CRTC overreaching with its proposed internet regulations

The goal is less about the interests of consumers and more about funnelling money to special interest groups

CRTC overreaching with its proposed internet regulationsWere the consequences not so serious, Canada’s chaotic venture into the regulation of content on the Web might be consigned to the realm of thigh-slapping farce. The government’s goal, it was learned last week, will be to focus programming funding on the needs of ethnic, racial, language and sexual identities in a fashion so ill-defined…

Covid-19 news coverage based more on #fearporn than science

Journalists eager to echo doomsday alarms about pandemic case numbers while ignoring the social devastation of lockdown policies

Covid-19 news coverage based more on #fearporn than scienceIt has long been accepted both within and without the world of journalism that negative news trumps developments of a positive nature pretty much every time. Much may have changed in how news is delivered to people but the old cliches – “if it bleeds it leads” and “newspapers don’t report when airplanes land safely”…

CBC trying to shake free of its mandate as a public broadcaster

The RCI controversy shows CBC’s primary purpose is the acquisition – at the expense of private broadcasters – of audiences and money

CBC trying to shake free of its mandate as a public broadcasterAn uprising backed by former prime minister Joe Clark and actor Donald Sutherland is trying to force the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to hit pause on its plans to dismantle Radio Canada International (RCI). If successful, the move to save CBC’s once-vaunted service that took Canada to the world will throw a wrench into the CBC’s…

Fed’s pandemic pandering leaves the working class behind

Fed’s pandemic pandering leaves the working class behindDedicated CBC radio listener that I am, it was hard to hear through the why-everyone-in-Alberta-is-going-to-die narrative that launched the national morning news throughout last week. But thanks to my heritage, I have an ear for loose change. In her fiscal update, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tossed a happy-hour special onto the bar of the…

Skepticism over Covid-19 response growing

Science is messy, and its bewilderment as to how to respond to Covid-19 is beginning to wear on people

Skepticism over Covid-19 response growingNews that not one but two COVID-19 vaccines have tested 95 per cent effective casts a welcome burst of light into Canada’s gloomy COVID-19 narrative, amid signs the pandemic is ripping into the nation’s social fabric. Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate proved 94.5 per cent effective in trials. Meanwhile, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech…

New legislation will end 25 years of CRTC net neutrality

New powers will crush consumer freedom, tax and regulate content on the internet, stifle investment, and increase the cost of streaming subscriptions

New legislation will end 25 years of CRTC net neutralityA federal government that only a few years ago spoke brightly about innovation and embracing the 21st century has sadly lost its way. That was made apparent this week when – smuggled in on U.S. election day when it would get the least attention possible – Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault unveiled legislation giving the Canadian…

The common – and elusive – humanity of wearing a mask

It’s a common religious philosophy. The secular world calls it the ethic of reciprocity. It’s the ultimate social no-brainer

The common – and elusive – humanity of wearing a maskThe go-to car radio station for people of my demographic profile in Regina is Rawlco Radio, home of the John Gormley Show, The Hour of Rage and, on Sundays, replays of Montreal’s popular Roy Green Show. This is red meat programming for grumpy old guys. You know – men who look like me and who,…

In search of an American tax daddy for Canadian media

The federal government is apparently preparing massive regulation of the Internet, pandering to the views of niche lobby groups

In search of an American tax daddy for Canadian mediaThe nation’s cultural policies may soon switch from protecting Canada from foreign influences to depending on them. That’s because Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault seems determined to shift the burden of funding the nation’s cultural industries to foreign companies. The details of the new communications legislation Guilbeault’s been promising remain under wraps. But he’s strongly signalling…

CRTC lacks perspective on vital telecom industry

When making daunting decisions, having people who have experience in industries under discussion is invaluable

CRTC lacks perspective on vital telecom industryNothing has been more vital to the functioning of Canada’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic than the Internet. Yet recent appointments to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reveal a government oblivious to its necessity. Nirmala Naidoo, for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, and Ellen Desmond, for the Atlantic and Nunavut, were added to…

YouTube knocking down Canada’s protective cultural wall

Canada’s creative lobby may have turned its back on the world but that doesn’t mean Canadians are joining them in their quest to hide

YouTube knocking down Canada’s protective cultural wallCanada’s creative lobby may have turned its back on the world but that doesn’t mean Canadians are joining them in their quest to hide behind a big wall of regulations aimed at protecting them from foreigners. A recent study by Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communication and Design, entitled  Watchtime Canada: How YouTube Connects Creators and…

Elections Canada’s limits on free speech a sign of the times

There’s nothing more fundamental to the democratic ideal than the freedom to speak one’s mind and sound as wise or foolish as that happens to sound

Elections Canada’s limits on free speech a sign of the timesThe news that environmental groups have been warned their speech will be regulated during the upcoming federal election campaign has finally drawn attention to the stifling impact of the nation’s most recent election legislation. This latest twist is due to People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, who has expressed doubts about anthropogenic climate science.…

Telesat, feds partner to bring affordable internet access to the far north

Telesat, feds partner to bring affordable internet access to the far northNot long ago, the romantic notion that low earth orbit (LEO) satellites could make affordable high-speed Internet available in Canada’s many remote locations seemed fanciful at best. It was spoken of frequently at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hearing to establish the nation’s basic service objectives in the spring of 2016. Quite a…

What can – and should – be done about CBC

Get CBC out of the advertising business on all of its platforms. And make its content available to other media for free within Canada

What can – and should – be done about CBCSeveral years ago, I by chance encountered a backbench member of Parliament who asked in a very straightforward fashion why we at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) didn’t “do something” about CBC. Mildly startled, I replied that if something was to be “done” about CBC, Parliament should just go ahead and do it.…

A chance to give Canada’s North real communication service

But will the CRTC take advantage of the appointment of Claire Anderson to pursue significant change?

A chance to give Canada’s North real communication serviceIt sounds a little bit like a Jack London novel but it’s true: I was sitting in the bar of the Gold Rush Inn in Whitehorse one day with a buddy when the barmaid asked what two old birds like us were doing in town. Looking around and being careful not to be overheard, we…

Does federal panel pose a threat to net neutrality in Canada?

By early 2020, we’ll know what the members think the government should do to modernize decrepit legislation

Does federal panel pose a threat to net neutrality in Canada?If you want to know how much in extra fees you might be paying or how much Canada intends to meddle with online content to make sure you watch what the government wants you to watch, you should start paying attention now. This week, the government panel reviewing the nation’s broadcasting and telecommunications legislation (known…

Journalism takes another hit in wake of Mueller, Covington fiascos

The damage done to public trust in journalism by not following basic rules of journalism is, at this stage, incalculable

Journalism takes another hit in wake of Mueller, Covington fiascosLast week’s sickening media meltdown means it is back-to-basics time for journalism on this continent. The need for reportorial rehab began when major news outlets repeated a BuzzFeed report – based on unnamed sources – that the Robert Mueller investigation had been told by Michael Cohen that U.S. President Donald Trump directed him to lie…

Lack of competition pushes up your cost to use the Internet

Canada is among the world’s leaders when it comes to restrictive foreign ownership rules, and the digital realm is no exception

Lack of competition pushes up your cost to use the InternetMany of the close to 90 per cent of Canadians who subscribe to home Internet plans will begin to see their monthly bills go up next month by, it appears, $2 to $9 a month. It could be more and if you’re on a locked-in plan you might not feel the impact right away. But…

Can we restore public trust in journalism?

Too many journalists tolerate peers who, through undisciplined abandonment of standards, undermine their craft’s credibility

Can we restore public trust in journalism?It’s long past time that journalists paid attention to the millions of Canadians who don’t trust the news the way we used to. Sure, we could have lost faith because of the #fakenews narrative that has flowed north across the border. Or from learning that many of the characters influencing public reaction to events on…

Baby, it’s too cold outside to simply ban Christmas songs you don’t like

Social and cultural change is most effective when it employs persuasion as opposed to heavy-handed tools such as censorship

Baby, it’s too cold outside to simply ban Christmas songs you don’t likeThe removal from air play of the newly controversial 1940s hit Baby, It’s Cold Outside represents a noteworthy shift in the way media companies defend artistic freedom in the eight years since the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing was banned in Canada. The Dire Straits tune, a monster 1985 hit, was forbidden from broadcast…

Legacy media is in a zombie state, so why waste public money on it?

Leave reporting to independent innovators who build the public trust honestly. Any government subsidy surely undermines that trust

Legacy media is in a zombie state, so why waste public money on it?A little over nine years ago, in the midst of the chaotic collapse of the Canwest media empire, CHCA-TV of Red Deer, Alta., died. It was considered shocking at the time that a legacy TV station (it launched in 1957) could actually close. Other stations – CHEK in Victoria and CHCH in Hamilton – were…

CRTC wants to tax Internet users to subsidize content creators

What does and doesn’t stream over the Internet is none of the CRTC’s business

CRTC wants to tax Internet users to subsidize content creatorsSometime in the not too distant future, everyone who subscribes to the Internet should have to pay more to ensure more secure jobs and incomes for Canadian content creators whose lives have been disrupted by the Internet. That’s the pitch being made by Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator to the federal government as it looks…

The Super Bowl ads get punted in Canada – again

Donald Trump may take the credit, but you can blame CTV/Bell Media and the CRTC

The Super Bowl ads get punted in Canada – againNow that the nation is deep into the seasonal gridiron grind, it’s time to talk money, TV and some serious Canadian angst. No, this isn’t about why the Canadian Football League can’t draw flies in Toronto. This is about the ads, the rights and all the money that makes football a fantasy land for fans…

CRTC scales back its Internet ambitions for remote areas

The commission has released the eligibility criteria for accessing $750 million to expand Internet service to remote areas

CRTC scales back its Internet ambitions for remote areasWhen it comes to Internet service, whether its cellular, Wi-Fi, wireless, fixed or both, the one thing that matters most is speed – or so most Kitsilano condo dwellers would tell you. Because if you live in, say, Lunenberg County or Stony Rapids or Cambridge Bay, the thing that matters most about Internet service is…

Social media is fully weaponized, open discourse be damned

The Eden-like public square was swiftly overrun by a cacophonic rabble dedicated to crushing ideas to which they’re opposed

Social media is fully weaponized, open discourse be damnedThe Internet may very well be the innovation that liberated access to ideas, but the social media it spawned is swiftly evolving into the jackboot that suppresses them. To put what’s happening today to an increasing number of editors into perspective – Ian Buruma of the New York Review of Books is just the latest…

The subsidy table is set, and actors and writers will dine

The CRTC has backed away from a 21st-century funding model for the creation of Canadian content. We'll all be poorer as a result

The subsidy table is set, and actors and writers will dineThe leaders of Canada’s creative rebellion have emerged victorious after two years of struggle. That means consumers will almost certainly pay more for years to come for their much-loved Canadian television content. The news came just prior to the Labour Day weekend. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a decision confirming that it…

Can we preserve Canadian newspapers in the digital age?

Not if those publications must compete with the CBC, which operates with the generous help of taxpayers' money

Can we preserve Canadian newspapers in the digital age?An ominous silence has fallen over the demands to save Canada’s newspapers, even as more of their employees take the long walk into the abattoir of the industry’s ambitions. It was only 18 months ago that the Public Policy Forum report authored by Edward Greenspon – The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the…

Tax the Internet in the name of Canadian culture?

Canadian production is booming. It hardly needs more official intervention – and funding – to continue to grow

Tax the Internet in the name of Canadian culture?Those of you who have fled the walled garden that constitutes Canada’s regulated Can-con broadcasting system for the freedom of the Internet, beware: the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is ready to round you up. After years of news, information, education and entertainment being available unregulated from whatever source you want on a platform…

Rolling the gender boulder up the broadcast hill ignores bigger issues

The CRTC should be far more concerned about the role of women within the telecommunications industry than in TV

Rolling the gender boulder up the broadcast hill ignores bigger issuesIf you like Canadian television and you’re a woman – better yet, you’re a woman in the industry – there’s a chance that in the years ahead you’re going to like it a lot more. That’s because, in alignment with the federal government’s commitment to a strong feminist agenda, its communications regulator is once again…

The CRTC remains shrouded in mystery

Open up about decisions made on the communications tools people use, the content they consume and the price they pay for it

The CRTC remains shrouded in mysteryMany years ago, after a particularly chaotic day in a newsroom, a couple of colleagues and I shared a deep breath, a relieved laugh and shook our heads in dismay. “If only they knew,” one of us said of the readers we sought to serve, “… if only they knew.” I decided then that If…

Search for the just and the reasonable is not a beauty pageant

Canada's public institution boards may not be democracy in action, but ultimately they’re obliged to heed the public and their political masters

Search for the just and the reasonable is not a beauty pageantIn the wake of the latest twist in the fight for lower mobile phone rates, there were cries last week for more democracy within Canada’s public institutions. But here’s the deal: no matter how hard you close your eyes, clench your fists, squeeze your knees together and wish it were so, there is little if…