Media Beat: May 10, 2021
By David Farrell
– Thanks to RL for sending this one
Why are you on Facebook?
The accompanying track is included on Van Morrison's latest double album, Latest Record Project-Vol. 1
Below the surface of the Liberal government's effort to crack down on big tech lies an even bigger threat—the implications for free speech in Canada. – Michael Geist, Maclean’s
The conundrum that is the rub and nub of criticism facing Bill C-10
The government’s presumably well-intentioned proposal to set some limits on what can and cannot be conveyed on Internet platforms has blown up in its face, as a deluge of criticisms piles up from Postmedia, The Globe and Mail and other self-appointed defenders of our free speech. What’s mostly missing in this fusillade of righteous indignation is concrete solutions that can crimp the mass dissemination of online falsehoods, conspiracy theories and incendiary rhetoric.
We have legal recourses in place to stop hate speech, child porn and other egregious acts from becoming mainstays on social media platforms, but nefarious disinformation is difficult to define and defamation found on these platforms is hugely costly and exceedingly difficult to prosecute.
While a great many have heaved a sigh of relief now that Trump’s cycle of hocus-pocus and disinformation has been muted, there are many who see his banishment from the mainstream of online discourse as problematic, as evinced by The Star columnist Navneet Alang’s Saturday opinion piece headlined Facebook’s efforts to police itself are doomed to fail. I can’t say I argue with his claim, but it would be beneficial if it were balanced with a roadmap of how to remedy a problem that is bedevilling bureaucrats, technocrats and general populations.
The only real voice of reason that I've found in the firestorm of criticism ironically is from one of the few women who has a high profile in the mainstream press. Globe and Mail Arts columnist Kate Taylor wades through the weeds, replaces rhetoric and political mudslinging with studied research and a well-balanced overview of the actual facts. You can read Taylor's sober assessment, 'Dishonest censorship scare may torpedo Bill C-10' here.
What follows is a thunder of headlines and a judgment of opinions targeting the government’s plan to bring the Internet age in line with laws and restrictions already in place to bring a semblance of civility to cable, OTT and radio broadcasts in Canada.
The Liberals' internet regulation bill opens the door to a massive abuse of power – Erin O’Toole, National Post
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault should start fresh on Bill C-10 – Konrad Von Finckenstein & Peter Menzies, The Globe and Mail
Former CRTC chair says Bill C-10 ‘should not be passed in its present form’ – The Globe and Mail
Worried the government will censor your cat videos? The rest of Bill C-10 is even worse – Andrew Coyne, The Globe and Mail
Trudeau’s plan for the Internet: More patriotic propaganda, less choice for users – The Washington Post
Everybody's missing the mark on Bill C-10 – Warren Kinsella, Toronto Sun
Trudeau's using the pandemic to undermine democracy – Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun
APTN supports Bill C-10 to Amend Broadcast Act – NetNews Ledger
Streaming services aren’t equitably sharing profits with music artists. Bill C-10 could help change this. – Loreena McKennitt, The Star
80% of comments to FCC were fake
The Attorney General of New York reported this week that an investigation into "public comments" regarding an important FCC policy issue showed that of the 22 million "public comments" they received, more than 18 million were fake.
It is becoming almost impossible - even for an hysterical blog weasel - to exaggerate the corruption and squalor of online activity.
Here's the background. A few years ago, the FCC began a review of net neutrality with the intent of scaling back government regulation of internet traffic. Net neutrality requires all internet providers to treat internet traffic equally. Internet providers hate this. They can make more money by providing tiers of service.
So the anti-net neutrality forces (consisting largely of the internet service providers and their lobbyists) created a deceitful campaign to influence the FCC. According to The Wall Street Journal... "the campaign was aimed at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai so he could argue that there was widespread grass-roots support to repeal the FCC’s net-neutrality regulations."
The campaign first tricked people into handing over personal information. Then these stolen personas were used to create fake comments -- 8.5 million of them.
On the other side, net neutrality advocates also flooded the FCC with 9.3 million fake comments in support of net neutrality. Here's the kicker, of the 9.3 million bullshit pro-neutrality comments, 7.7 million were created by one 19-year-old college student.
No, you can't make this shit up. – Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian
– According to Radio Connects’ data, 27.6M Canadians listen to 453M hours of radio weekly, an 85.1% weekly reach with an in-car audience of 33%. According to StatsCan, 33M Canadians are currently aged 12+.
– A measurement committee organized by Radio Connects is currently reviewing three measurement company proposals to provide measurement services in the 68 local radio markets no longer measured by Numeris diaries. Caroline Gianias, president of industry organization Radio Connects, said late in April that the committee is still waiting for some results from one of the three companies under review and hopes to have a recommendation to the CAB soon.
– Longstanding Montreal broadcaster Terry DiMonte, set to retire at month’s end, is named as this year’s Canadian Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame inductee. The Music & Broadcast Industry Awards, hosted by Darrin Rose, will take place as part of CMW Virtual on Wednesday, May 19 at 4:30 pm.
– Steve Faguy has created a lot of chatter with a CARTT-commissioned 10-part series looking at the future of radio in Canada. The closing article looks at the colossal and largely unnecessary administrative burden imposed on radio broadcasters to meet compliance regs stipulated by the CRTC. The nut of the article suggests Gatineau needs to streamline its bureaucracy and become more efficient in handling data already in its system.
– Retired broadcaster Chuck McCoy, apparently sporting shoulder-length hair, has become an erudite columnist with a series of reflections entitled ‘Moments to Remember’ appearing on the Puget Sound Radio website.
– An in-house developed AI robot named Sophie has helped The Globe and Mail hit 170K digital subscribers. CEO Phillip Crawley explains in a Press Gazette interview.
– There is no shortage of opinions, mostly critical, about Bill C-10–an Act that seeks to modernize and amend Canada’s Broadcasting Act. The Dept. of Justice provides a (reasonably) concise overview of key amendments that can be viewed here.
– Two Canadians have launched Radio EMS, an internet radio station dedicated to medical first responders. Early response suggests the mix of content, music and fun is going viral.
– From Hill Times: The House’s pre-summer sprint continues. While we can’t predict which, if any, MPs will appear in the nude or drop an unparliamentary F-bomb this week, we can share which three pieces of policy and politicking we’ll be following….
– An under prepared industry is losing a generation of journalists to despair, trauma, and moral injury as they cover the story of a lifetime. The Covid reporters are not OK.
– South Carolina lawmakers have passed a bill to allow inmates on death row to be executed by firing squad in the absence of lethal injection drugs.
– A group of college students is selling thousands of former President Donald Trump’s most infamous tweets and donating 100% of the profits to “charities he hates.”
– The Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has announced that all of its technology articles are now available to listen to through Polly, a service that aims to transform written text into lifelike speech, on desktop and mobile devices. More sections of the title’s coverage will be made available through Polly in the coming months.
– Austrian company Tec-Innovation is now selling smart shoes that use sensors to help the blind detect obstacles up to four meters away.
– Japan’s Ma Co. is working on a quirky portable fish tank suitable for pet owners wanting to take their favourite fish on walks.
– Former spy catcher, Fox News regular, conspiracist and Trump devotee Dan Bongino replaces the time slot formerly occupied by Rush Limbaugh on Cumulus Media’s Westwood One in select markets starting May 24, including KABC Los Angeles, WLS Chicago, WBAP Dallas, KSFO San Francisco, and WMAL Washington, D.C.