The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.
In the past, countries have tried to maintain their cultural policies by securing a "cultural exemption" from certain trade agreements, or by declining to make trade commitments in specific cultural sectors. But these approaches are increasingly fraught with problems. They do not achieve certainty, they do not foreclose trade retaliation, and they put the fate of domestic cultural policies in the hands of trade bureaucrats, who are ill equipped to deal with them.
Effective May 1, Gerry Noble will become president/CEO of Global Communications Limited, with responsibility for all of CanWest's Canadian media operations. Jim Sward, president/CEO of Global Communications, is leaving the company when his contract expires August 31. Sward has held the position since 1993. Kevin Shea becomes president of the Global Television Network. Shea joined Global Television in September 1995 as president and COO of eastern operations.
Regional Cable brings Gigabit speeds to schools
Regional Cablesystems Inc announced April 24 that it has built a Gigabit wide area networks for two Sudbury-area schools boards and their seven high schools. The network will support high-speed Internet, on-demand learning systems, and broadcast quality video conferencing. The network represents an increase of at least 125 times over the school's current level of connectivity.
Commenting on the announcement, Bill St. Arnaud, senior director network projects for CANARIE Inc, said the project proves that delivering Gigabit Internet to schools "is neither complex nor expensive".
In related news, Regional is part of a O.N. Tel-led consortium that last month scored a major contract with the Ontario government to bring high-speed connections to 40 communities in Northern Ontario.
Funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp (NOHFC), the NetCentral Community Based Network project will provide Regional with $1.25 million in project funding grants, as well as $11.6 million in additional contract revenues over the next three years. It's one of five such projects being funded by the provincial agency in Northern Ontario. Regional has committed $8.4 million to the project, which includes the construction of 450 km of fibre optics, and upgrades to its cable plant. The project is one of four such NOHFC-funded initiatives the consortium is bidding on.
Canada's non-profit and shared-use microwave radio facilities could soon become commercial operations if Industry Canada follows through with a proposal to revamp its 17-year-old microwave policy. The department is seeking comments on a proposed new policy more suited for existing users of microwave systems who operate in a more competitive market.
While the U.S. Federal Communication Commission has revamped its approval process to try to deal with applications within six months, the CRTC's review process continues to be so lengthy that businesses involved in mergers can be hurt, according to one prominent communications lawyer.
The Senate Subcommittee on Communications is beginning a year-long probe into regulatory, cultural and consumer issues raised by new communications technology. The committee, chaired by Marie-P. Poulin, a former senior executive of the CBC and founder of the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal, will focus on the federal regulatory regime regarding broadcast, cable, Internet and telecommunications. It will look at whether the existing regulatory bodies are effective at this time of media convergence. The committee also has a mandate to determine whether the regulatory systems act in the best interests of consumers.
A pilot project underway in the small Ontario town of Sturgeon Falls could force other cable operators to begin sharing their high-speed networks with Internet service providers (ISPs) and other competitors. Regional Cablesystems Inc is breaking ranks with its cable brethren through a deal that sees AOL Canada delivering its service over the cable operator's coaxial network to about 100 customers in the small community of 6,000 residents. The trial began April 10.
The authors of a new report on the operation of the Canadian Television Fund are calling for a clear separation between the CTF and Telefilm Canada and a radical shake-up in how the CTF is managed. It's also recommending a $50-million increase in federal funding for the CTF.