Post Tagged with: "CBC"

CBC Fairplay Memo, obtained under ATIP

“This Really Isn’t Our Fight and It Will Cost Us”: Behind the Scenes of CBC Support for Bell’s Website Blocking Plan

Bell’s behind-the-scenes effort to drum up support for its site blocking proposal at the CRTC has been the subject of several posts over the past few months. Based primarily access-to-information requests, I’ve identified Bell pressure on universities and colleges such as Ryerson University, George Brown College, and Brock University, who all submitted support letters to the CRTC, though those letters were not always quite what they seemed (Brock University quickly distanced itself from the submission, the Dean behind the Ryerson letter advised Bell that he could not speak for the faculty). Earlier posts also highlighted Bell’s astroturfing campaign with its own employees and its undisclosed meetings with CRTC officials months before the proposal was made public.

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August 16, 2018 3 comments News
CBC Broadcasting Centre by Cria-cow (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7U9ipg

Outlier, Part 2: What is the CBC Doing Supporting Website Blocking?

The Bell coalition website blocking proposal, dubbed FairPlay, clearly started with Bell: it first raised the issue in September at a House of Commons committee hearing, obtained the legal opinion to support the application (it is addressed to Bell), and used a closely allied law firm to draft the application. The coalition follows a familiar narrative, much like the “Fair for Canada” campaign in 2013 that was designed to convince Canadians that keeping foreign competitors such as Verizon out of the country was in their best interest.

The coalition features representation from several sectors (as noted yesterday, the leadership of telecom companies is an outlier when compared with other countries), but one participant in particular stands out. The CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, has said its decision to join the coalition was a question of principle, reflecting its opposition to piracy. Yet the issue is not opposition to piracy, but rather whether the proposed coalition solution that includes blocking without court orders, violation of net neutrality principles, risks of over-blocking, and vulnerability on human rights norms run counter to other principles that ought to be held by a public broadcaster.

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March 22, 2018 10 comments News
Final Result by Graham Ballantyne (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ixNpk

The Shattered Mirror, Part Two: The Underwhelming Recommendation for Open Licensing at the CBC

My review of the The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age, the Public Policy Forum’s report on the future of media continues with a comment on long-overdue recommendation that unfortunately falls short of the mark (my first post on copyright reform recommendation is here). The report tackles the future of the CBC with three recommendations: increasing the emphasis of the CBC’s mandate on news, moving to an ad-free approach online, and adopting a Creative Commons licence for news content to help broaden distribution.

The recommendation of increased emphasis on news is a good one as is the call for an ad-free CBC online.  I wrote in support of the CBC becoming an ad-free digital news competitor last year and while Ken Whyte offered up arguments against it (noting that the Canadian market needs more ad choices, not less), the online advertising competition has been a longstanding source of frustration for online media competitors who resent public support for CBC’s online presence.

The recommendation that I would like to like is the adoption of a Creative Commons licence for CBC news content. I have similarly argued for open licensing of CBC content for many years as part of its role as a public broadcaster. In 2014, I noted:

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February 2, 2017 4 comments News
CBC Radio Canada - Vancouver by Tyler Ingram (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7NujTF

Why We Need the CBC as an Ad-Free Digital News Competitor

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage wrapped up its lengthy hearing on the media and local news last week with appearances from Facebook, Google, and the Globe and Mail (I appeared before the committee last month and my opening comments and review of the discussion that followed can be found here). The high profile witnesses sparked another round of debate over the ongoing troubles in the newspaper industry with intensifying criticism of the CBC’s emphasis on digital news services, including a new opinion section and its acceptance of digital advertising, which are both viewed as direct competition for the struggling private sector alternatives.

For example, Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley told the committee that the CBC is the Globe’s largest competitor in the digital ad space. He expressed concern over the inclusion of opinion, which is viewed as further encroaching on newspapers’ turf, and pointed to the BBC’s approach, which faces government-backed restrictions on accepting digital advertising on its domestic websites. The CBC criticism has emerged as a common theme for several years with many media organizations and commentators arguing that CBC should not be in the business of competing with newspapers.

The CBC responded on Monday with a letter to the committee titled “limiting access to the digital public space is not in the public interest.” The CBC argued that given the struggles of smaller papers, its online presence is more important than ever.  Further, it tried to downplay the significance of its digital advertising revenue, arguing that it amounts to $25 million annually, a very small share of the total digital advertising expenditures in Canada.

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November 23, 2016 10 comments News
CBC Vancouver - Wanderin'-The-Corridors by kris krüg (CC-BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/2jXse

Forget a Netflix Tax: How The Digital CanCon Review Can Shake Up the Status Quo

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s digital CanCon consultation is likely to spark calls from the cultural establishment for new levies and taxes to fund the creation of domestic content. The Internet will be the primary target with demands for a Netflix tax along with legislative reforms that would open the door to additional fees on Internet providers.

Yet an unimaginative approach that seeks to regulate the Internet imposes costs that would make Internet access less affordable and create a regulatory environment that runs counter to fundamental principles of freedom of speech and access to information. Joly should reject efforts to recycle stale policies and instead embrace the opportunity to shake up Canadian cultural policy.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues that the starting point should be a shift in funding for Canadian content creation. The current model, which relies heavily on mandatory contributions from the Canadian broadcasting community, is in decline as revenues from the sector slowly shrink (the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently reported that conventional television revenues declined by 2.4 per cent in 2015).

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May 10, 2016 12 comments Columns