February 28, 2019 1:01 am

Just For Laughs to air only Canadian comedians after blowback over radio deal

Howie Mandel speaks during a Canada's Walk of Fame ceremony honouring Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in Vancouver, on Friday February 15, 2019. Canadian comics are sounding the alarm over an abrupt shift in content on a satellite radio comedy station that many count on as a significant source of income.


Just For Laughs is assuring comics concerned by its takeover of a satellite radio comedy station that it will exclusively air Canadian content produced by artists outside of the Montreal entertainment company’s catalogue.

Canadian comedians have been crying foul over this week’s announced partnership between Just For Laughs and Sirius XM Canada to turn the Canada Laughs channel into Just For Laughs Radio, saying the move would deprive homegrown talent of a vital source of exposure and income.

READ MORE: Edmonton comedians cancel show to protest Just For Laughs radio channel

Watch below: (From Feb. 26, 2019) An Edmonton comedy show was cancelled after Sirius XM Canada announced it is partnering with Just For Laughs and rebrand its Canada Laughs channel. As Albert Delitala explains, comedians say that will result in them making less money.

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Senior officials for the partner companies jointly announced Wednesday that the redubbed Just For Laughs Radio Canada would solely showcase independent Canadian comedians, who will be entitled to the same royalties as under the previous regime.

Just For Laughs president Bruce Hills and John Lewis, SiriusXM Canada’s senior vice-president of programing and operations, say the companies have been in contact the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians, which condemned the radio deal, about their plans for the channel.

READ MORE: Canadian comics say livelihood in jeopardy as Just For Laughs takes over radio channel

The announcement walked back comments made by Canadian comedy legend Howie Mandel, who is part of the partnership that owns Just For Laughs, suggesting some of the station’s content would now be drawn from the Just For Laughs archives, which include performers from around the world.

Mandel insisted in a Facebook post Sunday that the station would continue to broadcast content from Canadian comedians, including up-and-coming performers, but it wasn’t long before backlash spread through Canada’s comedy scene.

“We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of Canadian artists and regret the stress we have caused the comedy community,” Hills said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are invested in the growth of Canada’s comedy industry and are working to include even more Canadian talent in all our initiatives.”

A spokeswoman for the CASC said the organization is excited with the decision.

“We look forward to continuing the discussion with Just For Laughs to develop new and exciting opportunities to support opportunities for Canadian comics,” Battaglini said in a statement.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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