CRTC: No to Fee-For-Carriage

I don't think that the broadcasters deserve extra money from the cable carriers.

The cable companies are providing me a service, that is access to a signal of better quality than I can get over the air. For that, I pay.

On the other hand, the cable companies are providing local broadcasters with access to an audience beyond their ability to directly broadcast over the air to, in effect increasing their audience and the value of the commercial airtime that they sell. They do this for free -- in any other business model, the cable companies would charge the broadcasters for carriage, to monetize the extra value that they bring to the local broadcasters.

Witness what happened when the WNPE/WNPI PBS station was almost dropped by the Ottawa cable company. It would have devastated the PBS station. The station reported that Canadian contributions made up 70% of their pledge revenues. Given a choice, I am sure that PBS would have paid a fee to be carried on the Ottawa network.

The fact that cable companies make money reflects the fact that they provide a service that has value to their customers. The fact that broadcasters are losing money reflects the fact that their audience is shrinking due to increased competition for their attention.

I don't see why I as an end-viewer should have to pay extra to compensate some broadcaster for their inability to attract my attention.

And it will be me as the end-viewer who pays the extra fees. The cable companies would be well within their rights to pass on increased costs to viewers. If such a rate increase costs them subscribers, then everyone loses -- both the cable companies and the broadcasters.

If I am going to be required to pay a per-household fee for these channels, I should have the ability to pick channels a la carte -- why should I pay for channels I don't watch? But even this in the end affects the cable companies, since it will lower their revenues. If revenues drop, profits will drop, and eventually prices will rise.

I remain unconvinced by these "Local TV Matters" commercials telling me what a good thing it is that such-and-such a local interest has access to a local broadcaster to get their message out. The issue isn't about access to a local audience -- it is about who is going to pay for the platform providing access to that audience. And while these local interests are beneficial in the long run for the community, it does not change the fact that I as a cable subscriber am going to have to pay for that platform they use.


5K on ServerFault

Hooray. Broke 5K on ServerFault today.



There's always an emergency somewhere

Citizen writer Leonard Stern shares his horror at the lack of service in hospitals:
The complete indifference of staff was striking. My friend was still waiting for the doctor to see him, if only to offer pain relief, when the doctor decided to give an improptu computer tutorial to a junior staffer.
My comment:
It isn't unbelievable.

Know what? There's always a fire. And in the emergency room, there's always an emergency. (Thus the name). It's probably buried there under a mountain of sniffles and bumps and bruises, but there's probably a legitamete one in there somewhere.

You can't possibly expect doctors and nurses to come to work and treat every walk-in as if he was in trauma-one in ER. You can't run at "emergency" service levels constantly. If fire fighters had to fight fires 12 hours a day, six days a week, they'd get a little relaxed about it. Because, you know, there's always something on fire, and if something's always on fire, there will never be the time to make sure that the hoses are stacked and rotated properly so that they work properly when requied. So some guy would stop fighting the fire, and deal with the hoses, and make sure that the new guy knew how to deal with the hoses. Because there's always something on fire.

Similarly in your job, if there was always someone getting shafted by the system, if someone was going without help because of insufficient funding, if politicians were always treating the laws as something that applied to other people, if innocent people were getting killed by drunk drivers -- well the media would soon start to treat that as a routine state of... oh wait, bad example.

Want to get mad? Get mad at the system which ensures there are not a sufficient number of family doctors. Get mad at the people who come to the ER with a bump or a bruise or a sniffle or to fish for a doctor's note to explain some absence or other.

But that doctor who was making sure the data was entered correctly?

Don't blame him.

There's always somebody waiting on his attention.