Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Bell responds to TV, eh?’s “Walk The Talk” post

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Scott Henderson, Vice-President, Communications, Bell Media, was not happy with my post daring Canadian networks to walk the talk. In fact, he was “shocked and disappointed” in me. I promised him space on this site to respond to my post, and I’ve contacted Shaw to see if they’d like equal opportunity … though Shaw may be wiser than to try to prolong the issue.

Here’s Bell’s response, with my annotated response to their response. (I obviously didn’t and would never promise not to express my own opinion about anything I publish to my site, especially if it’s twisting my words, unless it’s paid advertising.)

Bell’s response:

Diane Wild dares Canadian broadcasters to “walk the talk” when it comes to promoting Canadian programming. Well I double-dare her back: start recognizing the widespread promotion that already occurs on a regular basis and as a matter of course.

[Diane: I post every media release Bell sends me related to their Canadian series verbatim to my site, do interviews with writers and actors involved in the series, praise the series I like, and I acknowledged in that Walk the Talk post, as well as at the time of their premieres, that Motive and Orphan Black were given excellent launches. If Bell and the other networks would fund my efforts to do more, I would be happy to do more.]

In her blog post “A dare to Canadian broadcasters: Walk the talk” (May 4), Wild strongly suggests, using Bell Media as her primary example, that Canadian broadcasters do not “demonstrate a true desire to succeed with their Canadian shows.” The accusation is unfair, unfounded, and frankly, insulting.

[Diane: I’ll say more about this later, when they make unfair, unfounded, and frankly, insulting claims about my piece.]

Normally, we don’t respond to such allegations. We stand by our promotion of all of our Canadian content. Our production partners respect the support we provide to their productions, and viewers respond by watching.

[Diane: I’m sure they do. My opinions are my own however my inbox and twitter feed suggests not everyone in the industry respects your support.]

Beginning in 2003/4, when we helped change the landscape of quality Canadian productions with the debuts of Canadian Idol and Corner Gas, and later Flashpoint, so too did our attention to effectively promote Canadian productions.

But enough is enough. Ten years later, it is time to dispel the myth that Canadian broadcasters casually throw original productions onto the air, cross their fingers, and hope that they stick with audiences.

[Diane: That’s not what I said. In fact I said the opposite about Motive and Orphan Black.]

In the post, Wild points to two very specific examples – the smoking guns – to support her claim that Bell Media is not providing even “basic support to their Canadian content”: 1) that recent media releases from Bell Media did not feature episodic descriptions for upcoming episodes of Orphan Black and Motive; and 2) that similar episodic information, and even general promotion, was unavailable on Space.ca and CTV.ca. More on that in a moment.

As Wild rightfully gives credit for the resources that were dedicated to launching these two series, both of which have become hits and been recently renewed for second seasons, we won’t recap their incredible launch campaigns.

The thrust of Wild’s argument is that Bell Media is asleep at the wheel, providing no sustained promotional support for these programs. In the case of Motive, she suggests CTV has “no other original series to promote right now,” so they should be “aggressively promoting what they have.”

[Diane: I didn’t say there was no sustained promotional support. I made very specific and supported claims about basic promotional efforts which Bell is now unfairly, unfounded-ly, and frankly, insulting-ly expanding into something I didn’t say.]

Well, let me tell you how CTV is promoting Motive on a weekly basis:

  • Each week, CTV cuts 15 and 30-second Motive episodic on-air promos that air in healthy rotation to millions of viewers on CTV and other channels.
  • Other Motive on-air promotional elements, such as “bumpers” and “snipes”, are utilized each week, including, lower-third on-air banners during select NHL regular season and play-off games on TSN.
  • Following its Super Bowl stunt launch, CTV aired Motive on-air promos in additional big-event television broadcasts, including The Oscars, The Junos, and The Golden Globe Awards.
  • Motive “pre-roll” promos run before programs are streamed online, and custom Motive banner ads are presented across Bell Media websites.
  • Meanwhile, CTV.ca has published 17 articles about Motive.
  • Every Thursday, CTV’s Etalk teases each new Motive episode, reaching three quarters of a million viewers on average.
  • Last Thursday, CTV distributed an episodic e-mail blast promoting that night’s Motive broadcast to hundreds of thousands of web subscribers.
  • Each new episode is live-tweeted by @CTV_Television, while new episodes of Motive are pushed to CTV Twitter and Facebook followers. The #Motive hashtag is burned on-screen during each broadcast to encourage social media chatter.
  • Following the launch campaign, Motive has been promoted with radio and outdoor advertising, including, for almost fourth months, the most prominent billboard in Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square (pictured).
  • CTV actively builds the profile of Motive stars at public events, including the CSA Fan Zone event in March, and the Heart Truth fashion show.
  • And CTV has continued to pitch journalists across the country on additional Motive coverage, even after securing more than 200 media hits for its launch. Another wave of publicity is expected for next week’s season finale.

[Diane: That’s genuinely terrific. None of this contradicts the post, which is about specific public declarations and basic PR actions in a specific timeframe. And why are none of these episode-specific promotions available on the series’ website – as in CTV.ca/Motive – or provided to websites as embeddable videos? I should add that the @MotiveTV twitter account couldn’t answer my question of what episode was airing 2 days before it aired – the message to me was “check the website tomorrow”. Which I did and the information or an episode-specific promo still wasn’t on the show’s homepage.]

The result? Averaging 1.1 million viewers each week, Motive is the #1 new Canadian series of the 2012/13 broadcast year, and the most-watched Canadian drama in the key selling demos. Undoubtedly, our efforts are working.

And to be clear, Motive’s ratings were not sagging “amid the killer competition” on Sunday nights, nor are they showing “troubling signs of softness that can be strengthened with consistency and promotion” on Thursday nights. Motive delivered 1.093 million viewers on Sundays (winning its timeslot on conventional television), and is now delivering 1.071 million on Thursdays (holding its own against U.S. simulcasts).

[Diane: Using ratings averages  over the course of the season obfuscates the point. Here’s what I’m founding my opinion about ratings on. Numbers from BBM Canada where available, Bill Brioux’s overnight numbers where not:

Episode 1, February 3 (post-Super Bowl slot) – 1.229 million
Episode 2, February 10: 814,000
Episode 3, February 17: 1.012 million
Episode 4, March 3: 929,000
Episode 5, March 10: 630,000 (this is what I refer to as sagging “amid the killer competition”)
Episode 6, March 14: 807,000 (first Thursday airing)
Episode 7, March 21: 1.202 million (what I refer to as recovering from the understandable timeslot switch dip)
Episode 8, March 28: 1.062 million
Episode 9, April 4: 1.011 million
Episode 10, April 25: 835,000 (this is what I refer to as sagging after reruns – and I ask myself why, in a 13-episode season, were there reruns mid-season?)
Episode 11, May 2: No ratings available]

Following a $4 million promotional campaign to launch Orphan Black, comparable tactics to the Motive campaign are employed by our Specialty division each week in promoting this hot new Space series. Similarly to how Etalk is used to promote Canadian programs, Space’s daily information series Innerspace has reported 15 stories on Orphan Black, in addition to a half-hour special. On social media, Space live tweets each episode. After securing more than 200 media hits so far, Space continues to pitch media, including TV, Eh?, which ran a story on April 24. We also arranged for series’ stars to appear at genre fan expos in both Toronto and Calgary.

[Diane: Again, that has nothing to do with the point in that post. Also, TV, eh? was pitched post-launch because we were mistakenly not pitched for the launch, which is fine but don’t count that as a win.]

And as an example of Kevin Crull’s efforts to duplicate the Quebec star system, we shone the spotlight on Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany when CTV flew her to Regina to be a presenter on The 2013 Juno Awards. After being interviewed by dozens of journalists on the Juno Awards red carpet, she was then introduced to 1.9 million viewers on the CTV broadcast.

[Diane: She’s amazing. Nothing to do with my post, and it was the Montreal Gazette who said he didn’t offer a plan about the star system, not me, but she’s amazing.]

But back to Wild’s original concerns: that she couldn’t obtain episodic descriptions for either Motive or Orphan Black via the May “monthly highlight” press releases from CTV and Space. In the case of Motive, the press release was issued a day late, and, as indicated by Wild, excluded Motive information for that particular week. However, it included descriptions for the rest of the month – hardly the coming of a promotional apocalypse as described.

[Diane: I did not describe a coming promotional apocalypse. I made a joke about a zombie vs clone apocalypse, as a “fun” intro to highlight that the Space programming highlight release revealed episode descriptions about a zombie movie and a serialized zombie show but not the serialized clone show. I’m not saying I’m a comedy writer or anything, but zombie apocalypses are kind of a thing.]

In the case of Orphan Black, the program is a serialized drama, and therefore a decision was made to exclude spoiler episodic information, but rather reinforce the timeslot in the release. As Wild notes, the information continues to be available on Bell Media’s media site, the go-to information source for media. We continue to evaluate our strategy in imparting this type information to media on a week-to-week basis.

[Diane: It would have been good to inform the media that episode descriptions would now only be available on the media site and provide the direct link to the media kit where the information resides. It also would have been good to include the next episode description at least, especially given the fact that it was available on the BBC America website. I was not the only media to note the absence. This was part of my point – the scrambling to find information that should be provided in a consistent way. Especially in a week when you’re publicly touting your promotions. There’s also that week where it was going to be a rerun but ended up being new.]

The suggestion that Motive and Orphan Black are not promoted on CTV.ca or Space.ca is dumbfounding. As mentioned, both series are featured in their respective sites’ promotional “marquees” (the rotating carousel of featured upcoming programming), driving to each week’s broadcast. Further, both series are featured in leaderboard ads that appear on their respective sites.

[Diane: I am dumbfounded that Mr. Henderson thinks I said Motive and Orphan Black are not promoted at all on CTV.ca or Space.ca. I said besides not having the usual programming highlights media releases, the show websites that week – which happened to be the week Henderson spoke at the Academy and Crull was quoted in the Montreal Gazette — did not have information on whether that week’s episode was new, what the episode was called or about or who the guest stars were, or have an episode-specific promo on the page. This is very basic promotional support and was not provided in a week where senior executives were speaking about their promotional efforts.]

On the Motive web page, which also features episodic photo galleries, news, video and Motive’s companion web series The Dark Corner, episodic descriptions are posted on the day of airing.

[Diane: Not on the series homepage, as I said. It is posted this week, so perhaps I’m not so misguided in suggesting that should be a basic promotional activity?]

On the Orphan Black web page, episodic descriptions have previously pushed to post-broadcast, online, on-demand streaming. Moving forward, we intend to feature each week’s upcoming episodic description on Space.ca.

Sadly, in today’s age of social media, it is apparently easier to lob cheap accusations on Twitter and publish sardonic blog posts, then pick up the phone to call a PR professional for information. With one quick phone call (or e-mail), this information would have been provided. But rather, Bell Media is accused of hiding our original programs “in witness protection” and “protecting them from prying eyes.”

[Diane: My point is not boo hoo I didn’t get the information, it’s that forcing media and the audience to dig for the information or be pro-active in getting that information is not good promotion. I could have called you Wednesday night when I realized I didn’t have the Motive description yet, but that doesn’t mean I would have shut up about what should be done better to promote episodes of the show. And given that I don’t get paid to run TV, eh? — networks do not purchase advertising on TV, eh? to promote their shows — I did not make the phone call.]

Most offensive is the blog’s positioning of our alleged anti-promo agenda under the big, dark, cloak of “Bell”, as if the people working at Bell Media were nameless, faceless, corporate drones.

[Diane: It’s disingenuous to believe anyone could write a post without referring to the corporate entity by name. I referred to the specific names of people who I feel bear the ultimate responsibility for resourcing and PR direction, including Mr. Henderson, and who have been public about the challenges of promotion. I deliberately did not name the specific CTV/Space PR people I deal with who are accommodating and helpful, and have no way of naming — nor would I — the specific person responsible for not updating the show websites or sending out a timely programming media release or operating the MotiveTV twitter account.]

There are hundreds and hundreds of people who walk into Bell Media each day with the sole purpose and desire of developing, producing, and promoting the best Canadian TV possible. We are the development execs who embrace scripts, assemble talent, and guide production. We are the editors who figure out the best way to promote each week’s episode in 15-30 seconds. We are the schedulers who research, explore, and assess the best timeslot possible. We are the creative directors who conceptualize photo shoots to execute the perfect print ad. We are the lawyers and accountants who find amazingly creative means to finance production. We are the programmers who make heartbreaking decisions about which programs to put on air. We are the graphic designers who produce clever press kits. And we are the publicists – the most in the country – whose primary focus is the promotion of Canadian TV. That’s who “Bell” is.

While the cynicism inherent in Wild’s “dare” to Canadian broadcasters is deeply troubling, the overall allegation is simply illogical. Why would Canadian broadcasters let Canadian productions flounder on their own, after investing so much energy, resources, time, and, without a doubt, heart?

The answer?

We don’t.

Sincerely,

Scott Henderson

Vice-President, Communications, Bell Media

[Diane: The cynical answer? A significant reason Canadian broadcasters invest energy, resources and time into Canadian productions is that it’s a condition of their license from the CRTC. Do they invest more than the minimum required by their licence and by benefits package spending? I wish the breakdown of those numbers were publicly available but signs point to no.

Another cynical answer? Why would Bell rerun and not promote Motive regularly now? The US broadcast partner will pick up some of the ongoing promotional burden. CTV is rerunning Motive season one in simulcast with the ABC airing starting the week after the (to-be-promoted) CTV finale.  Coincidental timing, or planned to flow directly into the US airing by adding the reruns mid-season? Mr. Henderson didn’t counter my point about Crull’s comments on regular timeslots. Why the timeslot change and reruns, if not the Sunday competition and to time the end of CTV’s run with the US premiere?

Why in the past has The Listener been bounced around the CTV schedule? To make room for US shows in simulcast.

So yes, I’m cynical about the value and support Canadian broadcasters put into Canadian content. TV, eh? is my effort to support the Canadian television industry, and my opinion means nothing if it doesn’t include examining what it needs to do better as well as what it gets right. I post what they do right in their own words regularly through their media releases, as well as in my own posts, tweets and podcasts.

I’m cynical, too, because the only time I’ve ever heard directly from a Bell VP of Communications in the years I’ve been helping promote their Canadian content is to scold me about my opinion that they need to do more to support Canadian content.]

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Diane Wild

Diane is the founder of TV, eh? She loves books, movies, TV, science, space, traveling, theatre, art, cats, and drinking multiple beverages at the same time.
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55 thoughts on “Bell responds to TV, eh?’s “Walk The Talk” post”

    1. Haha – sure. We’re safe in repercussions given they obviously don’t listen to the podcast. Otherwise a) I’d have gotten way more angry emails from them b) they’d know I’ve been raving about Orphan Black and praised their premiere launches.

  1. At the Telecom Summit in Toronto last year George Cope announced that Bell Media’s profit would be negatively affected by the Olympics due to the loss of channel substitution advertising revenues.

    So even during the rerun season, Bell media expects to make its profits from channel substitution.

    My guess is that Candian shows are seen as a necessary cost of doing business in Canada. (a cost centre) and as such, they do not expect to make profits from them, hence no elaborate advertising campaigns to reach people who do not watch CTV.

    1. That’s exactly what I thought. Too bad he couldn’t step back & take an unbiased look at what Diane has written – might be an eye-opener. Maybe next time?

  2. “Sadly, in today’s age of social media, it is apparently easier to lob cheap accusations on Twitter and publish sardonic blog posts, then pick up the phone to call a PR professional for information. With one quick phone call (or e-mail), this information would have been provided.”

    So I, Joe Public, can now call the CTV PR dept if I can’t find something on the web or otherwise have difficulty in finding out info on upcoming episodes. Great! What’s that number again? I wanna put it my speed dial … [cue Ghostbusters theme] “Who ya gonna call? CTV PR professionals!”

  3. Isn’t there an expression “Success needs no excuses?” The fact that he got so angry about your criticism, Diane, probably makes its own point.

    But it also reveals recurring problems in Canadian entertainment. Frankly, if he was sincere, he should be praising the fact that there are people like you (and TV, Eh?) who care enough to be frustrated. Yes, he should absolutely rebut if he disagrees, and you to him — that’s healthy — but in the spirit of “we all want the same thing.” More to the point, his “everything’s fine, nothing to see here, move along” doesn’t entirely take us anywhere. You weren’t writing anything that hasn’t been said, written, (or thought!) by many other people, so it makes you wonder what sand bank his head has been in if he is shocked by these criticisms.

  4. This is my favourite line:

    “There are hundreds and hundreds of people who walk into Bell Media each day with the sole purpose and desire of developing, producing, and promoting the best Canadian TV possible.”

    Hundreds and hundreds of people every day.

    It might be interesting to see some of the pitches that don’t get picked up.

    And just a note for the Motive marketing dep’t, the murder is ALWAYS just the beginning, on every cop show ever, in every mystery novel ever.

  5. Your post/podcast were in no way inappropriate. The worst you could be accused of is caring about seeing more, better quality Canadian series on Canadian TV. He clearly mistakes your passion for vitriol. You called him on his shit and it felt the need to strike out rather than take responsibility. Sad. As for ORPHAN BLACK in particular, I don’t know all the details, but my understanding is that it was developed via the Canadian Film Centre and not within the network development system.

    When Bell and the other broadcasters dare to meet more than their minimum requirements, we might have a chance to create an industry we are proud of instead of being a farm team for the US networks where best and brightest writers, actors, directors etc. must move to make a living (and to be hired by Canadian networks). A producer friend of mine has a series in development with CTV – he was given a list of preferred writers they wanted to deal with — ALL of whom lived in LA. They were Canadians working on prominent US series or landed immigrants. The reality is, the goal of Canadian broadcasters is not to put a show on Canadian TV but to put a Canadian-ish show on US TV. The best way to do that is to have creative talent that already has the US stamp of approval. I have experienced this first hand.

    Some years back, GLOBAL discovered that their ads for series could be counted as CANCON; the result was they ran more commercials for their shows and banked the commercial time so they could produce fewer episodes! 120 30 second ads = 60 minutes of CANCON. I wonder if this is still the case?

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  6. Scott Henderson earns a six figure salary as VP Communications for Bell Media. Diane Wilde, who actually promotes his shows earns nothing. That, in a nutshell, is everything that’s wrong with Canadian television.

    1. Jim has hit the nail on the head on this point.

      As for the other points you rock it Diane.

      When Corner Gas and Idol are trotted out as great examples of effectively promoting Canadian productions it makes me wonder why our little show of that exact era was buried. Is it that then, as perhaps it is now, promotion $ are even more selective than show pickups?

      Yes perhaps that sounds like sour grapes so I won’t dwell on it.

      Great work as usual Diane.

  7. interesting stuff. not to drag this way out into tangent land, but i don’t think it’s the case that Bell only wants to work with US-based Canadian writers, or Canadian writers who have otherwise received an American seal of approval. sure, they are obviously attracted to writers whom the market perceives to be talented (and experience on a popular US show may demonstrate said talent), but they have plenty of history with Canadian-based writers. look at the staff of Played.

    1. Did not intend to imply they would ONLY work with US network friendly writers, but in terms of showrunners it is a distinct preference.

      1. orphan black, played, flashpoint, bitten — aren’t those all canadian based showrunners? the canadian based writers tend to be the people the execs see the most over the years, as they’re the ones who keep coming back in to pitch, and who staff on their shows. often, series orders stem (at least partly) from relationships which are more likely to develop between execs and showrunners who are based locally, because they see each other more, and have worked with each other. obviously Bell draws from both sides of the pool, and do get enticed by writers with US cred, but plenty of canadian based showrunners have legitimate inroads to Bell, or the means to develop them. it’s up to the writers to bring them ideas that work on their network. no point in being defeatist about it.

        that all said, should they be producing more indigenous television instead of simulcasting what’s already flooding the market? definitely.

  8. He didn’t get into Orphan Black much so I didn’t either, but it was developed by the CFC, BBC America picked it up and then Rogers, so it was further developed. When Rogers pulled out Bell stepped in. That doesn’t mean they weren’t involved in development at that point but they did not spearhead or shepherd the project. And as for its ratings,it’s doing very well – before last ep Space says averaging 380,000 or around there. My math isn’t good enough to figure out what it means that 5-6 episodes have that average when the premiere got 504,000 but it’s good enough to know it’s dropped since launch and the pr basics like is it a new episode and why is this episode exciting shouldn’t be dropped.

  9. I was at the CTV upfronts one year, Ivan Fecan came out on stage and said “CTV is the best network in North America because we can pick and choose the most popular programs from the American Networks and put them all on one channel.”

    They heavily promoted all the American shows, giving the stars plenty of stage time (This was the year they flew Clay Aken up to sing).

    The only Canadian show they promoted? Corner Gas. Which consisted of Brent Butt walking out on stage, waving, then walking off.

    The idea that CTV supports or promotes Canadian content because they want to is complete bullshit. They do it because they’re mandated by the CRTC, and if they’re getting defensive about it now, it’s because they’re desperately trying to buy Astral and don’t want to look bad in front of the CRTC.

    Fuck these guys. Diane, you work way too hard, for no money, to be treated like this.

  10. So the gist of Henderson’s message is: “The PR pros at Bell are doing everything right and Diane should have done more or done something diferently.”

    Hahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha

    Those good people bustin’ their humps at Bell must hate that the ususal intimidation tactics of withholding access, screeners etc can’t work with someone who’s not dependent on playing their game to do his/her job, and ultimately pay the mortgage.

    1. I should say they have never threatened to blacklist me. I did consider the potential to be blacklisted before I posted this but my feeling is it would have little effect on how I run the site and if it did hamper my efforts significantly, I can easily (if sadly) walk away from it.

  11. Rock on, Diane! Thank you for making the industry, and especially in this case the marketing arm, accountable.

  12. I really think this comes down to skill and not only to desire. These PR hacks have no real concept of how to promote a show and are used to being spoonfed from the US

    1. Yes! Totally agree. It’s about time they were called out for their incompetence instead of passing it on as a content problem.

  13. For Bell to take any credit on the promotional push of Orphan Black is completely disingenuous. In the lead up to the launch, Tatiana Maslany appeared in People, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue and the Hollywood Reporter, no thanks to the Space PR department, but top notch marketing work done by BBC America (who saw an opportunity to put themselves on the scripted drama map), and her American reps (who not-so-secretly sense an opportunity to get their client an Emmy nomination).

    And what did Bell do? Run promos of the show on Space? Maybe a few on the CTV main net? Yes, they gave it a great lead-in. But as Diane pointed out in another piece (or was it her podcast?) that decision was made entirely by BBC America. Of their “over 200 media hits” they cite, I’m curious, which ones were run on websites, print, or specialty channels not owned by BCE? Just because you’re a horizontally integrated conglomerate doesn’t mean you can run promos for free on outlets you already own and call it a successful promotional strategy.

    Bell let their American partner do all the heavy lifting, then pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Thankfully for audiences, there’s great awareness for a top-notch Canadian show. Unfortunately, when Bell launches their next project, if there’s no American co-producer aboard, how can anyone feel confident an audience will even know it exists given the arrogance and complacency of their marketing department?

  14. “Sadly, in today’s age of social media, it is apparently easier to lob cheap accusations on Twitter and publish sardonic blog posts, then pick up the phone to call a PR professional for information. ”

    This just comes off as petty. Try engaging in a dialogue next time Scott.

  15. On a separate note, this is not how a PR pro should respond to your post. The classic strategy would be for him to assume a genuinely dumbfounded, yet friendly, tone that undermines you while sounding like a nice guy. For instance:

    “We didn’t promo Orphan Black the same way as Flashpoint — even though our Flashpoint PR was hugely successful — because we didn’t want to give away spoilers. It’s a bit of an experiment for us, and your feedback will be useful as we plan for next season.” [Thus making you seem unreasonably critical, while getting in the point that they promoted Flashpoint successfully.]

    Followed by:

    “Diane, I’m so sorry you aren’t getting our PR materials. They’re on our media website. Are you not signed up for that? We probably should make a better outreach to independent bloggers instead of primarily promoting our shows through ____” [extensive list of media pr, making it look as if you just don’t bother to do legwork, but doing so in such a friendly way that he looks like the good guy].

    Followed by:

    “I appreciate that you took time to offer suggestions about things we could do better. Many of them aren’t actually feasible, for various reasons too complex to go in an email, but if you have time, let’s have a coffee. My treat!” [Thus dissing your ideas without having to actually combat them, while simultaneously trying to draw you into the CTV tent so you’ll feel less comfortable being critical in the future.]

    Ending with:

    “May I ask you one more favor? Could you please post this response on your blog? It’s possible that other bloggers have some of the same issues you do about getting our media materials. Since you’re one of the most important media blogs in Canada, I’m sure all the other bloggers are reading you…” [Thus flattering you into publishing his diss, so he comes out smelling like a rose.]

    Boom! That’s how it’s done.

    Instead, he sent a strident CYA memo that alienates the very people he most dearly wishes would shut up. Bad PR. Which proves your point.

    1. That’s my take – if it had been jokey, friendly and acknowledging there’s ways to improve it could have been a win for them. But note it’s not a matter of blogger vs media – I am on their media lists and do have access to their media site. In that week where they were out talking about promotion, they stopped distributing to media the way they used to – and other media tweeted complaints. It’s also an audience facing issue given that the show websites did not have information on whether that week’s episode was new or any compelling description or promo to watch it. So I agree with your premise but their misrepresentation of what I wrote originally is part of why I’m upset. Their media relations and website updating failed, not their blogger outreach.

      Also if he’d invited me for coffee I’d have asked for airfare to Toronto ;)

      1. Yes, I get that. I’m just saying that’s how they should have spun it — to put words in your mouth, but in such a nice way that you sounded unpleasant or shrill if you pointed out the inaccuracy.

        1. I’m sure they think I’m shrill and unpleasant already :) But yes, this was a response designed to get my back up and not designed to get support from people who read my site.

  16. Here’s my take – a “six figure salary” earning VP for Canada’s largest media company personally responds to a scrappy blogger? Sounds like great PR to me.

    1. Also, when did we earn the right to be so precious about the postal, or rather, zipcodes of our producers/writers? You’re right – let’s return to the halcyon days of The Littlest Hobo. Viewers are clearly chomping at the bit for Canadian content that resonates ONLY within our borders.

    2. You mean he’s supposed to get points for deigning to respond to me? That doesn’t seem to be happening. He turned my specific complaint about 2 Canadian broadcasters, posted on a weekend (aka lowest readership days), into a bigger issue about Bell.

      If you mean good PR for me … I guess I owe him coffee.

  17. “In the case of Orphan Black, the program is a serialized drama, and therefore a decision was made to exclude spoiler episodic information”

    Seems to me that if your PR writers don’t know how to write spoiler-free episode-specific descriptions then you need to fire them and hire new writers.

  18. Yahoo, Diane!!!! And I agree with jayembee…I’m a writer looking for work. I can write spoiler-free episode specific descriptions!

  19. “Frankly, you can take a good show and kill it by negligent scheduling and you can take the same show and make it a hit by brilliant scheduling. It’s a real craft, and that wasn’t practised much here because in private broadcasting up until now, the programmer’s job was mostly to choose what to simulcast. The programming is effectively done in Los Angeles.”

    – Ivan Fecan, former CTV pres., Playback, January 3, 1994.

    An oldie, but a goodie.

  20. As member of the Motive producer team I can attest to the professionalism, support and championing of our show from the publicity and scheduling team at CTV/Bell Media. I know Scott Henderson as a consummate professional who is sincerely committed to Canadian programming.
    We are also fans and readers of TV eh, and I would venture that this dialogue reflects the committment and passion that both parties bring to the support of Canadian productions.

    Our broadcast partners took an unprecedented and risky approach to commisssioning Motive by insisting that they retain world premiere rights so that they would be able to premiere, launch and schedule this Canadian production on their own terms. They used the Superbowl as the launch platform and when Sunday night premiere cable proved challenging to our new show, moved it to Thursday nights where it found a comfortable home. Now that ABC has come into the mix , even without the usual US world premiere rights, (which is no small matter) Bell renewed us for a second season prior to the US broadcast and is repeating in simulcast to help strategically grow the Canadian audience for season 2 and to enhance Motives play between seasons. They have taken an innovative approach and risk and continue to be excellent partners. We want to raise the bar on both the production and broadcast sides and I am confident that together, we will continue to build on what has been accomplished in season one.

    1. Getting the Motive producer to weigh in on how great CTV is should have been the first thing Mr.Henderson did. At this stage it seems a bit conspicuous.

      1. It shouldn’t be any more conspicuous than any of the other comments, really. I’ve met people at Lark and know some follow this site, plus it’s natural they would support Bell’s promotional efforts, especially publicly. They also supplement Bell’s promotional efforts, and don’t speak for everyone involved with the show (nor do I – even less so).

        As far as I know, Shaftesbury has never been publicly critical of the timeslot changes to The Listener, either, though there are people on the show who have made public comments. There are virtually 3 media companies where a producer can sell a show. Any producer would be insane to speak out against one of the biggest.

        Lark’s response is the kind of tone and content that Mr. Henderson might have done well to adopt. For one, they acknowledge where he denied that Sunday competition caused the timeslot move, and that the reruns that caused a ratings dip were to adjust the season to flow into the ABC airing. He invented accusations I did not make, did not answer half the accusations I did make, denied those obvious observations, and seems unaware of the general purpose and tone of this website.

        I’ve spoken before about the impressive launch for Motive, and mentioned it in the original post. That Walk the Talk post made very specific points about where they fell down in promotions at a time when they were very publicly talking about their promotional efforts. It was posted on a weekend (aka a low readership day) and attracted little of this kind of attention. I’ve said far more incendiary things in previous posts and podcast, though not with such specific complaints. It hit a nerve likely because of the timing, during the CRTC hearings about the Bell/Astral merger, and that I was pointing out human errors — not that he agrees they’re errors — and none of us know each other as humans.

        The difference between a network whose core business is Canadian content and one whose core business is simulcasting American programming? I’ve met and had regular discussions with a CBC head of programming, head of communications, and many of the PR people. The then-head of CBC communications reached out to me in the early days of this site when I was having trouble with their media relations to resolve those issues and tell me to contact him if they resurfaced. They have media events in Vancouver where I’ve met them and the stars of their shows. They attempt to arrange interviews with me for all their shows. So when I write a post saying how CBC is not the public broadcaster I want, that their shows are often mediocre but competent, and they cancel the only traces of risk or brilliance because their mandate is now to chase ratings, they expect my angle and know the context to place it in. I’m sure they think I’m a pain in the ass too but they’re smart enough not to tell me that.

        I can say none of that about Bell. I’ve never heard from Mr. Henderson before. I don’t get the impression he knows this site, and he certainly isn’t familiar with what I’ve said in podcasts about the Motive launch, Flashpoint’s last season promotion (though don’t get me started on their early seasons timeslot switches either). Motive shoots in the city I live and the only interview I was offered was for the webisodes, not the show. I know I could reach out to CTV’s PR people to ask for one. I chose not to pursue it because I have limited time for interviews and I’m offered enough by other networks and production companies — including Shaftesbury for The Listener when they were shooting out here.

        I’m far less likely to want to write anything positive about Bell given this kind of heavy handed and evasive response. They’re probably far less likely to want to work with me. This could have been a good dialogue about our mutual passion for Canadian television … but this wasn’t it.

  21. What a way for the company I used to call the “tri-coloured empire” (when they were still called CTVglobemedia) to be throwing its weight around. Way too defensive. Bad PR for them.

  22. Diane – you are doing tremendous work to support Canadian production and I am a big fan of your blog. That being said – CTV team also is doing incredible work to support Canadian production. Both of you work tirelessly and are committed to making audiences aware of our great original programming, which is not easy given the amount of entertainment options vying for Canadian’s attention. But I am not sure how this dialogue really helps engender a postive attitude towards Canadian original programming? Maybe you and this Henderson guy need to hug it out?

    1. It doesn’t help at all. On the other hand, that’s not my mandate – my mandate is to let people know about the shows so they can decide for themselves if they want to watch. So if I think networks are falling down on their part of that, I say so. And if a network doesn’t update the show websites or send information to media I believe that’s falling down on their part. Henderson doesn’t think it’s an issue and he told me so in the most contemptuous way possible. I’ll hug my cat and let him do his thing.

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