In an election campaign that is extraordinary in so many ways, one of the more noteworthy changes is that there could be as many as five English-language leadership debates. More surprising and perplexing still is the way the CBC has abdicated its obligation as our public broadcaster to provide coverage of these events. The CBC, with its unparalleled household penetration, was not among the motley assemblage of television and web outlets that carried the initial Rogers-produced debate last week, nor will it be involved in the Globe and Mail/Google/YouTube effort next month.
The changes at OMNI foreshadow a far bigger upheaval within the Canadian broadcasting world. Regulators have embraced change with the full knowledge that many channels will face elimination under the emerging framework.
The CRTC has recently introduced a new policy which affects what Canadian programs we will see on TV. The policy is based on some very questionable sources and often just pure speculation about what Canadians want.
Recently the various major Canadian TV networks and media conglomerates have announced their up-coming Canadian fall programming. Um -- so what do you call a press release announcing something that doesn't exist?
The tax system should ideally be as neutral as possible and, one would think, should especially not penalize domestic companies in favour of foreign ones. Imposing taxes on some players that others offering the same products or services can avoid is the antithesis of a free market with a level playing field.
Net neutrality is a hotly-debated topic these days, and for a good reason -- it surrounds one of the most pivotal aspects of our daily lives: the Internet.
Sun News Network hoped to cash in on a regulatory system that protects Canadian channels, but its launch coincided with the gradual unraveling of that system.
Do we want an Internet that works for everyday citizens -- or one dominated by powerful bureaucracies, be they spy agencies, giant telecom conglomerates, or powerful Hollywood lobbyists? If we want a free and open Internet that works for all of us then we're going to have to fight for it.
If you're an enormous telecom conglomerate, and you release a new app to unfavourable ratings, what do you do? You could invest some of your vast resources into listening to customers and making the app better -- or you could get your senior managers to leave fake reviews to mislead customers and fluff up your ratings instead.
Mr. Moore, Mr. Harper, Mr. Blais, we have given the large carriers our trust. And they have abused it. It's now up to you -- we need you to work together to ensure that our networks are open to content producers, to innovative service providers, and most of all, to ordinary Canadian citizens. We need more than tweets, more than press releases and pamphlets. We are asking for a firm commitment to ensure that the large network operators will no longer be artificially favoured over upstart innovators and competitors, a commitment to providing Canadians with a bright and lasting digital future.
The real question people are starting to ask: why pay for a lot of channels with so many commercials? CBC, which is now mostly funded by taxpayers, and any other network with a business model that can eliminate or at least reduce ads, can flourish in this new environment. That is, by giving viewers what they really want, programs, not commercials.
The only time people aren't complaining about government regulation is when they are complaining about the lack of regulation! When Netflix speaks against regulations, they do so out of two motives. One, as a corporate entity that wants nothing to interfere with their profits. But secondly, as an American company.
The Internet being a global phenomenon, there is now an obvious discrepancy between the rules applying to Canadian broadcasters, and what companies like Netflix can "broadcast" in Canada through a website or an app. When certain companies are subject to restrictive regulation while some of their competitors are not, there are calls from the regulated companies for the same rules to apply to their competitors.
For almost a year now, Canada's broadcast regulator has been holding an important conversation with Canadians about the future of television. And while the effort, dubbed "Let's Talk TV," has heard from individual Canadians, the Commission has so far not addressed some of the most important issues.
Here's the full depth of the problem with CASL. When Parliament enacted this confusing and ambiguous legislation, it relinquished its legislative power to those regulators charged with enforcing the law. And since those same regulators have the power to directly levy enormous penalties, CASL permits bureaucrats to play the roles of legislator, police, and judge simultaneously. This combination has no place in a free and democratic society like our own.