Friday, April 14, 2006

Mobile TV in Canada - More Thoughts

I think I'm on to something here, and I know I'm not alone.

Yesterday's post about this topic has triggered some things, some intentional, and some not.

One of the things I'm most concerned about is how mobile broadcasting is going to impact local broadcasters, who really make up the backbone of the national networks. We all know it's very early days yet, and we've barely begun to feel or understand the impact of what I would loosely refer to as "Broadcast 2.0". I certainly share Jeff Pulver's well known views on how disruptive IP is starting to become for the whole broadcast sector, and anyone who has been following the VoIP space can vouch for what's in store.

I know mobile broadcasting isn't just about IP - that's just one piece of the puzzle, but the underlying trend is clear. New technologies are just starting to change the nature of the broadcasting sector - as we know it - but the transformation will be complete, and it will happen fairly quickly - I'd say within 2-3 years.

I saw a short piece in today's Globe & Mail that captured the essence of this quite nicely. CHUM Ltd - perhaps Canada's most successful local broadcaster (and truly an innovator in both radio and TV), announced their Q2 results. For me, the real story is how new technologies are already impacting their business.

The article notes how their CEO, Jay Switzer is lamenting how the advent of digital TV and time shifting is killing their advertising. Can you imagine what he'll be saying when mobile TV and place shifting start to hit home? Slingbox was just launched in Canada at the end of March, so that's hardly on the radar up here - yet. The solution Mr. Switzer advocates is regulatory reform - now, not later. That is coming soon, but the way our regulatory rulings have been flying lately, it's a coin toss as to which side of the fence the CRTC will come down on for broadcasters.

What's interesting about CHUM is that they have both TV and radio, and are also looking to be the 3rd satellite radio provider. That's another story altogther, and clearly, the mix of media properties owned will have a lot to do with how each broadcaster responds to these emerging technologies.

I don't know about you, but I'm a fan of local broadcasting, and would sure hate to see it become subsumed as borders and boundaries fade away. I actually had some time to reflect on this last night, as my wife had tickets for our family to be in the audience for a studio taping of Royal Canadian Air Farce. Any Canadian would know the show, and if you don't, it's a long running comedy troupe that does great satire on a weekly show. It will be on the air tonight, so if you watch, you just might see us on camera! Our youngest son just turned 10, and in between skits, he was one of the people cited by the emcee, which he really enjoyed.

Sitting through this gives you a real appreciation up close about all the goes into producing a television show. It looks so neat and tidy when you watch, but as we all know, if you pull back the camera, you'll see a whole army of people behind the scenes who make it look so easy. So, I don't care how much technology goes into driving how/where/when we view broadcast content, watching Air Farce last night really drives home just how human an endeavor TV really is. It's a lot more than bits and bytes, and if local broadcasting withers away, we'll be losing a lot more than a few TV shows.

My kids had my Nokia N90 monopolized, and got a couple of photos in between skits. Half the fun is watching how they do set up and tear down between sketches. Also - dressing room door of Don Ferguson, one the stars.

RCAF studio.jpgRC Air Farce.jpg

I have a short coda to add. In yesterday's post, I cited Mark Goldberg's post, and it was nice to see him keep the thread going on his blog today. Mark was picking up on my post as well as Mark Evans, and we're of the same mind that mobile radio should be pretty easy to do for the carriers, and with right content - such as podcasts - could be very appealing. You see, I'm not alone on this. And yes, Mark, I would love a Red Sox feed! Although, the way they played last 2 night against the Jays, I'm getting nervous. That's another post for later...

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