Wednesday, January 12, 2005  Stakeholders coming to grips with CCOP board reportReaction to a report filed by the Canadian Culture Online Program (CCOP) advisory board on the future of that initiative will be featured in the next issue of Canadian NEW MEDIA. Late last year, the advisory board made several recommendations, including the establishment of two new agencies to oversee the editorial direction of the culture.ca web portal and to distribute new media funding dollars outside the Telefilm Canada structure. The report also contains a new charter, with Senator Laurier Lapierre’s fingerprints all over it, which defines what Canadians might expect of government policy with respect to online interactivity. CCOP head Ted Bairstow tells CNM that the charter could figure prominently in future government language around new media, but that the department is now looking at the report’s more concrete recommendations, with an emphasis on how those fit in to a broader look at Canadian cultural policy and Telefilm Canada. Industry leader Ian Kelso has hinted he would welcome the greater industry input into culture.ca that the report calls for, with the possible outcome that it might become more market-focused. One interesting insight comes from NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus who notes that the charter has clear implications for the current debate over copyright reform in this country.These views and others will be explored in the full issue of Canadian NEW MEDIA to be published next week.CES announcements generate excitement in CanadaOur next issue of CNM will also feature extensive reaction to the product announcements that came out of the Consumer Electronics Show in California earlier this month. A new generation of easy-to-use, accessibly priced, powerful mobile devices seem to hold the promise of finally delivering multimedia content to portable devices. Mobile video delivered over satellite radio networks, new add-ons for the Apple Corp. iPod, and new multimedia home networking application announcements by Microsoft Corp. dominated mainstream media headlines for the duration of the show, held January 5 to 8. Reactions to the hype range from excitement over new opportunities for Canadian new media companies to renewed calls for an examination of Canada’s telecommunications and broadcasting policies. The full issue of Canadian NEW MEDIA next week will feature reaction from Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association (CCTA) president Michael Hennessy, Trapeze Media head Mike Kasprow, QuickPlay VP Mark Farmer, and more.One in four in the entertainment business believed losing revenue to piracy: In-Stat surveyHalf of TV movie industry professionals believe that piracy is a threat to their bottom lines, and 27% have already lost revenue due to illegal theft or reproduction of their intellectual property, according to a survey conducted by research firm In-Stat. The report, Entertainment Industry Survey: Perceptions of Piracy, PC Industry, PVRs and Competition, is derived from a poll of 1,806 Variety, Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News readers. “Piracy was the number one concern among emerging threats,” said Michael Wolf, a principal analyst for the high-tech market research firm. “This is no surprise given the impact it is already having according to those in the home entertainment market.” Copyright group makes demise officialThe small Canadian Society of Copyright Consumers, which has been increasingly less active over the past several years in advocating for users rights related to copyright issues, is now officially defunct. Group president David Harris and executive vice president Lyman Potts applied on December 14 to Industry Canada to surrender its charter.New pl@form call announcedThe New Media Business Alliance and Ontario Media Development Corp. have released a call for applications to the pl@form program. The program provides financial assistance of up to $30,000, access to distribution on the Sympatico/MSN portal support to attend a Canadian industry festival or market, and mentoring. Three companies will be chosen from among the applicants. The initiative is intended to provide emerging interactive digital media producers with help to create proprietary IP. Full details are available at http://www.nmba.ca/platform.Heritage supports site for Canadian Hearing SocietyCanadian Heritage will provide $47,500 in funding for the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) to build a web site. The site will use cutting edge video linking technology. Dubbed SignEd, the system is intended to produce accurate printed translations of sign language. The technology was developed by a consortium of researchers that included Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, Toronto new media company marblemedia and the CHS. Funding for the web site has been provided by the Gateway Fund under the Canadian Culture Online Program. “This new web site will use the latest technology to engage Canadians in a discussion of issues of importance to the Deaf community. Internet users, and especially Deaf youth, can use this site to share their ideas, dreams and values,” said MP Carolyn Bennett in a media release.Mad Catz expects sales increaseMad Catz Interactive Inc., headquartered in Toronto, will report Q3 financial results on February 8 for the period ended Dec. 31, 2004. In a January 6 media release, the video game accessory company says it expects to report net sales in excess of US$50 million – a greater-than-20% increase over the same period last year. The company credits the growth to a spate of product introductions, including its first video game release, MC Groovz Dance Craze, licensed bundles from the Disney/Pixar movie The Incredibles, a line of wireless controllers for consoles, and a line of accessories for Nintendo’s Nintendo DS handheld game system. The company notes that it continues to expand its distribution in Europe, as well.Enhanced voice directory service sees imminent rollout in GTACalgary-based Call Genie Inc. has completed testing and is ready to deploy its enhanced voice directory service in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in partnership with Yellow Pages Group, beginning with a scaled introduction in early 2005. The system employs a telephone number that users can call to navigate a database of businesses using voice commands. There is no fee to use the service, according to a media release. The system’s availability will be marketed to consumers through Yellow Pages Group, with Call Genie using its sales force to sell merchants on signing up. The two companies have plans to extend the service to other markets in Ontario and Quebec under an exclusive agreement. Last November, it was reported that, after pilot projects in Toronto and Calgary, 44% of surveyed users rated the system an 8 out of 10 on an unspecified question. During the tests, 1,200 unique users generated approximately 10,000 searches. Australian firm takeover of GalaVu under reviewThe acquisition by Entertainment Media & Telecoms Corp. Ltd., Australia, of Toronto-based GalaVu Entertainment Network Inc. from holding company DVOD Networks has been ordered reviewed under the Investment Canada Act by a December 21 Order-in-Council. The acquisition was announced last October 21 for US$1.5 million. The company provides video-on-demand using IP and digital technology to over 200 hotels and 26,000 rooms across Canada. The GalaVu system is a client/server system that allows for high-speed bi-directional communications and control of in-room television sets. Each hotel contains one or more servers linked via an Ethernet backbone. This head-end cluster is tied to the hotel’s video LAN via a proprietary high-speed communications gateway. The head-end communicates with the setback box (located behind the TV in each room) via the existing coaxial cable TV system. The setback box controls the delivery of the pay television content and allows the guest instant access to programming and services. Foreign takeovers of Canadian media companies are routinely reviewed by Canadian Heritage.