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Apple Watch, CRTC's new CanCon rules: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

03/13/2015 06:30 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
The week began with Apple unveiling its long-rumoured Apple Watch. But unlike other hotly anticipated tech gizmos the company has rolled out over the years, reaction to the new smartwatch has been underwhelming.

Complaints over battery life, reliance on Apple's existing infrastructure and an exorbitant price tag for the highest-end version are already trickling out, casting doubt on the watch's sure-thing status. 

On the other hand: it's Apple.

Everything the company touches seems to turn to gold, which is why at least one analyst predicts the Apple Watch will be a hot seller. "I also think Apple has a bit of a brand cache," she said. "Apple has a bit of an accessory theme happening already."

CRTC breaks down CanCon walls

Talk about a surprise.

On Thursday, Canada's broadcast regulator surprised the audience of a telecom conference in Toronto by unveiling its new vision for Canadian television. For decades, Canadian broadcasters have had to dedicate a certain percentage of their broadcast day to Canadian-made TV shows. 

The argument was that Canadian producers needed protection from the invasion of expensive and ubiquitous U.S. programming. But in an age on online streaming, those rules no longer make sense, the CRTC says, so the regulator is overhauling the rules, eliminating CanCon rules during the day and tinkering with the way they work during prime time hours.

The details of the changes are far too complex to summarize, so check out our story on them here. But suffice to say it's a big enough deal that the major media companies were stunned, with some proclaiming the decision will be a death knell for Canadian culture.

But as CRTC chair Jean Pierre Blais pointed out, consider the source. "If you hear criticisms of our decisions ask yourself this question: Are the arguments advanced by these critics those of the public interest or are they rather those that find their true roots in private entitlement, dressed up to look like they are founded on the broader public interest?"

Slow growth not guaranteed

Think-tank the Fraser Institute said this week that all the doom and gloom headlines surrounding the economic problems that could come with Canada's aging population are overdone.

A new study by economist Philip Cross suggests that there's no reason Canada can't continue to grow robustly even as the Baby Boomers retire. By removing regulatory red tape in industries like telecom and resources that seem designed to scare away investment, Canada can do just fine for decades to come, his analysis suggests.

Cross says much of the pessimism is a hangover from the financial crisis.

"I think it’s normal that people and even economists come to think of this as something that we can’t escape," he told the CBC, "but in reality, we always do come out of these periods of slow growth because technological change and innovation are fundamental to capitalism."

Rate expectations

Anyone who's tried to book a flight lately is keenly aware that the loonie has been on a rough ride, trading as low as 77 cents on Friday.

First hit by the slumping oil prices, the loonie was further weakened in January when the Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate. (A lower central bank rate drives a currency lower because it gives savers and investors less incentive to park their money there.)

Some say another cut could be in the works, which would be especially dramatic considering the U.S. Fed is believed to be moving towards a rate hike. 

Add it all up and it's not a pretty picture for the loonie's prospects in the short term. "it's very unusual for the federal reserve and the bank of Canada to be moving in completely different directions," said Shaun Osborne, chief foreign exchange strategist at TD Securities this week.

Other stuff

Those were just some of what we had on offer this week. Be sure to check out our website for more, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter. In the meantime, here's a list of some of our more popular stuff this week.

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