Saturday, September 29, 2007

Big Media Gobbles More Than We Want to Chew

Two major broadcast purchases were announced on the back pages of the business section today.

Rogers has bought 5 TV stations in the CityTV chain, and Astral Media has acquired 53 radio stations (including Vancouver's CISL 650 AM and 95Crave FM) and two TV properties.

To me, this is very big news. And it is bad news.

Both Rogers and Astral are required by the useless, redundant CRTC to spend many millions over the next few years on "tangible benefits, such as the creation of local programming."

There are only two questions to ask of the members of the CTC Board:

What medicines are you on?

Or, From what Jurassic Park have you wandered?

"Local Programming" is almost non-existent in Canadian (and American) Narrowcasting today.

Channel 6 in Victoria is now E!, a weltshmerts of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton updates 24/7.

Thank god for Keifer Sutherland and his DUI - some Canadian content!

CityTV in Vancouver, having fired dozens of good news people, now has a 30-second news hit every so often throughout the evening, read by an almost illiterate young man.

The "convergence" of TV and newsprint under the Canwest Global banner has been, no doubt, a boon for the corporation in terms of economies of scale. But, for the Canadian public, to whom the CRTC theoretically owes some allegiance, this is a disaster.

Not only do we have to suffer the constant cross-promotion of one medium to the other for mediocre work, but we are limited to the sound of one hand clapping. One voice, one editorial stance, one version of the truth.

I am not saying that this is an evil plot. It is simply human nature to ride with the herd and echo the elk next to you.

The one good news is this otherwise moribund landscape is that so many people have sheered through the transparency of Big Media that millions now turn to small presses and the Internet to get alternate voices and faces and opinions and sounds.

Sports Medicine?

THE LANGARA DIALOGUES, a series of debates on important matters of public policy held monthly at the downtown main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, has scheduled a debate on performance enhancing drugs in sports for the evening of October 17th. Doors open at 7:15. The event runs from 7:30 to 9pm. Please join us.

In preparation for that discussion, you might want to read this piece from this morning's NY Times, which reveals the thorough and enormous presence of these substances in the marketplace.

Bruce Springsteen Dancing In The Dark

How great is this?

Small Light at End of Cambie Tunnel

Vancouver Board of Trade Chair, Henry Lee, has made a most practical and useful suggestion: Add 3 cents (!!!) to the new Canada Line fare to compensate the Cambie Merchants' losses during construction.

Of course, proposing something and having it become a reality are often light years apart. Nevertheless, kudos to Mr. Lee for the idea.

Following is the entire story from The Vancouver Courier and then guest blogger Susan's response:

Board of Trade boss suggests small fare increase could provide money for beleaguered businesses

Sandra Thomas
Vancouver Courier

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Diners and shoppers have been reluctant to negotiate around cut-and-cover construction along Cambie St., so Board of Trade executives ventured to the area for lunch this week with Canada Line CEO Jane Bird to show Cambie's open for business.
To get a real feel for Cambie Street, representatives from the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Canada Line should dine inside one of the massive trenches lining the road, says Art Goday.
"I don't know if anyone would want to have lunch on Cambie Street because the noise from the construction is so loud," Goday, the owner of Funhouse Tattoo on Cambie Street, told the Courier Monday.

Last week the Vancouver Board of Trade joined the Canada Line to promote Lunch on the Line, a public relations campaign to encourage the city's business community to eat at restaurants along the beleaguered street. The $2-billion Canada Line project is a rapid transit system under construction to connect the city with Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport.
The cut-and-cover method of tunnelling, used along much of Cambie Street and part of Granville Street, has been highly criticized by businesses owners affected by construction. Since heavy tunnelling began along the main business corridor of Cambie a year ago, almost 40 stores, businesses and restaurants have closed or relocated. Business owners who have survived have unsuccessfully asked for compensation from the city through tax breaks and for low-interest loans from the provincial government. Lunch on the Line launched this week. Today, Vancouver Board of Trade chair Henry Lee and managing director Darcy Rezec, were scheduled to join Jane Bird, chief executive officer of the Canada Line Rapid Transit Project, at Tokyo John Sushi at 3349 Cambie St. for lunch.

Lee said lunching and shopping along the Canada Line immediately injects cash into businesses along the line.

"Right now it's out of sight, out of mind," said Lee. "But it's really not difficult to get to businesses on Cambie. Too many people are focused on the negative and they need to look on the bright side."

But Lee agreed the businesses need financial support.

"I don't like to use the word 'compensated,'" Lee said, "because it's too controversial. But at the Board of Trade we also don't like to sweep anything under the rug, and we all agree these businesses are suffering."

Because the project is a joint effort between a number of partners, such as Vancouver, Richmond, TransLink and InTransit, Lee argued compensation shouldn't come from one partner. He suggested business owners should be jointly supported with money that could be paid back by increasing ride fares on the rapid transit system by three-cents.

He noted the Canada Line estimates it will handle 100,000 rides per day, which works out to more than 30 millions rides per year. Even if that number turns out to be half that, said Lee, at three cents, or even 30 cents, per ride over three years, he estimated enough money would be raised to pay back any amount borrowed.

He said the same goal could be accomplished with "minute" raises to property tax.
"I've crunched the numbers several times and it could work, there are very few merchants along the line," said Lee. "In the meanwhile let's do lunch on the line."

Vancouver Courier 2007

Thank you Mr. Lee for your support for financial help for the merchants.Even the biggest supporters of the RAV/Canada Line project, the Board of Trade, are searching for ways to do the right thing and financially support the small businesses.One of several suggestions was that 3 cents a trip on the new line would do the trick, says Henry Lee. Just 3 cents. Enough money could be raised to payback ANY amount borrowed."We all agree these businesses are suffering"."I've crunched the numbers several times and it could work, there are very few merchants along the line".So many solutions to this problem, yet the will to even take a determined look at a remedy has been dismissed by those in a position to make it happen.To all parties in this project - Stop the political finger-pointing, show some integrity, and do the right thing.

Susan Heyes

Cambie Merchant