.

Pack’s withdrawal also drew a strong statement from the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, 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 committee controlled by Democrats.

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

In June, Pack dismissed the heads of four news organizations, including Radio Free Europe, as well as staff and governing board members at 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 a measure that would establish the OTF as an independent grantee of the agency.

Pack’s nomination by President Donald Trump drew heated opposition from Senate Democrats, 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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