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Media Beat, March 24, 2022

By David Farrell

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the Canadian Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been the most compelling person on the planet for the last month, standing in the breach alongside his terrorized but indomitable people in the face of a Russian onslaught. The world has watched him grow paler and strained while his facial hair sketched itself into a beard. His spectacular ability to communicate the plight of his country and the ordinary, visceral intimacy of social media and his frequent video addresses have made it impossible to look away.


On Tuesday morning, Zelensky brought that remarkable presence to a jam-packed House of Commons for a historic speech. His message was as simple as it was searing: if we were you, what would you want someone to do?

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... When that ovation for Zelensky finally subsided, various party leaders took turns delivering extended, self-indulgent remarks that sounded utterly lurid after his simple, heartfelt speech. The only person who said anything equal to the moment was Senate Speaker George Furey, who invoked an old Hebrew word from the Bible to sum up the courage of Zelensky and his fellow Ukrainians. “Hineni” translates as “Here I stand,” Furey said, explaining it as an expression of willingness to lead in the face of daunting odds. – Shannon Proudfoot, Maclean’s

Justin Bieber’s classy opening message at the start of his global Justice Tour in Denver earlier this week

Globalive offers $3.75B to buy Freedom Mobile

Anthony Lacavera’s Globalive Capital Inc. has made a bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc.’s Freedom Mobile for $3.75-billion as Rogers looks to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Calgary-based Shaw.

Mr. Lacavera founded wireless upstart Wind Mobile in 2008. In 2016, it was sold for $1.6-billion to Shaw, which renamed it Freedom Mobile. Today, Freedom has about two million wireless subscribers in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, making it the country’s fourth-largest wireless carrier. – Alexandra Posadzki, The Globe and Mail

Ottawa subsidizing foreign tech giants through $4B small-business program

Ottawa’s new $4-billion program to upgrade the technology of small businesses amounts to a subsidy for foreign-owned tech giants, industry leaders say.

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The federal government announced the Canada Digital Adoption Program earlier this month, which provides grants and loans for small and medium-sized businesses to pay for a variety of digital needs, from social-media advertising to network security software.

But experts in the tech industry say the program has no provision to direct that spending toward domestic firms, so most of the money will end up flowing to giant foreign-owned platforms, such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft. –Chris Hannay, The Globe and Mail

Bottom-up, audience-driven and shut down: How HuffPost left its mark on Canadian media

From prioritizing diversity to a bottom-up editorial process and using traditional marketing practices to develop journalistic stories, HuffPost Canada was a digital-first innovator. Then it was shut down.

It’s now been a year since the small newsroom closed. Trying to make a big impact, HuffPost Canada fought against the narrative that it prioritized free content over quality journalism. Those who worked there thought they were playing an important role. Now that it’s shuttered, they’re moving on to different newsrooms, bringing experience that could influence practice across Canadian media. – The Conversation

Byron Allen sues Nielsen claiming billion-dollar fraud

Allen, whose Allen Media Group properties include 27 broadcast stations, cable networks including The Weather Channel and numerous online and streaming video outlets, claims that Nielsen’s panel system for estimating viewership is unreliable for some of its networks. 

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Allen (also) claims Nielsen’s actions resulted in damages including millions of dollars paid to Nielsen for “shoddy and unreliable” services, millions of dollars in lost ad revenue and profits, and lost business value and other “consequential harms estimated to be in the billions of dollars.” – Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting + Cable

The FTC’s new enforcement weapon spells death for algorithms

The Federal Trade Commission has struggled over the years to find ways to combat deceptive digital data practices using its limited set of enforcement options. Now, it’s landed on one that could have a big impact on tech companies: algorithmic destruction. And as the agency gets more aggressive on tech by slowly introducing this new type of penalty, applying it in a settlement for the third time in three years could be the charm.

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In a March 4 settlement order, the agency demanded that WW International — formerly known as Weight Watchers — destroy the algorithms or AI models it built using personal information collected through its Kurbo healthy eating app from kids as young as 8 without parental permission. The agency also fined the company $1.5 million and ordered it to delete the illegally harvested data.

When it comes to today’s data-centric business models, algorithmic systems and the data used to build and train them are intellectual property, products that are core to how many companies operate and generate revenue. While in the past the FTC has required companies to disgorge ill-gotten monetary gains obtained through deceptive practices, forcing them to delete algorithmic systems built with ill-gotten data could become a more routine approach, one that modernizes FTC enforcement to directly affect how companies do business.

The FTC first used the approach in 2019, amid scandalous headlines that exposed Facebook’s privacy vulnerabilities and brought down political data and campaign consultancy Cambridge Analytica. – Kate Kaye, Protocol

More Russian TV News employees resign after Monday’s on-air protest

At least three Russian news anchors have resigned from state-run channels since Channel One employee Marina Ovsyannikova’s on-air protest against Putin’s war on Ukraine on Monday night, with more Russian TV personalities currently on “holiday.” And Lilia Gildeyeva, a Putin favorite who worked at Channel One for 15 years, has fled the country. – Sharon Knolle, The Wrap

NFTs: The next major broadcast industry disruptor?

For producers, NFTs present a new path to funding content and building an active, loyal and motivated fanbase in the process. Mila Kunis’ adult animation Stoner Cats has emerged as one of the highest profile case studies to date, raising $8 million of funding inside its first 35 minutes of release. – Tom Angell, TVB Europe

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Bloomberg analyzes the metrics behind Netflix’s most popular shows

We analyzed eight months of Netflix viewership data to determine what is and isn’t working on the world’s most popular TV network.

Bandcamp sells to Epic: can a video game company save independent music?

Since its founding in 2008, Bandcamp has become a cornerstone of the global underground music economy through its “pay-what-you-want” download structure and low commissions, taking a 15% cut of every sale. During the pandemic, the San Francisco-based company earned kudos for waiving that fee on the first Friday of every month, generating millions of dollars for artists, as well as donating to racial justice campaigns including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Epic has its own track record as a plucky indie, having remained largely in the hands of CEO Tim Sweeney since its founding in 1991. Like Bandcamp, Epic takes a relatively small cut from developers, setting its commission at 12% compared with Apple’s 30%. – Chal Ravens, The Guardian

The makers of the metaverse want you to give up on reality

If our technological overlords get it right, the future will be beautiful. Picture a young man living in a home as lovely as any he can imagine; the furnishings are modern and his windows overlook scenes of tropical waterfalls and the ocean perpetually at sunset. Every item he could wish to collect lines the walls of this space, and he can indulge every passion. He can call his friends to join him any time, and every movie, artwork, video game, television show or book ever produced is instantly available.

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He needs to leave this space, this metaverse, only to sleep or eat or tend to other unavoidable physical needs. But when he removes his futuristic Oculus headset, he is suddenly reintegrated into a very different—physical—reality.

In the “real” world, he is just a guy sitting alone in a small, dirty apartment. The rented walls are unadorned. The mattress on which he sleeps is grubby and grey; his plastic furniture is broken and chipped; he is alone. And, truth be told, he is perfectly happy with this state of affairs. Why waste resources improving this crude sphere—known by the derisive label “meatspace”—when his other, virtual life is as perfect as human imagination allows? – Jen Gerson, Maclean's

Audi will offer you an in-car VR movie and gaming experience later this year

Audi has announced its holoride feature, an in-car virtual reality system meant for gaming, movies, and more.

Starting in June 2022, passengers will be able to use HTC's Vive Flow virtual reality glasses (or any other Bluetooth VR headset that's been Holoride given support - devices TBC) to view games, films, and other content. Owners of MIB 3-equipped Audi models can take advantage of the service:

While holoride will initially be reserved for back-seat passengers, Audi sees a world where the tech plays a role in autonomous vehicles. Without a need to drive the car, the driver and passengers will be able to learn, work, and play games on the go with the technology. – Chris Teague, Techradar

From Hits Daily Double, March 22, 2022

Ukrainian rock star Slava Vakarchuk uses patriotic songs to 'pump up morale' of soldiers

The Ukrainian rock star is touring his homeland trying to raise the morale of soldiers and civilians by belting out lyrics from songs inspired by love and war.

Sviatoslav “Slava” Vakarchuk, the lead vocalist for Okean Elzy, the most successful rock band in Ukraine, told The National that Ukrainians have the tenacity to win the war against President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

But he said that if the UK and western nations stop short in punishing Mr. Putin, it could leave the door open to a wider conflict in Europe.

Vakarchuk, a social activist and former MP, said his aim is to “pump up the mood and raise the tempo” of his fellow countrymen and women facing off against Russian invaders.

While he once entertained packed stadiums alongside his fellow bandmates, he now belts out lyrics to wounded soldiers and weary medical staff.

His patriotic songs have been given a boost in the music charts in recent days as Ukrainians around the world turn to his lyrics for inspiration while their homeland is under attack.

Lyrics from the band’s most popular songs are intertwined with references to war and Ukrainian pride.

“There, left and right, gardens are blossoming; There, left and right, there are foreign footsteps; Exhausted by wars, but not broken by anyone; May my land blossom,” the lyrics of one hit song say.

He said the soldiers always react positively to his performances, responding “slava Ukraini” — “glory to Ukraine”. – Laura O’Callaghan, The National

Below is a performance of Not Your War, filmed in 2015

Anonymous declares cyberwar against Russia

How a 27-year-old Texan became the face of Russia’s American TV network as it imploded

RT America had to fold when it was kicked off the air after the Ukraine invasion. But Rachel Blevins is still broadcasting Kremlin propaganda. – Forrest Wilder, Texas Monthly
And here is Blevin on RT in June 2021

Rethinking copyright law when it comes to plagiarism

With singer Katy Perry’s eight-year plagiarism claim finally settled at the weekend and Ed Sheeran this week back in the High Court this week defending a string of copyright breaches, You might like to hear from Dr Hayleigh Bosher, Associate Dean of Intellectual Property Law at Brunel University London and music industry researcher, Dr Bosher says it’s clear that for musicians, such outdated interpretations of copyright law are becoming an occupational hazard.

“We need to raise the bar for the test for copyright infringement in modern songwriting and music consumption, which would give songwriters more space for inspiration and creativity. 

“The access part of the test for copyright infringement is a low bar - under UK law it is a casual connection between the two works. The whole point in copyright is to prevent copying, and you can't copy something you've never heard, so access is an important part of the test. But there are other reasons why two songs might sound similar, such as common source or coincidence. 

“In music, there is more content available than ever before, being accessed by more people than ever before. This means that the available original choices for songwriters is narrowed by the volume of music already produced, not to mention the limited number of notes and the framework of the genre they are working within. 

“With the Ed Sheeran case, Sami Switchs' song was on a platform called SBTV that Sheeran says he used to watch other artists such as Big Narstie, Ghetts and Skepta, but never heard Switch's song. The arguments over access are not just about the songs’ availability, but include other evidence such as the claim Sami Switch had Tweeted Ed Sheeran asking him to listen to his song. Sheeran argued that he gets hundreds of thousands of Tweets a day and never heard the song. In my view, a celebrity could easily miss a Tweet. But given the bar is so low, Switch probably has enough to pass this threshold.

“Another test of copyright infringement is whether the songs are sufficiently similar. This is where Switch will argue through his musicologist that the songs are so similar it must have been copied. Sheeran has his own musicologist who points out all the differences between the songs. As I mentioned, similarity can also appear for other reasons, so, it's all very tenuous."

Countries currently at War, 2021

Below are the countries currently at war as of May 2020. Those defined as "at war" are countries whose conflicts have had at least 1,000 deaths or more in the current or past calendar year. Fatality figures include both those lost in battle and civilians intentionally targeted. These countries have an armed conflict that involves the use of armed force between two or more organized groups, governmental or non-governmental. – World Population Review

10 conflicts to watch in 2022

A China-U.S. clash over Taiwan is unlikely in 2022, but the Chinese and U.S. militaries increasingly bump up against each another around the island and in the South China Sea, with all the peril of entanglement that entails. If the Iran nuclear deal collapses, which now seems probable, the United States or Israel may attempt—possibly even early in 2022—to knock out Iranian nuclear facilities, likely prompting Tehran to sprint toward weaponization while lashing out across the region. One mishap or miscalculation, in other words, and interstate war could make a comeback.

And whatever one thinks of U.S. influence, its decline inevitably brings hazards … – Comfort Ero, Crisis Group Org

Global arms spending – 2021 and beyond

In early December, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report on global arms transfers for 2020. The report states that the top 100 defense industry firms generated a combined revenue of $531 billion from arms sales and military services, a figure that is 1.3 percent higher compared with the previous year. It is worth noting that the arms sales of the top 100 defense firms in 2020 were 17 percent higher than in 2015. This means that the growth of arms sales has been steady for the past six years. – Arda Mevlutoglu, MenAffairs

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Jayda G
David Reiss

Jayda G

Music

Fresh Sounds Canada: New Songs from Jayda G, Claudia Bouvette and More

This week's discovery roundup of new Canadian songs also includes Indigenous songwriter Celeigh Cardinal and Quebec acts KROY and Mon Doux Saigneur.

In Fresh Sounds Canada, Billboard Canada puts you on to the must-hear songs of the week by artists on the rise and those about to break. Here's what's out this week.

Jayda G, “If We Only Knew”

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