Around The Dial: Broadcast & Media News Today

News about media, the regulatory environment inside and beyond Canada's borders and free speech itself.


Broadband Connectivity Is An Essential Communications Service

Depending on whose statistics one uses, as much as 30% of Canada’s population lives on non-urban areas and for many of these ruralites access to affordable high-speed Internet is a no-go.  

Non-profit ad consumer advocacy group OpenMedia has a stated mission "to advance and support a media communications system in Canada that adheres to the principles of access, choice, diversity, innovation and openness."

Later this month, the CRTC will hold a hearing to examine the differential pricing practices related to Internet data plans. What follows is part of a brief submitted to the regulator in advance of the Oct. 31st hearing.

It is time for the Commission to confront an inescapable social and economic reality: most Canadian households and businesses now take for granted that broadband connectivity is an essential communications service they cannot live without. Thus, the Commission must include broadband Internet access as a basic service under the Telecommunications Act.

By doing so, the Commission will be taking a bold step towards freeing Canadians from the distorted, oligopolistic forces that make our poor quality broadband service offerings some of the most expensive in the industrialized world.

Throughout this proceeding, the Commission and intervenors have been confronted with significant questions about costs: the costs of connectivity; the costs of investment; the costs to the incumbents’ bottom line; and the costs to decision-makers who must wrestle with the conflicting interests apparent in this proceeding.

But as a small handful of entrenched interests work to convince us that broadband access should not be considered a basic service because market forces are sufficient, we urge the Commission to return to a question that we believe lies at the heart of this proceeding: What is the cost of leaving Canadians behind?

Canada is transitioning to a new economy. This will unquestionably require significant intellectual, financial, and political will. There is no shortage of strong ideas to support this transition on the public record of this proceeding. And there is no doubt, at least in the eyes of OpenMedia, that the incumbents’ claim that there’s “Nothing to see here, folks,” has been debunked. Now what is needed is action, and this is where the Commission has a significant role to play. The proper, equitable, and forward-looking path is clear.

Just as Canadians banded together to build our national railroads, highways, and telephone systems over the past 150 years, the Commission must now take the bold steps necessary to ensure that the key network infrastructure of the 21st century fosters economic growth and promotes the many non-economic activities that bring Canadians together and makes the Internet so great.

This task starts by ensuring that Canadians lacking access to reliable and affordable broadband access do not become second-class citizens, casualties of waiting for the incumbents to step in. Indeed, the record of this proceeding has shown the disastrous consequences of the “wait and see” approach, whether that be Canada’s low-income families remaining offline in huge numbers, or middle-income families and businesses being price-gouged and held ransom by outrageously low data caps and slow speeds.

As we see it, the Commission faces a fork in the road: it can either set out effective rules that ensure that all Canadians can participate in the social and economic benefits of the Internet; or It can empower the incumbents to in effect regulate our market through high prices, low speeds, oppressive data caps, and a troubling digital divide. The path the Commission chooses to take here is a choice we believe it will be remembered.


The Future of TV Is (Almost) Now

Cognitive science is also part of the future of television according to IBM. In a white paper published in 2015, the multinational technology and consulting behemoth states that the future of broadcasting will be Personal TV, a media where the “viewing experience will be both immersive and simple, and the predictive nature of the technology behind the scenes will deliver truly personalized ‘cognitive content’.”

According to IBM’s forecasts, Personal TV will gather customer insight with a real-time engine to build customer profiles both from direct sources, such as the use of a TV app or web streaming service, and indirect sources, such as social media or purchased consumer data. To offer truly Personal TV, it will be essential to know how to handle large data and work with interpretive and cognitive technologies.

The collection and deployment of audience data to improve content supply (and, when applicable, to optimize ad delivery) is likely to become mainstreamed by media companies in the years to come and characterize the new face of discoverability.

How personal can television be? How about an experience where the narrative, background music, colour grading and general feel of a drama are shaped in real time to suit the personality of each viewer? That’s what the BBC is experimenting with its Visual Perceptive Media project, an object-based broadcasting experiment in which the output is not a traditional, linear stream but rather a collection of objects and metadata that can be manipulated, reassembled and consumed by any kind of device. With this technology, the video will change based on who is watching it. – Discoverability: Toward a Common Frame of Reference, Canada Media Fund [pdf]


Emotional Radio Employing AI

Emotional Radio, created by Uniform, is a novel experiment with some of the data tools that are readily available today. First, the radio takes a picture of you; it then uploads that picture to Microsoft’s Emotions API—a free service where Microsoft's machine-learning algorithms identify and catalog the emotions it detects on faces, ranging from sadness to elation to anger. Those moods are then cross-referenced with Spotify’s data set about the emotional valence of all the music in its catalog. By matching up the two data sets, the radio finds something to play. -- FastCodeDesign




Worth Noting

Angus Reid Institute poll: Canadians want minorities to do more to 'fit in': Majority polled also said immigration policies should put Canada's economic needs first – CBC News

Why is the Canadian public subsidizing reality TV drivel? John Doyle, Globe & Mail

Radioplayer comes to Canada – Broadcast Dialogue

In your new Google home, Apple and Amazon don’t exist: Tech companies self-serving and anti-consumer in a bid to lock users into walled gardens – Mathew Ingram, Fortune

Google’s Artificial Intelligence plans are a privacy nightmare -- Gizmodo

Skinny Basic: Why no more new rules are needed – CARTT subscription

How to make your old, slow computer like-new again – HowFinanceDaily







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