Information should be set free

I'm actually quite sympathetic to the Canadians who resort to pirating television. Borders are arbitrary. Since current technology allows for hundreds (if not thousands) of channels, why not expand the totals? Let the marketplace decide which stations have compelling content. All the Canadian stations could still be part of the mix, even if their percentage of the total declined.

As an aside, we considered sending an old DirecTV box to a business associate in Canada, but never got around to it.

Portals - ...[In order to get American television] you have to hook up with one of the many distributors who quietly sell equipment that allows the pirated reception of a U.S. satellite-television service, namely Dish Network, run by EchoStar Communications. Either that or you have to pay your bill using a U.S. address, to make the satellite-television company think you are in the U.S. Both are illegal.

Scamming the satellite-television company, of course, is a problem in the U.S. and other countries. But it seems epidemic north of the border. Estimates of the number of Canadian homes with unauthorized satellite service go as high as 700,000 or more -- a lot for a country of 33 million.

A lot of popular U.S. content is carried on Canadian television systems and channels, but U.S. satellite services provide more choice and more foreign-language programming. In recent years, Bell Canada's ExpressVu satellite-television service, chockablock with Canadian content (and plenty of pornography), also has been pirated.
Canadian laws prevent U.S. satellite services and various U.S. channels from operating in Canada to protect the local industry. But those laws haven't stopped U.S. signals from spilling over the border, or underground tech whizzes from finding ways to crack scrambled signals. (Since 2004, DirecTV Group has kept its system foolproof.)

...In this age of global media and competition, what purpose is served by laws that ban outright U.S. satellite television and many popular U.S. channels from Canada's airwaves?

“It's the government telling us that we are prohibited access to expression that comes from a source outside of the country,” says Ian Angus, a lawyer who has long represented various satellite distributors in Canada. Canada's broadcast industry has “a history of protectionism bred into the culture,” he says.

Defenders of the Canadian restrictions say they are needed to ensure the country sustains a viable domestic market for homegrown writers and actors. The laws also help keep the modest-size Canadian broadcasting industry financially healthy, says ExpressVu President Gary Smith. Whether viewers of U.S. satellite are paying for the service or not, “they all represent leakage of value from the Canadian broadcasting industry,” he says.

Yet, opponents of the bans say the U.S. and Canada have free trade in everything from oil to orange juice, and Canada has prospered, so why not television? They would prefer taxing foreign services, or bundling local and foreign channels.

I'd auction off 90% of the channels I currently receive, pay for, but never watch, if I could. Television is a drug, no doubt, but a legal one, and Canadians should be able to rot their brains too. Just on principle.

Tags: , /, /

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on November 22, 2006 11:26 AM.

A Partner for Mr. Hu was the previous entry in this blog.

Green Merchandise Mart is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.37