Category Archives: cbc

Hockey, huh… what is it good for?

"Woohoo! Who needs jobs?!?"

“Woohoo! Who needs jobs?!?”

Some further thoughts on the CBC, the NHL and Rogers… So to start with, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is laying off 657 full-time employees over the next two years mainly because it is losing control over the rights to hockey games, which generally bring in about a third of its revenue. All of that advertising cheddar will now be going to Rogers, which bought the rights in November for more than $5 billion. For its part, Rogers says the huge expenditure was necessary for survival in the broadcasting business, which is collapsing thanks to viewers having so many options.

Just about every analyst or observer believes one or two things will happen as a result. Despite acquiring that ad revenue, Rogers is either going to look to recoup its big outlay by jacking up prices on its various services – which range from wireless to cable to even Blue Jays tickets – or it too will cut jobs. The company indeed axed nearly 100 positions shortly before it nailed the NHL rights. The timing certainly looks convenient in retrospect, and it may in fact have been a sign of things to come. One thing is certain – there won’t be any prices going down, nor are any jobs likely to be added because of this mega-deal.

Meanwhile, only one Canadian team – Montreal’s Habs – are in this year’s playoffs.

Exactly who in this country is winning with hockey?

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in cbc, rogers


Canada Post, CBC could team on Poutine Mobile

Wouldn't you rather get cellphone service from this person?

Wouldn’t you rather get cellphone service from this person?

I have to admit to being as shocked as anyone with Wednesday’s announcement that Canada Post will be discontinuing door-to-door delivery starting in the second half of next year. The postal service will instead require people to pick up their mail from community mailboxes, with nation-wide conversion to be completed by 2019.

At first, it seemed like a step backwards in time, reminiscent of the shared party phone lines of the 1950s (not that I was there, but I read). But on second take, it makes sense and might even be a good thing. The majority of physical mail that most people get these days is probably annoying junk flyers, so this could actually help with that. People also generally expect important stuff, meaning it comes by courier or isn’t too much of a hassle to pick up. As Kate Wilkinson at Canadian Business points out, the coming costs savings could make the postal service more efficient, allowing it to focus on other potential money-making ventures.

It seems like a few stars are indeed converging. If a newly modernized Canada Post is going to be looking at new ways to make money, why not start with that old adage, where if you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em? If it’s really the internet that is killing the postal service, why doesn’t the postal office get into providing internet service? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 12, 2013 in cbc, internet, media, mobile


The Virtual Self: a chat with Nora Young part 2

Today we continue our chat with CBC Spark host Nora Young about her book The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us. If you missed part one yesterday, go ahead and check that out. Otherwise, read on:

In your book, you also touch on copyright issues. Content owners are cracking down on privacy yet individuals have to accept terms of service agreements without any input. Is there an imbalance forming between corporate and individual rights?

In terms of service agreements in particular, I spoke to Ian Kerr at the University of Ottawa about some of the issues that come out of this and it’s mostly his observation that we have this standard form contract where you click “I agree.” Obviously it’s not practical for you to negotiate your own separate contract between you and Facebook, there’s a reason for why we have these things, and yet when we’re dealing with our data, this is really quite new.

If we had been born digital and none of those external things like terms of service agreements were in existence, we probably wouldn’t be thinking about negotiating those relationships in the way that we currently do. Again, one of the things that people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do (lawyers and so forth) are thinking about whether we need something like a data bill of rights or whether we need to think in terms of ownership of data and be more rigorous in the governance of who can do what with it.

Obviously in Canada we’re lucky enough to have organizations such as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner who are writing those questions. It seems pretty clear that if we’re going into a situation where theoretically it’s starting to look like our lives are being captured, do we really want to be relying just on these individual terms of service agreements or maybe what we want to say is that we’re the people who have the data, the data belongs to us and we decide when we want to lend it out and make it available to other third parties.

I consider it a completely fair exchange to be on Facebook for free and the quid pro quo is that they get to use my preferences and so on to sell me advertising. That might be a completely legitimate decision for me to make. But right now, what seems to be happening is that we have all of this personal data that we’re creating that’s kind of separated into all these different companies with which we have a relationship, which are governed by these terms of service agreements that are difficult to understand. They don’t really give us the power to control our data or bring it all together in one place. As we start thinking about whether this information has value, maybe we need to recalibrate that relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in blogging, books, cbc, copyright, Facebook, privacy, spark


The Virtual Self: a chat with Nora Young

Have you ever wondered why people share so much information about themselves on things like Facebook and Twitter? Have you ever thought about how all of that data might be used in the bigger picture? Have you ever wondered whether all of that stuff might actually be worth more than just free access to a site that lets you share photos?

Nora Young, host of the CBC radio program Spark (which I sometimes contribute to), tackles all of these topics and more in her new book The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us. It’s a great read that provides a good deal of food for thought in regards to why we engage in all this self-tracking, and what it all might mean as it develops further.

I had a long chat last week with Nora about her book and thought I’d present that conversation here in two parts. Here’s part one, with part two coming tomorrow:

What’s your back-of-the-book pitch? What’s it all about?

It’s really about the accumulation of what I’m calling the statistical minutiae of every-day life. I’m not talking about oversharing on Facebook, I’m talking about the way we’re starting to pump out enormous amounts of data about where we’re going, what we’re doing, how we’re reacting to the world around us, the pictures that we’re taking of all the stuff that we do in our daily life. That’s everything from wearing a Nike Plus when you do your runs to checking in on Foursquare to registering a status update on Facebook or Twitter or posting innumerable photos from your cellphone camera.

So it’s thinking about both why it is we’re doing this thing that’s sort of odd on a personal level, but also looking at, on a collective level, how this information can be used for beneficial ends and also what the red flags are as we go forward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in books, cbc, Facebook, interview, spark


CBC cuts are bad news for everyone

Last week’s federal budget was disappointing on several levels. There was the lip service paid to innovation and technology – a couple mill here, a couple there – but no sign of the long overdue and desperately needed digital strategy. One can only hope against hope that such a plan is forthcoming now that the big stuff has been dealt with, but one can also be forgiven for expecting Canada to continue to languish as the only G7 country without one.

More disappointing however, are the drastic cuts that are coming to the CBC. With its budget being slashed by 10%, or higher than the overall 6.9% across-the-board cut, some are rightfully suggesting the government specifically targeted the public broadcaster with its chainsaw.

Of course I’m biased because I used to work there – the cuts will doubtlessly affect many friends and former colleagues. But they’re also bad given the climate they come in.

Simply put, if you’re a journalist in Canada today – especially in broadcast – there aren’t a whole lot of independently owned places left to work. Newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television stations have all been snapped up by telecom companies, to the point where there are few big ones left. The CBC is the notable exception.

This doesn’t just affect journalists’ career options. The more significant effect is on the information the public gets. There have been countless studies done and column inches written on the effects of media concentration. Few have found anything good about it.

Rather than slashing, the government should be adding to the CBC’s budget. It’s the only way the sole independent broadcaster can stay relevant against the deep-pocketed competition.

CBC bashers would do well to imagine a country without it. In such a place, all of our information is controlled by a handful of telecom companies. Does anybody want that?


Posted by on April 4, 2012 in cbc, media


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