News about media and the regulatory environment both inside and beyond Canada's borders.
Canadian broadcasters penalize cord-cutters
With its covert Russian operatives, frustrated American intelligence agents and web of spy intrigue, there isn't a timelier piece of popular entertainment currently airing than The Americans.
Set in the Cold War 1980s, the television drama kicked off its fifth season March 7 following the exploits of two Soviet spies living undercover in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The hit series has won numerous awards for its portrayal of the tense political and social landscape — one with striking parallels to modern-day America.
For Canadian viewers, there's just one problem: The Americans can't be found on any legal streaming service here.
It was one of the marquee titles on the joint Rogers-Shaw streaming service Shomi before that was shut down in November. It thus joins a long list of series — including HBO's Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Girls — that are being kept off streaming services by traditional broadcasters for one reason or another.
That's frustrating cord-cutters and leading some consumer advocates to say the time has come for policymakers to enact use-it-or-lose-it rules on streaming rights.
"There should be no situations where there is content out there that's available for people around the world to watch but, because a Canadian broadcaster doesn't want to release it, Canadians aren't able to see it," says Meghan Sali, of internet advocacy group Open Media. "It's what Canadians expect."
Under a use-it-or-lose-it rule, streaming rights revert to producers/owners if the licensing party fails to exploit them within a specified period of time after acquisition. Rights owners are then free to re-license their content to another streaming service.
But that will no longer be the case after September, due to a decision by the CRTC.
And no such agreement exists when it comes to American content.
Without the use-it-or-lose-it rule, streaming services such as CraveTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime will theoretically be able to buy up the rights to Canadian- or American-produced shows and shelve them -- CBC
Telecoms lock in profit
Canadian telecoms made a total of $37.7M last year by charging customers to unlock their cellphones. That's a whopping 75% jump in this source of revenue compared to 2014.
Telecoms often order locked phones from manufacturers that are programmed to work only with their service. Then they charge a fee — typically $50 — to unlock the phone if a customer wants to switch providers.
The unlocking revenue total was provided by the CRTC which declined to confirm the number of providers in the tally, other than to say, it was "up to seven" – CBC
CKUA has Leeroy Stagger’s Dirty Windshields
Alberta pubcaster CKUA has announced the Lethbridge roots musician is signing on with his own show called Dirty Windshields, effective March 10 at 8 pm local time.
Recently signed to True North Records for his new studio album, Love Versus, Stagger says his show allows him to pick up a bit of the family business.
"It's kind of always run in the family lineage. My grandpa was in radio for over 50 years. And my grandmother was in radio for a while as well," he says. "It was such a huge part of my upbringing when I was a kid. I fell back on the radio to kind of keep my company. I guess it was my outlet to the outside world."
In the Dirty Windshields Radio Hour, Stagger will spin favourite songs and shares stories gathered over a career that has taken him from west-coast punk bars to his own hometown production studio.
The show’s title is the lead track included on Radiant Land, Stagger’s eighth studio album, produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and released on Gold Lake Records in 2012.