Category Archives: new media

New Market Models

Posted on by 2 comments

We desparately need a discussion about new market models that will actually work in the wake of the post-20th century debt crisis.

Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and now maybe even the US all teeter on the brink of economic ruin in the wake of debt piled on debt piled on debt.

When defaults are finally declared, the resulting cost spiral will inflate the price of everything from shoes to corn to electricity to books to wheels for your car.  The shock may be moderate at first, but eventually we’ll all have fewer dollars in our pockets just as we try to survive.

Most of this debt has been accumulated for one thing:  the security state.

The security state consists of several expenditures:

  • to finance the act of unnecessary wars;
  • to fund the monitoring and control of all people with baseless crimes so that fees and levies can be imposed at a whim; and to
  • to punish and incarcerate citizens when these most basic crimes exceed a even more basic level of tolerance according to our dictators.

In Canada, we’re spending anywhere from $50 to $100 billion PER YEAR on the security state and military infrastructure, and yet we’re officially only fighting in one ‘war’ (Afghanistan).  Why are we wasting so much money – OUR taxpayer dollars – on something that’s so incredibly unproductive?

Iceland seems to have gone in the right direction by telling bankers and the IMF to go F*** themselves.

Ultimately, we need a new approach to new market models.

Eric Blair of alt-market.com interviews Brandon Smith in this piece on Alternative Markets at Activist Post where he shares some of these ideas. The basic definition of an alternative market:

… it is essentially any method of trade outside the establishment-controlled economy. It could be based on the barter of goods and skills, or the proliferation of precious metals to break our dependence on the fiat dollar (or Federal Reserve Note), etc. It could be a network of people across a county or state, or, an agreement between two friends.

And some thoughts about why alternative markets are labeled as underground or black markets around the world:

They are desperate, and I do mean DESPERATE, to keep us from developing our own private economies. If we are successful, we will no longer be in the position of dependency on the dollar or the sham economy. When it implodes, we will be relatively unfazed, and certainly not tearing each other apart. Meaning, their rationalization for martial law goes straight down the drain. The thought of that possibility really pisses them off…

But would alternative markets be enough when our governments are out of control, paying their friends and military buddies off with our money?

Probably not.  So we will also need a Declaration of Debt Independence.  It’s a basic concept that’s about to catch on like wild fire as everyone who’s not in control feels the effects of ‘austerity measures’:  you write into your Constitution (assuming you have one) that the government is not allowed to issue debt exceeding a certain percentage of your GDP (which should be redefined to capture the cost of environmental degradation and other borrowing from future generations), but to also identify that no government would ever be allowed to spend more than 3 or 5% of their GDP on defense, security and military spending (I would also suggest that this include prisons and other forms of incarceration).

At no point should any citizen’s government be borrowing money from bankers when they should be living within their means.  We should be investing in services for our children, not borrowing from their future in a failing effort to cork our insatiable desire for crap.

Public budgets should be for public good:  education, health, parks, trees, the environment, investment in the future, regulation and a sturdy and reliable justice system.

Another alternative market model would be extremely feasible if we owned the Internet, but we’re at risk of losing that too under the guise of security, protection from make-believe hackers and terrorists and porn sharks and other freaks that apparently lurk on every digital corner.  At some point in the future, we should expect the ‘Wild Internet of the West’ to be shut down in favour of a controlled Internet that’s no more illuminating and accessible than TV is today.

This would take a lot of work but more importantly, money.  I’ve been advocating some form of fund-raising effort for some time and would still be at the front of the line if someone were to say they were ready as well.

I can’t do it alone.

If we move on any of the above – and we really have to – hard times will be on their way, but we must stop living beyond our means and we have to shake off the bonds that are being placed our basic rights to communicate, participate and emancipate our day-to-day lives.

So … who’s on board?

Ottawa Looking to Fund Partisan Propaganda

Posted on by 0 comment

The folks in Ottawa have been dying to figure out an ‘innovative’ way to bail out Canada’s biggest media companies (besides the CBC, of course) without creating a massive voter backlash.  With that in mind, another hairbrained scheme has materialized:  spending taxpayer money on advertising (story details are pasted below).

The absurdity of this plan is laughable for a number of reasons:

  1. I normally try to avoid programming by Global, CTV or stations that are owned by these conglomerates.  A wide array of other Canadians have made a similar choice.
  2. You might as well just burn the cash because spending money on dead air to reach an audience that is gone or declining is nearly as wasteful.
  3. Using advertising to shout at existing watchers translates to paid propaganda.  This is morally reprehensible.
  4. Shouting at people with ad breaks and other interruptions is an antiquated mode of communication.

It’s the last point that I want to talk about.  We entered a massive transition more than a decade ago when technology made it easy for consumers of content to avoid advertising:

  • TIVO = avoid TV ads.
  • DVDs = avoid 20 minutes of previews, along with ads for mobile phones, cars and shoes.
  • iTunes & CDs = avoid radio ads.
  • Search = avoid online ads.

A good part of the mess that we’re in today is related to the notion that individuals can now think for themselves rather than have marketers and governments instruct them how to think and what to buy.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people with large agencies from buying media and placing it with these companies for the Cons, largely in the form of ‘public service announcements’.  Our governments have a long history of spending oodles of taxpayer cash to inform us about ‘staying prepared for emergencies’, ‘how to spend your tax credits’, over-produced Department of Defense ads encouraging people to sign up for the reserves, etc.

Add that to the multi-billion funding of programs like the Canadian Film and Video Tax Credit which goes to channels like ‘The History Channel’ so they can show us ‘Red Dawn’ (I guess because fear mongering about Cuba has so much to do with history).

To think that we’re currently void of propaganda is excessively naive, but adding to the pile shows considerable contempt for the people of Canada.

=========================

Source:  Globe and Mail

BRIAN LAGHI

The Globe and Mail

April 14, 2009 at 6:53 PM EDT

OTTAWA — Ottawa has a new option on the table for helping local TV stations make it through the recession: buy more government ads.

The idea, which is under discussion at the cabinet’s powerful committee on priorities and planning, is seen as a way to replace private advertising revenue that has fled since the onset of the financial crisis, a source told The Globe and Mail.

“In the short term, the most efficient way to get money out to broadcasters might be through advertising, because that’s where the initial loss was,” said the source.

“That’s where things have gone.”

Although a good number of MPs and cabinet ministers support help for the industry, the question of how best to deliver it is the subject of significant discussion. The government has talked about shelling out between $150-million and $75-million this year and $75-million next year in an effort to get money into the hands of the broadcasters quickly. However, some MPs are concerned that funnelling money directly to the broadcasters would not do much to prevent cuts. At least the government could benefit from the ads.

CanWest, CTVglobemedia and Quebecor have been lobbying the government for help as some of them consider closing or selling stations.

The broadcasters are looking for both short- and long-term aid as they battle to keep local stations and programming. Some MPs fear that the loss of local stations would rob them of a way to deliver their message to voters. It’s of particular concern to MPs representing rural areas and small towns, where communications outlets are fewer.

Simply providing more ad money won’t resolve broadcasters’ larger, structural problem, one industry source said. Revenues have been reduced through fragmenting of the market and competition from specialty cable networks and the Internet.

Another option to aid the broadcasters would be for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to allow cable companies to charge for transmitting their signals.

The companies have warned that at least part of such charges, known as fee-for-carriage, would be passed on to consumers, making the issue potentially difficult for the governing Tories.

“That’s becoming a bit more popular within the government, although there are points of reservation, to be sure,” said the source.

“But people recognize if they want to have their local television, there are structural issues that have to be dealt with.”

The concept of fee for carriage is expected to come up when industry players appear before the House of Commons heritage committee. The government could direct the CRTC to review the issue, or it could decide to look at it on its own. The CRTC could also consider reducing or removing certain fees broadcasters pay to the government.

It’s not clear whether the ad-buying idea would also apply to the CBC. The public broadcaster is planning 800 layoffs to cope with a $170-million shortfall.

Net Neutrality: TV Broadcasters Oppose Whitespace Program

Posted on by 0 comment

In the US, TV broadcasters have officially filed their opposition to any plan to leverage available ‘white space’, or unused broadband wireless airwaves for public use.  They argue that transmitting wireless broadband on white spaces could interfere with TV signals.

Original story here.

I’m not an expert in this field, but the claim that airwaves will interfere with broadcasters doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For years, the strategy of cable suppliers has been to hook the cable into homes, creating a network that only they can control.

Now, with public white space, they’re claiming interference, but what would transmissions interfere with if all cable and ‘broadcast’ stations are deliverd through broadcast?

Anyways, that’s a tangent that will probably get me hung up on details that I’m under-informed on.

Instead, what struck me when reading this article is the idea that we should be looking into a similar program here in Canada, but the core consideration being a publicly-run and owned transmission network for broadband that would rival Bell and Rogers.

For a while, I’ve been preaching that the official mandate of the CBC should be expanded to make the Internet a social and public asset so that we don’t face issues like throttling and if we get our act together and elect the right government, maybe we’ll be able to do this.  Don’t expect any miracles with the current government, though 😉

rabble.ca BETA site

Posted on by 0 comment

rabble.ca has a beta site that is about to be finalized.  Check here for details

rabble is one of Canada’s leading independent news and media information sites and if you don’t follow their content, you may want to.  They’ve drawn in talent from across the country (and occasionally, the globe) and their authors and journalists have an exceptional reputation.

rabble is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to independent, progressive media in Canada and we need more – a lot more – sites like it.  There are several publications and independent magazines sites like This , Briarpatch and The Tyee and the list is growing.

If you have a few favourite independent media sites, please list them in the comments.  I’d like to start helping people find a complete inventory of these publishers so that we can start putting together a loose ‘network’.

In the interim, here are the details from their press release:

rabble.ca raises a ruckus and launches its new site today

News site also announces partnership with the Council of Canadians, United Steelworkers, and Douglas Coldwell Foundation

TORONTO, Oct. 23 /CNW/ – rabble.ca, Canada’s most widely read independent news media site, introduces three new strategic partnerships today and launches its newly designed website: you can find it at beta.rabble.ca.

"We’re very proud to be introducing new community partnerships together with this relaunch," said rabble.ca publisher, Kim Elliott. "In these challenging economic and political times, we are very pleased to introduce a new strategic partnership with Canada’s most influential activist-based organization, the Council of Canadians."

"rabble is a crucial resource for achieving media democracy in Canada in this era of increasing corporate media centralization," says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and outspoken advocate for media democracy. "That’s why the Council of Canadians supports rabble."

Also announced today are new partnerships with the Douglas Coldwell Foundation, partner on the soon to be released on-line Activist Toolkit, as well as with the United Steelworkers, who join rabble today as the sponsor of rabbletv – rabble’s cutting edge new media component featuring live and pre-recorded online video.

rabble.ca’s new website, which can be viewed at beta.rabble.ca, offers visitors an opportunity to provide feedback on the newly redesigned website, and introduces state of the art interactive features including the live streaming capacity of rabbletv, Canada’s largest progressive podcast network, and other interactive and sharing tools.

The new website is built on an open-source platform. "rabble.ca is happy to contribute back to the open source community it has been built upon," explained Elliott. "rabble.ca developers have released modules back to the drupal community for other organizations to make use of and to promote democratic media tools."

Building on their acclaimed and popular election blog, rabble will also be introducing regular blogs on the website. "With the election blog, for the first time, I felt like progressives in Canada had a real daily alternative to mainstream media analysis," explained Derrick O’Keefe, editor of rabble.ca.

"We intend to build on that and make rabble the ‘go to’ place for common sense analysis devoid of corporate media spin in this time of economic crisis and minority government."

rabble.ca chose to relaunch on Media Democracy Day, a day founded to challenge media concentration in Canada and to recognize the power of alternative media. Media Democracy Day activities take place throughout the day today at the University of Toronto, and conclude this evening with a roundtable debrief on the federal election, featuring Maude Barlow, Murray Dobbin, Jessica Yee, Anne Lagac?-Dowson and Duncan Cameron, and a celebration with LAL, Mraya (with Maryem Tollar) and Lorraine Segato at the Steamwhistle Brewery in Toronto Ontario.

Mobile Phone Affects on Children

Citing research from Sweden, this article identifies that letting your child use a cell phone might be like letting them play with a stick of dynamite – with charges.

What’s frustrating for me is that I work in an industry where mobile is being positioned as ‘the next big thing’ as far as marketing opportunities go.  Ugh.