Timothy M. Denton

Success Through Understanding Technology

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Industry News

Subcategories from this category: Internet, Canada

Posted by on in Industry News

Today we are holding the first symposium of the Canadian Chapter of the Internet Society in Ottawa. The issues we are concerned with include the threat to balkanize the Internet through provincial regulation.

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Nothing changes faster than business. What people want, and how they get what they want, changes on a dime. Thus news that YouTube is presenting cooking shows that draw viewers in the millions and half millions is not a surprise, except maybe to the lawyers for the Canadian broadcasting and media production industries.

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Today the CRTC issued a hybrid video on demand exemption order. It perfectly illustrates the creeping regulation of speech by means of broadcasting legislation that I warn against.

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I see that Prime Minister Harper has made taxing Canadians' access to Netflix an election issue. How could it not be? The Canadian production community would have every Canadian website regulated under the Broadcasting Act if they could have their way. Just a little tax, just a tiny bit of more regulation: it won't hurt a bit. That is the argument they make. I know, I have heard them.

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The consumer agenda of the CRTC seems to be producing some important results for Canadians, and one of them lies in the area of emergency dispatch services, 9-1-1.

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The bankers and creditors of Mobilicity are trying to decide what terms to accept from one or another of Canada's large carriers for the assets of the company. How often must this happen before Canadian governments, Conservative or Liberal or NDP (gasp!), give up the failed idea of competition through multiple carriers? I call this the Marxist fetishization of objects.

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Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described the five stages of grief as one faces one's mortal end. Personally I am in denial and I hope you are too, but I was thinking of her the other day as I contemplated the reaction of the ideologues of the television production community to the Internet.

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Peter Miller, a Toronto broadcasting lawyer, published an article in Cartt, the purpose of which was to argue against the positions I have maintained that the Broadcasting Act should not be extended to the Internet. Here is my response.

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Mary Ann Turcke, the new head of Bell's media division, thinks we ought to feel shamed and be ashamed of using a VPN to tunnel out of Canadian broadcasting jurisdiction to gain access to the larger stock of video available outside the wire, the large and rather amiable confinement zone which Canadian cultural policy has produced.

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The Quebec government intends to interfere in commerce on the Internet, the free choice of Quebecers to choose with whom to do business, and to require ISPs to establish an architecture of censorship, all with a view to driving users willy-nilly to Quebec’s official gambling site.

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A day later and I realize that the admonition to "do nothing" should be limited to not amalgamating the Broadcasting Act with the Telecommunications Act. The rest of the scheme I propose is an active engagement with the meaning of the Internet.

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I am at a conference in the University of Ottawa on the subject of "Rebooting Canada's Communications legislation". I was on the first panel. My position on changing legislation is quite simple. Do nothing.

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The Financial Post published my response to the Montreal Economic Institute's idea that what we need is exactly three physical cellular networks, rather than four. I find the MEI is a reliable voice of pre-Internet ideas of telecommunications. The number of networks is largely irrelevant; what traffic they carry, and how they interconnect, is the supreme consideration. It is the apps, not the transport, that count. Policy needs to concern itself with less with the number of networks, than with the conditions under which they carry the apps.

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Posted by on in Industry News

The issue is not the creation of a fourth national carrier, however meritorious that idea might be. Nor is three the appropriate number, nor one, nor two, nor six nor any whole integer between one and 10 to the fourth power. The appropriate number of carriers is the wrong question, and I think the CRTC understands this, maybe.

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Posted by on in Industry News

Should video entertainment coming to people through the Internet be regulated under the Broadcasting Act? I debated Jay Thomson of the CMPA yesterday before a group of entertainment industry lawyers. The topic was Resolved: that over the top television should not be regulated under the Broadcasting Act.The scene was in Toronto at the Law Society of Upper Canada's continuing education program.

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News of the ruckus at the CRTC came as no great surprise this morning. Raj Shoan, the regional commissioner for Ontario, is suing the organization. On the one hand, the Chairman of the CRTC is utterly dedicated to controlling everything in his environment, lest the unexpected happen, and on the other we have a young Commissioner who will not take being controlled.

 

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Posted by on in Industry News

Though television is no longer primarily based on a broadcast delivery architecture, and despite or because of the enormous changes in the business model, a huge number of "television" dramas are being made this year. I cite the New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum:

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