Saturday, March 2, 2019

Imperialism of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Whether it is SNC-Lavalin, CGI IncBCE Inc. (which owns Bell Canada) , or CBC, there is always a lot of flag-waving from lobbiests and defenders when these corporation are doing or saying things that corporations with different addresses of their headquarters would never get away with.

CBC President Catherine Tait's attempt to flag-wave recently went as far as to claim digital native companies were imperalists.

The problem with her analogy is that when it comes to post-convergence digital communications policy, it is representatives of analog-era companies like the CBC that are the foreign entities. Protecting the interests of Canadians from this imperalism is why I have called for a shift of funding away from the CBC to Canadian creators.

We need to put the policies which the CBC and Bell promote in a proper context.

Taxing Internet connectivity, or digital media distribution companies, to subsidize analog-era broadcasting is about as legitimate as putting a tax on salt in India.  While it is obvious why the foreign interests want natives to subsidize them, it should be recognized immediately as wrong.

Modern media distribution companies like Amazon and Netflix started with distribution of physical media: books in the case of Amazon (quickly moving to digital distribution with CD's and DVDs), and DVD's in the case of Netflix.  At that point nobody suggested that these content distribution companies should be subject to broadcast policy.  It is still the case that nobody suggests that Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, or the hundreds of other companies involved in the distribution of digital content on physical media should be thought of as if they had anything in common with broadcasters.

As these digital native content distributors added online distribution to their offerings, nothing changed that has anything to do with broadcasting and yet the analog-era broadcasters have been on the offensieve against digital natives for as long as Internet bandwidth has been sufficient to stream video.

You might ask why we haven't had digital native companies that are also headquartered in Canada.  To understand why this hasn't happened you only need to look at decades of successful flag-waving misdirection campaigns from the analog-era broadcasters and BDUs (cable/satellite/etc companies).  In 2002 they convinced parliament to pass a bill that would disallow a "new media retransmitter" the same exceptions to copyright which enable analog-era cable companies to exist.  If  iCraveTV and JumpTV had instead been appropriately embraced as the innovators that Canada desprarately needed, we would have had domestic new media companies long before Netflix launched in 2008.  Other than the additional bandwidth that currently exists today, what iCraveTV and JumpTV attempted to offer with their IPTV service wasn't technologically different to Bell Fibe TV.  What was different is that Bell is constantly able to get away with activities which would be considered illegal if other companies did it.

When Bell and the CBC make any complaints about Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Google (Play/YouTube) in Canada, we need to remember that it was the imperalist lobbying from Bell and CBC which blocked Canadian digital native companies from forming.   If we are to facilitate Canadian companies in this marketplace we need to provide assurances and incentives to protect digital natives from the imperalist broadcasters and BDUs.

I can only hope that blindly protecting the activities of Bell and CBC will eventually be as politically toxic as blindly protecting SNC-Lavalin has become.

Feels like Timothy Denton's Blog is relevant.

There appears to be an SNC-Lavalin-style relationship of telcos to government that needs further exploring and, if necessary, expunging.