Pierre Karl Peladeau scrum at CRTCPierre Karl Peladeau scrum at CRTC

Pierre Karl Peladeau scrum, Sept. 11 in Montreal at CRTC hearings into BCE/Astral deal.

Why is bigger bad?

Never happened in Canada it is a combination of Anglo and Franco. It’s something we’ve never seen. Something that is also unique is the combination of telecommunioncstiona and broadcasting. When you look at the footprint not only in terms of market but services not existing anywhere other than Canada if this deal is approved.

When you say it’s a point of no return, what do you mean?

I think the president Blais used right expression – here is where we are in front of an omelette not able to any more separate them. Create a marketplace driven by monopoly mindset bad for consumers and all Canadian citizen

How is it bad for Quebecor?

Look at this as a combination – it’s unique. No Canadian broadcaster that is involved or small in Quebec we do not have any significant presence in English market. First time ever in the Canada you will see a dominant position for the Anglophone market and the francophone market across Canada in speciality channels and conventional channel in telecom and broadcasting. This is unique and it is unique to every other western country because there`s no such a situation elsewhere.

We participate because we are part of industry. Will it affect us É no doubt about this. We talked about their capacity to use their dominant position in terms of ad market. Tva largest broadcaster which is a conventional business which his only  feed or able to get revenue through advertising will have in front of it an array of speciality channel have capacity for royalties and advertising. Weaken our capacity to finance our programming because we’ll have in front of us a monster that will kill the business literally.

Were you in on bidding/ Would you bid if come back?

Not the issue. An issue of looking at what take place in Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications. Question of being a responsible citizen, a corporate citizen. There’s no issue regarding acquisition. To be more specific didn’t have any interest in buying astral.

Is this a war of empires?

We’ve been bringing competition all over the place in telecom and broadcasting. We launch new services we launch new telecom services we launch wireless service in Quebec few others launching wireless other than .. I think we are alone competing bell rogers an TELUS as incumbent other new entrants in Canada good for Canadians seeing more competition seeing invoices coming down for smartphones. Very important not just for citizens but also business because when you compete globally you need to have tools that will make you successfully competing globally we are not afraid of it we are always welcoming competition.

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Sportsnet teaserSportsnet teaser

Media Advisory & Photo Opportunity:

Sportsnet to Make Major Announcement, Tomorrow

Please join members of Sportsnet’s executive team, other sports executives, and athletes for an exciting announcement.

When: Thursday, Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. ET

Where: Real Sports Bar & Grill, Second Floor

Maple Leaf Square
15 York St., Toronto

There will be a photo opportunity immediately following the announcement.

Conference Call available for out of town media: 1-866-611-7803
A recording of the conference call will be available for 24 hours following the announcement.  Please call 1-866-501-5559, with access code 4562669. The recording will be available two hours following the media conference.

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The worst job in journalism?The worst job in journalism?

The Pickering News Advertiser wants you! The ad says it all – you can make money delivering papers that are pre-inserted, take part in cool carrier events and learn important business skills. The most important business skill the newspaper teaches its young employees – and one that will come in handy once the teenage paperboys and girls start looking for internships – is how to work free.

That’s because the paper – which has a press run of 54,000 and is stuffed full of flyers and ads three times a week – doesn’t give its carriers any money. Instead, it has them ask the homeowners on their route for $6 every three weeks that goes directly into their pockets. If homeowners don’t want to pay, they don’t have to as long as they understand that they will continue to be asked every three weeks if they have changed their minds.

Every few weeks, the flyers come wrapped in a colourful advertisement that reminds us of this important fact in rainbow letters. It says “Who pays your newspaper carrier? YOU DO!” It also asks readers to “Please reward your carrier for the quality service they provide.”

It doesn’t add “because we won’t.”

In fairness, the paper does believe the teenagers who deliver its papers are getting something more valuable than money from their part-time job. The ad says my carrier is (these are all quotes):

  • Learning the value of responsibility
  • Ensuring I receive my paper and flyers directly to me home
  • Delivering to my house in rain, snow, extreme cold or heat
  • Ensures on time delivery.

I called to talk to the publisher the first time my teenager carrier asked me for money, because I thought the kid was lying to me. The publisher said it’s always been that way for the paper, and that most people are happy to pay the carriers.

Everyone, that is, except the publisher.

The paper, by the way, is part of Torstar and is apparently the only one in the Metroland division of community papers that has this arrangement with its young carriers. Torstar posted a profit of $35-million in the last quarter.

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Transcon on the national ad marketTranscon on the national ad market

Transcontinental CEO François Olivier on the national ad market in Canada right now:

Q2 for us was stable compared to last year. Not great but not bad. That’s what we see going forward. Not a lot of visibility for busy period of the fall but what we’ve seen so far has been very stable.

Would qualify the market as being very volatile. It’s very hard to predict. We’ve seen a slowdown in growth digit properties. This quarter we area up 7 per cent digitally. The average for us is closer to 20 per cent in prior quarters.

It’s a general slowdown. On the web and in the paper you have some months, and some weaker months.

The industry is just more volatile. Decisions are made at the last minute. Budgets are allocated at the last minute.

Advertisers are still trying to find the right mix between web, paper, new marketing services and a lot of these guys are still experimenting with the transition of the media industry. So it’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen.


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The Real Story Of A Reporter and The SnakeThe Real Story Of A Reporter and The Snake

Usually, it is the media chasing The Snake. I never expected The Snake to chase me. Nor to fear for my safety in his presence.

I’ve been a reporter since a week after The Snake moved to town in 2010. On Tuesday morning, I learned that he had slithered onto a parcel of little-used land adjacent to his house. In a letter to the the city’s executive committee, he said he wanted the check out the land so that he could erect a “better” fence to prevent young people from trespassing on his property and to protect his children.

In his letter, The Snake said the land was a “vacant” parcel; a Go Station official told me it was actually a sliver of city-operated parkland that had mature trees. I decided that I needed to visit the GO Station to see what it actually looked like. I also wanted to see if The Snake’s home already had a fence. And I wanted to see where the land was actually located; the map was confusing.

(This isn’t a real story. I just changed some words in Daniel Dale’s account of his encounter with the Mayor of Toronto. The real story is here, and isn’t actually funny.)

I arrived sometime after 10 a.m.. I walked around the GO bridge toward The Snake’s property. I took note of the trees, then, standing perhaps 10 metres from his wooden backyard fence, emailed an additional two sentences to my editor at 10:03 a.m.. My phone died as I tried to snap photos of the trees and the fencing. I’m still not sure if the parcel I was standing on is the parcel The Snake is looking to acquire, but I can say this with certainty: I never came close to entering his backyard.

Moments after my phone died, The Snake appeared, wearing nothing, at the sole entrance and exit to the GO bridge; he had slithered around from the front of his house. He appeared extremely agitated.

“Hey buddy,” he hissed. “What are you doing? Are you spying on me? Are you spying on me? Are you spying on me?”

I shouted, astonished, that I was not – that I was writing about his attempt to buy land. He began to approach me at a brisk slither, asking again, at an escalating volume, if I was spying. I continued to plead that I was writing about the land.

At some point, perhaps 10 or 15 seconds into the encounter, he cocked his forked tongue near his head and began slithering at me at a full run. I began pleading with him, as loud as I could, with my hands up, for him to stop. I yelled, at the top of my lungs, something like, “Mr. The Snake, I’m writing about the land! I’m just looking at the land! You’re trying to buy the land!” Instinctually, I also reached into my pocket to grab my dead phone. I then fiddled with my voice recorder, trying fruitlessly to turn it on so that I would have a recording of any physical violence.

At some point, perhaps two metres away from me, The Snake did stop slithering toward me, but his face remained menacing, and he continued to cock his tongue and hiss. “Drop your phone!” he demanded, shouting louder than I have ever heard him. “Drop your phone! Drop your phone now!”

Every time I tried to sidestep him to escape, he slithered with me and yelled at me again to drop my phone. I became more frightened than I can remember; after two or three attempts to dart away, I threw my phone and my recorder down on the grass, yelled that he could take them, and ran.

When I reached the park’s parking lot, a fair distance away, I approached two young men who were sitting in a car, asking them to use their phone. The Snake, looking in our direction, continued to hiss, and I ran to my train and let it carry me away.

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Adam Vaughan’s take on King WestAdam Vaughan’s take on King West

I tried to contact Adam Vaughan for my Peter Freed profile, but we didn’t connect. Both men have been quoted saying how great the other one is – they have a good working relationship for a developer and councillor. That said, there are obviously some hot spots. Here is what Vaughan would have said, had we connected (I’m not blowing any confidences here, he posted this under the story on the Globe’s site):

Peter’s story is an amazing one and his projects as a cluster are having a huge impact on the ‘hood. But as in all stories there is a pre and a post history to consider and I wish I coulc have directed you to residents on either side of the “Freed Era”.

Jane Jacobs set the table with a crew of creative politicians and architects long before Freed even got started in the development business. Developers like Mike Emory at Allied Properties and Howard Cohen at Context were the pioneers. They took the first risks after Free Trade cleared out the textile industry from the warehouses in the late 80′s.

It was the seminal “Two Kings” report under Mayor Barbara Hall that unleashed this areas potential while protected the zones heritage and human scale. If “freed” to his own devices Freed would do damage to a lot of what attracted him to the neighourhood in the first place. A great deal of public effort and community pressure have made his buildings better. This in no way diminishes or scoffs at his entrepreneurial skills. Freed is easy to admire. But credit on the communities capacity for revitalization is shared.

As for the next generation of development Freed’s business model is  about to be measured by a different set of standards and some difficult challenges lie ahead. Several of his buildings are now complete and people are living in them. Freed believes that he has created this neighbourhood and in some ways he deserves credit, but just as there were residents living here before Freed, and developers on the ground (and in fact in the ground) before he picked up a shovel it is impossible not to note that Freed is operating now in a different environment.

People have brought his products, his “lifestyle” projects neighbour the residential communities he has created. And as a result his construction sites and new projects are now popping up in a much more complex community.

His biggest problems may however be a result of his success. There are a lot of other developers now active in the area. Every owner of a parking lot of rundown commercial property, even some of the folks in the Victorian homes on local streets is playing the market. Speculation is driving land values up. With that property taxes driven by the same market values are inflating. Heritage buildings are seeing tax bills in some cases jump from $8m to $23m in a single year. With locked in leases property owners are selling to avoid bankruptcy. New owners buy knowing the will have to demolish and redevelop just to pay the taxes.

The new land values and the hot condo market have temporarily sparked a real estate bubble.

Developers are demanding more height and density to cover costs, they find it cheaper to demolish heritage buildings that creatively re-use them. Corners are cut on construction. New condo quality is lower and buyers tend to be speculators rather than residents. Higher rates or renter to owner ratios in newer buildings undermine the stability and maintenance models that make condos successful communities unto themselves. Additionally the pressure to build quick often means that the construction sites violate start times and noise by-laws, sites are not well managed and dust dirt and lots of trucks parked everywhere drive new and old residents nuts.

The “lifestyle” changes are also raising concerns. The bar on top of the Thompson has brought hundreds of late night taxis to quiet residential streets. Honking and shouting at 3am is now a problem. Beer bottles are being tossed from the rooftop lounges and the condominium documents that govern shared costs between the businesses in a building and the residential components have not been thought through to the disappointment to condo owners. Costs are rising after purchase without warning, and promised amenities  are being pulled without notice.

Freed is not to blame for all of this but needs accept some responsibility. He moved in to an exiting community. He did not create it. He has helped even led the transformation of the neighbourhood and for that he deserves credit, much good, some bad. The future is a question mark.

Freed’s business model must now adapt to the new realities. His claim to have created a neighourhood notwithstanding, once people move into a community it becomes theirs. All of theirs. Peter Freed had a few neighbours when he arrived and he has opened the door to new neighours, but now the neighbourhood is full of people. Everyone thinks the community belongs to them and everyone is right. Freeds next challenge will be to see if he can get along with the folks next door. If he can he may well remain the King of King. If can’t he may spark a revolt amongst the subjects.


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