JackRroo is Mad as Hell and Isn’t Gunna Take It Anymore!

So these are tough times for everybuddy, right?  Well, not really.  I’m not suffering much, short of support payments that make me spleened, and all the usual millstones and albatrosses that make 10 O’clock scholars long suffering.

But what corporate entity wouldn’t have you believe that in these unprecendented times they aren’t teetering on the brink?

CTVglobemedia is crying loudly, especially with respect to its local television properties.  As I was told, “free television isn’t sustainable anymore,” meaning broadcast television which ostensibly relies on ad revenue alone.  

Hence the corporation, along with Canwestglobal et al. want the CRTC to make cable/satellite providers pay carriage fees for broadcast television since at present they pay nothing to those networks to carry those signals.  It’s come to the point, say these media behemoths, that without this revenue unprofitable local stations will have to close and so many regions will lose local television content, notably local news.

For its part, CTVglobemedia has commenced a new campaign called, “Help Save Local News.”  This consists of an online petition to the government to make the CRTC approve these carriage fees.  The campaign is ADVERTISED on local stations regularly especially during the NEWS, I mean, they’ve embedded it Right in the NEWS! 

Needless to say, I’m not enthusiastic about these efforts.  Tuesday I endured a most distasteful segue from the usual announcement of this campaign during the news into an ACTUAL ITEM OF LOCAL NEWS.  That was by no means the proverbial straw for me; the last straw came with my very first witness to the shilling of this campaign by local news personalities on behalf of CTVglobemedia – for I’ve got long standing issues with this lot.

So I prepared the following – edited out some ‘meaness’ upon June’s advice – and delivered the same:

Are you people serious?

You want me to join an online petition to “Help Save Local News?”  You want me to voice my approval for carriage charges for broadcast television?  Not a chance in hell.  In fact, you’ll notice that I’ve CC’d this to those you have asked me to petition, my MP, and my cable provider to indicate that I’ll cancel the service if I end up (implicitly or explicitly) absorbing any carriage charge.  (I will also submit this to the CRTC via their online email form.)

How fascinating that, just as this campaign begins, I check and, lo and behold, there’s actually news on MCTV at 6:00 PM on the stat holiday.  That’s the first time I’ve seen that in all the time I’ve lived in Sudbury.

And what kind of news is it MCTV delivers these days which ought to be saved?  “My News -> See It, Shoot It, Send It,” the network’s genius plan to get news and video from the public; the Terms and Conditions make fascinating reading.  A couple of talking heads introduce this material and there, we have a news show.

But with news like this, what’s the real need of these announcers who beg me to sign this petition?  All that video could find its way into lots of other announcer-free media.  Hmmm, I wonder if there are some Northern Ontario YouTube channels?  I know there’s plenty of video to see online thanks to the partnership between Channel 10 News (the LOCAL NEWS from my CABLE PROVIDER) and the Northern Life newspaper.

And what does the late broadcast accomplish?  A savagely pared down version of the 6:00 PM broadcast that’s a timepass ‘til the Daily Show.  (Half the time I turn over to Toronto.)

But the problems with the late broadcast are greater than that. 

The frequency with which that broadcast is completed without one or more plus-fifteen second episodes of dead air is blue-moonesque.  Aren’t there CRTC regulations about that?

Additionally, it is with exasperating regularity that the broadcast repeats some news, sports, weather or human interest item(s) which I’d seen mere moments earlier on the national news.

Very little of the sports I couldn’t get from a myriad of other sources, same with the weather.  In fact, I prefer to find that information elsewhere when the alternative is getting it from Barbato and Bertini.

I’ve got an idea.  Why not give up on this carriage idea, mothball my local station (and every other small town station like mine) and attach some small bit of local content to CTV out of Toronto or Ottawa?  Surely satellite and digital cable technology is such that this kind of content can be directed exclusively to its respective localities.

I really do understand that local newsfolk are just trying to save their jobs, but my joining a mob demanding a shakedown of the cable companies is hardly fighting the good fight.  CTVglobemedia say they need carriage because things like the local stations bleed money.  I feel yer pain.  NOT!  They can just keep letting all those other MONEY MAKING stations they own – like all those cable/satellite stations I’M ALREADY PAYING FOR – subsidize local news!  Because like I said, if I end up paying for this grab I’m cancelling my cable, and if others follow me, everyone in Canadian television will lose.

For all of you at MCTV news all I’ve left to say is, you know, karma is a … you know. Years and years of your under-reporting labour issues and favouritism to business over labour and all of your jobs will become corporate fodder.  But I’m sure the governments will tailor a training and adjustment program just for you.

By chance our email system more or less went down after I sent it.  For Ms. Sharon Bowes, Marketing Manager for CTV in Northern Ontario dashed off an email to me and all my CC’s, but every attempt she made to send it to me bounced.  She promptly called University of Sudbury (my email tag gives all my professional particulars).

After receiving her voice mail I promptly called her back.

I won’t try to give a blow-by-blow he-said-she-said, but by my reckoning I kicked her ass 2 out of 3 rounds – and it got, uh, lively at times.  She did insist I was mistaken about the no news on stats point; I apologized for that but refused to absolutely concede the point. 

FYI – I killed her on the point about how the corporation has a boodle of other properties that make money and could therefore subsidize their broadcast poor relations (have a look at this list of CTVglobemedia properties; and maybe this list of Canwestglobal specialty channels).

She also asserted that mine was the only complaint.  She also said that she was really startled by the [variously modified] of it.

One such modifier was “mean.”  What struck her as particularly mean was the last paragraph: “I mean it’s so mean, especially from a Religious Studies Professor, to to to wish bad karma on people,” at which point I interrupted her to say, ahem:

Yes, I am a Religious Studies Professor and I know how karma works in an orthdox way in the religions of the East: the karma is theirs, I didn’t wish it upon them.  But the Buddhists would say that mine is wrong speech and for that I will acquire bad karma.

Yes, this is pretty self-indulgent stuff.  Perhaps even rash since I just might need this lot one day in the future.  And you and I and some at MCTV (in their semi-literate way) know what they say about what goes around.



  1. jackrroo said

    OMFG, so I heard from the Commission:

    Mr. Laughlin:

    Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately we cannot access or read the document submitted with your message.

    Although we do not endorse any particular program, we do try to maintain a standard. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is still the most convenient and accessible tool for conducting business on the Internet. Documents can be filed with the Commission in a variety of software programs, such as Microsoft Word, Corel, WordPerfect, Adobe Acrobat, etc.

    In order to follow-up on your message, you must resubmit your document in one of the above-mentioned software. To resubmit your document, please click on the following link [yadda yadda yadda].

    What is the Commission’s problem? They can’t open Office 2007 docs [docx extensions] it seems. They seem not to have either Office 2007 or the MS doohickie that lets older Office deal with such files. You serve and protect our interests with respect to media?

    Suddenly, playing the old crank feels kind of hip and heroic.

  2. donna said

    What amazes me about CTV’s campaign is how spurious the whole thing is: my mother has had “rabbit ears” on her TV for 30 years and never paid anyone anything for TV reception be it cable or the network! Given the +++ commercials we have all endured prior to finding the “mute” button, we don’t owe the networks anything to “save” local news!

  3. jackrroo said

    So I went to school today and checking my voicemail I found that my local NDP MP finally got round to checking his email and read my message (socialist Luddite, go figure). He said he found it ‘highly entertaining’ and promises to get back to me because he’d really like to hvae a conversation about this.

  4. […] “You Know It’s Offically Winter in Norther Ontario When,” authoritative folks on mattering not to me local tv have been reminding us all week that hypothermia sets in within five minutes of falling through […]

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