Media Beat: December 15, 2017

A column about media and the regulatory environment within and beyond Canada's borders.

Media Beat: December 15, 2017

By David Farrell

Google’s top-trending searches in 2017

Google has released its 17th annual survey of top-trending searches, and top-of-mind topics for Canucks range from Hurricane Irma, Donald Trump and North Korea to bitcoin, Gord Downie, Neil Young, Tom Petty, the Ottawa Senators, and what Catalonia wants from independence.

Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey — who all lost their jobs over allegations of sexual harassment— come in one, two and three in the “People” category.

Top musician searches in Canada, in order, are Neil Young, Ed Sheeran, Shania Twain, Ariana Grande, and Lil Pump.

View Google’s Year in Search for Canada here, and the Global 2017 lists here.


Toronto tube now wireless

Tech infrastructure firm BAI Canada and the Toronto Transit Commission have announced the completion of cellular connectivity infrastructure at 75 subway stations, including the Line 1 extension’s six brand new stations and nine kilometres of underground tunnel when it opens this Sunday, Dec. 17. This adds to the cellular connectivity already available in the downtown loop of the TTC’s Line 1 between Bloor/Yonge station and King station. Connectivity in the downtown loop tunnel from Bloor/Yonge down to Union and back up to St. George station is scheduled to be in place by the end of summer 2018.

Siri lands in 30 airports

Apple Maps has been updated with detailed maps of airports in more than 30 Canadian, US and international airports, giving travellers the ability to get additional information about each location

Blimey! BritBox headed for Canada

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and U.K. TV giant ITV on Thursday said their subscription VOD service BritBox will launch in Canada in early 2018.

The service launched in the US market in March 2017 with a price tag of $6.99 per month after an introductory free trial period (that sadly could mean the demise of Acorn TV here) – The Hollywood Reporter

Mouse swallows Fox

The Walt Disney Company said Thursday that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4B. It’s a big sticker price, but it is not the richest media deal ever — nor is it a sure thing to work out well, despite all of the blue-skying in some quarters. Trumping all is AOL’s disastrous $162B purchase of Time Warner in 2000, followed by Comcast’s acquisition of AT&T Broadband for $72B in '01. Pending is an $85B deal by AT&T to swallow Time Warner – Deadline


FCC kills net neutrality–now what?

It happened. After a security threat interrupted the meeting momentarily, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal the net neutrality rules established under the Obama administration. Despite the dissent of the two Democrat commissioners, the protections championed by a majority of the American public are now gone, and Big Telecom is probably starting their holiday partying early.

But before you throw your computer into a lake, rest assured: this ain’t over. In the days, weeks, and months to follow—honestly, even in the next few hours—the next phase in the fight to preserve net neutrality will begin. It will take many forms, and will happen in several arenas, but it’s only just started. Here’s what that fight will look like – Vice Motherboard


Average listener streaming 40 acts weekly on Spotify

What’s driving listeners to hear more artists? The majority of this effect is coming from personalized and editorial playlists and discovery tools, including Discover Weekly, Fresh Finds, Daily Mix, RapCaviar, Today’s Top Hits, Release Radar, Baila Reggaeton, New Music Friday, Summer Rewind, and Time Capsule.

Estonia, the digital republic

Up the Estonian coast, a five-lane highway bends with the path of the sea, then breaks inland, leaving cars to follow a thin road toward the houses at the water’s edge. There is a gated community here, but it is not the usual kind. The gate is low—a picket fence—as if to prevent the dunes from riding up into the street. The entrance is blocked by a railroad-crossing arm, not so much to keep out strangers as to make sure they come with intent. Beyond the gate, there is a schoolhouse, and a few homes line a narrow drive. From Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, you arrive dazed: trees trace the highway, and the cars go fast as if to get in front of something that no one can see.


Within this gated community lives a man, his family, and one vision of the future. Taavi Kotka, who spent four years as Estonia’s chief information officer, is one of the leading public faces of a project known as e-Estonia: a coordinated governmental effort to transform the country from a state into a digital society.

E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today, for it includes all members of the government, and alters citizens’ daily lives. The normal services that government is involved with—legislation, voting, education, justice, healthcare, banking, taxes, policing, and so on—have been digitally linked across one platform, wiring up the nation. A lawn outside Kotka’s large house was being trimmed by a small robot, wheeling itself forward and nibbling the grass – Nathan Heller, The New Yorker

6-year-old made $11M in one year reviewing toys on YouTube

Ryan has become a multi-millionaire, according to Forbes magazine’s just-out list of highest paid YouTube entrepreneurs. He was ranked number eight, having brought in US$11M in revenue between June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017, before management fees and taxes, of course. The whipersnapper tied with the comedy channel Smosh, created by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox.

Children everywhere have become hooked, watching his videos for hours a day, even mimicking him and starting their own YouTube channels. For some of his youngest fans, Ryan is not just some stranger on the Internet. He is their friend – Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post


Are smart speakers the bitcoin of radio?

Smart speakers provide significant upside for radio, and the fervent rush to employ smart speakers seems to have no end in sight.  But, there is another side of the coin that radio should consider as it develops the best smart speaker strategies – Paragon Strategies

Apple to intro HomePod next year

Apple audio engineers had been working on an early version of the HomePod speaker for about two years, since 2014 when they were blindsided by the Echo, with its voice-activated assistant named Alexa, according to a recent article in Bloomberg. The Apple engineers “jokingly accused one another of leaking details of their project to Amazon, then bought Echos so they could take them apart and see how they were put together.” They quickly deemed the Echo’s sound quality “inferior” and got back to work building a better speaker – Radio Online

StatsCan: Canadian incomes

The median total income of all filers was $33,400 in 2015 (the most recent survey reported on). Earnings necessary to be in the top 1%  necessitated a tax filer having a total income of at least $234,700. Just under 270,930 Canadian tax filers were in the top 1%. To be in the top 5% required a total income of $120,100, while to be in the top 10% needed $92,800.


The dawn of micro-targeted media

The Russians are doing it. Cambridge Analytica is doing it. Why haven’t newsrooms seen this as an opportunity?

Changing consumer habits wasn’t the big trigger that ended the mass media age; it was the scarcity of attention (fixed) at a time of surging content (exponential). We simply don’t have the time to consume it all – Alan Soon, NiemanLab

The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Machines, not humans, will become the biggest consumers of news in 2018. This shift will be driven by the growing impact of smart devices and the internet of things in the information ecosystem – Frances Marconi, NiemanLab

Computers can now read emotions and want to up-sell you on products

Two years ago, luxury car brand Bentley created an app to solve what must be the epitome of first world problems: helping customers pick the right Bentayga SUV, based on facial emotion analysis.

The Inspirator App, which is no longer available, scanned your facial expressions while showing different videos containing “lifestyle-themed stimuli” to work out which customizable features — wheels, paint, and interior —  best fit your taste.

The app was a gimmicky tool at best; something fun to play with for those who can afford a $300,000 car but in no way a scientifically valid method to match emotion to preference.

Still, technology that can read your emotions is becoming increasingly advanced — and marketers are taking notice.

Affectiva, based in Boston, specializes in software that can read facial emotions and other nonverbal cues. Using a simple webcam or phone camera, Affectiva scans your face while watching a particular video or image (you can try it yourself). Deep learning algorithms then analyze these expressions to match them with the right emotions, typically classified as anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise – continue reading on The Next Web

Françoise Hardy
Joost Evers / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Françoise Hardy


Obituaries: French Pop Icon Françoise Hardy, 'Suspicious Minds' Songwriter Mark James

This week we also acknowledge the passing of broadcaster/musician Jeremy Tepper, Tejano music TV host Johnny Canales and Scottish rocker Davie Duncan.

Françoise Hardy, a French pop singer, actress, author and model, died on June 11, at age 80 after a long battle with lymphatic cancer.

A Billboard obituary terms Hardy "one of the leading lights of the French yé-yé pop movement, and an inspiration to Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger.

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