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Paradise Lost:

On the Future of Television and the Challenge for Canadian Public Policy

 
   

January 2009 - IGB Grant +1 514-849-3508 & Amit Kaminer +1 416-413-1636, Cynthia Lee +1 416-619-4926 & Anna Mazur

   
    OVERVIEW  
 

 

 

The business of television is about to undergo a transformation as radical as the metamorphosis that hit the business of telecommunications over the past decade and a half. The telecom transformation saw the business model of the entire industry explode. Accepted truths, common wisdom, economic assumptions all crumbled before the paradigm-shifting onslaught wrought by Internet Protocol technologies.
We saw also how the Internet challenged models in the music industry. Next to feel the hot breath of disruptive forces: Television.


This paper looks at how the Internet will change television, and touches on how various players in the current television distribution business will fare. We also look at the role of government. What should public policy makers do? The broadcasting business model is heavily regulated. The business models are largely creatures of regulation – the gift of a license comes with a series of duties and obligations that govern most facets of the business. What happens when that license (to broadcast, to distribute) is worthless? What happens when content is no longer channelized?
The paper suggests that the current about-to-be underway proceedings before the CRTC, Canada’s national broadcasting and communications regulatory authority, cannot possibly wrestle with the complexity of issues that Internet Protocol technologies represent to the business models of industry participants or to the current policy framework. Policy, we argue, is the province of Heritage Canada. And Heritage Canada has some significant work ahead of it to ensure that our broadcasting industry (by which we mean broadcasters, broadcasting distribution undertakings, producers, writers, actors and supporting industries) survives the coming catharsis such that Canadians will continue to have access to Canadian voices and perspectives in the years ahead.


Paradise Lost? The serpent brings the fruit of knowledge to Eve and the (walled) garden is no more. An interesting parallel to the walled garden that was the Canadian broadcast paradigm.

 
   


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