Interesting Update on the TV Tax 
I just took a look at the two websites promoting the competing sides of this whole TV Tax issue. One is run by the broadcasters, the other by the signal carriers.



I think the most interesting thing to note is that the carrier site is allowing open debate with public commentary on their site. You can go there, log in, and post your views. I don't know how heavily moderated it is, but browsing through the comments I am seeing opposing views posted so it appears to be at least somewhat open.

The broadcasters site has no such thing. It has a listing of comments picked out to support their agenda and no way to post opposing views or pose questions to be debated.

One thing I didn't know previously is that it is apparently the law that carriers carry local signals on their systems. If they have to pay for them in the future, I sure hope they also get the option of carrying only the ones they choose to.

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Broadcasters Have Some Nerve! 
The cable and satellite TV providers have been running a PR campaign for a while now to garner opposition to the new bill that would require them to charge a monthly fee to be paid to local broadcasters for carrying their content.

It all makes perfect sense, and people are right to oppose the bill. Right now, they're carrying signals on their services that are free over the air as a convenience to their customers.

The broadcasters want to be paid for this, which up until now they haven't been.

Basically, they want to be paid for something they are already providing for free over the air, and you'd think that the increased audience that the cable and satellite providers are giving them would be payment enough. I suppose you can make an argument either way, but the fact is that for all these years this has been standard practice and to suddenly hit us up with a fee for it would basically amount to robbery.

Now the reason for this post is that I've just seen the rebuttle ad by the broadcasters, trying to curry favour for the bill. They made me laugh.

The format is essentially the same. They're "interviewing" some people on the street to make it look like it's only common sense that we should all start paying $10 a month into their coffers. They make note that the providers are paying huge amounts of money to US broadcasters to carry their channels, and implies that it's a travesty that they're not paying the same to our poor, abused, local broadcasters.

The problem here is that if I unplug my cable and use a set of bunny ears on my TV, I won't have access to any of those channels that the cable companies are paying to carry. By doing so, they're providing me with a service that I otherwise wouldn't have.

This isn't the case with the local broadcasters. If I switch to the antenna, I can get those for free, and probably with a better signal (uncompressed) than I'm getting over the cable. The whole business model for local broadcasting has to do with people watching them. If nobody watches, they don't make money, so having providers carry their signals is a benefit.

Now, if they think people will pay for their content, why aren't they selling their service to providers in the US, or in markets across Canada where they're not broadcasting? Will nobody pay them for it? They should ask themselves why!

I can only hope that if this stupid bill gets passed, the cable companies will start carrying all the local broadcasters as a specialty package that I can opt out of if I want. I'm sure that will impress their advertisers to know that they've thrown out a huge portion of their audience.

Sure, I'll still be able to pick them up over the antenna... but let's be honest. For the most part, I probably just won't bother.

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Capitalism is Destroying Everything 
I've been thinking about how to present this entry for a few days now, and seeing an article by John Mellencamp which closely paralleled my views but in relation to the music industry pushed me to finally get it written down.

It was announced recently that the Montreal Canadiens may be up for sale. For this, I feel fear for all the Habs fans out there who may be in for some serious disappointment.

Montreal, much like Toronto, has a money making machine in their hockey team. The performance of the two teams on the rink though have been as polar opposites. So why the big difference?

If you look at somewhat recent history, Montreal's team has been a contender while Toronto's hasn't. I believe this is a direct result of the fact that Montreal is owned by a family interested in the hockey team, while Toronto is owned by corporations interested only in the profits.

This is what frightens me about the Habs being up for sale. They're such a cash cow that they will be a very attractive target for corporate ownership and if that happens, they will be in for decades of stagnation just like Toronto. Hopefully a private buyer like Jim Balsillie will take ownership, but someone like that could easily end up out-bid by some comglomerate of investors.

Once pure profit becomes the primary motivator for how something is run, pride and values become secondary. Ironically, banking and the recent economic crisis serve as a huge example of this.

Back in the day, you'd deal personally with the employees of your financial institution and loan officers would look at your situation to determine how best to work out a relationship between you and your bank. They would try to fairly determine risk factors and come up with solutions that were mutually beneficial. The bank would take in deposits and loan out that money to make a profit. It was the very definition of capitalism, but it was also a working relationship that helped a community prosper. There was no repackaging of loans to sell to other investors and all the other securities bullshit that goes on today.

Now, your bank doesn't care about you anymore. They don't care about helping people or working with the community or even being a bank anymore. Sure, they do things to help their image so they can keep the money flowing in, but ultimately their only responsibility is to the faceless shareholders who only want the profits flowing. There is no more owner to be accountable or to care about how his bank is perceived. Nobody to take pride in the business. From this, we end up with companies like AIG whose employees are only interested in putting money into their own pockets with nobody to stand up and say "No, you can't do that." If there was some guy who owned AIG and cared about the company, would they be giving themselves outrageous bonuses after running the company into the ground? Of course not.

In the end, I think the only viable solution is increased regulation, but then you have to be able to trust the regulators and that's hardly an easy thing to do. It's a start though.

I can't help but think that promoting private ownership of things would move things in a better direction. In the face of competing bids, perhaps there should be a determination of fair market value for a company and if there is an individual able to pay that, then they should take precedence over a company willing to pay more. Competing individuals would be free to bid up to whatever they'd like, but corporate takeover bids would be capped at some independantly audited value.

Bring back some pride of ownership and accountability, and then see whether capitalism can succeed at more than just generating wealth.

If there was some crotchety old man we could blame for the Leaf's failings then at least there would be someone to vilify or to push to do better. There would be someone we could cheer when they showed some success and someone who could feel elated as they brought success to the fans. As it is, we have nothing and no hope of the Teacher's Pension ever loosening their grip.

Here's hoping the same doesn't happen in Montreal.

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Nadal to Face Federer in Austrailian Open Final!!!!! 
I like both these guys, so I'm not posting this to knock either but come on! Can't anyone else play tennis anymore???

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Merry Christmas! 
Merry Christmas, World!!

Mine was everything I could have hoped for. I hope yours was the same!

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