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…

Wasting money propping up untenable news operations

Billions are spent on the CBC, hundreds of millions are redirected by the CRTC to ensure we’re informed. Is more federal funding for local news justified?

Wasting money propping up untenable news operationsThe smartest thing the federal government could have done to answer pleas for subsidy from the nation’s newspaper publishers is nothing. The next smartest thing it could have done is what I suggested it do last August – get the CBC out of the domestic advertising business and make all of its news content available…

Machinations of mandarins greatest threat to government action

There always will be those few political appointees who aspire to little more than their entitlements, but most desire to be useful and effective

Machinations of mandarins greatest threat to government actionCommentators who dismiss the people governing Canada’s institutions as “patronage” or “fat-cat political” appointees aren’t wrong all the time but are wrong most of the time. In my 10 years as – and let’s go with the full pejorative title here – “a fat-cat political patronage appointee,” I worked with people appointed by the government…

Avast ye swabbies: CRTC asked to crack down on Internet pirates

How do you crack down on internet piracy while preserving net neutrality, the cherished principle of a free and open web?

Avast ye swabbies: CRTC asked to crack down on Internet piratesLast weekend while the National Hockey League all-star extravaganza was taking place in Tampa Bay, hundreds of thousands of people there with no interest whatsoever in hockey partied hard at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. It doesn’t really matter that throughout history, high seas pirates – who continue to flourish – are most often psychopathic mass…