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CBC and Sundance TV greenlight miniseries Unspeakable

From a media release:

CBC and SundanceTV have greenlit a new eight-part drama miniseries UNSPEAKABLE focused on the tainted blood scandal in Canada in the early 1980s. Created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis), who will also serve as showrunner and executive producer, the project is produced by Cooper’s Mezo Entertainment and will be filmed in Canada in early 2018 for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S., with AMC Studios managing worldwide distribution outside of Canada.

Based on first-person experience and two non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, UNSPEAKABLE chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were unnecessarily infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars of compensation to victims. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood.

A CBC and SundanceTV original series, UNSPEAKABLE is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists’ Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. Cooper is currently showrunning season two of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” for BBC America, Netflix and AMC Studios.

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Discovery announces 2017/18 original programming slate; Canadian hits headline network’s 2017 fall lineup

From a media release:

Discovery, primetime’s most-watched entertainment specialty network in Canada among total viewers and key adult demos, announced its 2017 fall lineup today, headlined by an unrivaled 2017/18 original Canadian programming slate. Discovery’s primetime schedule continues to be underpinned by an unprecedented array of wildly popular homegrown programs for fall and winter, produced both in-house and in partnership with some of the country’s most successful independent production companies. In all, Discovery features six brand new programs joining 13 returning original series to headline its schedule for the 2017/18 broadcast year.

New to Discovery’s production slate are character-driven series LAST STOP GARAGE, airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 23; ROCKY MOUNTAIN RAILROAD (Winter 2018); and HELLFIRE HEROES (Spring 2018). These series are complemented by one-of-a-kind original specials, including the Exploration Production Inc. (EPI)-produced SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS (Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT), featuring DAILY PLANET’s Dan Riskin, as well as the cutting-edge mystery solver from Discovery’s popular “DRAIN” series, DRAIN ALCATRAZ, coming this November.

Following the network’s first foray into original scripted drama last fall, Discovery features the exclusive and thrilling world debut of FRONTIER’s second season, airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 18. Featuring international film star and Canadian Screen Award nominee Jason Momoa (Justice League), the new season sees new alliances threatening to topple the established power dynamic, as loyalties shift and old wounds fester.

But first, the Fall 2017 schedule kicks off with Season 23 of Discovery’s flagship series DAILY PLANET currently enjoying its most-watched year in series history continuing to go where no one else dares. Kicking off a new season with “Boldly Go Week”, airing Monday, Aug. 28 through Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, the original series currently reaches more than 1.4 million viewers each week, and continues to win its 7 p.m. ET timeslot versus other Canadian entertainment specialty channels among key adult demos.

The 2017 fall season follows a highly successful broadcast year for Discovery’s original Canadian programs, which featured the debut of HEAVY RESCUE: 401 in January as the #1 original Canadian series launch of the season on entertainment specialty television, followed by last fall’s world debut of the network’s new scripted series FRONTIER. In 2016/17, Discovery was also home to the most-watched unscripted specialty series in Canada among A18-34 and A18-49, CANADA’S WORST DRIVER.

Winning three of seven nights per week in primetime among A25-54 viewers – more than any other entertainment specialty network – Discovery also claims four of the Top 10 series on entertainment specialty television in the current broadcast year withCANADA’S WORST DRIVER, HEAVY RESCUE: 401, GOLD RUSH, and HIGHWAY THRU HELL.

Looking forward to Discovery’s 2017/18 original programming slate, below are key programming highlights in chronological order:

Fall 2017 Original Programming Highlights

  • Internationally recognized winner of the Canadian Screen Award for Best News or Information Series, DAILY PLANET returns for its 23rd season – Monday-Friday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT beginning Aug. 28.
  • Top 10 Entertainment Specialty program HIGHWAY THRU HELL returns for Season 6 – Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT beginning Sept. 5.
  • Investigating the stories and science behind major aviation crashes, Season 17 of MAYDAYFridays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT beginning Sept. 8.
  • Exploring the genius of flight technology with the aid of high-end CGI is Season 4 of MIGHTY PLANES Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT beginning Sept. 10.
  • Long-time international favourite, HOW IT’S MADE returns for Season 30 –Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT beginning Sept. 11.
  • Traveling the world to explore how everyday objects can be deconstructed and reimagined in incredible ways, MADE BY DESTRUCTION returns for Season 2 – Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT beginning Sept. 11.
  • **NEW SPECIAL** As its final act, Cassini – the largest interplanetary spacecraft NASA has ever built – will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere, collecting unprecedented science to end its 13-year mission orbiting the ringed jewel of the solar system. The one-hour special SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS(Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT) unveils the engineering of the mammoth spacecraft, while shining a light on the team that responsible for a range of incredible discoveries.
  • As new alliances threaten to topple the established power dynamic, loyalities shift and old wounds fester in the thrilling second season of FRONTIER (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 18), headlining Discovery’s fall schedule with a six-episode broadcast event.
  • **NEW SERIES** LAST STOP GARAGE (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 23) follows the often hilarious antics of CRB Automotive, the sole auto repair shop at the end of the only road left before hitting the most remote North American wilderness.
  • Discovery’s most-watched original series among key adult demos, CANADA’S WORST DRIVER (Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 23) enters its 13th season.
  • Season 2 of TOUGHER THAN IT LOOKS (Mondays at 11 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. PT beginning Oct. 23) stars CANADA’S WORST DRIVER’s Andrew Younghusband in search of wildly different experiences in each episode.
  • **NEW SPECIAL** The world’s most infamous prison was also its most inescapable. But why? Many have tried to solve this mystery, but none have searched beneath the waves…until now. DRAIN ALCATRAZ (November 2017) uses cutting-edge CGI and sophisticated technology to “drain” the seas and scrub the sediments, revealing once and for all why Alcatraz was so difficult to escape.
  • **NEW SPECIAL** Inspired by the best-selling book from author and DAILY PLANET co-host Dan Riskin, MOTHER NATURE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU (Fall 2017) takes viewers on a lively romp through the underbelly of the natural world. With a unique combination of animation and live action footage, Mother Nature has never looked so twisted. The one-hour special brings to life the sordid tales of insects, animals, and creatures behaving in such shocking fashion that viewers will surely never think of nature in the same beautiful, pleasant way again.
  • Long-running international hit MIGHTY SHIPS (December 2017) sets sail on a new high-stakes voyage for Season 10, taking viewers on the journey and below the surface to explore places and technologies that are usually off-limits to land lovers.

Additional NEW Original Series Coming in 2017/18

  • ROCKY MOUNTAIN RAILROAD (Winter 2018) takes viewers on an action-packed journey to discover an extraordinary Canadian way of life, meeting everyone from off-gridders whose sole source of resupply is the rail to the hardy crews who do whatever it takes to keep these extreme railroads running.
  • Character-driven docuseries HELLFIRE HEROES (Spring 2018) gets up-close-and-personal with firefighters who’ll do just about anything to keep their community safe in the bullseye of the forest fire danger zone, Alberta’s remote Slave Lake.

Additional Returning Original Canadian Series Coming in 2017/18

  • Last season’s most-watched Canadian program debut, HEAVY RESCUE: 401(Winter 2018) returns for a second season to follow Heavy Rescue operators as they keep some of North America’s busiest highways moving.
  • Following the adventures of the jade-mining Bunce Family in northern B.C. is Season 4 of JADE FEVER (Winter 2018).
  • Season 31 of HOW IT’S MADE (Winter 2018) returns for a second helping this broadcast year, continuing to look behind the scenes at how everyday things are manufactured during Season 31.
  • Returning to investigate more major aviation disasters is Season 18 of MAYDAY (Winter 2018).
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CBC News announces new Sunday morning talk show starring Wendy Mesley

From a media release:

CBC News today announced a new Sunday morning talk show to be hosted by award-winning journalist Wendy Mesley. Launching in early 2018, the interactive program will focus on the intersection of media, technology and politics and be broadcast live on CBC and CBC News Network every Sunday morning, with further details to be confirmed at a later date.

In the new program, Mesley will put players from both media and politics in the spotlight as she pushes for answers and transparency, and provides critical analysis on how the newsmakers of the week are delivering their messages. The show will broadcast live from CBC in Toronto and feature a wide range of Canadian and global contributors and guests.

Mesley began her broadcast journalism career in 1979, first with CTV’s CFCF in Montreal before moving to CBC as a legislative reporter for local news and The National, based in Quebec City. During this six-year period, she covered the first referendum on sovereignty and some of the most fascinating politicians of our times, including René Lévesque and Pierre Trudeau. In 1985, Mesley moved to Ottawa as CBC’s first female correspondent to cover the prime minister from the parliamentary press gallery for The National. During this intensely political time, Mesley reported on such stories as the battles over free trade, the GST and the constitution, and soon after became the anchor of The National on Sundays. In 1994, Mesley helped create and hosted CBC’s award-winning news program Undercurrents, which examined the media and marketing world. Mesley currently hosts The National on Friday and Sunday evenings, and is also the host of CBC’s acclaimed documentary program The Passionate Eye. Mesley has won multiple Gemini Awards and this year won Best News Host or Interviewer at the Canadian Screen Awards. In 2006, Mesley was honoured with the John Drainie Award for her contribution to Canadian broadcasting.

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Link: The CRTC Is Endangering Canadian Culture And Creators

From Maureen Parker for The Huffington Post:

Link: The CRTC Is Endangering Canadian Culture And Creators
The Canadian industry that creates new shows, whatever screen you watch them on, is very small, as is the Canadian marketplace. And, as in most of the western world except the U.S., new shows are subsidized by government regulation. Why? Because it’s extremely expensive to make programming like drama, for instance, whether it’s for traditional broadcast or streaming. So, all those unique shows from around the world we love to watch — Denmark’s Borgen, England’s Broadchurch, or Canada’s Orphan Black or Letterkenny — don’t get made without some kind of regulation. It’s called supporting our own culture. It’s called having our own Canadian communities, histories, ideas, quirks and humour represented, written by the people who can best do that: Canadian screenwriters. Continue reading.

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Minister Joly Announces New Leadership at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

From a media release:

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, is pleased to announce the appointments of Ian Scott as Chairperson and Caroline J. Simard as Vice-Chairperson (Broadcasting) of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). These appointments are the result of the Government of Canada’s open, transparent and merit-based selection process for Governor in Council appointments.

Mr. Ian Scott has over 25 years’ experience in the broadcasting and telecommunications industries and in the public sector. Most recently Executive Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Telesat Canada, Mr. Scott has held a variety of senior executive roles in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Past executive positions include Vice President of Federal Government Relations for Telus, and executive positions in both government and regulatory matters at Call-Net Enterprises and with the Canadian Cable Television Association. In addition to his work in the private sector, Mr. Scott has significant experience in the public sector at both the Federal Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. He was educated at McGill University.

Dr. Caroline Simard, PhD in law (McGill) and member of the Barreau du Québec, has extensive expertise in telecommunications and broadcasting regulation. She is currently Legal Counsel within the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a position she has held since 2007, where she has worked on the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act. From 2004 to 2007, Ms. Simard was Senior Telecommunications Expert with the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, Switzerland, which is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technologies. She had previously held positions with the Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation (CÉIM) at Université du Québec à Montréal, Verrier Pacquin Hébert Consultants Inc., Téléglobe Inc. and others. Ms. Simard was educated at McGill University, Université du Québec à Montréal, and Université de Montréal.

Mr. Scott will serve as Chairperson for a five-year term, beginning on September 5, 2017. Ms. Simard will also serve for a term of five years, effective as of September 11, 2017.

In addition to these two appointments, Christianne M. Laizner has been appointed to serve as Interim Vice-Chairperson (Telecommunications), for a term of up to one year. Ms. Laizner, whose appointment is effective as of July 17, 2017, joined the CRTC in 2010 as General Counsel, Telecommunications, and since 2013, has held the position of Senior General Counsel and Executive Director of the CRTC Legal Sector. She has held senior-level positions in other federal departments for many years. Before joining the public service, Ms. Laizner was a partner in the Chown Cairns law firm in St. Catharines, Ontario. Ms. Laizner was called to the Ontario Bar in 1982, and holds an LLB from Western University and a B.A. (Hons) from McGill University.

The CRTC is an administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications on behalf of the Canadian public. The Commission is dedicated to ensuring that Canadians—as citizens, creators and consumers—have access to a world-class communication system that promotes innovation and enriches their lives.

Quotes

“This is a dynamic team that will bring new vision and leadership to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Mr. Scott and Dr. Simard have extensive experience in the industry and a deep understanding of what Canadians expect in their telecommunications and broadcasting systems. These leaders will implement a strong vision for the CRTC, focusing on service to Canadians and supporting the production and dissemination of diverse creative content that will lead to the success of our telecommunications, creators and creative industries in the digital era.”
—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“I congratulate these accomplished leaders, who will bring a diversity of perspectives to Canada’stelecommunications and broadcast regulator. Under their leadership, the CRTC will continue to champion the social and economic needs of Canadians by encouraging more competition and innovation among telecommunications providers. This way, all Canadians will benefit from a broader choice of high-quality services at affordable prices. The prosperity of Canadians depends on their ability to have access to these services, which allow them to thrive in a global and digital economy.”
—The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick Facts

  • The CRTC’s senior roles are Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson (Broadcasting) and Vice-Chairperson (Telecommunications). These are full-time positions appointed by the Governor in Council.
  • A selection process for the position of Vice-Chairperson (Telecommunications) will be launched in the near future.
  • In 2016, the Government of Canada adopted a new approach to appointments by the Governor in Council. This approach respects gender parity and is supported by an open, transparent and merit-based selection process—one that will result in the recommendation of exceptionally competent candidates who reflect Canada’s diversity.
  • All appointment opportunities for the 18 organizations in the Canadian Heritage Portfolio are being posted as they become available on the Governor in Council Appointments website. Interested parties can apply online.
  • The CRTC mandate focuses on achieving policy objectives established in the Broadcasting Act, the Telecommunications Act and Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL).
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