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.
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.
Artists make our world a colourful and interesting place. Innately curious and inquisitive, artists create beautiful, dramatic, thoughtful forms of art that please and engage the human eye and ear, or get us to think. As a nation, we do not support them enough.
Political speech is seemingly under attack from the last place we might expect: Canadian media broadcasters, that say parties can't use broadcasters' content in ads. Protecting copyright is not an illegitimate purpose, but this approach is less than ideal for political advertisements. Political parties rely on election advertising to persuade the electorate to vote for them. This political expression is a significantly important aspect of public discourse and should be accorded the highest priority and protection.
CBC is reeling from a $115 million annual reduction in funding from the federal government. A cable tax seems an easy target for the cable and satellite companies to attack and the media would pile on, since no one likes a new (or old) tax. The cable companies and the media might hate the idea but what do average Canadians think about paying a little bit more for better quality Canadian TV programming?
One of the great ironies in Canadian TV is that a large majority of Canadians think that a high percentage of their monthly cable bill already goes to CBC. In our most recent survey, about 1 in 4 thought that 25 per cent or more went to local stations. In other words, Canadians already think there is a cable tax!
The National Post ran a commentary saying CBC seemed incapable of reinventing itself, which may be true, and concluded that it didn't matter since TV viewing was in decline and the television industry, that is, networks, cable, etc. wouldn't exist in its present form in "maybe two years." This blissfully ignores the fact that TV viewing and cable/satellite subscriptions have shown no decline.
Aside from the bogus gesture toward maintaining "a Canadian cultural icon," the emphasis throughout the list of "benefits" emanating from the Rogers-NHL deal is focused entirely on protection of advertising revenue. But at what cost? The fact is that the only strategy that can save CBC television is one that makes it distinctive and relevant.
I agree when Strombo says that he can leave his personal biases aside when talking about teams other than his beloved Montreal Canadiens, but do sports journalists really have less serious reporting to do than traditional journalists? Is Strombo right that the fan and journalist roles in sports are unlikely to clash? Recent events say no.
Rogers is gearing up to cut off millions of hockey fans from being able to watch Hockey Night in Canada online. Bell and Rogers are using their power and control over our media options to force Canadians into subscribing to what many now view as the outdated medium of TV.
While advertising revenue will probably not increase much, there are additional revenues to be accrued from mobile customers and new subscriptions to existing specialty channels and fee increases for all Rogers sports channels. Cable and satellite TV subscribers and smartphone users will ultimately pay for the NHL deal, which should break even, if not be profitable.
I was now resigned to my fate. We weren't going to save much money and likely would have fewer channels. My instinct was confirmed when I received my first new Bell bill headed with the words: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." But I'm no quitter; I'm sure there's a third way out of this telecom hell.
2013 was recently dubbed, "The year of the Selfie," so let us turn the camera around on the sporting calendar and reflect on what shaped these past months.
Last fall, a group of over 35 leading innovators and entrepreneurs joined OpenMedia.ca in sending a letter to Industry Minister James Moore. Our letter called for several actions to be taken to fix our broken cell phone market. Minister Moore has now replied.
The biggest loss to the CBC is that it will no longer be able to access a working-class crowd because this very important Canadian audience only gravitated to CBC for HNIC and the presence of Don Cherry. The loss of Cherry and Hockey Night in Canada is a lost opportunity for CBC to escape its uptight Waspish politically correct, elitist/urban/sophisticated Toronto-centric shtetl.
If most Canadians didn't hate Rogers before, they certainly will now after the telecommunications giant signed its 12-year, $5.2 billion dollar broadcast deal with the NHL. The long-term, multi-billion dollar agreement is effectively a giant thumb in the eye of the Canadian hockey fan.