GroundWire for January 19-31, 2010

GroundWire is a twice-monthly dose of grassroots, independent journalism from the campus-community radio sector of Canada. It is a project of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA). Visit the GroundWire website or download it through the NCRA’s Program Exchange.

This edition of GroundWire was produced by CJLY in Nelson, BC.

THE HEADLINES:

  • Canadian corporate involvement comes to light in last year’s coup in Honduras. GroundWire speaks with Journalist Dawn Paley. (David Parker | CKDU, Halifax)
  • The Gaza Freedom March strengthens solidarity. Helga Mankovitz, a member of the group Independent Jewish Voices Canada, reflects on her participation in the March and a future for Palestine.(Christopher Currie | CFRC, Kingston)
  • Workers band together in a story unfolding now at YVR Airport in Vancouver. Here are the voices of some of the HMS Host workers who are threatened by the proposed lockout. (Frieda Werden, with support from Bea Bernhausen | CJSF, Burnaby)

FEATURES:

  • The Safe Hybrid: Robin East, President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, speaks about the dangers hybrid vehicles may pose to blind and partially-sighted Canadians. (VoicePrint/Accessible Media Inc‘s Michael Slack with thanks to Paul Daniel)
  • Parliament Prorogued: Canadian Democracy is on hold as Harper’s Conservative government orders another break for Parliament. GroundWire captures the voices of Canadians from coast to coast. Emma Godmere, Ottawa Bureau Chief of the Canadian University Press reflects on the strategy of a minority government. On the West Coast, we talk to Alex Atamenenko, Member of Parliament for BC Southern Interior. Also featured are Matthew Fava and Omme Salma Rahemtullah from York University in Toronto. (Catherine Fisher and Bessie Wapp | CJLY, Nelson. With files from Omme Salma Rahemtullah | CHRY)
  • Garbage Energy: Winnipeg has big plans to turn trash into power. How will it work? GroundWire lays out the plan with Jan Oleszkiewicz, University of Manitoba Faculty of Environmental Engineering, and Winnipeg’s manager of solid wastes, Darryl Drohomerski. (Tessa Vanderhart | UMFM Winnipeg)

Community Radio Report

  • The CRTC Campus and Community Radio Hearings are upon us. NCRA Executive Director Kevin Matthews tells us what is in store at the first policy review in ten years for the community radio sector.

This edition of GroundWire produced by CJLY in Nelson, BC. With thanks to Catherine Fisher, Jacky Harrison, Frieda Werden, David Parker. Music was provided by Faith Nolan and Mary Watkins, Zeelia, Kate Reid, and Lana Bensen.

Net Neutrality News

I like to keep an eye on things around Net Neutrality, but I will certainly leave it to the experts to put forth some thoughts and opinions about the recent CRTC Decision on this issue.

CRTC Sets Net Neutrality Framework But Leaves Guarantees More Complaints
Michael Geist

Wednesday October 21, 2009
The CRTC’s net neutrality (aka traffic management) decision is out and though it does not go as far as some advocates might hope, it unquestionably advances the ball forward on several important fronts. When considering the decision, it is important to remember that 12 months ago, there was virtually no ISP disclosure of traffic management practices and even an unwillingness to acknowledge that there was an issue. Today’s CRTC decision signifies that traffic management is not a free-for-all and the days of ISPs arguing that they can do whatever they please on their networks is over. That said, it also guarantees that traffic management practices such as throttling will continue and it is going to take more complaints to concretely address the issue. READ MORE

Net Neutrality Developments
Marie Elliott, SaveOurNet.ca (site no longer active)
According to Michael Geist, the Canadian government should take some initiative and aid the complete enforcement of net neutrality in Canada. Now that a policy has been created regarding net neutrality, the government needs to make sure that ISPs are following this framework correctly. Geist mainly places this task in the hands of Industry Minister Tony Clement. Geist thinks that Clement should become more engaged in the issue. Fortunately, Clement has stated he is “watching those [Internet Service] providers very closely and [does] not want to see a situation where consumers are put at risk in terms of their access to the Internet.”

Net Neutrality in Canada Still a Work in Progress
Michael Geist

Monday October 26, 2009
The release last week of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s report on Internet traffic management – known as the net neutrality decision – attracted national attention. Canadians, Internet service providers, and politicians debated whether the regulator had struck the right balance in addressing how ISPs manage Internet traffic. While some headlines seemed to suggest that the CRTC has given Canada’s ISPs the green light to do as they please, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the reality is that the decision establishes several notable requirements and restrictions, but leaves the door open for further action from the government. READ MORE

CRTC dropped the ball on net neutrality: Charlie Angus
Decision leaves consumers and users out in the cold

(From a news release dated Thursday, October 22, 2009)
OTTAWA – Yesterday’s CRTC decision on Internet traffic-management practices is a blow to the future of digital innovation in Canada, said New Democrat Digital Affairs Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay). The decision allows Bell and other giant Internet service providers (ISPs) to throttle the internet traffic of competitors or end users if they see fit. This interference will be bad news for small third-party competitors and leaves consumers subject to digital snooping and interference from cable giants. Angus said the CRTC has once again failed to stand up for the public interest. “Basically the CRTC has left the wolves in charge of the henhouse. ISP giants have been given the green light to shape traffic on the internet in favour of their corporate interests,” he said. “This decision is a huge blow to the future competitiveness of the internet.” READ MORE

Did the CRTC just crap the bed on Canada’s net neutrality decision?
Wirelessnorth.ca (article no longer available)
The answers so far are no, yes and maybe. Depending who you ask. Brush up on the announcement and initial reactions here: Peter Nowak has excellent coverage today of the CRTC call (long time coming) on net neutrality in Canada. Michael Geist and Ars Technica offer some balanced opinion. What everyone seems to agree on is that CRTC’s framework is reasonable, and is highly progressive relative to where the debate was just a year or more ago. We’ve argued in the past for economic solutions to ISP capacity which is what the CRTC is also stressing.

The Open Internet: It’s for everyone
Marie Elliott, SaveOurNet.ca (site no longer active)
Free Form (site no longer active) created a video about keeping the Internet free and open, and how this will benefit people everywhere. Check it out!

Net Neutrality FAQ: What’s in it for You
Tim Greene, Network World
PCWorld

The FCC has approved a notice of proposed rule making on the subject of net neutrality, and here are a few questions and answers to help shine a light on what that means. (See “FCC takes first step toward net neutrality rules“) What exactly did the FCC do? The FCC agreed to consider what regulations, if any, to impose on ISPs about the applications and services that they allow, ban or rate limit. The process calls for formally proposing rules and holding public hearings on them. A vote about the rules themselves will take place sometime next year. READ MORE

(Links updated November 2013)

Join the Movement – Keep Broadband Competitive in Canada

Important issue here, folks. Thanks to a recent CRTC decision, we could see fewer choices of Internet service providers, higher prices, and slower speeds. Check out Competitivebroadband.com (site no longer active). You can:

  • Join the movement
  • Read the background on the issue as well as the Top 10 reasons the decision should be reversed
  • Write a letter (your own or template is provided) to the Industry Minister, Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, and your MP (search provided)

SaveOurNet.ca (site no longer active) also wrote about this in their post Businesses Stand Up for Broadband Competition. Here’s a few highlights from Competitivebroadband.com.

A recent decision by the CRTC has the potential to cause major disruption in the internet service marketplace. Fortunately, the decision can be reversed by the federal cabinet, if voices like yours are heard. Here’s the issue in a nutshell. … Once these networks were built, and the telephone companies were very well established, the federal government put in rules to help create healthy competition. One of these rules was to require Bell and Telus to allow competitors to connect to their networks, at prices that were regulated by the CRTC … … The CRTC’s recent decision would destroy this framework. It would allow companies like Bell and Telus to set whatever prices they choose for competitor access to their networks … … If this decision stands, we can all expect massive price increases designed to choke off competition. One way or another, we foresee higher prices, lower service standards, and little if any innovation …

(Links updated November 2013)

TweetCommons: Connecting You to Canadian Politicians

If you Twitter, you might be interested in this. I came across this thanks to Steve Anderson (formerly @steveinfos, now @Steve_Media) at the Campaign for Democratic Media (now OpenMedia.ca). They have a fantastic site and are a great resource for media democracy. They always have something to take action on that affects the lives of everyday people, and they make it pretty easy. So check them out. In the meantime, here is their TweetCommons post. (By the way, you can follow me on Twitter too: @melissahk)

Media, Re-invented

A new website called TweetCommons has just launched:

TweetCommons is a new web-based initiative to connect Canadians with their elected representatives in government using Twitter.

The TweetCommons press release notes that a similar initiative in the US helped push more government officials to Tweet more often. Perhaps more importantly, TweetCommons will facilitate a more multi-directional relationship between people and government. In the press release, TweetCommons stated:

We are also focused on smoothly expanding functionality so Canadians can look forward to interacting with their government in new ways.

In my most recent Column, I discuss how the division between government and people is breaking down and how online social media tools are enabling this process.

The most exciting section of the TweetCommons website is “The People”, although the tag line “talk back” seems like it might miss the point. This section, and Twitter conversations in general, are more about new forms of networked, widely distributed discussions, rather than about “talking back” to politicians. Online participatory media practices differ from traditional media relations in that they produce a citizen-powered dialogue that includes, but is not driven by, those in government, or the select few working for big media outlets.

Exciting projects like this reinforce the importance of the Open Internet.

TweetCommons is an entry point for people to join in on conversations about key issues and create a path forward that benefits all Canadians – yet another example of how media is being reinvented before our eyes.

(Links updated November 2013)

Will They or Won’t They – Canadian feds could sell CBC, NAC, VIA

I’ve been a little busy these days and have not been following a lot, but someone posted this on Facebook (thanks Barry Rueger).  This article is primarily quoting Canwest and Mcleans. This is something we should keep our eyes on, I think. If there is any chance for public input, we should all take advantage.

Having a private CBC would not be in the interest of Canadians. First of all, the Broadcasting Act specifically states that the system should be comprised of private, public, and community elements. The CBC is the only broadcaster in the public sector in Canada. So selling it off could mean that the government would be breaking the law. And of course, it would almost certainly mean a change in the content.

I don’t know all the implications of having a privatized National Arts Centre or VIA Rail, but I’m thinking there would be more harm than good for all Canadians.

So, as Paul Wells said, “now, don’t get too excited.” But just keep your eyes open.

Will Tories sell the CBC?
From The Tyee‘s newsletter/blog The Hook
By Crawford Kilian, a contributing editor of The Tyee, June 1, 2009

On Friday afternoon, when no one was paying attention, the Canwest newspapers broke a big story: The Harper government is considering selling off the CBC, the National Arts Centre, and VIA Rail.

According to Andrew Mayeda of Canwest, the government is considering privatizing a number of Crown corporations including CBC and VIA Rail. Mayeda quotes SFU professor Aidain Vining:

They’re not the classic privatization candidates, where you sell and walk away,” said Vining, an expert in Crown corporation privatizations. Unless, of course, you’re prepared to fully withdraw from the public purpose (of the Crown corporation).

Certainly, the sale of a flagship Crown asset such as the CBC would be politically controversial.

Paul Wells, blogging on the Macleans website, says:

Now, don’t get too excited. Andrew Mayeda’s story is careful to point out that there is, as yet, no plan to put the NAC or the Corp on the block. He seems to have got his hands on a departmental survey of all saleable assets. And it’s less glamorous Crown properties that are listed above the blue-chip properties Andrew mentions in his lede. It’s entirely possible for the feds to reject a sale of these marquee assets, or indeed of any assets at all.

But Paul Dewar, the NDP MP who gets quoted in the Sun story above and has archived it on his website, is right. The feds are not only airily mulling an asset sale in the abstract, they’ve booked revenue from it in this budget year, and in succeeding years, to the tune of many billions of dollars in total sales. When Dewar quizzed Jim Flaherty about it three months ago, Flaherty was nonchalant in acknowledging, broadly, the premise of Dewar’s questions.

There are really only two possibilities. The government can [sell] billions of dollars worth of stuff, or its deficit can be billions of dollars higher.

On Friday evening, The Hook found no responses yet from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Inside the CBC, J-Source, or CBC News.

(Links updated November 2013)