Pay TV Comes To Canada. Canada Yawns And Goes ON With Its Day


I didn’t think I was going to post this report about Pay TV’s impending arrival in Canada in 1982, but then it got to the part about costs and complications. Basic cable service could cost you around $8 per month, I was informed as I did my best not to spit tea everywhere. And say what you want about complications (I do feel for the people with those newer, fancier TVs with the built-in converters), but none of this has anything on Telefirst.

Cable TV just isn’t cutting it any more when it comes to home viewing options for Canadians. Thanks to Anik C, the latest Canadian satellite to be launched, a batch of new movie channels (among them First Choice and Superchannel) are coming, and their promoters are pushing them hard. But there’s a recession on and a subscription doesn’t come cheap, ranging from $25 to $50 per month. In this 1982 report for CBC’s The National, a skeptical Terry Milewski demonstrates the hardware and hears the pitch from companies that stand to get rich from pay TV.

If you’re wondering how rich they got, the answer is they didn’t, at least not right away. Only half a million people signed up for the original services, which was about half of what they were hoping for on the low end.

Oh Good, Now Even The News Anchors Are Fake

If you think local radio and TV aren’t so hot now, just wait until Bell, Rogers and Corus hear about this. China’s state-run press agency has created an ‘AI anchor’ to read the news

Nope, that’s not creepy at all. Nuh uh.

Seriously, even as a guy who listens to screen reader voices all day, this is extremely off putting.

But the prospect of people being replaced by computers even quicker than it’s happening in the present day is the least of our worries here. The much bigger issue is the potential for dangerous regimes like China, Russia, North Korea and the GOP to be able to pump out propaganda basically nonstop. We’re drowning in fake news as it is. This is the last thing anyone needs.

Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, has unveiled new “AI anchors” — digital composites created from footage of human hosts that read the news using synthesized voices.
It’s not clear exactly what technology has been used to create the anchors, but they’re in line with the most recent machine learning research. It seems that Xinhua has used footage of human anchors as a base layer, and then animated parts of the mouth and face to turn the speaker into a virtual puppet. By combining this with a synthesized voice, Xinhua can program the digital anchors to read the news, far quicker than using traditional CGI.

According to reports from Xinhua and the South China Morning Post, two anchors (one for English broadcasts and one for Chinese) were created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. Xinhua says the anchors have “endless prospects” and can be used to cheaply generate news reports for the agency’s TV, web, and mobile output.
Each anchor can “work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency,” says Xinhua.

Radio Waterloo, A Documentary About The Creation Of Community Radio Here And In Canada

I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but since I’ve seen it recommended in a couple of places that are generally pretty good about recommending these sorts of things and because let’s be honest, odds are it was going up anyway, enjoy this documentary on the history and struggles of community radio in Waterloo Region.

Radio Waterloo is the story about the advent of community radio in Canada as told by the people who struggled to create it. The story follows Radio Waterloo (later known as CKMS) and CKWR through the development stages in the 1960’s, until now, 2017. You will hear from DJs from the early days of Radio Waterloo provide details about how Radio Waterloo was established, others provide insights from the University of Waterloo referendum which left CKMS without funding, and then current DJs share how these events have led to the current format and state of the station. Join us as we re-live the painful dedication of local DJs who fought to keep the community voice heard on FM radio.

This documentary also includes performances by local indie and established bands who have been featured on CKMS, and proudly boasts an original soundtrack created by Canadian musicians specifically for this project. Some of the collaborators include:

Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, The Mounties), Brad Merritt (54-40), Ian Somers (Limblifter), Brad Weber (Caribou, Pick a Piper), and many more.

I’ve only ever listened to CKMS a handful of times because it’s damn near impossible to pull in anywhere I’ve ever lived so has unfortunately mostly been off my radar, but CKWR, with its significantly better reach, is a station I’ve listened to somewhat regularly since I was a kid thanks to the wide variety of programming it offers. Hopefully they’ll both be around for many years to come, even though the struggles continue. Real, honest to god local radio has always been important, but in this era of everything being consolidated, homogenized and voice-tracked to hell, we can’t afford to have our already limited choices limited even more.

Telefirst? More Like Teleworst


This is an interesting enough video if you’re wanting to learn a little about the over the air pay TV services that existed in the days before everybody had cable or a dish, but the best part for me is the last few minutes where they start talking about Telefirst.

Telefirst operated in Chicago for around five months in 1984. It likely would have lasted at least a little bit longer had it not been one hell of a terribly executed idea even by 1980s technological standards.

Let’s see. I can either drive to the store and rent a video because that’s a somewhat affordable thing to do now, or I can drop a few hundred bucks on a VCR and then pay this company $25 a month for a service so impossibly inconvenient that I have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning six days a week to make sure all of the shows record properly. But even though I’m already up anyway, I can’t just watch the shows live on television because the decoding process is fully reliant on the VCR. Oh, and the tapes stop working whenever the descrambler codes change, which happens seemingly at random. And you can’t rewind or skip anything efficiently because the descrambler isn’t fast enough to keep up with those functions on the VCR. Hmmmm…what ever shall I do?

It’s pretty obvious what they were trying to achieve here (simultaneous consumer convenience and movie studio comfort), but yeesh, what a way to get there. But you never know if you never try, I suppose.

Bob Cole Is Leaving Hockey Night In Canada Because Television Executives Kind Of Suck

Bob Cole is 85-years old and has been calling hockey games in one place or another for 50 years. He is, for a lot of us, the voice of hockey. The one we grew up with. the one who has always been there. The one with whom we’ve spent more nights than we can possibly count.

Sadly, this year his run comes to an end.

Bob Cole will return to the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast booth for a 50th and final season.
Sportsnet says Cole, 85, is scheduled to call 10 games, starting with the Montreal-Pittsburgh matchup Saturday, Oct. 6. The network says the games will all be in the first half of the 2018-19 season.

“There are so few broadcasters and voices in sport that transcend the way Bob’s has over the last half a century and we are honoured to have him call this last season for Sportsnet on Hockey Night in Canada,” said Scott Moore, president, Sportsnet & NHL Properties, in a release. “Bob is a true professional in this industry and he will pour his heart and soul into these games, focusing on doing the job that he loves and delivering the call to our hockey audiences from coast-to-coast.”

Those are some nice words, but boy oh boy do they ever come off as completely insincere.

First of all, only ten games? You’re not even giving the guy a full season? And they’re all in the first half? A legend like this, assuming he wants to, should be able to go out calling as many games as he’d like up to and including one last Stanley Cup final.

But the main reason that statement rings so hollow is that it comes from the same people who have been trying to drive the guy off for years.

For the first time in almost five decades, the legendary play-by-play announcer won’t be calling any playoff games.

It’s a decision that caught Cole by surprise. And it’s a decision that he still doesn’t quite understand, considering he’s been this country’s broadcaster since 1972.
“I’ve been doing playoffs every year of my life in broadcasting. This is the first time that I’m not involved,” said Cole. “It’s difficult to live with the fact that I’m not working. I surely will miss not working the playoffs. That’s the best way I can say it.”

During what might be his last broadcast — a 4-2 Bruins win against the Senators on April 7 — Cole described a Noel Acciari breakaway goal as a “free break for a cherry.” As the final buzzer sounded, he signed off on Ottawa’s season by saying “and then the roof kind of caved in.”
It was an appropriate line for what then happened to Cole.
A day later, while watching the Masters on TV at his home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Cole received a call from his bosses. At first, he assumed he was getting his marching orders for the playoffs. Instead, he was told he was being grounded.
“The decision sure wasn’t mutual,” said Cole. “It was right out of the blue. Rogers decided to go with other (broadcast) teams and I have to live with that. But it was their decision — not mine.”

Though Rogers did not indicate why Cole isn’t part of the plan this year, the decision isn’t that surprising. After all, Cole’s workload has been cut back more and more over the years.
In 2009, he didn’t call the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1983.
“It’s time for a new generation of play-by-play voice,” Moore said at the time.
And a year ago, he only worked the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“It was the first year I didn’t get to the conference final,” said Cole. “I called the seventh game between Washington and Pittsburgh and was told, ‘That’s it.’ They didn’t need me after that.
“They cut me back quite a bit this year, so I just lived with it and kept going,” said Cole. “But I was never told that once that playoffs start, I wouldn’t be working. I’m not going to be part of it all. That’s kind of tough, but you have to live with it.”
Cole isn’t sure whether he will be back in the booth next season.
“You never know with the way things are going,” he said.
But he also isn’t sure he’s ready to retire. After all, the voice still feels and sounds as good as ever. Plus, he still loves calling the games, whether it’s at the rink or at home in front of his television.
“I’ve been pretty lucky over the years that my voice has continued to serve me,” he said. “I hope that it has served the viewing audience OK. I just love my job. Once someone tells you that you’re not going to be involved in the playoffs, you have to respect that decision. There’s not much you can do about that.
“But I kind of miss it, for sure.”

Maybe something has changed for him in the last five months, I don’t know. When you’re 85, sometimes planning too far ahead is an iffy proposition. But those don’t read like the words of somebody who feels like working ten mostly meaningless games and then being quietly stuffed into the dustbin of history, of that I am sure.

But since that’s what Rogers is intent on doing with him, all the rest of us can do is enjoy him while we can. Hopefully getting him on a few Leafs games before he’s out the door for good isn’t too much to ask.

Thanks for the memories, Bob. The goofs you work for may not appreciate you, but the rest of us certainly do.

Global News Is Doing Bad Things That Might Make Everything Else Worse

Global Television used to produce a pretty good newscast. I spent many a night listening to the Toronto one over the radio as a kid and even into my adulthood (Hey Carin, imminent death!) until that frequency went silent several years ago.

When I say used to, it’s not because Global no longer produces newscasts. They absolutely do. They’re cranking them out several times a day all across the country. The important bit is the pretty good part.

It’s rare that I flip my TV to Global at all these days, but when I do happen upon the news there it’s quickly apparent that it’s not what it used to be. Part of the reason for that is obvious, and it’s the same reason why so much big media owned content tends to be so poor, especially on the local level. Money. Specifically that these companies don’t particularly care to spend much of it on producing and airing a quality product.

I think it would be hard to find a media outlet in the world that isn’t guilty, to some degree, of cutting corners. These organizations are businesses, after all, and sometimes tough choices have to be made in order for them to continue to function. We aren’t always going to like those choices, but some of them are at least understandable if we’re being fair. But the other part of the problem is that Global isn’t just cutting corners. They’re dismembering the frame, bludgeoning it in case it somehow survives, setting it on fire and then dumping whatever might be left over into the swiftest river they can find.

The things that Paul Tadich describes in this piece for Canadaland are astounding. Basically, Global has taken the methods used to create so much of the bad, centralized automated radio to which we’re subjected and applied them to TV news. But while it’s one thing to use those principles on a program where the biggest things you need to worry about are often generically talking about Survivor for a few seconds or pretending to know the first thing about the pumpkin festival in a town you’ve never been to before letting the computer throw it to the latest from Justin Bieber, pulling it off in an environment where things are constantly changing is quite another.

A software technology called Mosart had just been installed. This production control suite automated many of the technical positions required to put on a live newscast — a dedicated audio engineer was often no longer needed, and other positions were either lost or concatenated. Local producer jobs were also slashed so that shows could be remotely produced. Signals that controlled robotic cameras were relayed from the main Toronto studios to studios in several of the other Global markets, so camera technicians were no longer needed in each of the individual cities. By the end of 2012, I often produced the Winnipeg news from Toronto, alongside a remote camera operator, a teleprompter operator, and a director.
This system had its faults — mainly that producers in Toronto often had little knowledge of the cities they were responsible for, so street names, neighbourhoods, and local politicians were sometimes misidentified. However, this was considered by employees to be the cost of progress, and they worked long, hard hours to learn as much as possible about their adoptive cities to make the new system fly.
But that wasn’t enough. In 2014, someone in management apparently got the idea that 11 p.m. newscasts were simply not worth the time and expense to produce live: they cost too much money, and not enough people — especially young ones — were watching them. But Global still wanted to produce newscasts that would air to a dwindling number of people at 11 — so how to slash costs even further? The idea would be to dispense with live news at that hour altogether in favour of a pre-recorded newscast that would appear as if it were transmitted live. Many of these pre-recorded news segments were to be duplicated across each of Global’s markets in an effort to wring more cost-savings from an already rather scrunched-up mop. This idea became the basis of a troubling concept called “news sharing” — using technology to make it look like local news could be coming from a studio in downtown Winnipeg, when in reality it was a pre-recorded chunk of info emanating from a green-screen studio in Toronto. This was the birth of the MMC concept — which stands for “Multi-Market Content.” Once Global figured out the enormous savings this offered in terms of slashing jobs, there was no going back. Every Global station from Saskatoon to Halifax now uses the MMC set-up, with most relying on Toronto-based anchors for at least one nightly newscast.

This is every bit as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s probably worse. Doing local news well isn’t always the easiest job at the best of times, so just imagine how hard it must be when you have to do it while overworked, under-resourced and under-educated.

I don’t use under-educated as an insult, in case that isn’t clear. I use it as a fact. No matter how hard either of us may try, I have as much business putting together a daily news hour from my living room in Kitchener that’s going to be locally relevant to Steve in Moose Jaw as Steve in Moose Jaw has doing the same for me. Unless you’re Global management and don’t care about things like these, this is not an arguable point.

And speaking of not caring about things…

But because the playout process is buggy, and because the technology that controls the system often goes on the fritz, tremendous howlers would occur, often going unexplained to the viewer. Some examples of these errors: the output for two cities is mixed up, meaning viewers in Montreal see the first five minutes of the Winnipeg newscast and vice versa before someone notices the error and restarts both shows from the top; the weather forecast for Regina is slotted into the news for Montreal; late-breaking sports items are fed into the show at the last minute, causing the playback software to freeze, forcing the producer to cut to commercial early, messing up the timing for the remainder of the show. On one weekend last summer, a software update caused the playback machines to go completely bananas, spitting out random content into various cities across the country, including making viewers watch an inexplicable live feed of CBS golf coverage instead of a local news item.

No matter how buggy the system got, management seemed hell-bent on expanding the implementation of the MMC model to subsume more and more content. Evening broadcasts increasingly became pre-recorded affairs: by the time I left the department in August 2017, most of the 6 p.m. newscasts on weekends, and several during the week, had ceased to be produced live. There were several occasions, also during weekends, when the Toronto assignment desk was left unstaffed. This meant that, on top of their already crushing workloads, MMC producers working on the Toronto show had to monitor Toronto police and fire department Twitter accounts to ensure any breaking news made it to air. On more than one occasion, serious incidents made it on to the newscast only because a Global employee happened to catch sight of a clutch of cop cars on their drive in to work.

I have never worked for Global and it’s unlikely I ever will, but reading this has me feeling embarrassed as though the place were my life. I can only imagine how it must feel to have to rely on a situation like this for my livelihood and convince myself that I’m proud to be doing so.

Canadaland also went to Global for a response, and it got one in the form of a chat with Troy Reeb, senior vice president of news, radio, and station operations at Corus, which has owned Global since 2016.

One of the concerns Paul Tadich raises is that, in his experience, the centralization of production leads to errors in pronunciation and local knowledge because Toronto-based producers and anchors aren’t typically familiar with the local details for a given city. Do you find that the “Multi-Market Content” model creates more opportunities for errors than locally produced newscasts?
No, I don’t.
Let me wind this back for you: Before we made this move, we were facing the same challenges as every media outlet across the country. Linear television viewing is on the decline, including for traditional newscasts. The old days of having newscasts at 6:00 and 11:00, that doesn’t serve the audiences of today. People want content on the device that they want, and they want it at the time that they want. So in order to keep up with that, we have to be able to provide more news at more times of the day.
So we came up with MMC, so that once the main, daily 6:00 newscasts are done, rather than having a local production team and anchor hanging around the building all night, just to rerun the same stories at 11:00, and maybe add one or two new ones, we’ve turned those people back into reporters who are serving online, as well as creating more content that can then be reported through the centralized anchoring.
So we’re actually super proud of this. It’s a model that last year won the first-ever Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation. It’s been looked at by broadcasters from across North America and around the world, who come in to study what we’ve done. Because what we find is that by freeing up the staff in the local market to actually do reporting — instead waiting for a red light to go on and start talking — that we’ve produced more journalism.
And to the specific question of, you know, does it increase the risk of errors, in terms of pronunciation or local knowledge? I would say that was a major concern of mine when we first launched it as well.
But to be quite honest, the problem with errors has much more to do with junior people — you don’t pronounce a name wrong twice. And what we find with anchors in small markets, unfortunately, is that you had massive turnover. So not only were people repeatedly pronouncing the same things wrong, but people didn’t stay long enough to not make that same mistake twice. But now our MMC anchors are the longest-serving anchors in many in the markets that they serve.
So no, I don’t think that the error rate is higher. We have incredibly experienced people who are handling the news for these markets.

There is merit to some of what he’s saying, of course. The world is a different place than it was ten or fifteen years ago before everyone had a computer in their pocket, and the demands and to an extent the financial realities of the job are somewhat different now. It doesn’t hurt to try to keep up with the times, and if you can do that while somehow putting more boots on the ground to chase down stories in all these places, great. You’ll never hear me arguing against the hiring of more journalists. But even though I can’t dispute that Global has actually gone and done that, something about it doesn’t feel right. If you’ve truly hired enough people, why do assignment desks in cities the size of Toronto have no one working them? What good are all those extra reporters if they don’t know from where they should be reporting?

And even though things have changed, I still feel that one of the things that hasn’t, won’t and shouldn’t is the importance of a newscast looking, sounding and feeling local. Obviously there will be people who don’t notice or care, but one of the most important things that local media does is connect people to and engage people with their communities, and if you care at all about those connections, there’s no excuse whatsoever for not having real live people being there to tell those stories at all times. To management maybe an anchor is just some guy waiting for a red light to come on, but to the consumer, that person is one of them. Even the most experienced MMC anchor can’t replicate that feeling. The best centralization in the world is still centralization at the end of the day, and eventually people will see through it and stop caring especially if the product is avoidably shoddy. And people not caring is the last thing anyone, even a vice president in charge of efficiencies, should want.

On a business level, if people don’t care about or feel they can’t trust your local content, why should they be inclined to feel any differently about what you’re producing nationally and internationally?

But in a broader sense, especially if you’re going to sit here and talk about how much local journalism matters, why would you want to take even a sliver of that responsibility out of the hands of the locals and risk alienating people? That’s how stories start falling through the cracks. And when stories start falling through the cracks when they’re small, they eventually get bigger and the rest of us end up with things like the Doug Ford Rights Trampling Traveling Shitshow And Corruption Jamboree slithering out of Toronto and taking over the entire province. Yes that’s a rather partisan and perhaps imperfect example and maybe truly local news by itself wouldn’t have stopped it specifically, but given how many people seem to be caught completely off guard by the things he’s doing, it sure as hell couldn’t hurt.

What it comes down to, quite simply, is this. The big national stories get most of the attention, but every national story starts out as somebody’s local one. And when you take that context away in the name of corporate greed, it does all of us, no matter where we live, a great disservice.

Happy 29th Birthday, CBC Newsworld!

It’s hard to remember a time before CBC Newsworld, or CBC News Network as we know it now. For years it’s been the first place I turn when I hear about the sort of breaking news that gives me an urge to follow it nonstop, because it’s one of the very few television news outlets that doesn’t leave me feeling either totally gross or less informed than I was when I started.

But for a little while in the 1980s, it sometimes felt like it might not happen. Between carriage disputes, court challenges and mandated changes to how it had to operate, getting it up and running was anything but smooth sailing. But on July 31st, 1989, nearly two years after its license was granted, it finally did get up and running, and this is what it looked like.

Just try getting that bumper music out of your head, I dare you.

Here’s more from the CBC Archives.

When viewers first tuned in to CBC Newsworld on July 31, 1989, they saw a slew of technical hiccups. Satellites lost their signals, audio crackled in and out, and hosts clumsily stumbled through their first demanding day.
That applied only to those who could actually get the channel. Due to a disagreement with cable companies in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec, Newsworld wasn’t universally available.

But, for the first time in this country, Canadians had their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. Designed for on-the-go viewers, Newsworld offered frequent news updates and magazine-style programming. The network had an exhilarating if imperfect debut, as shown in this local Halifax television report.

Newsworld debuted at 6 a.m. on Day 1 with a taped recording of the national anthem and prepared speeches by CBC president Pierre Juneau, CBC TV vice president Denis Harvey, information programming chief Trina McQueen and Newsworld chief Joan Donaldson.

CBC Newsworld’s first year of programming included a current events program titled Canada Live, the cross-country news program This Country, Newsworld Morning, Business World and Fashion File.

You’ve Got A Future In This Futureless Business, Kid

It’s always sad when media folks get fired by giant companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars for no reason other than if we hire people who aren’t as experienced as you we don’t have to pay them as much, but there’s an aspect of what just happened in Vancouver that’s pretty funny.

CTV Vancouver announced this week that it would be letting go of news anchors Tamara Taggart and Mike Killeen, who had worked there since 1997 and 2001, respectively.

No, that’s not the funny part. That’s just Bell being garbage, which we should all be used to by now.

But the first person quoted in this article announcing the firings is a fellow with the perfect name to set him up for a fine future as a spokesman for just about anyone in our country’s ever contracting mess of a broadcast industry. Take it away, Les Staff!

“On behalf of all of us here at CTV News Vancouver, a most sincere thanks to Mike and Tamara for keeping Vancouverites informed about their city each and every day,” Les Staff, News Director, CTV News Vancouver, said in a statement. “Mike and Tamara are consummate professionals, and we wish them the very best on what’s to come.”

CRTC To Canadians: Your Service Provider Lied To You? Tough Shit!

In January, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) asked the CRTC to look into the possibly shady sales practices of Canada’s telecommunications companies. Not a bad idea, considering that I, a fellow who knows his way around these sorts of things fairly decently, can sometimes find himself a little lost in all of the intentional and unintentional unclarity. Surely anyone who doesn’t run a phone company would be clambering to be first in line behind this plan.

Well, you’d think so.

Yesterday the CRTC responded, and did so in the form of a big fat nope.

In a February 14th, 2018 letter addressed to the PIAC’s executive director and general counsel John Lawford, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission’s chairperson Ian Scott declined the PIAC’s request, arguing that Canadians already have several avenues to seek redress for telecom concerns.
“If Canadians consider that their wireless, internet, home phone or TV service provider has not provided clear and accurate information to them about their [contracts], or is not acting in a manner consistent with the CRTC’s Wireless Code or Television Provider Service Code, they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider,” said Scott, in the February letter. “If the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, they are encouraged to escalate the complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).”
“…they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider.”
The CCTS acts as the CRTC’s complaints department. Canadians are able to submit complaints to the CCTS, which will serve to remediate those concerns by working as a bridge between consumers and carriers.
“For example, the CCTS can resolve disputes about what is included in the contract, how the contract should be interpreted, and whether the service provider’s conduct meets its obligations,” said Scott, in the same February letter.
Scott further argued that if directly contacting carriers and submitting complaints to the CCTS fails to resolve any issues, Canadians can contact the Competition Bureau.
MobileSyrup reached out to the CRTC for comment, and a spokesperson responded that the Commission’s letter speaks for itself.

That’s all fine and good, aside from the part where it’s neither fine nor good.

Yes, those dispute resolution options do exist, but they’re designed to interpret contracts that have already been signed, not to prevent consumers from entering into those contracts due to deception. Yes, there are plain language provisions in the wireless code of Conduct, but they don’t stop a company from being plainly dishonest because they know that most people won’t bother to complain and often have no idea they’re being tricked until they’ve already been separated from hundreds or thousands of dollars. And even if somebody does manage to successfully complain on those grounds, the money raked in is worth taking a slap on the wrist, assuming the commission can even be arsed to dish one out.

Sometimes the CRTC does seem like it’s trying to get this stuff right and genuinely wants to help consumers, but this is an area where it’s missing the mark. I realize that there are some complicated, subjective issues here (one man’s obnoxious asshole is another man’s salesman of the year), but there are very clearly things going on that are objectively not ok, and the commission owes it to everyone to at least take a look at them and try to find a way forward. Corporations often don’t make good citizens until they’re forced to, and whether that force comes in the form of penalties that actually fit the crime, more robust compliance monitoring, criminal prosecutions for fraud and theft or all of the above, it absolutely needs to come.

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Update:
Licenses renewed. Link goes to a summary of renewal results for all stations currently classified as must carry services.

Original post:
As happens often these days, here I am putting this up just before the deadline.

AMI’s broadcast licenses are up for renewal next August, and part of the process of making sure AMI stays available to all involves getting letters of support.

We don’t watch it all the time, but it is a place for programming that might not find a home otherwise. Plus, it’s kind of cool to go there and know that whatever is playing is described, and if it weren’t for AMI, we wouldn’t have all those commercials about described video which, although some of them are ridiculous, make a point and get people talking more. Yes, I’m looking at you, bacon/rainforest commercial.

If you want to add a letter of support, submit it via this comment form. Check the box for AMI, fill out all the required fields, attach any files if you’re that keen and hit submit. It doesn’t look like there are any mean CAPTCHAs lying in wait.

The deadline is Friday, so hurry hurry hurry!