As I wrote earlier this week, the deadline for submissions for the CRTC's Diversity of Voices proceeding closed on Wednesday. There is a lot to review – samples of submissions from hundreds of Canadians, competing consultants reports (CFTPA hired Nordicity, Canwest hired Communic@tions Management), some calls for regulation of new media content (ACTRA, Socan), and opposing claims about whether the CRTC should encourage or discourage greater media concentration.
My column focused on the net neutrality issues associated with new media and the diversity of voices and I think it is noteworthy that several submissions raised similar concerns. Corus, which is one of Canada's most successful media and entertainment companies, immediately became one of the highest profile Canadian companies to express concern about net neutrality, stating:
Canadian creators and producers need to ensure that they can continue to have access to the networked bit stream on the basis of equitable rules. The CRTC should examine its potential role in governing net neutrality to ensure that access remains open to Canadian services on new digital distribution platforms. Corus recommends the establishment of an Industry Task Force on net neutrality.
The Corus concerns were echoed by Pelmorex, which owns the Weather Network, which ranks among the most popular Canadian websites. After arguing for the promotion of a Canadian presence on mobile and Internet platforms, the company warns:
However, the same cannot be said for cross ownership of new media undertakings by distributing undertakings, whether licensed, exempt, or unlicensed. In these situations, a more careful approach must be taken to ensure that undue preferential treatment is not given to distributor-owned content or that the gatekeeping activities by the distributor are not permitted to influence accessibility and ultimately the diversity of Canadian voices available to the public.
The Canadian Media Guild offers up the strongest endorsement of net neutrality among the submissions. One of its core recommendations is for a net neutrality guarantee, noting the potential for a company such as Rogers to unfairly advantage its own content. To address the issue, the CMG urges the CRTC to:
Guarantee "net neutrality" by establishing a rule prohibiting Internet service providers from controlling clients' access to websites for commercial gain.
While I'm not sure that covers all the concerns associated with net neutrality, the interest from at least three major players in the Diversity hearings suggests that the issue will likely resurface at the hearings in September.
According to the band’s web site, Pearl Jam’s Lollapalooza webcast was censored by sponsor/webcaster AT&T:
When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.
During the performance of “Daughter” the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” but were cut from the webcast:
* “George Bush, leave this world alone.” (the second time it was sung); and
* “George Bush find yourself another home.”
But really, who cares, right? Just a bunch of DFHs whining about the fact that the world is at the mercy of the worst president in American history. Boo hoo!
But yes, there are larger implications. Even for you. Clean-cut American, working-class hero that you are:
AT&T’s actions strike at the heart of the public’s concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.
Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of “Net Neutrality.” Check out The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue.
Most telecommunications companies oppose “net neutrality” and argue that the public can trust them not to censor.
That’s right. AT&T, like other telcos who say you can “just trust them” not to censor content in the absence of mandatory net neutrality, just did exactly what everyone who’s worried about net neutrality always believe they would do.
What’d that take? About ten seconds?
Why don’t people just laugh in the faces of industries that claim they can self-regulate?
Do you want Canada to become a country where corporations and certain politicians collude to have dissenting view points shut out? Is that democracy?? Do not be fooled by the ‘let the market decide’ argument, because when there is only 2 or 3 providers in the market, who have erected barriers to entry so massive that they remain the only ones in the marketplace, then that is not a free market, it’s an oligopoly.