Should ISP's Pay for Content? - Complications Ensue
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Monday, January 26, 2009

The WGC wants ISP's to pay to support Canadian creative content:
WGC Launches Facebook Group Calling for Support of Canadian New Media Broadcasting

The Guild launched a new Facebook Group today to spread the word and raise the volume of the discussion coming into the New Media hearings at the CRTC in February. The subtly named group, Make the ISPs Pay to Play, stands behind the principle that ISPs should contribute to help create some of the content that they carry into our homes and from which they benefit.

New Media broadcasting was exempted from regulation in 1999 so that the businesses could grow and find ways to get revenues. Well, last year ISP revenues totalled about $5.7 billion in Canada, so it looks like it’s working.

But the occasion of the CRTC hearing has prompted many in Canada’s Internet-related businesses to issue fearful messages warning of an Internet crushed by government regulations and taxes. In reality, the hearing is looking at the nature of New Media platforms as broadcasters of content, and the extent to which they should support the objectives of the federal Broadcasting Act.

For users, changing the exemption order will not mean restricted portals and limited navigation – and it also will not mean counting the Canadian clips on You-Tube. There is no desire to regulate user-generated content or shape search engine results.

What it can mean is more chances for Canadians to see their stories and their voices reflected in their media. Canadians want and deserve a variety of experiences and a diversity of voices online – a variety that includes professionally produced and accessible Canadian programming.

So please check out the Group, and sign our petition - we'll take the names with us to the CRTC when we appear in February.
If we support Cancon in the music industry and in the TV industry (and we at Crafty do), shouldn't we also support Cancon on the Net?

The point of this kind of support is to create an industry. My problem is there isn't really an "Internet creative content" industry in the sense that there are very few creative things on the Internet (webseries, etc.) that customers are willing to pay to see, or which can support themselves via commercials. Most Internet content is either corporate promotion of some kind, or hobbyists. The Canadian government could throw an unlimited amount of money at writers, say, to train them to write things for the Internet. But would it create an industry? Or would it just create a lot of content that no one wants to see? Or would the money just get hijacked for various kinds of corporate promotions and hobbies?

Does someone want to make an impassioned argument in the other direction? What am I missing?

UPDATE: David Kinahan of the WGC writes:
Our idea is less about training than about content creation – and it is content that will be created in support of conventional broadcast – that additional content that is so prevalent with American shows that helps to engage audiences more fully. We’ve got examples here too – ZoS and Being Erica had/have online content – but it is much more rare, and often less accessible.
And REGENESIS had a whole Alternative Reality Game. Though it was a tad labor intensive -- they had actual humans interacting with the players.

If this is about promoting content on other media, then I'm all for it. Anything that increases the promotion budget for Canadian film and TV is a good idea. Our shows are still tragically under-promoted, with a few shining exceptions.

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2 Comments:

I don't understand this idea at all.

On the Facebook page it says: '...the more you watch and the more you download, the more you pay them [the ISPs]'. Really? I thought most people paid a fixed fee for a fixed bandwidth limit?

Surely ISPs sell you a pipe through which data flows? (Uh, metaphorically speaking.) They're not responsible for anything that goes up or down that pipe, nor should they be, or copyright laws would be a lot more fucked than they already are.

Shouldn't the people selling the shows (the networks) pay to advertise those shows? Otherwise, by this group's logic, we should be asking Microsoft and Dell to pay for the servers that host Flashpoint's official website.

Okay, I give up -- I have no idea what's going on here. Is this one of those confusingly socialist Canadian things?

By Blogger Xander Bennett, at 12:59 AM  

In a word, from a U.S. we-don't-need-cultural-policy-of-any-kind-because-it's-perfectly-normal-for-all-our-movies-tv-shows-magazines-to-be-everywhere kind of way:

Yeah.

By Blogger DMc, at 9:22 AM  

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