Covid Journal, September 25, 2020
Canada’s Misdirected Media Management
Those of you who read this blog should know that I have no love for Canada’s mainstream media companies.
Most are now in the grips of right wingers, determined to do things like undermine public education and our health care system.
They have also almost always been on the porch of the pork barrel express when it comes to getting (and demanding) handouts from the various levels of Canadian government, always pretending that they have the best interest of Canadians in mind.
Under the Trudeau government, this parade of stupidity has taken a new turn, starting getting hundreds of millions in direct handouts. At least Stephen Harper had the decency to at least spend the money as ‘advertising’ to prop up these putzes.
But don’t bother reading my rants about how poorly managed the Canadian media infrastructure is. Go to a professional legal critic like Ottawa’s Michael Geist who has a substantially better and more objective view on why the Liberal plans are rubbish and how they threaten the very basic principles of net neutrality and universal internet access.
Start following the story here: How The Government Bungled the Internet Regulation File. His conclusion up front:
The harm that will come from these policy choices is difficult to overstate. By focusing the tax burden on sales taxes rather than technology company revenues, consumer costs will go up and the company profits will be left untouched. The CRTC powers will lead to years of hearings and follow-on litigation, yielding few tangible benefits for creators. The mandated Cancon contributions will spark trade wars and make Canada a less attractive market for new services leading to fewer choices and less competition, while the link licensing requirement will result in blocked sharing of news articles on social media sites that hurts both Canadians and media organizations. All the while, the issues that really matter – privacy, anti-competitive behaviour, online hate, misinformation, a fair share of tech corporate profits – are left largely untouched.
A previous article (September 15, 2020) is an important read for every Canadian that is interested in preserving Net Neutrality.
The net neutrality implications of these cultural policies is not a new issue. As Melanie Joly was working on the government’s cultural digital policy, the possibility that net neutrality could conflict with preferential treatment of Canadian content was identified as a concern. Joly was adamant that equal treatment was the preferred approach.
Moreover, the CRTC examined the issue in 2017, when it was asked to consider whether Canadian content would not count against a user’s data cap as a mechanism to promote it. The Commission rejected the idea:
Given all the drawbacks and limitations of using differential pricing practices as a way to support and promote Canadian programming, the Commission considers that any benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system would generally not be sufficient to justify the preference, discrimination, and/or disadvantage created by such practices
In fact, the CRTC also addressed the applicability of Section 36 in the same decision:
certain differential pricing practices may require approval under section 36, such as those that require a content provider to alter its content or those that control the availability of content accessible by consumers
Altering content or raising costs through licensing to support Canadian content is precisely what Guilbeault and the government have in mind. In doing so, the government’s longstanding commitment to net neutrality will be badly undermined as it abandons the principle of equal treatment of content online.
The Harper government kept trying to interfere with the basic notions of Net Neutrality. Trump has tried as well.
They consistently get swatted down by the courts and public opinion that have a better understanding of how the internet works over the long-term than politicians who only think over the short-term (and regurgitate speaking points written by industry special interest groups).
If the government were to address the real concerns, there would be long-overdue privacy reforms, a more aggressive approach on competition issues, measures to address online hate and misinformation, and pursuit of a global agreement on fair taxation of technology company revenues. If it wants to support increased film production from indigenous groups or help the news sector, it can make those policy choices and use general tax revenues without creating a massive regulatory infrastructure.
Beyond the failure to include any reference to a data tax in its 85 page platform, the proposal is ill-advised and runs counter to the platform’s commitment to enhance privacy rights. Guilbeault mistakenly describes how Facebook uses personal information (it does not sell personal information to other companies without permission) to argue that some form of tax is needed. Yet rather than beefing up Canada’s privacy laws, the government effectively seeks to take a cut of the revenues that come from using Canadians’ personal information. Canadians don’t need yet another party profiting from their personal information. They need stronger privacy rules that limit the collection, use and disclosure of their information. In his zeal to “get money from web giants”, Guilbeault apparently seems to think that even a tax cash grab derived from Canadians’ data is fair game.
Watching Canada’s big media companies dig in and protect their territory is exhausting. They’ve reached for the crutch of lameness and government handouts over the decades instead of trying to become excellent by leading with innovation and cost-efficiencies for Canadians.
The challenge for me is that I know the Cons wouldn’t be any better and the NDP / Green contingents probably don’t have a suitable network of reliable and credible sources that they would turn to as exhibits of ‘a better way’ to do things as media companies or news organizations in the 21st centuries.
Trump Tyranny in 2020
This headline should send shivers down the spines of anyone that is interested in personal freedoms or respect for any founding documents like the Constitution or Canada’s Charter.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transition, assuming he lost the election.
The president also repeated his criticisms of mail-in voting, a practice that he has claimed will lead to widespread fraud.
“You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster,” Trump told reporters. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very a peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”
Ummm … what? Get rid of the ballots as in voting?
As in, I’ll decide on which votes are legitimate and which are not?
FFS, why does the rest of the world have to suffer this nonsense?