A regional talk show broadcast on Facebook Live. Corporate videos. A podcast and a literary blog on romantic relationships. Absurd interview capsules. A presence in political debates. Regional news on the web. All that and more available from MediAT, a production company in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region founded by François Munger four years ago.
François Munger is a Val-d’Or native who studied journalism at Ottawa’s La Cité collégiale. After having worked as a radio and television journalist for RNC Média from 2012 to 2014, he launched MediAT in March 2015 even though he was coveted by major centres. “I had received job offers from big cities like Montreal, Gatineau and Ottawa, but I didn’t feel like leaving my region. Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a dynamic and culturally rich region where living a tranquil life is possible. I love my region”, explains he who an increasing number of Témiscabitibians call ‘Mister MediAT.’
From the onset, the entrepreneur was convinced that there existed a need for the project. “There were production companies in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, but they were unable to meet the demand in production. There was a void to fill and every existing company had its own niche. Certain companies created finely polished 30-second capsules that took months to produce. MediAT offers speed of execution for companies that want their capsules quickly and content that speaks to people.”
The freedom to create
In that regard, he evokes AT360, the first talk show to be broadcast on Facebook Live in his home region. “There was practically nothing on the web and I found that there lacked a way of addressing certain subjects in a more casual manner. I also wanted to give myself some latitude. I am not limited to an intervention lasting 2 minutes 30 seconds between two songs as is the case with radio. If I want to speak with the mayor for 25 minutes during my show, I can do so.”
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Whereas the web eliminates all time constraints, MediAT also enjoys greater freedom in terms of subjects. “In certain media, if a company does not purchase any advertising, it will get no attention. MediAT is less limited at this level.” AT360 is a live broadcast that gives Internet viewers the possibility of influencing how the show unfolds in addition to making suggestions, such as the one of transposing the show to a podcast format. “People wanted to listen to us while they were on the road, so I took them into consideration. The show is also broadcast on local television.”
MediAT also produces and broadcasts the humoristic show 2MPP (2 Mathieu Presque Parfa’), starring Mathieu Proulx and Mathieu Larochelle, and provides access to Michaël Bédard’s blog and podcast, 365 jours de peine d’amour.
MediAT also proposes political content: municipal council assemblies, town halls, municipal, provincial and federal election debates. “For example, during a face-off between Aboriginals and police officers in Val-d’Or, we broadcast a video of a heated discussion between a citizen and the mayor of Val-d’Or. The traditional media outlets presented a 15-second clip of the discussion. We decided to broadcast the full video to enable people to hear all of the interventions live and later on. It enabled them to make up their own mind about the discussion without being interrupted.”
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François Munger has a lot of ideas, as many as there are challenges to successfully operating a production company in a rather isolated region. “In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, trying out professional audiovisual equipment before buying it is out of the question. Getting supplies may take time and you need to have reserves.”
With the financial assistance of Emploi-Québec’s self-employed worker support program and Desjardins’ Créavenir program, the young man forked out some $60,000 to purchase video, photo and lighting equipment. “It’s an ongoing investment because I need to renew my equipment to stay up to date.”
François Munger claims that he was initially very worried about MediAT’s potential to generate revenue. But it worked out. “This company was a dream. Today, it’s a reality. I am the company’s videographer, producer, editor, journalist, proofreader and jack of all trades. I no longer count my hours, but each week is different. I sometimes take a day to go to the beach. But it also happens that I get up at two in the morning to cover a fire or get back home after midnight because I was filming a debate. There’s no such thing as a routine.”
MediAT allows him to earn a living. Whereas he generates 60% of his income from the production of corporate videos, the remaining 40% come from advertising (local advertisers and Google). Moreover, François Munger eliminated certain costs by converting his kitchen and dining room into an authentic studio equipped with a ceiling-mounted professional lighting system. It’s a choice that illustrates how involved he is in his company. “It’s not a heavy weight to bear, it’s rather gratifying. People give us love and send us messages that go straight to the heart. They say that they love our content, our proximity, our speed of execution and our work ethics, values that are sometimes lacking in web journalism.”
The population’s interest is obviously growing. “Four years ago, I converted my Facebook page, François Munger journaliste, that was followed by 1,000 people into a page for MediAT. Today, more than 19,000 people follow the page, which represents a high percentage of the people in Abitibi-Témiscamingue who are on Facebook. We had to create an audience.” It’s a particularly complex task in the field of web production.
Now a few months away from his company’s fifth anniversary, François Munger is no way close to stopping. “In the future, I would like MediAT to have an office and staff in each of the region’s cities as well as travelling advertising salespersons to generate more revenue for financing purposes. It will not be easy in a field where the shortage of labour is acute, but I believe in my project.”