The Canadian Progressive: Escalating war on net neutrality, Bell Canada wants to block Canadians’ access to pirate websites

Back in April, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled in favour of net neutrality and declared that “Internet service providers should treat data traffic equally to foster consumer choice, innovation and the free exchange of ideas.” Bell Media, one of Canada’s “big three” telecom companies, wants to change

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The Canadian Progressive: Escalating war on net neutrality, Bell Canada wants to block Canadians’ access to pirate websites

Back in April, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled in favour of net neutrality and declared that “Internet service providers should treat data traffic equally to foster consumer choice, innovation and the free exchange of ideas.” Bell Media, one of Canada’s “big three” telecom companies, wants to change

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Dead Wild Roses: Say “NO” to ads on CBC Radio

Due to broken promises and subsequent budget cuts, our previous government forced CBC radio to resort to using advertisements to supplement funding. It was outrageous then and it is outrageous now.  The CRTC is now inviting the public to express their opinions on the matter and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has set up a convenient […]

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Mind Bending Politics: Legacy News is Threatened By Lack of Ethics Not Subsidies

This week CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais ripped into journalism industry executives for asking for subsidies all while owning private yachts and helicopters. This statement has come while the CRTC has been holding hearings on the future of local journalism and TV, however spoiled executives are only part of the problem. A lack of enforcement by the CRTC on ethical regulations seems to be the other part of the problem with broadcast journalism.

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Zorg Report: CRTC Amps Up the Volume on Commercials

CRTC Amps Up the Volume on Commercials

(Abstract: so far no-one has come clean on the CRTC’s decision to allow/facilitate cable companies’ jacking up volumes on digital commercial content exponentially beyond any previously recorded levels.)

Remember when we had all those extensive hearings about reducing the volume on TV commercials?  Well, I think there were hearings—I mean, that’s what the CRTC does, right, hold “hearings”?  (Rarely can such a multifariously ironical word have been employed.)

Through lawyers and public salaries, this single issue cost Canadian taxpayers millions—millions just to get the cable oligopoly to turn it down a little (so taxpayers were on the hook, as usual, for obnoxious private sector behaviour from advertisers).

Well, it seems that the volume on TV commercials has gone down to something close to the volume of the TV show you are watching—but of course, as we know (and as I wrote about somewhere elsewhere here glancingly years ago), nobody watches TV on TV anymore.

If you look up CRTC, you hardly need to enter “commercial,” let alone “volume,” before the Google searchbox has had a strong whiff of what you have joined millions of others in doing. The Harper government/CRTC still has its pages out there, touting its remarkable work on bringing down the volume—

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/g3.htm

The page is hilariously self-congratulaTORY and gutless, telling people who’ve still got a problem with volume to a) blame the Americans; b) (snoooooozzzzeeee) ‘contact their service provider’; or c) fill out a ludicrously detailed complaint indicating the exact who/what/where/when/why/how of their particular volume grievance—and the year/month/day/hour/millisecond it occurred (the better, no doubt, to extend the hours of those who might putatively (one cannot speak of “legal” issues) investigate reported concerns.

Anyway, as with most people, I find myself more and more regarding “TV” content online.  Do I prefer it this way?  No, not really, but you have to do something to try to juggle and rein in your cable bills.  And besides, at least initially, advertisers didn’t see enough money in online content, so the ads were fewer and this instantly made online content, through no doing of its own, highly attractive.  But of course online ads are getting more and more numerous, such that one day we might all run back to our TV “sets” seeking relative peace and quiet and a reduction in commercials.  (And this is key: the cable oligopoly does not _want_ you to watch content on TV–imagine having to send out techies for all those cables and so on.  No, it wants to drive you to online sources, and key in its moneymaking pitch to advertisers is to make sure those advertisers know that, when it comes to decibel levels, hey, digital is carte blanche for advertisers.)

As you know, the volume for online commercials is amped up incredibly, usually at 3-5 times the normal volume of whatever you are watching.  Today I was watching a short TV show online and, when the same commercials from 6 minutes before came on, I went to the bathroom.  During the commercials, an ad for a local radio station came on with such a blast that it was easily 10 times the volume of what I had been watching.  If you had a sleeping child, or spouse, or bark-prone dog, those individuals would have fully roused almost no matter where they were.  And if you were actually sitting there when it happened, you would have been jolted off your seat.

So anyway, I’m finally getting to my point: Just what deals did the CRTC and the Harper government cut when we spent all those millions on having TV ad volume turned down?

Now, I’d like to think that the CRTC honestly thought, “hey, we’re doing a good thing here, we’re trying to get obnoxious volume levels reduced.”  Surely people will thank us, and obviously volume on other digital devices will never be an issue.  But no army of lawyers, no matter how many hours and milliseconds they billed, could ever defend that kind of “we were all totally ignorant” plea.  No, a backroom deal involving teams of lawyers, the Harper government, the CRTC, the cable oligopoly, and, presumably, self-interested major advertisers, was, as sure as I’m sitting here typing, almost certainly cut.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t even that backroom.  Maybe there’s someone out there who could just point me to a clause somewhere or a report somewhere that notes that “in tandem with their agreement to reduce volume levels on commercials to a level similar to that of the broadcast content, cable companies and advertisers are explicitly allowed to jack up volume on any other digital emissions to unregulated, even extreme—levels.”  Think of all the 100s (and indeed, overall, 1000s) of people in on the final CRTC crafting (backroom deal ultimately, yes, but to say no-one outside the backroom knew what was going on so that they could act accordingly would be a bit like the PM saying he didn’t know what a dozen people in his own office that he hired did know).

The CRTC decision re: commercial volume levels, which the aforementioned government webpage touts, the while saying that, by the way, if you want it enforced, blame someone else or “you’re on your own,” is a sham, or chimera, regulation.  With so many people not watching TV (and therefore TV commercials) on TV anymore, it’s like passing a law banning dangerous campfires in the desert.  You’d have to hike 100k just to find some kindling.  So, again, you can buy the innocent argument, but then you’d have to believe that government, CRTC, cable oligopoly, and advertising senior operatives had IQ numbers topping out at basic cable channel numbers.

And the recent-ish regulations (which were in effect a quid pro quo between the government and the cable oligopoly), just made things worse—as my earlier anecdote demonstrates, whereas experience taught that there used to be at least some sort of tacit agreement about how much noise the average payer for cable services and taxpayer to the government could hack, now there is none.  And you could totally have your eardrums blown out if you’re distractedly watching something while you’re sitting on the bus (or increasingly, in your car, or your kids are), minding your own business, paying for content, and then having your earbuds blown out, too.

Surely I would love to drop by the mansion of a cable exec someday and play one of his ads outside his bedroom.  Admittedly, in the case of some, they’d maybe be too blacked out even to be roused,

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/jim-shaw-steps-down-after-unprofessional-behaviour/article1319550/

but it would be kind of a fun power trip just to be able to say to the guy: “hey, I don’t make the laws, and there’s no law against it, so go microwave some mac n’ cheese.”

It’s a wonder that we consent to pay for this and elect representatives of private business who haven’t the will of the public in mind.

–zr     

 

 

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