Wednesday, September 8, 2005  ACTRA backs up satellite radio naysayersThe association representing more than 20,000 film, TV and radio artists in Canada has reiterated its objections to licensing two U.S.-backed satellite radio services. The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) said in a statement today it is asking the CRTC to reconsider its decision on June 16 to licence two satellite radio offerings, Canadian Satellite Radio and Sirius Canada, affiliated with subscription satellite radio services currently available south of the border. "We’re asking the federal cabinet to return the satellite radio issue back to the CRTC and have them conduct a policy review within 90 days, as they did previously with Direct TV," said ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell in the release. "The issue of satellite radio is not about access to new technology. It is about the very real possibility of losing our Canadian voice as result of U.S. product dumping into Canada."   ACTRA announced earlier this summer, along with a series of other cultural organizations, that it would formally appeal the commission’s decisions.   ACTRA’s release today also took CRTC chair Charles Dalfen to task for a newspaper report claiming he served on the board of a U.S. firm related to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. in the early 90s. Montreal’s La Presse said on September 7 that Dalfen had a seat on the board of directors of CD Radio Inc., a Washington DC-based firm which owns 20% of the shares in Sirius, and was issued options to acquire shares in the firm. However, as reported in the Globe and Mail on September 7, the federal Cabinet is still divided as to whether or not to refer the matter back to the CRTC for reconsideration. A seven-member ad hoc committee set up to examine whether or not the CRTC’s decision should be reconsidered is at an impasse, the Globe and Mail said, and failed to arrive at a recommendation for action on the issue. The committee can be ordered by the Prime Minister’s Office or the Privy Council to either make a recommendation, or hand the issue off to another Cabinet committee for consideration. The Cabinet has until September 14 to decide whether or not to act on the appeals against the CRTC’s ruling. Telus untethers multiplayer gamingTelus Mobility recently – and quietly – launched its line of multiplayer games for wireless phones. Ten titles are currently available, including Texas Hold’em King 2, Breeders’ Cup 2005, and Medieval Kings Chess 2. "I like to describe them as massively multiplayer in the sense that some of them you can actually play across many hundreds or thousands of people all at the same time, wherever you are and whenever you want to," says Robert Blumenthal, Telus Mobility’s VP of products and services.   The games are designed for Java-enabled handsets, and can be purchased outright, rented through a 30-day subscription program, or tried out through two-day or two-play trials; a 50-cent download fee per game applies to all arrangements. "We’re early stages here; we’re likely to get to more sophisticated pricing as time goes on," Blumenthal says. Telus Mobility also has a variety of non-multiplayer games available for download, as well as other titles that can be accessed over the Web. Softimage shows off soft-tissue modelMontreal’s Softimage previewed its new technology for human facial modelling at August’s SIGGRAPH 2005, the 32nd International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques held in Los Angeles last month. The software, dubbed Softimage Face Robot, incorporates a "groundbreaking new computer model of facial soft tissue that mimics the full range of emotions portrayed by the human face," the firm said in a media release, and is targeted at 3D animators working in gaming, post-production and digital film. L.A. animation shop Blur Studio provided the references for Softimage at the California conference: Blur has been using the software to enhance its digital actors.   INIS set to tell new media tales over breakfastQuebec’s Institut national de l'image et du son (INIS) will host a breakfast on September 14 emphasizing the importance of storytelling and writing in new media. The event, titled "Auteur et récit interactif," will feature Jérémie Bernard, president of Emerging Playgrounds, a firm which creates interactive online content for kids and "pre-nagers"; Éric Chartrand, lead designer at Electronic Arts Montreal; and Laurence Ardouin, an interactive screenwriter. The breakfast will be held at the Institut, 301 de Maisonneuve East, Montreal, and will feature insight into the storytelling and writing processes for interactive media, including the importance of a platform-agnostic viewpoint and lessons that can be taken from narrative in other formats.   AirG breaks 5 million barrierVancouver mobile community network operator AirG said recently it signed up its five millionth member earlier this summer. The firm said that, through its agreements with 86 wireless network operators worldwide, the AirG service has received more than 10.9 billion hits, leading to the five millionth sign-up in June. In its August 18 edition, Canadian NEW MEDIA reported that AirG has signed a private-label distribution agreement with U.S. wireless operator Nextel’s pre-paid service, Boost Mobile.   Phantom Fiber away to the racesPhantom Fiber will be providing its Advanced Wireless Platform e-commerce product for the launch of CaribSports’ wireless horse racing wagering product, the Toronto firm announced. Belize-based CaribSports will offer live interactive horse racing to more than 1,000 mobile phones and PDAs. Phantom Fiber also partnered with CaribSports on the launch of the latter’s Wireless Sportsbook product earlier this year, a rollout timed to take advantage of the NFL football season about to get underway.   Zarlink adds power to PC and portable TVOttawa’s Zarlink Semiconductor released details of its newest demodulator for mobile video equipment for PC-TV, portable and handheld digital TVs. Two ZL10354 chips can be twinned to provide the highest-quality signal, overcoming the problem of small antennas inherent in some mobile video equipment models; at 7x7 millimetres, the chip itself doesn’t take up unnecessary space and also features a power-saving design. One mobile video equipment manufacturer, Access Devices Inc. of the UK, announced it will incorporate the ZL10354 into its newest-generation PC-TV products.