Live from nextMEDIA 2008: Burning Business Issues

This was a lively session that jumped around between a lot of topics.

In this panel session: Jeremy Debeer from the University of Ottawa, Nader Elm from Rogers Media, Michael Hennessy from Telus, Stephen Waddell from ACTRA, and Catherine Warren from FanTrust Entertainment Strategies. The moderator is Robert Montgomery from Achilles Media.

Michael Hennessy – A Friendly Future for New Media (Telus):

  1. No content regulation on the Internet.
  2. No new ISP tax on consumers for Canadian production fund.
  3. Government should match the BDU contribution to the CTF to fund new media.
  4. Allocate the revenues from the 700 MHz auction to a fund for online new media.
  5. Approach innovative new media (Web 2.0) as a global market opportunity.
  6. Funding of new media online and underlying applications should be part of a larger industrial strategy.
  7. Regulation must incent not stifle investment in Next Generation Networks.
  8. A balanced approach to copyright to protect rights and enable fair use.
  9. Ensure consumer access to any legal content and allow multiple tiers of services.
  10. The CRTC can intervene on complaints to ensure that ISPs provide access without undue preference or disadvantage.

Jeremy Debeer:

  • Should the government regulate the Internet? It’s not a black and white issue.
  • Regulation goes beyond the CRTC…you can have regulation in copyright law, for example.
  • There’s no doubt that intermediaries will be regulated when it comes to the protection of copyrights.
  • It’s less clear what will happen on the communications side of things.

Stephen Waddell:

  • There’s a necessity for regulation. Not like they do in China, but with respect to broadcasting on the Internet there should be some regulation.
  • Without regulation, you get a two-tiered system with old and new media. JD – So why not deregulate the old media?
  • We’re not advocating over regulation, we’re advocating ensuring money for Canadian content creation.

Catherine Warren:

  • Wanted to watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, but couldn’t find it on TV. So went to CNN and found it, but it was split into two parts. That’s not a technical decision. That’s done strictly for monetization.
  • Soon we’ll be able to do micro transactions within video.
  • The burning issue is that Canada isn’t a place where we sell only to each other. We need to look beyond.

Nader Elm:

  • Burning issues: monetization, browsing patterns, the emergence of ad networks.
  • The overall market in Canada is growing and will continue to.
  • Canada is behind others (US/UK/Australia) in terms of how the advertising dollars are shifting to new media.

Other notes:

  • The key principles from the old world cannot be forgotten in the new world. We cannot leave anyone behind.
  • Canada lags behind others in the world in terms of monetization.
  • Canadians consume 50% more video content than their American counterparts.
  • An analogy from a Columbia law professor: Think of a red-light district. YouTube is like a hotel, Napster is like a pimp. YouTube is actually in a better legal position hosting copyright content because there are provisions in the law that protect the hotel.

Michael Hennessy made a great point that there’s a lack of venture/risk capital in this country. We have to stop thinking only in terms of the Canadian market, we have to be part of the global market.

A personal comment on this session: I think the largest problem might be that the ISPs, advertisers, panelists, and others who took part in this session refer to Canadian consumers as "eyeballs", not as people. I think that shift in thinking affects the way you approach net neutrality, monetization, and all the other points touched on in this session.