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Around Red Deer June 14th…..

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1:15 pm – Environment Canada has issued a Special Weather Advisory for Red Deer and the surrounding area. Meteorologists say conditions are favourable for the development of funnel clouds this afternoon. Read More.

11:10 am – The property tax payment deadline in Innisfail is coming up on June 30th. Read More.

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11:03 am – There was some special recognition for Innisfail’s CAO Helen Dietz this week. Find out why and what else happened at Council June 12th.

10:57 am – Development should occur on the Old Hotel site in downtown Sylvan Lake on or before November 15th, 2018. Find out what else happened at Sylvan Lake Town Council this week.

10:49 am – The Centennial (50) Street railway crossing in Sylvan Lake is closed today until 8:00 pm to complete rail crossing repairs. Read More.

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10:04 am – Red Deer RCMP have two men in custody after a failed armed robbery attempt at one gas station early this morning was followed minutes later by an armed robbery at gunpoint at a second gas station. Details Here.

9:51 am – Ron Orr, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, provided Lacombe City Council this week with an update on activities at the most recent session of the Alberta Legislature. Find out what he told them!

9:44 am – The RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section executed a search warrant on a rural property located east of Highway 2 and just north of Didsbury, on June 8, 2017.  One male suspect was arrested at the scene and criminal charges are pending. Read More.

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9:39 am – A 17 year old Youth has been charged in connection with a stabbing at a residence on the Montana First Nation June 9th. Read More.

9:29 am – With Canada Day celebrations approaching, Lacombe County reminds all residents that a fireworks permit is required if you wish to sell, purchase or set off fireworks within the province of Alberta. Read More.

9:20 am – Downtown Red Deer is a busy place today! Get rid of those wet weather blues by taking in some live music at the Alexander Way Parklet today from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm. Also today, the ATB Financial Downtown Farmer’s Market runs rain or shine on Little Gaetz Avenue from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Read More.

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8:47 am – Road construction, sidewalk repair and the Downtown Farmer’s Market today will result in some road closures for Red Deer drivers to be aware of. Click here for Details.

8:37 am – Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, will make remarks at the Alberta Pork Congress tonight at 6:00 pm. The event is taking place June 14th and 15th at the Westerner Park Harvest Centre in Red Deer. Click here for more details on the Alberta Pork Congress.

8:25 am – Red Deer Public School is moving forward in its Truth and Reconciliation journey and will raise the Alberta, Treaty Six, Treaty Seven, and Métis Nation flags today. By raising the flags and having them on permanent display in front of the school district office, officials say they are acknowledging the traditional lands the school district is on, honouring the First Nations and Metis people, as well as recognizing the history and treaties of this area. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The Flag Raising Ceremony starts at 11:00 am.

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8:14 am – It’s a Grade 9 Farewell at École Mother Teresa School in Sylvan Lake this evening. It’s a night dedicated to celebrating the school’s graduating Grade 9 students. There will be speeches, stories and a slide show to showcase student transformations, as well as some local talent too. All are welcome to join this special celebration in the gymnasium from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

8:09 am – Staff and students at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School in Red Deer will look back on the 2016-2017 school year today and say farewell to their graduating students and staff that are leaving the school. This event will take place in the gymnasium from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm.

8:02 am – The wet weather has forced officials with St. Elizabeth Seton School in Red Deer to postpone their Track and Fun Day today. However, the BBQ previously planned will still go ahead.

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Media experts agree action is needed, but urge caution on how streaming is regulated

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OTTAWA — The Liberals have promised to quickly reintroduce legislation aimed at reforming the Broadcasting Act, which has media experts cautioning the government against bringing newer media platforms under an old regulatory framework.

“I think everyone agrees that it’s an older piece of legislation that doesn’t fully reflect the environment that we live in,” said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and the Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law.

The Liberal government introduced a bill, known as C-10, in November 2020 that would bring global online streaming companies, such as Netflix and YouTube, under the Broadcasting Act. It came under intense criticism over whether it would regulate user-generated content. The bill died in the Senate when Parliament was dissolved for the September election.

While its risks to the free speech of Canadians got the most attention, if the promised new legislation resembles Bill C-10, then several of its features would have a significant effect on Canada’s cultural industries.

On-demand streaming services — for streaming music, television and movies — would be obligated to provide funding to Canadian content as well as actively promote it, including work by marginalized and under-represented groups, through what are called discoverability requirements.

This could include a requirement for a streaming service to highlight Canadian content through its recommendation tools, such as personalized music playlists or curated film selections.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) supervises traditional broadcasters and enforces federal policies. This new legislation would empower the CRTC to do the same for online media services but is vague when it comes to how the regulatory body would perform that function. Critics have called this an unrealistic overreach, questioning how the CRTC could monitor all content published on the internet.

Gerry Wall, president of consulting firm Wall Communications, produced a study on the economic effects of music streaming for the federal government in 2018, and has recently completed a second study which is forthcoming.

Wall and Geist both said that setting discoverability requirements on streaming services is not easily done for several reasons.

Geist said the notion of discoverability in Canada emerged at a time when traditional broadcasters would prioritize content from the United States over Canadian content because it was more profitable. Today, on-demand streaming services operate under a different business model and are incentivized to cater their catalogue to the subscriber’s preferences.

Using Netflix as an example, Geist said, “If people are interested in Canadian content … it’s clearly in Netflix’s interest to provide them with that Canadian content to keep them as subscribers.”

He added that Canadian content is not hard to find in that anyone can type “Canada” in the streaming platform’s search bar and will find a suite of Canadian materials.

Geist and Wall both said that bringing discoverability to streaming services triggers a thorny debate on how Canadian content is defined today. “That’s a fundamental problem, I think, that needs to be addressed,” said Wall.

The Broadcasting Act sets out criteria to define what makes a cultural work Canadian. For music, what’s known as the MAPL system determines whether a musical work is Canadian if it fulfils enough conditions, like whether a song is performed by a Canadian, or if the piece was recorded in Canada.

Geist referred to this as a “tick-box exercise” that may not be equipped to fully capture the complexity of a television production that involved mostly Canadians but fails to meet the criteria because a funder was not Canadian.

“I think any sort of honest assessment about what certified Canadian content means is that it’s just as likely to come up with a cop show where Toronto is designed to look like New York, as it is to come up with something that people would view as genuinely Canadian,” said Geist.

The way listeners access music through on-demand streaming is unlike the one-to-many distribution method of radio, where there was a single linear schedule of programming, said Wall. On a streaming service, the catalogue of music is accessed by users on-demand and simultaneously.

“You could break up the 24-hour day and say, ‘This much of your time has to be spent providing Canadian content on that.’ But how would that work in the streaming world?” he said.

Music streaming services can push music to a user through personalized and curated playlists, a process that is largely driven by a platform’s proprietary algorithms. Making Canadian artists more discoverable by granting the CRTC access to a streaming service’s algorithms is a “very poorly conceived notion,” said Wall.

Andrew Forsyth is a consultant to MRC Data, formerly Nielsen Canada, a marketing data and audience insights firm. He said the government must figure out how it can properly regulate this newer media environment — a difficult task.

Wall and Geist both agree that while the Broadcasting Act needs updating, the tension is in how that is accomplished.

Wall said he does not think it’s a good idea to try folding in new services and technologies into a framework designed for older means of communication that are fundamentally different.

That sentiment was echoed by Peter Menzies, senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and past CRTC vice-chair.

“The idea behind the broadcasting industry is the government is licensing people to use a Crown asset,” he said. “That’s something the Crown owns; it can set the rules for its use. The Crown doesn’t own the internet, but it’s pretending that it does.”

In the world of radio, the CRTC was able to compel stations to help subsidize Canadian content by collecting prescribed amounts and transferring it to funding and granting bodies like Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) and the Canadian Music Fund.

“It all depended on a licensing system,” said Wall. “Well, are you going to license Spotify? How are you going to do that?”

If the goal is to ensure streaming companies contribute to these subsidies, Menzies said this can be done by other means “without pretending that the internet is broadcasting.”

Both Menzies and Forsyth said that creating a level playing field between on-demand streaming services and traditional broadcasters can be better achieved by imposing a tax on streaming services.

“You don’t have to regulate the internet. Carve out the companies that you want to get money from,” said Menzies.

Forsyth said the entire Canadian music industry exists because the Broadcasting Act allowed for it to flourish. “I think the problem is that the beast has been built,” he said, referring to the act and all the business generated by it. Revising the act will in turn affect the country’s system of funding, support and exposure for Canadian entities, he said.

“As a starting point, the user-generated content piece has to be out,” said Geist, because it fundamentally involves regulating the speech of Canadians.

He added that the legislation in its previous form was too vague and left too many details for the CRTC to decide.

Wall said he thinks the Heritage committee’s list of witnesses should be opened so that digital-first creators can have their voices included in the discussion. “I don’t think they ever had any input into this act, and they’re the future,” he said.

Menzies said, “The hope is that they breathe deeply, take a long look at things and figure out what is it you really want to get out of things and what’s the best way to get there? Because Bill C-10 sure wasn’t it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

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Indigenous leaders denounce Quebec Premier Legault as ‘paternalistic,’ ‘arrogant’

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MONTREAL — Indigenous leaders in Quebec on Friday denounced Premier François Legault for his decision not to meet with them during a two-day economic summit in Montreal.

Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, criticized Legault for speaking with reporters after the speech and for not meeting with Indigenous leadership.

“He did not have time to meet with the chiefs, but he did have time to speak to the media,” Picard said at the conference, called the Grand Economic Circle of Indigenous People and Quebec.

Picard said Legault was in “electoral mode,” adding that the premier’s refusal to meet in person with the chiefs “shows a certain level of arrogance.”

Indigenous leaders said Legault had only planned to deliver remarks to the gathering but then finally agreed to take three questions at the end of his speech from those in attendance.

Réal McKenzie, chief of the Innu Matimekush-Lac John of Schefferville, Que., asked Legault about royalties owed to Indigenous Peoples in exchange for the use of their lands. John Martin, chief of the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag, asked the premier about First Nations communities being excluded from accessing natural resources.

Neither chief said they were satisfied with the premier’s responses.

The two-day event, which concluded Friday, aimed to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous business people together.

During his speech, Legault announced a $10-million investment over five years for First Nations Executive Education, a program based at HEC Montréal business school.

Earlier Friday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière announced a $3.3-million investment for a hotel project in Kahnawake, south of Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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