The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Broadband and circuitry have replaced bread and circuses as the federal Liberal’s pre-election promise, and the new media industry should cheer a new initiative by Industry Canada to connect every community to high-speed Internet access by 2004. Key questions about the practicality of the venture, its regulatory implications, and details about its implementation – including network architecture and speed – have yet to be answered. Still, a broadband connection for every community should greatly increase the potential market for content and application developers in the multimedia industry. The Canadian industry has always developed content ahead of the popular curve, with the majority of the population unable to use the most cutting-edge technologies. It’s a growth curve that’s unlikely to be changed by the feds’ announcement. Industry players are already developing for the broadband market, and anything which accelerates consumer take-up is good news – even if some might label the project as corporate welfare. The real story behind this initiative is the new audiences that should eventually be able to both view and create new media content. Canadian broadcasters, pundits and legislators have demonstrated a sincere desire to tell Canadian stories – the most interesting and enriching of which originate outside the 905 and 416 area codes. If a practical way can be found to maintain that dialogue, Canadians might even take the lead in demonstrating a world model for global participation that includes, not precludes, regional and ethnic differences. First Canada, then the world. New media players have been handed a gift as the government assumes a broad role for spurring universal access to high-speed networks, allowing industry to experiment with a test-bed largely paid for by someone else. If content producers don’t exploit this opportunity to explore new relationships with customers outside the traditional demographics, it will be a serious shame.