Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CRTC Gets One Right, For Once

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Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission stated to a television industry conference that their industry isn't taking the transition to digital seriously. Television stations in Canada have to be transmitting in digital and shutting down analog transmitters by 2011 two years behind deadline their American counterparts have to meet.

Out of the hundreds of television stations operating in Canada only a couple of dozen have began transmitting digitally. While about ten percent of households receive their television exclusively with an antenna, Cable and Satellite providers still obtain signals from broadcast stations mainly over the air. The foot dragging by television stations means most people will see and hear inferior picture and sound quality compared to other channels.

While Television broadcasters are afraid of investing in digital over the air broadcasting, the competition from Digitally broadcast TV stations from south of the boarder received over the air or delivered through digital cable or satellite is something that Canadian stations will not be able to survive as long as they continue to hold on to analog broadcasting.

The lesson for Canada's broadcast industry is go digital or go out of business, It looks like we can already see which path they are choosing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Copyright Law Proposed, Canadians Still Take It On The Chin

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Thursday, June 12th Canada's government introduces new copyright law that despite claims that it's more balanced than previous proposed it's still a clone of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The only thing that is different fines for downloading from peer to peer networks is capped at 500 dollars. Bans on circumventing copy protection remain in place.

Recording content for the purpose of time shifting will remain legal,e but compiling personal libraries of recorded content will become illegal. This is absolutely absurd since many TV shows that people have archives TV shows that cannot be purchased on DVD.

Even among those who would ordinarily support the rights of creators there isn't wide support for the bill. Safwan Javed drummer of the Canadian rock band Wide Mouth Mason speaking on behalf of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition calls the proposed law an "American-style approach to copyright." He states that suing music fans is not going to prevent piracy.

The introduction of the bill comes just as the House of Commons is due to go into a summer break. If it fails to pass before the summer break it will die on the order paper just like the last few copyright bills even the bill the Liberals tried to pass before Paul Martin called the 2004 election.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yet another Telco Takeover in the Works

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High prices and limited choice of cell phone providers has been the tune that Canadian consumers have heard for years. But sooner rather than later American cell phone subscribers will be hearing to too. Verizon communications announces a 28 billion dollar plan to acquire Alltel Wireless. This takeover is going to be sold to the FCC and the FTC as providing better service through better coverage for Verizon Wireless subscribers in mid-western and southern states, this takeover will still mean less competition for the American consumer.

This proposed takeover will leave Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile as the last major cellular only carriers in the American marketplace, which itself has speculated as the next potential takeover targets. There has been talk already that companies will merge in order to avoid getting swallowed up by AT&T or Verizon. Such a merger will ultimately mean that subscribers will lose out simply by having subscribers on one of the carriers would have to get new phones. With T-Mobile using GSM and Sprint Nextel using both CDMA and iDen technologies, there is no way that the merged company will let all three technologies co-exist.

Are we headed to a single telco? Does this mean the return of Ma Bell? Just wait and see.