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Local Media Madness

Our national broadcasters and media conglomerates really think we’re idiots, don’t they?

First, they launched savelocaltv.ca.  At ‘launch parties’ they had lots of local politicians making speeches and doing their best to get local air/face time.

Then, they launched LocalTVMatters.ca (with a theme song, nonetheless).  I think because it had a cute little ditty from Dave Carroll, many people I know dropped their sense of media savvy and said it was time to start supporting this campaign, including a lot of my friends in more left-leaning camps.  This is good propoganda that even Goebbels would admire!

Now, they have the StopTheTVTax.ca campaign trying to get us to petition the CRTC to end the fee for carriage charges supported by TV networks that will be levied against the cable and satellite subscribers.

Ugh.  Where to start?

How about with the CRTC petition.  I went to this page and posted this complaint to the CRTC:

I do not subscribe to cable, nor do I watch a lot of TV so I don’t care about the ‘TV Tax’.

In fact, it should be illegal for large broadcasters and cable companies in this country to use their air time to protest issues that go before the CRTC without giving fair voice to the other parties involved.

If you’re going to eliminate any ‘tax’ or additional fees on services, please reverse your recent decision to allow Bell, Rogers and other ISP companies to increase the cost of accessing the Internet.

If you can’t do that, reconsider your existence, because you’re proving to be very ineffective to average Canadians.

I suggest you do the same.  Use content from this post if you don’t like mine.

In fact, I suggest it’s time we Internet users start our own campaign called ‘Pull the Plug’ which would be committed to educating people that it’s OK to cut the cable cord and to use the Internet as your sole media outlet.  Such an effort could also be committed to finding ways to improve Internet service in Canada in lieu of expensive and bloated cable and satellite bills.

Next, I suggest you read this article from Clickz.com.  The author is exceptionally adept at explaining that producers of mass content have bypassed all of the traditional channels and that broadcasters, print producers and other traditional media companies are f**ked.  The term the author uses is ‘implode’.

In other words, it’s inevitable.  It’s like a big recession that our MA-in-Economics-holding PM didn’t see coming, but hey folks, we can see this one coming.  We’ve been suitably warned so throwing more resources after a dying industry is like spending billions of dollars on useless car companies (oops … we already did that, didn’t we?).

Social platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, WordPress, Facebook and other networks are allowing citizens to produce, share and enjoy any kind of content, regardless of location, access points and without heavy subscriber fees like cable bills.  They also facilitate discussion, something we’ve never had with newspapers and TV shows.

Trying to defy this trend shows that these companies would rather bury their heads in the tax trough than push forward with innovative solutions that encourage everyone to participate with the creation of content.

Education and awareness are also central to understanding why the ‘LocalTVMatters’ campaign is a sham.  As an aside, to my knowledge, there are no independent media awareness organizations in Canada, but it’s time we had at least one.  Several would be better.

Central to this awareness effort would be the notion that Local content (and not TV) DOES matter, but not when it’s in the hands of our not-so-friendly media conglomerates.  The educational process might also look at how it was bad business strategy that got our broadcasters where they are (ie. broke), with CTV and CanWest gobbling up local stations for billions of dollars.  Such an organization could explore how their intended strategy of streamlining their content and force-feeding us with crap like ‘So You Think You Can Dance (Canada)’ all the while inundating us with Conservative propoganda about how well they’re spending our money has been a complete bust.

As another aside, there’s a critical issue to discuss here:  if broadcasters fail (and they will), the Con propoganda machine will fail as well, because all they know is broadcast.  They don’t know how to start conversations and they don’t want to because people will poke holes through their crummy economic facade in social forums.

Right now, the Cons are spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on campaigns promoting the ‘Canadian Economic Action Plan’ as an indirect subsidy to these companies.  This must end.

We also have to be aware that it is bad business strategy to force local TV stations to convert to digital broadcast.  Analogue’s just fine, thank you very much.  In fact, analogue is essential to getting a broadcast out to local users who can’t afford cable or who simply don’t want it.

Now, if we really want to do something with local TV, we would demand that all broadcasters, cable and satellite companies and other mass-media outlets allow citizens to generate and promote their own content.

Oh yeah … that’s what YouTube (and Vimeo and other online video services) is for.

It looks like we don’t need TV after all.

Exploring the Strategy Behind the Harper Sales Tax

The HST, or Harper Sales Tax (OK … Harmonized Sales Tax) will punish a lot of folks, but no group will be hurt more than the BC and Ontario Liberals.

On the surface, they’re being told it’s a good thing.  The Cons have given the veneer of entering discussions with the provincial leaders in good faith and on a non-partisan basis.  They’re even offering financial incentives to ease the transition.

I smell a plot.

I mean, when the Cons at the provincial level won’t touch this with a 100-foot pole, why should anyone?  If I were running the Ontario government (which, thank god, I’m not) I’d be running for the hills!

Let’s strip it down:

  • Harper won his first whiff of power by promising two things:  an investigation into the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal (frighteningly similar to the eHealth scandal with McGuinty) and the reduction of the GST by 2 full points to 5% (with lots of grandstanding and promises of reduction in cost of living).
  • Since then, Harper’s come through on his promise, but we all know he’d like to reduce taxes more, especially the cursed GST, given that he’s an anarchist and libertarian that doesn’t want any government at all in our lives.
  • However, once you reduce it from 5% to a lower level, you might as well ditch it.
  • Harper won’t do that because the corporate world wouldn’t be able to hide the decrease in unchanged prices (I mean, did anyone really enjoy the full benefits of saving $0.02 on an ice cream cone or other mundane daily purchases?).  They would actually have to decrease prices.
  • Instead, he needs a bigger base to hack away at, which would ultimately be the HST.
  • He’s now got 13% to play with instead of a mere 7.
  • Ontario and BC will be hosed royally and will be told they’re out of luck once the transfer of sales tax power is surrendered.

I’m not going to deny that exporters need every iota of support they can get in today’s world, but this will not help the Ontario government support its infrastructure in the long run.  When they’re tax revenue is slashed by the Federal Cons, they will have no choice but to slash their budgets as well.

We will then get the Harris years by proxy.

What do you think?  Am I being a little too suspicious?  Do we have evidence that this will be done without harm to the politicians at the provincial level?

Canadian Election: Vandals Scaring Voters

This is the most despicable show of cowardice I’ve come across in a long time and certainly tops and rhetoric that we’ve seen so far in run up to the Canadian election.

Full story here .

It’s hard to refrain from naming names, but I don’t see supporters of the Greens or NDP taking this kind of juvenile action against people that believe in democracy.  If Stephen Harper has some of the leadership that he claims he has, he would request a full investigation into this nonsense to ensure that his name or that of the Conservatives doesn’t get dragged into this spree of vandalism.

Treatening the lives of people because they put little placards on their lawns or paste bumber stickers on their cars is reminiscent of brown shirt fanaticism that must be stopped.  If we don’t and we get bullied into removing our voice from the crowd, we have lost democracy.  We might as well hand over the keys to our houses and cars and everything else we’ve got if we tolerate this garbage.

$700 billion bailout or micro-credit?

Many of you will know that I’ve already been ranting about the fallacy of handing over a blank cheque to Wall Street.  To this point, I’ve completely omitted a viable option related to this kind of infrastructure and one that sits squarely amid the whole concept of the Long Tail :  micro-credit.

Kiva.org is celebrating its third aniversary this fall and they’ve been extremely successful with leveraging the desire to help each other out in small rather than massive ways.  Its structure was inspired by Mahammed Yunus of Bangladesh, who coincidentally, won a Nobel Prize becuase of his ground-breaking efforts to lift the poorest people out of the mire of international high-finance.

Kiva and micro-credit programs represent strong participants in what I call "the New Market".  They bypass all of the traditional structures that we’ve put in place to control who gets money, how they get it, why they get it and when.

In its third year of existence, Kiva members donated more than $40 million in funds that went to more than 90,000 entrepreneurs across the globe.

This is the kind of infrastructure that the Internet has enabled and that a bunch of stuff shirts on Wall Street of Pennsylvania Avenue in the US simply can’t comprehend.  Where’s the kickback?  What’s in it for me?

In Canada, we need something like Kiva, but something that would support local businesses here, preferably without government interference.  If anyone knows of something that exists that might be of interest to readers, please post a link in comments (please note that you’ll have to separate the syntax because this blog has limits on outbound links).

rabble: Greens vs NDP. Who’s greener?

As it turns out, the NDP are the choice of two former Green Party members.  Reasons cited include the history of the Greens in Europe (I would also mention the history here as well, where the Greens were once run by a very conservative Jim Harris), attitudes towards taxation and militarism and policies concerning international trade.

For the full discussion, click here .

There’s one little post-thought on this discussion:  I’m not as manic about the environment as I am about proportional representation (PR).  This is an issue that has fallen off the NDP radar, but shouldn’t.  Without PR, we don’t have a true democracy.