Councillors last week voted 27 in favour, four opposed and six absent in favour of making a motion to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. They pointed to the unlimited data plans now proliferating in the United States and expressed exasperation that such offers aren't available here. Uh, good luck with that.
The crux of the problem is that the same companies who control the distribution of television in Canada also create or licence programming, giving them a stranglehold on the medium AND the message. This means they have zero incentive to break up the cable bundle or go beyond the letter of CRTC regulation to actually provide or promote options that fit the lifestyle of today's consumers.
Cable giants Rogers, Bell and Videotron collectively succeeded in freezing cable-cutters' sales of their Android TV boxes. A temporary injunction of the boxes may stifle their future success and growth in Canada. From the recent ruling comes the fundamental question: Will this necessarily stall, if not exterminate piracy? The answer is no.
Depending on who you ask we either live in an age of rampant consumerism or endless choice -- the answer doesn't necessarily lie in the middle but both are true. The Internet has connected us personally, politically, socially and humanity's consumer nature has built a retail channel unlike any other before.
Canadians pay among the highest amount in the world for wireless service. For example, for a basic plan that includes texting, data and talking minutes the average in other industrialized countries is $22 per month; whereas in Canada we pay $37.29 a month. The story is similar for cable and internet. As a consumer you can only be taken advantage of by a corporation for so long -- there comes a point where you can't take it anywhere. We've reached that point.
The CRTC's rules were designed to allow independent ISPs to sell blazing-fast fibre Internet services to customers in the marketplace. Experts believe that will help make fibre available to millions of Canadians who would otherwise could not afford these important but very expensive services.
The new PM will be a breath of fresh air on the environment -- it's impossible to be any worse than his predecessor -- and he will take the leash off federal scientists, or so he has promised. However, one area the Liberals aren't expected to deliver any good news in are telecommunications services.
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.