How technology is changing the world of media by Marty Forbes

Aug 7, 2017

Source: Edmonton Sun

We live in a tremendously conflicted technology world in media. Things are changing so rapidly it’s literally impossible to catch up as new apps and companies evolve or dissolve in the World Wide Web.

For example, I went to renew my NFL Sunday Ticket this week that I’ve had through my local cable provider for the past decade and find out it’s now available ONLY via a new web streaming service…and it’s based in the UK.

Twenty dollars a month or $150 one time fee.

It’s actually a cost savings on this new platform.

I like the Shaw Free Range app when I’m travelling to watch my cable on the iPad but it’s geo blocked outside of Canada.

Same with the TSN Go App to watch my ever lovin’ Esks.

But, with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and about a $3 a month investment I can fool the internet provider to think I’m actually in Canada watching the game – yet I’m floating down the Danube watching on my smartphone or iPad.

Contrast that geo restriction by installing a Slingbox ($150) that sits on your home cable TV that you can access on your smartphone or iPad anywhere in the world to watch your local television. No geoblock!

I know...I sound like an alien here.

Canada is regulated by the CRTC but for the past few years the commissioner was busy in a costly lawsuit against one of the other commissioners – and vice versa.

Some progress was made on some platforms with new regulations and monitoring but the simple truth is there is no way for media to catch up to technology changes in our business.

Canadian radio, for example, has not had a review in over a decade. Minister of Culture for Canada Melanie Joly has a full media review in process underway in her department and I was part of this about a year ago, but have not received an update in that time. I understand we may have some news this fall.

Streaming and on demand is now huge. Spotify, for example, has over 60 million customers around the world. A Canadian artist can get his/her/their CD available to double the population of our country on this platform alone.

Add in Pandora with another 75 million customers (not available in Canada, however) and you can see the potential for these artists.

Yet 47 years later the CanCon system is almost identical to its original start in June of 1970.

Trooper (god bless their Canadian hearts) still receive the benefit of forced airplay and get SOCAN cheques four decades later while there is no tangible incentive for any new act in any genre to get out of the gate with a good start on traditional radio.

Sirius/XM has millions of subscribers around North America too but a much smaller CanCon regulation than what Canadian radio is required to play.

Heavens, even your parents kick you out of the house by your early 20s.

In video, you’ll see a ton of corporate media credits at the end of many movies on traditional television in Canada – like the W channel or Lifetime – for Canadian writers, producers, performers, etc. to get exposure.

Yet many of the biggest hits and TV shows are filmed in our country but disguised to look like it is based in some US location.

Ben Babsischen, local producer and owner of Hired Gun Productions, tells me that the only major movie hits that have come out of Canada seems to be coming from Quebec … mostly due to a STAR system in that province ... and Cineplex Odeon who has millions of eyeballs every week in their buildings have zero Canadian content regulations.

Ben also says “the movie business here is like health care in the U.S. … they’re ready to rip it apart but have no replacement plan yet.”

Arguably one of the most successful current shows is Suits, which is actually filmed in my brother’s law office in Toronto – yet we’re led to believe it’s in New York.

Most Vancouver shows are shilled to look like other West Coast American cities too, like Seattle, San Francisco or L.A.

Ben tells me that there are lots of talented writers and producers that want to stay in Canada (and in their own place of residence) and lots of great material being worked on but also believes the industry should be borderless for maximum exposure.

We have a protectionist culture to support Canadian artists of all types but only so that those artists received that benefit in Canada.

The internet is where the gold is and we simply need to start focussing on the exposure benefiting our performers all around the globe.

Especially for next-gen consumption patterns.

Drake, Nickleback, the Weeknd, Celine, Shania, Sarah, Bryan Adams, kd Lang, Michael Buble are all well established in the music world and literally don’t need their material played on traditional media to survive in the competitive music world.

Drake, for example, has 36 million followers on Twitter alone – or the population of Canada — who can receive his new single before it’s even played one time on Canadian radio.

Off my soapbox to recognize some good folks leaving the broadcast industry in the next few weeks.

Best wishes to ex-A Channel/CITY TV/Shaw Cable pal Chris Duncan. Shaw is shutting down the Alberta operations this month and Chris is one of the finest teachers in the business. I wish him all the best.

Tim Speliscy, long time big cheese at Global Edmonton is retiring after a stellar career with most of it in the former ITV building first in the news department, doing on air broadcasts for the Edmonton Oilers, right up to today where he commands the big corner office. One of the industries really good guys will be missed for certain.

I hope you’re having a great summer and help support the great festivals that are running this month.

© Edmonton Sun