Archive for February, 2011

The end of TV as a vehicle for entertainment

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

You may recall last week’s post about the CRTC’s decision to deny Shaw the right to air National Geographic Wild in Canada. The CRTC argued that there are already two other Canadian wild-life channels available which might lose viewership to the American National Geographic channel.

Okay, that’s lame, but whatever – that’s how the CRTC rolls.

Fast-foward to this week and we see that The Canadian Press is announcing that Swiss Chalet will be launching a 24-hour roasted chicken channel on Monday.  The channel will be nothing more than 2 rows of chickens roasting on an open flame – much like those fireplace recordings that play at Christmas – and it will run for 13 weeks.

Really.

Now lets consider this for a second…  a third wild-life channel is disallowed because it lacks enough Canadian content.  But a channel with nothing but roasting chickens is completely fine? 

I guess the chickens are were all Canadians?

But hypocracy aside, what really scares me is that a new channel is being created for the purpose of airing nothing more than a single commercial.  Really, that’s all this is.  Swiss Chalet is literally buying 13 weeks of 24 hour airtime on a dedicated channel, just to air a single, chicken-based commercial. With no actual entertainment value at all.

CRTC has a poor memory, send your complaints again

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

A few weeks back I sent the CRTC a message telling them what I think of their ruling to allow Bell Canada to force Usage-based Billing on the customers of its competition. Not long after that Tony Clement came out and told the CRTC just what he thought about it too – and they “agreed” to a review.

Well, that review is now.  Just yesterday I recieved this email:

Hello

Thank you for taking the time to contact the CRTC to express your concerns regarding the billing practices of wholesale Internet services. In light of the concerns expressed by Canadians regarding this issue, the Commission has decided to review its own decision.

We therefore invite you to participate in the review by submitting your comments at https://services.crtc.gc.ca/pub/Intervention/Submission-Soumission.aspx?lang=e&EventNo=2011-77&EventType=Notice#Step0. Comments must be received prior to April 29, 2011. Note that all information you provide as part of this public process, including any personal information, becomes part of a publicly accessible file and will be posted on the Commission’s website. We also include links to the CRTC news release http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/com100/2011/r110208.htm as well as Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-77 http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-77.htm for your information.

Yours truly,

Suzanne Papineau
CRTC Client Services

1-877-249-2782 /télécopieur/facsimile 819-994-0218
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes / Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission / Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2
Gouvernement du Canada / Government of Canada

On the surface this seems good – the CRTC appears to be willing to hear what regular Canadians think about the issue. 

But wait a minute… didn’t I already tell them what I think? That is, after all, the whole reason they sent me the email in the first place.

I guess all the complaints that were sent in weeks ago don’t count now, because they were sent before the review processes was started.

So… send in your complaints again!  Don’t let the CRTC ignore your voice just because you were willing to speak up early.  And if you didn’t complain before, make sure you do now!  Before 29 April!

Happy Family Day… for those who actually get it

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

Seems like in Ottawa the only people who get Family Day off are the bus drivers…

I know exactly one person who doesn’t have to work today.  And on my way to work this morning, all the regular people were about waiting for the bus. 

Yet, somehow OC Transpo gets away with having limited service?

Math doesn’t lie

Posted in Finds with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

CRTC openly limits competition – that’s what it is for

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

There has been a lot of talk lately about the CRTC and it’s decisions – most notably ones concerning the operation of Wind Mobile in Canada and the allowance of Usage-based Bill by Internet Service Providers.

Most of the discussion has focused on the idea that more competition in Canadian industries is better than less competition.  And of course, every high school economic text-book says exactly that. More competition means that companies will have to provide as much value to the consumer as possible, otherwise consumers will just look somewhere else.

Fine. But here is the problem.  The CRTC was not created to foster competition. Really.

Want proof?  Okay!  On Tuesday (16 Feb) the CRTC denied a request by Shaw Communications to add National Geographic Wild to its list of offerings for satellite services in Canada. Unfortunately, that particular channel is considered foreign content. According to Public Notice 2000-173, the CRTC will not allow any non-Canadian content to be distributed if it will compete with pre-existing Canadian content.

That’s right – the CRTC openly denies competition if it appears to come from outside the country.

So what does that mean for Canadians?  It means that we have to watch Animal Planet or Oasis HD, because they are not associated with National Geographic.  Nevermind the fact that National Geographic has become the defacto standard for reporting on wildlife and the greater world around us – reporting that focuses 90% of its effort on content from outside North America.

In the beginning, the reasoning for creating a body to protect Canadian content seemed like a good idea.  People were afraid that we would become too engrossed in American newspaper, magazine, television and radio industries.  Unfortunately, a major consequence was overlooked: stifling competition from the strongest competitor means that our own industry can relax.  And that is not good for Canadians.

So what is the answer?  We definitely don’t want our own industries to fail.  Afterall, they keep a lot of us working.  But clearly denying Canadians from viewing American content is becoming more and more difficult.  I personally gave up television proper many years ago and have since found all of my content online, where it is CRTC free.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get Canadian content – not at all – it just means that I only get the Canadian content that is up to the standards that I expect.

And this is where the world is going.  I think that – regardless of content rule – the television industry is going to have some hard times ahead as online content becomes easier to find. We need to stop concerning ourselves with where content comes from, and focus on attracting consumers to cable and satellite providers generally.  They’ve already lost me and most of my friends. If the trend continues, we’ll soon have an awful lot of people looking to switch industries.

“Happy” Valentine’s Day

Posted in Aggravations, sex, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

… because she has long forgotten the “thought” that counted at Christmas.

What’s happened in Egypt is not a revolution, at least not yet

Posted in Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

Everywhere I go people are talking about the “revolution” in Egypt and how wonderful it is that the people have risen up to over-thrown the evil government.

Hogwash.

Hosni Mubarak

Before last week, the Egyptian government consisted of a president (Hosni Mubarak) who ruled as Head of State and who was also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.  This is not terribly unusual, afterall Obama is also both Head of State and head of the American military. 

But there is a big difference:  Egypt has been under martial law since 1981

In short, the Head of State in Egypt rules through the power of the military.

As of 11 February, when Mubarak officially resigned from the Presidency, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is led by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, took over the powers of the Head of State.

So what actually happened in Egypt?

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Essentially, the head of the military resigned and was replaced by the person who was #2 in the military and who is now the defacto head of the military – and Head of State.

So the bottom line is that right now Egypt hasn’t had any kind of change in it’s government at all.  Last week the country was under the power of the military, and this week it still is.  The only thing that has changed is the guy who was in charge of that military.

Of course, that’s not to say that major changes won’t happen.  It is yet to be seen if the next president to be elected will continue enforcing martial law.  With any luck, the people of Egypt will be able to conduct free and fair elections that lead to a decisive change in the way it’s government conducts the business of running the country.

But make no mistake – right now the changes that have occured in the government of Egypt are entirely symbolic. There has been no revolution, the government has not been over-thrown. 

All that has happened is the head of the government has been replaced.