- Howard Law
TV is Everywhere, Where is our Government?
Coincidence can be sweetly ironic if not downright disturbing.
April 26th was such a day in Canadian media.
In Toronto, CEO George Cope announced Bell Canada's forthcoming CTV app for cordcutters who prefer to buy internet data from George instead of a cable subscription.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly tweeted a video announcement that she had been talking to the Silicon Valley giants Google, Facebook and the rest, promoting Canadian internet values and media content. The subtext to her announcement (confirmed by newspaper interviews of the Minister) made it clear: she has made no demands or threats as they relate to Canadian content rules or contributions.
To connect the two announcements occurring 4,000 kilometres apart, the passionate supporter of Canadian media will recall that the 5% federal tithe on cable subscriptions is what feeds the $440M pool of CanCon funding divided between film production and local news.
Canadian ISP companies selling the data for internet streaming (like Bell) don’t pay a cent. Neither do foreign internet companies that are sucking both subscription and advertising dollars out of the Canadian market.
The internet streaming technology driving the so-called “TV Everywhere” is taking hold, Cope’s announcement is proof of that. He’s getting ready to cannibalize his own cable distribution revenue by converting his cable TV customers into Internet TV customers.
Cope no doubt is up on the latest Accenture survey which found that the percentage of consumers who prefer TV sets over other screens dropped from 52% to 23% in the last year.
Newspapers saw this kind of dramatic swing in consumer behavior ten years ago, and now look where the finances of newspaper companies are.
The shake-out in media consumption is driving forward, and it is putting dollars in the pockets of foreign internet companies and Canadian ISP companies. By doing so, it is taking dollars out of the federally regulated funds that support Canadian filmmaking and local news broadcasts.
George Cope is following the money. Minister Joly and federal government should do the same.
An under-investigated policy issue is how much money might be delivered by a Media Bargaining Code requiring Google and Facebook to share revenue with Canadian media outlets, otherwise known as pay-fo